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EdTechRoundUp Hanging Out Again

Do you remember ETRU? It was a weekly podcast I co-hosted with Doug Belshaw and others. We *ceased trading* two years ago because the conversations had, at that point, run dry.

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But it’s back! Should you want to get involved in this community (on Google Plus) then please do request an invite. The conversation is all about education technology and the usual suspects participants are UK educators (teachers of all sectors and independent consultants). We have met twice so far, the output of which is stored on YouTube.

First introductory meeting (20/10/13):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekFjkCXA8s0

And yesterday (02/11/13) to discuss the transition of ICT to Computing in the UK:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyoq6H0YWMk

The agenda is driven by those that attend. Anyone is welcome to contribute or just watch/listen to the conversation. Google Hangouts are limited to 15 participants, so first come is first served. For me, the reason I do this is so I know I have somewhere I can ask questions, reflect on practice, hear other peoples thoughts and learn from their experience. The people who attend are all tweeters and all lovely people. Bonza! What’s not to like?

A Nice Gesture from Leap Motion

My school is hosting it’s annual open evening on Thursday. Last week I acquired a Leap Motion gesture sensor (3D motion control micro-sensor to be exact). It’s a very cool device that follows your fingers. This allows apps to be created that respond to hand and finger gestures. Leap Motion installs Air Space on your machine from which you can install lots of apps that developers have been building for all sorts of things from the popular game Cut The Rope to controlling your OS (Mac or Win). But when I asked for the drivers to be installed at school, we hit a problem. The licensing seems a little self-contradictory in places and the upshot was we could not install it. The following text is extracted from their EULA (highlighted by us):

You must create or have a Leap Motion Account in order to use the Airspace Store. You must keep your Leap Motion Account details secure and must not share them with anyone else.

If the Application does not include a Publisher EULA that specifies Application license rights, then following payment of the applicable fees for an Application, Publisher grants you the non-exclusive right, for the period selected by you in the case of a purchase for a rental period, and in other cases for as long as Leap Motion and the Publisher have rights to provide you that Application, to download or stream, in each case, solely as expressly permitted by Leap Motion via the Airspace Store and subject to the restrictions set forth in these Terms , copies of the applicable Application to your computer, and to view, use, and display the Application on your computer or as otherwise authorized by Leap Motion for your personal, non-commercial use only.

No Public Performance. You agree not to display content contained in Applications in whole or in part as part of any public performance or display even if no fee is charged (except where such use would not constitute a copyright infringement). Use of a tool or feature provided as an authorized part of the Airspace Store is permitted, provided that as you use the tool or feature as specifically permitted and only in the exact manner specified and enabled by Leap Motion.

Sale, Distribution or Assignment to Third Parties.You may not sell, rent, lease, redistribute, broadcast, transmit, communicate, modify, sublicense or transfer or assign your rights to Applications to any third party without authorization, including with regard to any downloads of Applications that you may obtain through the Airspace Store.

So if purchased on a non-school account this would constitute redistribution to a 3rd party

Sharing.You may not use Applications as part of any service for sharing, lending or multi-person use, or for the purpose of any other institution, except as specifically permitted and only in the exact manner specified and enabled by Leap Motion.

This is a problem in a networked multi-user environment

We were allowed to install the drivers but not any of the apps, which makes it all a bit anticlimactic. So, with five days to go until D-Day, I assembled this text in a google doc and sent it to them on twitter as well as emailing them through their website support service. Nil response. So 24 hours later, I tweeted them again stating my deadline in the tweet. Here’s a storify of the convo if you’re interested:


The result is a simple addendum to the EULA sent as an email attachment with a request to fill in the details of my school and return for them to sign and return to us. The list of apps we are allowed to use are:

  1. Touchless for Windows
  2. Touchless for Mac
  3. Flocking
  4. Lotus
  5. Kyoto
  6. Block 54

I do not have permission to share the addendum here. To summarise, it states an agreement to use the Leap Motion device and associated software in a multi-user school environment with only the above apps. #forthewin

Many thanks to the support of @PatParslow, @DannyNic, @DigitalMaverick and @SimFin. I like to think those few retweets helped motivate the @LeapMotion support team into action at what is a very busy time in their development. And thanks, of course, to the Leap Motion team for being flexible, responsive and helping us secure legit usage at school and making such a great piece of kit! I’ll write a review of the device itself when I have had spent some more time using it.

ICT Innovator AUPs for teachers

Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bstabler/770416963/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bstabler/770416963/sizes/z/in/photostream/

Acceptable Use Policies are a necessary and important document – contract – for teachers in any school because it is imperative that we are protected from the potential danger working online can bring. Following an intense scrutiny of safeguarding and child protection at our school, we published a strict and comprehensive Staff ICT AUP. For example, staff should not connect with any pupil on facebook until one year after they are of school leaving age, and only then with caution as through siblings and friends it can connect you to current pupils.

However, two years on we have included in the new ICT strategy a review of this policy to incorporate a section for innovative teachers who want to employ a new service without seeking formal permission via the various committees in place to oversee the use of ICT.  For example, I have been managing Sixth Form coursework using a project management tool called trello, logged into through pupils and teachers Google Apps for Education accounts. Or, should a teacher want to investigate and explore the use of edmodo in teaching and learning, they need to go about this in a risk-aware and cautious way without their enthusiasm being thwarted by bureaucracy. Equally you do not want to let every teacher engage pupils via services, that facilitate private and untraceable communique, without being aware of the risks involved. The common sense approach is simply not enough in this day and age.

There is extensive discussion of the issues involved and some research collated here on Scott McLeod’s blog, which also demonstrates that this issue is not only a concern for my school. Check out the links on Employee AUPs for material specifically relevant to this area.

We are proposing a clause to the ICT AUP whereby a teacher can sign up to be an ICT innovator and thereafter explore the use of such services with only an email being sent to a designated person. It might be that usernames and passwords, for the accounts being used, need to be shared which will allow monitoring of some sort. This will all be discussed in detail with the school’s child protection officer and the relevant committees. The priority is to enable teachers and pupils to exploit the innovations that specific web services can provide in a protected and safe way that does not impede the momentum of the creative spark that initiates the process. Our core purpose is to empower users who want to use technology to enrich teaching and learning.

If you have any thoughts about this, please do comment. Once the AUP is written, I will share it on a new blogpost.

Assessing the Integration of Technology in Learning Part 1

It is all well and good discussing or planning the integration of technology in a school, procuring devices and implementing your chosen device platform, but how do you measure if these big plans have had any impact? What are your success criteria? Is it enough to celebrate the individual wins without somehow analysing the broader picture for the entire cohort?

This is the first of a handful of posts aiming to research and analyse modus operandi for assessing the integration of technology in a school. My MA research project is based around the evaluation of teaching ICT in subjects, which is related to this enquiry. But before I talk about that, let’s look at what constitutes assessment of technology integration.

Most online discussion talks about learning being transformed through technology. More recently, it seems to me, this dialogue is breaking out into a wider discussion about meaningful learning and not necessarily about technology; but maybe that’s just where I am drawn in my journey as an educational technologist. I am not against discussion about the advantages technology can bring without learning being transformed. The practical workflow benefits to deploying one-to-one devices across a school, because of savings on text books and photocopying alone, is a simple reallocation of resources, and if a school can manage that shift then surely it brings their working practices in line with modern times. For me, this splits the enquiry into two major categories (the sub-lists could contain many more items):

  1. Application and administration
    1. implementing technology to ease the collation of files and data within the organisation;
    2. administrate statutory rights such as attendance registers and health and safety procedures;
    3. creation and management of digital resources for teaching and learning;
    4. teacher and pupil centred workflow including simple communications;
    5. toolset: email/messaging, document management system, office tools, MIS.
  2. Transformation of learning
    1. remote real-time collaboration inside and outside the classroom/school;
    2. access to the wealth of information on the web;
    3. real world connections that facilitate analysis, synthesis, evaluation and abstraction of learning;
    4. access to devices, individual control of devices, learner choice of toolset.

The Assessment Models

Prompted by reading Miguel Guhlin’s review of Models of technology integration, I started to think about the best existing method or model for my school. Clearly some American districts are in a more advanced position than my school in taking the one-to-one plunge. But is such an assessment model necessary in an 850 pupil school? The four models offered up by Miguel are:

  • SAMR: substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition;
    • simple rubric to identify how technology is used in learning;
  • LOTI: Levels of Technology Integration;
    • a slightly more detailed (six levels as oppose to four) look at the use of technology in lessons;
    • I recommend a quick look at the sniff test and HEAT observation form;
  • TIM: Technology Integration Matrix;
    • the matrix is the most detailed of all the models;
    • Pitches five levels of technology use (entry –> transformation) against five characteristics of a learning environment (active, collaborative, constructive, authentic and goal directed);
    • the matrix link is interactive and every point on the grid is supported by video examples of classroom practice;
    • the detail seems helpful but overly verbose.
  • TPaCK: Technological Pedagogical and Content Knowledge
    • looks at how TK and PK and CK intersect with each other;
    • seems useful for more strategic discussions about learning design and the implementation of ICT in a school, and possibly teacher professional development requirements.

    The four models being discussed

    The four models being discussed

As part of teaching KS3 ICT through other subjects this year, I need a method for measuring the success of how the technology has been used. Also, we are busy writing our new ICT strategy which will not prescribe one-to-one deployment but investigate it by initialising a BYOD project for Sixth Form and two class sets of tablet devices to be operational within only two departments. I need a way to assess if these projects are a success or not. All the models listed above incorporate a spectrum equivalent to substitution to transformation with slight amendments here or there. My instinct is to keep it simple, but to learn from others endeavours to achieve a working model.

My own evaluation of ICT in Subjects involved questionnaires to a sample of participant pupils coupled with an analysis of their academic attainment data in the participant subjects. This was then triangulated with participant teacher questionnaires to check the findings from their point of view. It is about blending opinion-based and empirical evidence to discover the benefits or drawbacks of this curriculum model. The results showed that, despite several possible opportunities, pupils never once questioned the use of ICT to enhance their learning. They did indicate that some activities were better than others. 83% of the academic data analysed showed a positive impact on their performance. That statistic is a big deal but I’m not going to make any great claims because the data needs further analysis and cross-referencing before it can be relied upon. The next step will be to evaluate the ICT based activities according to one of the substitution models. So, which one should I use? Miguel developed the work of Kim Confino et al (2010) to make a Classroom Learning Activity Rubric. This matrix of rubrics also adapts the TIM approach, but it puts the SAMR categories as the levels of technology use. This is appealing because the less categories there are, the easier it is to disseminate the use of the model, and my use of it, to others in my school.

Next steps

I’m going to read these matrices in more detail and try applying them to the ICT learning we have done in KS3 to date. This will give me an idea of how practical actually doing this is, and whether or not it is worthwhile. Also, I will be looking into the NAACE ICT Mark to see how they measure the integration of technology into schools.

However, to end this post, I want to readdress the first of the two categories mentioned at the beginning: application and administration. I am writing the strategy document with three other people: a governor, our Systems Manager and a parental advisor. In our extensive discussions about what we want to achieve, we were clear that the benchmark for our investigation into BYOD is simply providing web access to pupils during lessons. This is sufficient to justify initial investment so that we can learn about the pitfalls and positives first hand. This TechCrunch article is about a startup making big strides in America to ‘measure the impact of technology spending on student learning’. I am not alone in understanding the need to measure the large investments currently flowing through many educational organisations. Is it enough to analyse the impact on workflow or must we include learning transformation? This comes back to being clear and faithful to the school’s core purpose: aspire to excellence in education. And, it is important to highlight that the transformation of learning is not the remit of an ICT strategy, it is the remit of a teaching and learning strategy which an ICT strategy should be defined by and directly support. If you become a one-to-one school, you are potentially changing the way all learning happens. So, whereas I do want to be able to measure the success of the integration of technology in a school, which by implication includes any impact technology has on learning, do I have to measure the quality of all learning? Is it really possible to separate the two? If not, should the ICT stakeholders be acting as an arm of the teaching and learning body or independently in ensuring their provision of technology in the learning environment? Maybe this is the rub. Maybe when ICT becomes the core productivity tool of all learning (after the brain?) the school has to accommodate the massive overlap between the two. Our strategy is not immersive one-to-one as of yet so we don’t need to worry about this right now, but we do need to prepare for how it might work in our school.

If you are making any strides into this area, please do say so, and I would love to know any thoughts you have about what I have shared here.

 

Giphy spices up staff communique

Following James Michie’s persistence on the distracting quality of giphy, I opened up the site and found myself bouncing around animated images for a while.

tweet

Some of them are awesome. And because I thought so, others might agree and included one in my weekly ICT Tip newsletter.

dog gif

The newsletter email was sent at 07:00. By 09:00, three people had said how much they liked the animated pooch! And one person said how much they liked the ICT tip. Go figure.

NB: interestingly, the person who liked the tip is an experienced user. Whereas the newsletter is aimed at beginner users, it seems it is helpful to untrained (self-taught – isn’t that pretty much all of us??) users too. Also, he said that he liked the fact the tip was only one thing at a time because it is easier to remember and bring into your skill-set.

However, the point is that a little bit of fun goes a long, long way.