Podcasts, podcasts, podcasts!

I have a slight obsession with podcasts. Since I first discovered them back in the good ole iPod days, I have been a regular listener. The EdTech Crew was the first education podcast to grab my attention and I would often extend my drive (the measure of a podcast in my mind) to finish an episode. I caught up with Tony Richards (@itmadesimple) recently and was hounding him to get the band back together so here’s hoping! Since then my listening tastes have shifted. I still enjoy education podcasts but find my interests lie now in more diverse areas.

For education, I personally can’t go past the TIDE (Today in Digital Education) podcast by Doug Belshaw (@dajbelshaw) and Dai Barnes (@daibarnes) or The Education Review (TER) podcast by Corinne Campbell (@corisel) and Cameron Malcher (Capitan_Typo). Both provide tremendous perspective and depth to all things education.

Podcasts that align with my values in life have been growing in popularity on my podcast list. This all started with the Minimalists podcast, a podcast about two guys who gave up six figure jobs and a live of gathering wealth and possessions to live a life of value, joy and fulfillment. The reason I love this podcast is that it makes you question where your values lie and then challenges you to do something about it. This podcast led me to 10% Happier by Dan Harris and Waking up with Sam Harris. Dan Harris is an ABC news anchor that had a panic attack on national television, which led him to take up meditation. Dan claims that meditation makes him about 10% happier, hence the name and he regularly talks to inspiring people about their meditation habits on his show. Being a Weezer fan, I especially loved the Rivers Cuomo episode. Sam Harris (not related) is unbelievably intelligent and his podcast challenges contentious issues in the world as well as discussing the most interesting of topics.

My latest favs are the Unmistakable Creative by Srinivas Rao and The Tim Ferris Show by Tim Ferris. Both Srinivas and Tim look at business, learning, creativity and innovation through interesting perspectives and by interviewing amazing guests. Local representatives on my list are the Huddle Show by Huddle, a human centred design firm based in Melbourne and Future2 by Steve Glaveski (@steveglaveski). I have had the pleasure of getting to know Steve through his coworking space Collective Campus over the past year and his knowledge as well as the calibre of the guests on his show are second to none when it comes to innovation and entrepreneurship expertise. Although this one was a once off podcast series, Seth Godin’s Startup school was also a great listen. I find Seth to be an amazing thinker who can take complex topics and make them accessible through clear narrative and anecdotes. He always blows my mind.

Other great podcasts to check out are Finding Mastery with Michael Gervais, IDEO Futures by IDEO, Office Hours by Dan Pink, Stanford Entrepreneurship videos, Stanford Innovation Lab and Freakonomics radio.

What’s on your podcast list?

Growing the conversation

The world of connected educators can be an echo chamber at times, how WILL you grow the conversation so that we bring more people and perspectives along the journey?  This is the topic of #youredustory this week and it was a topic I put forward.  I think I actually need to clarify the question a little because I am referring to the online world of connected educators.  Being connected (online) has grown me tremendously as a learner and an educator and I continue to reach out, evolve, learn and reflect.  However, the land of retweets and +1s can float around the same posts, anecdotes and resources and feel a little stale at times.  Like minded people connecting with like minded people.  What’s not to like?  For me, it is the perspective of the educator who is not an online connected educator that is missing.  I would consider my school to have some of the most amazing educators going round but a recent survey of Primary and Secondary staff revealed the following information about professional engagement.

Survey of Primary staff
Survey of Primary staff
Survey of Secondary staff
Survey of Secondary staff

Now if I look at this data and apply it literally, I get the following analysis.  78.2% of Primary staff and 77.4% of Secondary staff have little or no role in online networks.  Even if I clean the data up a little, it is a really large audience that I am not reaching or who are not reaching out and connecting.  Now for the sake of this post, let’s apply the data to the world.  25% of teachers worldwide have a significant or crucial role in online networks.  75% have little or no role in online networks.  There is a huge portion of the audience missing here and the question is why.  Why are they not reaching out?  Why are they not online?  Why are they not having their say?  This for me is the perspective that is missing from online networks.  This is the perspective that we need to grow.  Now I have my work cut out for me in this regard at work but I am acting as the lighthouse, working to shine a light on great teaching and learning and connecting others.  This is a role that the 25% who are online need to grow.  Kevin Zahner (@zahnerhistory) wrote a great post on how to grow the conversation.  Please read and pass on, especially to those who are not online.  The #YourEduStory blogging challenge is also growing the voice of those who are online and sharpening their perspective and amplifying more voices.

How do we grow the conversation?  For me, it starts with a +1 mentality.  This is not a reference to the world of Google Plus but a reference to Me + 1.  That’s right, connecting one new person with an online or face to face network at every opportunity.  It could be a guest post on your blog or someone you encourage to join Twitter.  Maybe you could amplify their work by interviewing them and uploading it to Soundcloud or inviting them to the next local TeachMeet.  Technology is often the hurdle and for those who are online, it is our responsibility to make sure that this hurdle is removed and the easiest way is to be their online proxy.  Find their hook.  If they are avid readers, maybe start a book club at school and discuss.  Once they are hooked on this, evolve it and take it online.  If they are writers, post a writing prompt (like this one) and have people write a response.  The evolution of this could be a collection of responses that are posted on a school blog.  My school will launch a professional learning blog in a few weeks for this reason.  Professional dialogue and writing need to be promoted at school but most teachers feel that they don’t have enough to say to fill a blog or don’t know what to write about.  A collective blog would take the pressure off.  This blog at my school will also feature the writings and thoughts of students.  What better way to show students what a lead learner you are.

In a nutshell, the best way to grow the conversation is to have the conversation and have it repeatedly.  Find the hook for your colleagues and look for every opportunity to take a +1.

Thanks for reading.

Thriving in the information age

firehydrant

Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/will-lion/2595497078/sizes/m/in/photostream/

This quote from Mitchell Kapor has been floating around for a while now and it is just so on the money when you think of the knowledge era/the information age/the Google generation.  To see a great visual of this, click on the link below and check out what happens in one second on the internet.

Screen Shot 2015-01-10 at 9.19.00 PM

The excess and access of the internet is definitely having it’s impact on the way we interact with information.  In the age of eBooks, MOOCs, SPOCs, iTunesU courses, etc…access to information and consumption these days is excessive, exhausting and relentless.  It is as Susan Greenfield states in her book Mind Change, “rewiring our brains”.  For me personally, I find that this is definitely the case when I reading an eBook as I expect to interact the book and I often will jump out of the book often to look into area that pique my interest. Is this a bad thing?  I’m not sure.  There is still for me a difference with a physical book as the immersion is still there.  The problem is with the level of information that spurts from the information hydrant, I often forget great quotes, ideas, anecdotes, etc… What I am keen to know from you is how you are as @GregBCurran puts it “thriving not surviving” in the information age?

Being called on to write board reports, generate education rationales or just write an insightful blog post mean that I need to be able to call on those inspiring moments that hop off a page or a screen.  I recently have read Michael Fullan’s Stratosphere, which for those who haven’t read it is a tremendous book.  It was one of those book’s laden with gold, I just couldn’t put it down and I had so many amazing interactions with it.  It resonated with me so much that I wanted to capture the elements of the book that captured my attention.  I used Evernote plus the camera function and the annotation features of Skitch to capture these moments.  The great thing about Evernote is the how interconnected these all are.  I merely sat with my physical copy and my phone and took pictures when amazing excerpts jumped out at me.

Evernote Snapshot 20150102 204144

The text is searchable and so pairing this with careful tagging makes it easy to find what I need.   Now yes you can achieve this using post-it notes but the search functionality is the key difference.  A big difference is that I have looked through those annotated photos about twenty times already and this is much more than any post-it note/pen in margin laden book that I read in the past.  In Mind Change, Greenfield writes

Flicking pages back and forth, highlighting sentences and scribbling in the margin may all be positive features that contribute to the absorption of what you are reading, so the potential for personal interaction with a paper book may be greater than with a screen.

For me, I think my blend of paper and technology is taking that interaction to the next level.  I would love to know how you are thriving in the information age.  Please share!

 

11 questions

This is my response to the 11 questions challenge set by Nick Jackson @largerama (http://largerama.creativeblogs.net/).  These questions really did press on a few nerves and took a while to compile, responding in word and in a public forum really does help sharpen your take and opinion on topics and issues.  Thanks for the challenge Nick!

  1. Why are you a teacher?

For me, it is a love affair with learning and working with young people.  Being a teacher puts you right at the coalface and I love the challenge of learning myself or helping others to learn.  I also love the challenge of working with young people.  Challenging their thinking, having them challenge mine, learning with them, learning from them.  Being a teacher is extremely rewarding and demanding and I could not imagine myself doing anything else

2.       How do you/would you answer people when they ask you to prove that much of education needs to change

Personally I think we are in the midst of an education revolution.  There are thinkers and doers in schools everywhere being change agents trying to engage, inspire and educate young people.  Educators are connecting more than ever and questioning more than ever and I believe that change is happening.  There is a grassroots ground swell building and that voice is getting louder but it is hamstrung by a government ceiling that seems more focused on teaching to a test (i.e. PISA results, NAPLAN, etc…) than teaching the future generation.  Educators and young people are changing education, we just need a few more key stakeholders to jump on board.

3.       If you had the power to make one rule in your school that every teacher would follow, what would you your rule be and why?

I would require every teacher to build and maintain a Personal Learning Network.  Part of this would require staff to be transparent with their learning and share and showcase their stories.  This could be through a range of mediums; blogs, podcasts, journals, etc…  Great teachers are great learners.  Connecting with different perspectives, ideas and backgrounds helps to enrich and inspire and it needs to be a part of every teacher’s life.   We are in the business of teaching and learning, I just want to make sure that there is a balance in that equation for teachers.

4.       What is the important thing you do as a teacher with your students and why is it important?

Promote mistakes.  Lots of them!  Mistakes indicate attempts and the more attempts a learner makes, the better!  A mistake provides opportunity for feedback (personal, peer, group or teacher) and helps build learner resilience.  Developing resilient learners who learn from their attempts is a huge part of my teaching approach.  Learning is rough, raw and messy and mistakes help provide clarity and develop understanding.

5.       If you could set up a dream team of people in charge of education in your state, country, district, etc, who would they be?

Professor Guy Claxton:  To personalise education, we need to focus on the learner.  Who better to develop this than the founder of Building Learning Power. 

Seth Godin: One of the best thinkers in education.

@MelCashen & @richardolsen: Two inspiring educators who I love to listen to, engage with and have a beer with.

Kim Elliott: A colleague from my previous school who is one of the best teachers I have ever worked with.  Dedicated, passionate, incredible vision and an amazing way with young people.

Wendy McCarry: Inspiring colleague whose energy and willingness to push the boundaries of pedagogy challenges me every day.

Deb Sukarna: My mentor.  Marries big vision thinking with day to day application brilliantly and does so with the most caring disposition.  On the flip side, is also tough as nails!!

Eric Sheninger (@NMHS_Principal):  Currently reading and loving Eric’s book “Digital Leadership: Changing Paradigms for Changing times” and inspired by a leader who not only understands that great technology use can enhance student and staff learning but embraces it and walks the walk.

6.       What do you think the value of ‘celebrity’ keynote speakers at educational conference is?

For me, it’s not who it is but what they have to say.  I have been blown away by the insight and foresight of some ‘celebrity’ keynote speakers and been left flat by others.  I do think that the best speakers spend a lot more time in the classroom.  It helps to keep them relevant.  Celebrity speakers don’t get my goat as much as those spruiking a product or with a hidden agenda. 

7.       What do you think should be taught to young people to make them digitally literate?

Students need to develop their capacity to filter.  Whether it be vetting information, flagging inappropriate content or arranging their thinking.  Filtering can help kerb the flow of information and make the digital world easier to survive in.  I think that students need to be taught how to find their digital voice and understand the etiquette required to thrive in a digital world.  I believe students need to be taught strategies to “unplug” from the digital world to help keep balance in their lives.  I believe students need to understand and respect intellectual property.  Sourcing information, understanding licencing and giving credit where credit is due is essential.  In a world of remixing and mash ups, crediting the creator is the right thing to do. 

8.       What do you think would happen if students in your school were given power over technology integration in your school for the next five years with only advice from adults and a budget to work with?

Increased student engagement, many mistakes (awesome), many grey hairs, lighter and more responsive digital environment (students don’t care for clunky, monolithic systems), many digital grey areas (different perspectives from different generations), increased game based learning, development of student system to vet technology, a push for BYOD and no filters, a better understanding of the each other’s perspective (student & teacher), a search for the fastest connection possible, lots of digital piracy and downloading, much better digital citizenship programs and understanding of the ways in which young people use social media.

9.       Do you think young people have changed since you were a child?

There are many similarities but I do think that young people have changed.  With the rapid development of the digital world, we see an evolution in the way that people connect, learn and be.  The digital world has provided young people with a platform to have a voice and have this voice heard globally and instantly.  The brains of these digital citizens are wired differently to mine.  Knowing is Googling so information holds no value and is dispensable.  I do also think that knowing a time “BG” (Before Google) gives me a way of thinking that is foreign to the young people of today.  As well as that, the desensitisation levels of young people today are much higher.  Content that would have rocked my world when I was a child is a PG movie nowadays. 

10.   How best can we address the disconnect between different levels of education (primary to secondary, secondary to university)

I have been fortunate enough to work in both primary and secondary and my current role covers both.  Spending some time in each other’s shoes would help provide perspective and insight.  If we look at schooling on a continuum and relate it to any learning continuum utilised in the classroom, knowing where learning is going helps to extend, enhance and deepen understanding and enrich teaching.  If staff from each different level had a better understanding of where learners are coming from and going to, it might improve the disconnect.  I do also think that each different level has much to learn from each other.  To put it out there, how many primary teachers regularly converse and discuss pedagogy with secondary or university teachers and vice versa.  Conversations along a continuum would provide great insight.

11.   What is the most influential book/article/post you have ever read on education?

Seth Godin’s manifesto “Stop Stealing Dreams” really resonated with me.  It really pressed on nerves and got me to question everything I do and believe.  Download it for free here http://www.sethgodin.com/sg/docs/stopstealingdreamsscreen.pdf

I also loved Professor Guy Claxton’s “What’s the point of school? “as it really helped shape to me what personalised learning is truly about.  Developing how we learn needs to drive schooling and this book helped introduce me to Prof. Guy Claxton’s work with Building Learning Power.

Now the challenge is shared!  11 questions for 11 educators who inspire me.

1. If you had the power to make one rule in your school that every teacher would follow, what would you your rule be and why?

2. What is your learning process?

3. Where do you see education in ten years ?

4. Why are you a teacher?

5. How should a technical team support teachers?

6. If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be?

7. What is the hardest learning experience you have ever had?

8. What three books changed your life?

9. Who inspires you?

10. What strategies do you use to bounce back from the tough days in teaching?

11. What is right with education in 2014?

I would love to hear from the following 11 inspiring people

@mrsmccarry

@richardolsen

@melcashen

@jjash

@jennyluca

@trentray

@mrkrndvs

@scduncan0101

@loisath

@itmadesimple

@hamishcurry

Look forward to hearing from everyone!

How I connect

There is nothing like the feeling of being inspired, whether it be individually or as a part of a group or team.  I love the excitement that a great new idea or an innovative project can bring and I love working with people who feel the same.  I recently went to a TeachMeet in Ballarat and was buzzing with energy and ideas on the way home. I kept thinking to myself, why aren’t more people here?  Talking through ideas, listening to feedback, learning from amazing educators is how we grow as teachers and learners and a TeachMeet captures it all.  Throw in a pre and post session beer (beerpedagogy) and what more could a person want.  On  the way home, I reflected on how the richness and depth of my connections have grown over the last year and a half through Twitter, TeachMeets, blogging, curating, sharing, listening and reaching out.  I was also left wanting to ask colleagues the questions “Who are you connected to?” and “How do they enrich your learning?”  Is it a case of you don’t know what you don’t know and some educators just don’t know how to build their learning network or is it something more?  You could have bottled the passion in the room at the TeachMeet and had enough for two lifetimes.  It has spurred me to share my story about I how connect.  To capture the journey, I have used an amazing app called Touchcast.  Apologies for the voice lag.

Thanks for reading and watching!

Apps that transform my daily learning

Image

I heard a term “device agnostic” recently on the Techlandia podcast and it really resonated with me. When I look at my personal tech workflow, I prefer applications to work on a range of devices as I feel each device shapes and evolves my learning in different ways. So this post is an analysis of my iPad use.

Organise

From left to right, Any.Do is in my opinion the best to-do list on the iPad. It has such a simple interface, is so easy to use, syncs across all devices and I love the fact that I can add something on my iPad and then pop out the to-do list on my computer screen using the extension in Google Chrome. This paired with Outlook really helps me to stay on top of daily learning.  With the amount of passwords I have to remember, MiniKeePass is my saviour.  Encrypted behind a pin code and password, I can keep all my login details safe and secure.  Dropbox is my filing cabinet in the sky.  Working cross campus means that I am constantly away from my desk so this allows me access to all my files, plans, shared folders etc…  It is also one of my gateways to information transfer from or to the iPad. Google Drive is the second gateway but has a lot more to offer than Dropbox.  Forms, docs, spreadsheets, etc…Google truly have got it right with their portfolio of apps. I remember looking at Evernote about a year or so ago and thinking what’s all the fuss about.  Today Evernote houses my every digital move.  Careful tagging allows me to quickly locate a resource, anecdotal note or set of meeting minutes. Web clipping and email uploads allow me to funnel my learning feeds into easy to manage folders.  I can easily capture student work samples or audio clips and the ever growing list of Evernote compatible apps just keeps on growing.  I have invested in the Premium version of Evernote and it is worth every cent.

Connect

I love Twitter so much that I have already devoted a whole post to it.  It has changed my learning for ever! Google+ is fast becoming a really important connectivity tool for me. I love the Communities and Circles aspect as a way of connecting with like minded and thought provoking learners. Google Hangouts – Pirates! Enough said!! My relationship with Podcast has evolved over the years and now that my distance to work is a little further I have reacquainted myself with this excellent app (glad Apple came to their senses and made some updates to it though). WordPress is a newbie on my list this year.  It began as a great source of reading and is now evolving as a means of capturing my learning journey. I have set myself a challenge to post once a week from now until the end of the year so wish me luck.

Curate

I have always loved finding and discovering new toys, tools and tech. I love the possibilities and am inspired daily by the creativity of the human race. Flipboard has made the process even more enjoyable. I can flick easily through a large amount of feeds and content, pick out the articles or posts of interest and then flip them into my own magazine (Sync-ed-tech) or share them on social media. I read recently that Flipboard is soon coming to a web browser and I am pretty excited about that evolution. My only grievance with Flipboard is it doesn’t allow me to add my Feedly as an information feed (Flipboard developers take note!!).  Pocket is my choice for read later apps. It talks to a range of apps and I especially like Lisgo as it reads aloud articles saved in Pocket. Great for listening to great stories on the run. On the laptop, Scoop.it is one of my favourite ways of capturing great resources. Before Read.it, using Scoop.it on the iPad was an awful experience. Now it is another fantastic way to keep informed and be inspired. Feedly is my Google Reader replacement (why Google why!!! It wasn’t broke!)

Assess

The great folks of Evernote have struck gold with their app developer community. KustomNote is one such fine example. I use KustomNote for reading & writing conferences, eLearning meeting minutes and am experimenting with a few other template driven assessment forms. It’s capacity to talk to Evernote is brilliant and it has really lifted the calibre of notes that I take on the iPad. The strength of iAnnotate PDF for me is in the capacity of the app to allow learners to take the show on the road and use a range of tools to represent their learning. I can add audio, images, drawings to traditional pdfs and then easily sync them back to Dropbox or email them directly to students. The possibilities for fieldwork and excursions are areas I am currently exploring at the moment. Explain Everything is the one of the most multi-purpose apps on the iPad. I can create tutorials, provide feedback, annotate, record audio, you name it, Explain Everything does it. The developers really got it right with their import and export flexibility. You can import and export a range of files and from a range of sources. It really makes the workflow a seamless process.

Now I know that my list may not be to everyone’s taste but it works for me. I’d love to hear from others about apps that transform their learning.

An ode to Twitter

Just under a year ago, I finally decided to jump on board the Twitter train. It was not inspired by anyone or as a direct result of a great PD session but more to do with that fact that I wanted to develop an online education version of myself and not log onto great new resources, tools, etc…with my Facebook account. No inspiring story here. In fact, I didn’t know what all the fuss was about. Twitter was in my mind, a place for Ashton Kutcher to find one million people interested in his intellectual banter and for people to share 140 characters of dribble. Don’t get me wrong, there still is plenty of that on Twitter but I am writing here how to say loud and proudly that I am a Twiddict.

Twitter is the driving force behind my personal learning network and it has changed my life as a learner forever. Before joining Twitter last year, I negotiated to use my PD allocation to take a day off a week during Term 3 to spend with my daughter. Although I gave up those PD hours, my learning didn’t falter a step. Spending hours with the best learner on the planet (a toddler) plus the 24/7 professional development that Twitter offers meant that my learning last year was off the charts. I created, conversed, collaborated and shared using Twitter and cannot imagine my learning without it. I had the best learning year in a long time…until this year that is!

Of course, it wasn’t all smooth sailing. I’m still waiting for Sir Ken Robinson to follow me, I may have followed people in the hope that they would follow me as I was sitting on 99 followers and I have found out that people always have funny pictures of me that they want to share. But that aside, Twitter has allowed me to dupe conference organisers into thinking that I have paid for and am attending one session when in fact I am at all of them or that the conference goes for two days when in fact it began three weeks before and is still going strong three weeks after. It has allowed me to forget first names and to only know Twitter handles. It has allowed me to attend great conferences from the comfort of my own home in my pink snuggie. It has sparked a love affair with #hashtags and feeds. It has been my go to for all resources, tools, ideas, research and advice and it continues to evolve. The letter combination “TW” used to be for Twilight Twi-hards but know it is for Tweets, Tweeps, Twitteracy and Tweachers.

My Twitter use has evolved greatly as well. I used to spend ages trying to fit 200 characters of thought into 140 characters of space but now know that less is more and that my contribution is only the beginning or continuation of a great conversation. If I am stuck on something, I need only to send out a tweet and answers/ideas/suggestions come from all over the world. I now check my Twitter account in the morning before I check my work email. In my mind, beginning the day inspired as a learner is the best way to begin a day as a teacher. I am connected to learners all over the world and feel that this network is only going to get richer as I reach out and connect more.

My challenges as a Twitter user also need to be shared. When the river is so rich and vibrant, the call to connect can also be strong and loud. Learning to shut down and be in the moment has been something that I have had to work on. Dealing with the avalanche of the information and feeling inspired and not overwhelmed has also been a hurdle that I have had to overcome. As the Cool Cat – Vicky Davis says, it is all about having the right filters in place when it comes to dealing with the amount of information out there. Thank you Hootsuite for that one!

To finish off, I thought I might pay homage by saying thanks…in 140 characters of course!!!

@twitter Thank you for continuing to ignite a spark in me as a #learner. Thanks for the connections, collaboration and thinking you inspire