EdTech, Pedagogy and the Vision


I’ve sat back and reflected a few times lately after discussions with teachers and after visits where they have popped in to show me things or ask questions – and I’ve gone on to articulate my thoughts to some of my leadership team members.   What I’ve attempted to articulate is that there seems to be evidence of the tide turning.

I’ve been providing leadership in the area of educational technology for about 17 years and it has often felt like 3 steps forward, 2 steps back and it’s often felt like I’m dragging people to a place they don’t understand and essentially don’t see as important.  Looking back I see  now that there were elements missing from the culture or the approach or the teacher’s skill-set, toolset or mindset.  In different situations it’s probably been a combination of elements.

And it’s never been about the technology.   And I guess that’s where the the lack of alignment can lie – that it does sometimes appear to about the technology, the flashy new toys or the gimmicky tools.   For me it’s never about that – technology, quite simply,  opens up opportunities. It can provide a voice for the quietest child.  It can allow another to fly.   It connects people to each other and others to the world.  In the right hands, in the hands of a skilled teacher who has superb pedagogical skills and deep content knowledge and understanding, technology can be used to bring content alive, to put creation tools into the hands of students, to empower the youngest in the school and to bring dreams alive.  Will technology ever replace good teachers – no. But a good teacher who also uses technology and combines this with inquiry and challenging, problem based learning = they are the teachers that will change the world for themselves and their students.

So, sometimes you have to just stop pushing.  Just stop.   Because people won’t be dragged. They are too smart.   Teachers have noble motives and they will make decisions based on their own sphere of reality or paradigm.   So change is tough and good change takes time.

What is necessary for change in a school environment is many elements coming together:


Lately, teachers and others have come to me in a quest for more edtech or higher ratios of 1-1 devices …….and I’m the one resistant.  Why?  Because I’m sick of pushing ideas or technology onto people and then it being blamed for failure or dashed hopes.   Additionally, I won’t stand up in front of a group of parents and advocate for something that I am not 100% passionate about.   I now feel the need for quality-control and I need evidence of  good pedagogy because if this isn’t apparent and crystal clear – there’s no point.   If the vision is missing (as in above) or the skills are missing – we are never going to get the change we want to see.

But lately, as part of the conversations I referred to in the beginning of this blog – these are the some of the reasons I’ve been given:

  • We can use this across the curriculum and it enables them to express their ideas.
  • We can differentiate for the brightest kids and allow them to spread their wings and go further than the curriculum says
  • For those struggling, it allows them to move away from the tedious repetition of the skill they just aren’t getting and do it in another more interesting way.
  • Children can document their own learning
  • Children can show me improvements through the use of a digital portfolio.
  • Feedback and goal setting can be aligned and evident through the use of a device.
  • We can show a parent improvements and it can be clear and supported by such good evidence.

And you know what – I’m feeling humbled by the people around me right now.    I’m grateful for the leaders that support change.  I’m humbled by the energy and motivation of the people who work so hard to support me and I’m humbled by teachers who won’t shift until the intent and vision is clear.



Learning Spaces and Design

Professor Robert Fitzgerald is from University of Canberra and is the Director of the Inspire Centre.  He addressed the PD theatre at Edutech during the morning session I was able to get to. He was talking on the design of learning spaces.


He is interested in the combination of space, pedagogy and design and the Inspire Centre embodies much of their work.    He talked about:

  • the importance of building connections
  • making the product and process visible
  • the notion of visible learning
  • the need to take a more expansive view of learning


He is interested in the narrative behind what we do and why we do it and addressing the idea of what the barriers to change are.



Design is fundamentally about team work.


How do we create spaces that foster creativity.  How do we inspires the processes of imagination?



We need to move from the notion of space to place as this is much more encompassing.


There is such a change in skill demand – see graph.  How are we fostering the 4Cs that basically represent the ability to carry out the skills that are more in demand?


Great books for challenging and changing mindsets.


Interesting research re learning sciences.



Graph showing the comparison between learning outcomes between students in classes with traditional lectures and those experiencing active learning in STEM based subjects.  Mazur “It is almost unethical to be lecturing”.



Let’s look at the quality of learning…..we are trying to move to deeper and slower thinking.  Use the TPCK model too to encourage teachers to find their sweet spot for learning – to find a balance  and to find the spot where the three elements interact.






TEAL Room – Technology Enhanced Active Learning.  Writeable surfaces in efforts to make the process visible.  Blend of analogue and digital.



They have worked with Questacon and National Portrait Gallery….and used design thinking to work with students who wanted to leave their influence or impact on the collections.


They have also worked with AR within various areas of the university including making this Alumni interactive gallery.


Final ongoing challenge – design thinking is a generative process – a set of tools to assist us to utilise a team oriented approach.

FutureSchools – March, 2016

I’ve been at the National Future Schools conference for the last few days in Sydney.  It was much smaller than Edutech and my immediate reaction was to feel more comfortable in the intimate atmosphere that this created for the attendees.    I was presenting in the Young Learners strand of this conference – about Supporting Young Innovators of the Future:

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My school was also facilitating a round table discussion on the Advancing Education agenda in QLD and the CodingCounts initiative within this – the Government’s plan to fast-track the Digital Technologies curriculum in its State Schools in QLD.   Additionally, my principal was a member of panel discussing the same topic.  It was an amazing opportunity for our school and I have to admit that I only realised this post conference, when my presentation nerves were gone, all was done and I had regained some much needed sleep.

A video I saw in Peggy Sheehy’s session on gaming in the classroom is a nice way to start this blog entry:

Peggy’s session started brilliantly well and I enjoyed the passion, enthusiasm and the provocative nature of many of her messages.  She also shared this lovely poem by Carol Tomlinson.   Peggy uses World of Warcraft in her teaching and other games and is considered a pioneer in the use of commercial games for education.  She brought up something I have been wondering lately – ever since Microsoft bought Minecraft – and that is about what happens when we take hold of games for educational reasons and we ‘edufy’ them – is this a good thing or a bad thing?    Will Microsoft take Minecraft and ‘tweak’ it to the point where it no longer grabs kids’ souls, imaginations and interest?   Should we, rather,  be taking the commercial games, as they are and simply trying to understand what it is that makes them so beguiling to children and then to try to harness that for learning……instead of taking them and trying to control them and shape them so that we are the experts and so that we are ultimately in control?

I always like to summarise the key take-aways for me in terms of what I learned and to keep these to about 3 or 4.  Here they are:

  1.  The power of collaboration between teachers and particularly teachers who are on different year levels, with different skills and areas of expertise.     Larry Rosenstock for example, spoke about the amazing things he sees on a daily basis when he supports a pairing like a physics teacher and an art teacher.
  2. The schools who are doing really innovative, student centred things are the schools that recognise that ‘silos’ of curriculum aren’t the most effective way of preparing our students for tomorrow’s world.  The ‘Fuse’ program by Surf Coast Secondary College is a great example of this.  This school involves their students in ‘Fuse’ for just under half their time at school.

    The school increased flexibility and choice in the curriculum, increased student-centred activities, problem-solving and creativity by fusing subjects together and teaching students in open spaces. This has led to integrated and in-depth learning and flexibility of involvement. Technology is important with everything online and lessons focused on meaningful discussions and collaboration

    3. The MakerSpace mentality is one that should infuse into teacher mindsets and student mindsets.  It is also one that directly supports the implementation of the Digital Technology curriculum.  This is a great video about this alignment:

4.  Design Thinking is absolutely the right thing for us to be doing.

5.  We are absolutely on the right path in terms of what we are doing with the DigiTech curriculum and we need to maintain this momentum as we move forward.

Things I’m wondering:

  • How might we give more agency to teachers wanting to trial really innovative practice?     This may include a trial of hexagonal thinking in a year level to lead to the ‘de-silofication’ of curriculum.  Does everyone have to wait until they have done a whole year of practitioner inquiry?
  • How might we tweak the MakerSpace so that students are doing more than tinkering and sharing?  And how can more of this mindset be supported in classrooms?

Links to summarise on other sessions – already nicely done by others, are  below:

Claire Amos  on Jane Hunter http://www.teachingandelearning.com/2016/03/dr-jane-hunter-turning-high-possibility.html

Claire on her own presentation http://www.teachingandelearning.com/

Claire on partnerships between schools and corporations: http://www.teachingandelearning.com/2016/03/ayesha-khanna-externships-why.html

Claire on Makerspaces – a talk by Stephen Lethbridge

Claire on Darren Cox and a culture of learning

A summary by  Michael Eggenhuizen | Director ICT, of sessions I saw:

Larry Rosenstock – CEO of High Tech High – laments the fact that schools are not keeping up with a changing world. He begins his keynote with a Socrates quote, “I cannot teach anybody anything. I can only make them think”. He asks the audience to think about their school education and who were those teachers that had passion that drew students into the subject and made them think – we should thank these teachers! Rosenstock spoke of the ‘old education paradigm’ that still exists in schools today, sitting in rows, facing the front, compartmentalised subjects, teacher-led lessons, measuring student success on knowledge. He says that schools need to break these old molds and move with a changing world! Rosenstock gives us a glimpse of what takes place at High Tech High, a school where students are chosen by zip code rather than on ability. He draws on a quote from Dewey, “understanding derives from activity”. At High Tech High students learn through activity. Project-based learning replaces compartmentalised subjects. Students work in collaborative groups in open spaces that on the surface appear to be disorganised. Students work on real-world problems and solve them using realworld tools. Student work is displayed in public exhibitions and around the school. He relayed a story about how Year 5 students at High Tech High, wanting to eradicate rats and mice from school classrooms, researched the problem and, wanting to steer away from traps, chemicals and dangerous predators, came up with a solution to use barn owls. Barn owls eat approximately 2000 rats and mice a year! So the solution was to build a number of barn owl habitats around the school – problem solved! Read Claire Amos’ summary of keynote. Watch this High Tech High video created by students

Erin Weightman – Assistant Principal – Surf Coast Secondary College – says engagement & collaboration are key to learning. She quotes Newman who says “student engagement occurs when students make a psychological investment in learning”. Schools should invent the future rather than fixing the past. She quotes Ken Robinson in saying that humans are different and diverse, inherently creative and that curiosity is the engine of achievement. Weightman says the same old same old approach to teaching and learning in schools is often the result of an “it’s all too hard” frame of mind. Excuses like, we need to teach the curriculum, what about NAPLAN, the students will be too hard to control, we can’t change the timetable, the principal won’t let us do that, stifle creativity, engagement and collaboration in schools. To overcome these barriers at Surf Coast Secondary College, Weightman says that they needed to educate the students, teachers and parents about what the school was doing and why they were doing it this way. The school increased flexibility and choice in the curriculum, increased student-centred activities, problem-solving and creativity by fusing subjects together and teaching students in open spaces. This has led to integrated and in-depth learning and flexibility of involvement. Technology is important with everything online and lessons focused on meaningful discussions and collaboration. Claire Amos’ summary.

Catering for the Young Innovators of the Future

The mindset of a maker or inventor is one that allows someone to take ideas and turn them into some kind of reality.  It’s about being aware of what you already know and can do and being confident and brave enough to do something with that or to tinker and trial on your way to doing something with that.  Questioning is a major part of this and the inquiry process is one that will support the finding of questions and a way to possibly answer them…….or might mean embarking on another line of questioning.   It’s also about being comfortable with uncertainty and comfortable with failures.   Failures can be part of a productive struggle  and this is something that I might make a focus for me this year – learning to acknowledge of a productive struggle and being explicit about its importance for both teachers and students.

Sylvia Libow-Martinez, coauthor—with Gary S. Stager—of “Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom” discuss how this mindset is important to develop not only in students but in the teachers working with them.  It’s a scary thing to just dive in blind with no certainty about outcomes….

It’s something that I am hoping to explore, support and build upon in our Library Makerspace this coming year.  http://osstechenablinglearning.edublogs.org/

Little Bits are described as the ‘ultimate invention tool box” on their web at http://littlebits.cc/  and they certainly hold much potential for supporting the young innovators of the future.  I blogged about my holiday learning experiences on our school TechWeb here and since then, we have done even more work with them including this project initiated by my 6 year old son:

What is valuable as a result of this type of tinkering?  Is it the final product which meets a need or addresses a real world problem?  Is it the struggle that is necessary to achieve some degree of success?  Is it the learning within STEM areas that is occurring?  Is it experiencing a line of inquiry with distinct steps?

I would suggest it is all of these……and that this type of equipment amplifies quality learning and allows paths for students that take them so much further than minimum curriculum standards.


Master Class with Eric


This was a follow up to Eric’s Keynote that I attended on Wednesday at Edutech and was designed to allow for a lot of the ideas he went through quickly at the Keynote to be fleshed out.

Eric was at New Milford Hight School for a couple of years and then became principal.  When he started there there were many problems – including drugs to the point where the drug squad had to sweep the school twice a year.  This was 5 years ago and things have changed significantly and it is testament to the shift in culture and the fact that they were focussed on results and achievement that they did this.  They had the majority of the staff embrace the shift.

He told us about his obstacles which included:

  • state wide testing that took up 90 days a year
  • Student Growth Objectives – teachers were interviewed every year and expected to  monitor learning targets, track data and at end of year demonstrate that achievement was improved.
  • Principal had to observe and score teachers…….this and other factors went into cumulative scores.
  • Parents who had a general view that schooling should be like what it was for them.

What they Did to Move Forward

  • teachers – 5 observations a year each….in classrooms all day
  • Leaders can’t be afraid of feedback.
  • We need to know what teachers are doing and we need to know what support they need.
  • Considered ways to give their teachers more time.

If it is important to you, you will find a way.  If not, you’ll find an excuse.

Change does not have to come from someone who has the title of leader. Change comes from the example you set.

His teachers were the leaders.  The No Complaining Rule”  was initiated.  John Gordon – Don’t complain and if you do complain have two solutions.

They were constantly asking themselves about how their school has adapted to the every changing world.   We all did a Today’s Meet on how our own schools have adapted.

If you are not adapting to this landscape, you are becoming irrelevant to your primary stakeholders.

Is technology the equivalent of a digital pacifier?  Is there a reason and purpose behind the use?

We watched a video of a 7 year old uploading help movies to YouTube. We were asked “what are your youngest learners doing at home?”  Greatguy7.   These kids are playing minecraft and using technology and gaming because they are able to solve problems and create and make. These things are inspiring kids to be self directed learners.  

Schools and many educators are not changing. ………The system is at fault – we are more interested in control, compliance and rules.  They either can’t climb the tree or they don’t want to climb.   

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Technolgy affords so many different ways for kids to show what it is they know and what is it that they are passionate about.

ASK YOURSELF:  Would you like to be a student in your child’s classroom?

        Would you like to be a student in your colleague’s classroom?

         Would you like to be a student in your own classroom?

If we started talking to kids……we would get some answers.  A lot of challenges can be met head on by working with kids and getting their thoughts and their answers.

Traditionally school works better for the adults than the kids.   We need to do things differently….so it is better for the kids.

The thing that first changed for him – when a child said to him in anger:  “Thanks for making a prison out of a what should be a school”.   The next change:  Twitter and he saw that social media could help him and put him in contact with smart people.  He gradually moved from being a lurker on twitter to a learner.

“You can’t be a prophet in your own land”.  Don’t ask for permission.  We work for kids.

Video:  Ask how are we preparing kids for this world?





This is how to frame your conversations…..LESS US, MORE THEM

Tool:  Polleverywhere

These tools = make sure they are integrated with purpose so they make a difference to kids learning.

Why social media?   it is a multi-dimensional tool.   You can involve, create, discuss, promote, measure.  As a school, they decided they needed to promote what they were doing.   Naysayers were promoted to change..

Question: How do we initiate sustainable change leading to transformation in the digital age?  what must leaders do to ensure success?

It needs to be primed for student achievement. 

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It’s the teaching and not just the teaching happens in the classrooms.  Focus on what’s going on everywhere and at every time and also beyond the school day.  This is when tech gives us the edge – extending learning beyond the walls.

THINK        KNOW     ACT       DO   four keys to college and career readiness

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 7.32.57 pm

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach – maybe we need to change the way we teach.

BUT lots of cool tools won’t make a difference – we need a foundation and we need it embraced by every one.     



Freedom, autonomy and permission – do our teachers have this?

Technology will never be a silver bullet……it is how we leverage tech to empower kids to take control over their learning.

Eric’s tool – change.org  allows children to drive change, take actions.  they can connect with an audience all over the world.

The school had a few non-negotiables……

  • no desks in rows…….doors open.
  • a tool is worthless unless it has a connection to learning.
  • What is your learning outcome? What is it that you want kids to be able to do?


Why can’t you change the assessment?  Use a standards aligned rubric….ask for a list of tools….(twitter).  It is NOT ABOUT THE TEACHER LEARNING THE TOOLS.  It is about you knowing that the tool has the potential to allow the children to demonstrate their understanding…….

Using digital tools gives students voice, it makes them connect to the boring curriculum.

The kids had voice….they helped pick new technologies etc.

2004 and principal in 2007 – most of staff older than his parents.  They had been there for 40 years.

He did something that wasn’t popular – 5 favourite teachers – who shared his vision – got them in the room – this is where I think we could go……(real change comes from teachers and kids)…gave them whatever they wanted – release, PD,  hardware, the only catch was articulating how that was going to improve professional practice……those 5 succeeded more than they failed…….kids started talking, parents started talking, ….5 became 10, 10 became 20……etc.

They realised that they had to have to create evidence for the change……BYO

How did he give teachers time?   Google 80/20 time – teachers were given time to learn new things.

Duties?????   He cut them all in half for those teachers who could justify the use of more time………and when you deliver them time they deliver.   Admin did a lot of the duties……  Teachers created a learning portfolios which were looked at in their own end of year assessment……

Another non-negotiable – every teacher – had to make interdisciplinary connections and they had to connect the concepts to the real world.       Adobe Captivate, Educreations, Verso

It’s important to look at the skills you regard as important

Creativity, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, problem solving, media literacy, digital citizenship, global awareness, entreupenership.



  • Raising the bar
  • student products
  • student ownership
  • kids choosing the right tool

Cool Tools: edshelf, Instagrok, Today’s Meet, Poll Everywhere, padlet, trello, tozzl clipconvertercc (get clips downloaded for presentations).

Learning Spaces and Environments

School re-design that reflects the real world and enhances essential school sets

QuikBoost – laptop chargers

Hiring the people that fit into the vision. Laura was given permission and support over a budget. 

Most schools put the cart before the horse…….and this is when problems happen.


  vision for mobile learning.  how do teachers see mobile devices, how do students……..PD before,    during and after the initiative.

BYOD is not about giving students access to tools 24/7.  BYOD has specific reason for how it is going to be used.

devices to conduct research.   teachers stopped asking low level questions

CyberSafety – parent programs

Devices need to support learning……not drive instruction/




Digital Badges   worlds of learning@New Milford High School.  Badges to acknowledge the informal learning……which went into a digital portfolio. They had to demonstrate mastery ..

Digital badges in professional learning


Information your stakeholders want:




students accomplishments

staff accomplishments

  • put your colleagues in a position to embrace change.
  • ownership vs control
  • transparency vs secrecy

Don’t stop Believing – final song

Stonefields School – New Zealand

Their vision and strategic plan is all about enabling learners for their future 

School website: http://www.stonefields.school.nz/

Stonefields School – started with 48 learners.  Now they have 415 learners.

Key question:  how do we prepare our learners for their future and not our past?  What might we need to abandon and what can we think differently about

Our vision:

  • Building Learning Capacity – strongly literate and numerate and knowing how to learn
  • Collaborating
  • Making Meaning
  • Breaking Through – fulfillment, satisfaction, personal best.

Ask always about the percentage of school led curriculum and student led curriculum?

From the vision – they expand them into vision essence statements.  They co-constructed these statements with a critical friend.   

Our beliefs and mindsets – why do we do it – because they are worth it.

Our Digital Pedagogy – learners being connected, empowered with the tech being invisible.

Always go back to the vision……what apps? What LMS – always back to the vision…..


  • yr 3-7 have their own chromebook.
  • Year 2 iPads pilot
  • able to access the school wireless

Tech – how can we make the learning deeper?

Driving Change Momentum

Our Core Leadership Work

Ask what’s possible?  How do we want it to look? What are we needing in our curriculum?  What’s missing?

SAMR model – used as a scaffold to have a conversation…………………..

Looked at the apps……and how they could be used in the SAMR model.

Professor Starr – Chair – School Development and Leadership: Deakin University

Professor Starr was talking about the connection between the resources we have at schools and student achievement.  She discussed that the thing that makes the biggest difference is quality of teaching and time.

The most successful teachers work in teams with a clear purpose to their groupings……with a mixture of specialities, interests and competencies.  They are given a budget and they decide on their professional learning needs.  They work in teams to teach. They have more time and work for longer on tasks. The teachers have a reduced teaching load.   For the rest of the time they plan, converse, work on individual student needs.   

Valerie Hannon – Board Director – Innovation Unit UK

The above movie was shown to demonstrate one of the issues our children who we are teaching right now are going to have to deal with in the future.  Are we producing children who will have the skills, mindset and competencies to deal with this and other problems?

We are celebrating the extraordinary exposing of devices, tools, modalities.  It has transformed our daily lives and the issue is how can we bring this dazzling array to the business of learning.  How can we truly transform education?

We know that schooling was creating to cater for people throughout the Industrial Revolution.   We know this.   We know that without deep engagement – we won’t get deep learning.

If leadership is about facing the future – are we?????

What are we trying to achieve?   21st century skills?   In what way?

Richard Nobbs – “No Ordinary Disruption”  – the authors compare what is happening now with the industrial revolution but then there was one thing going on…..whereas now, we are facing four revolutions together.

We need to reset out intuitions which are based on our experiences of our past……..we as humans want the future to be like the past…..and it is not going to be.  We need to rethink our common sense of what schooling should be like.

Al Gore – The Future – this gives us a better idea of what the future will be like.   He came up with 6 drivers of change –

  • Globalised economy – shift of entire industries from continent to continent etc
  • Planet wide electronic communications
  • New political economy in which influence and initiative is shifting from west to east
  • Unsustainable population growth and resource depletion
  • Radially unstable relationship between human civilisation and the ecological system
  • Advances in biological, biochemical and materials science that enables human beings to reshape the fabric of life.

What is learning for??  No generations have ever faced this before…….

Other people can look away…….but we as educators can’t…….and can’t afford to.

4 levels 

  • planetary/global
  • national/Local
  • interpersonal
  • intrapersonal

Proposals – what skills do we need?   What do we need to do?

Planetary and global – to live within the earths’ renewable resources and to acquire global competence.

Naitonal and local – reinvent a democracy which is participative and authentic. To acquire the creative, collaborative, entreupenueial and metacognitive skills to ‘earn a living’.   To adapt to, and shape automated working environments with co-workers

INterpersonal – to acquire empathy, insight and respect and diverse and digitised societies.

to acquire sexual identities which do not harm but enhance and humanise.  to care fore and nurture others beyond the family.  to lead, to collaborate and to follow

Intrapersonal – to cope with increasing levels of technological enhancement.  To take responsibility for pesonal health and fitness over a long life.  To apprehend and create beauty.  To acquire self –  knowledge.

So much reform, so little change.  Charles M Payne

We need to ask ‘what is learning for?”

Claire Amos – New Zealand – Teaching as Inquiry

@claireamosnz   Teaching as Inquiry: a mechanism for leading meaningful and manageable change.

An article Claire has written on this topic

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A lot of her work based on Epson Grammar School and the work she has done there.

It’s a simple common sense process but done very explicitly and is completely transferable.

The future is unknowable, but not unimaginable – Ludwig Bachmann

With this above point – there’s no point sweating over the details but we do need to be willing to change.

We need to think about the things we can predict:

  • More information
  • More people
  • more careers
  • fewer resources

We are living in the age of change but more importantly – an ever increasing rate of change.

Moore’s Law:  “The only thing that is constant is change” –

Future focussed skills  – frameworks like the 21st Century Fluencies

communication, collaboration, critical thinking and problem solving, creativity, information and media fluency

Future Focused Pedagogy

Inquiry, at times self directed, problem based, personalised yet collaborative

Leading Meaningful and Manageable Change.

Solution is quite simple – adaptive experts also know how to continuously expand their expertise, restarting their knowledge and competencies to meet new challenges.

Essentially, as teachers we have to reframe our ideas of ourselves.  We have to accept that teachers need to be involved in action research and to be given the time and space to trial things, gather data about their effectiveness, to reflect on them and to share.

They need to focus the inquiry on where the students are at.  Get the data from the class.  They need to ask themselves what strategies (evidence based) are most likely to help my students learn.

Staff came up with their own eLearning Action Plan 

In this action plan – they defined what they wanted to improve or focus on .

The staff member is expected to research the ICT strategies that might be possible to use. We need to argue for each person to find the best tool for them.   Find the tools and intervention that best suit you.   Trial them and collect data.  Start writing a learning story.  Share their findings.   They did this in a learning cafe situation where sharing was done in groups of 3 or 4.   Sharer only allowed to talk.

So does this work?

Sigmoid Curve Model  – the best gains are made after you have started gains.

The model improved after one year.

We have to put teachers in the situation where they are taking responsibility for their own learning.

Eric Sheninger

Eric Sheninger is wonderful. He is one of those charismatic speakers who has you from the moment he walks on stage. He is unafraid to admit his feelings and talks clearly and loudly about about the need for radical transformation in how we run our schools in order to benefit our kids today.  I’ve been aware of his work for a couple of years and he is one of my favourite twitter follows.  His TL, Laura has also done wonderful things through being empowered by Eric to do things like Makerspaces.   I am spending the day with him tomorrow and I am feeling just a little excited about this.


To start with he talked about these key points:

  • Let’s not think about what is impossible but what is possible.
  • If it is important to you, you will find a way.  If not, you’ll find an excuse.
  • The world is changed by your example…..not by your opinion.  Paulo Coelho.
  • Leadership is action and not position.
  • If the leaders don’t get it, it’s not going to happen.

He talked a lot about leaders and leadership culture.  True leadership comes from the teachers, he said.   Great leaders remove the obstacles and they let others innovate.  We need leaders and we need all educators to get it.  Our students deserve better. The environment in which they learn is different.   Eric’s son is 10 – and what was he doing when he facetimed with him this morning – playing minecraft: creating a product that has value……its relevant and fun.  He’s solving problems, he’s collaborating with others………..NONE OF WHICH HE IS ALLOWED TO DO IN SCHOOL.

Reality – his two children hate school.   How can we prepare students for the future if we are stuck in the past?

Our classrooms – are we seeing fundamental shifts?  Are we preparing kids for the future?  How many principles adhere to conformity and rules as their main guiding principles?

We need to ask ourselves – What does school actually teach kids?  What do we want it to teach them?

Key Point 1 – Social Media is a Game Changer.  Twitter changed his life.  The people he connected with have made it possible to see other viewpoints and to get other ideas.  Social media is a catalyst for conversation with other educators. He took control of his learning and realised that his school worked better for the adults than the kids.

They learned that technology is not a silver bullet. True catalyst is how we harness technology.   Social media is like water and everywhere.   WE can ignore it and watch kids drown or we can teach kids how to swim.

Key Point 2 – CONTROL – GIVE IT UP.

Key Point 3 – TRUST kids

Key Point 4 – MORE THEM LESS US.

This is about our kids learning and not ours. Empower kids to take ownership.

If kids aren’t learning the way we teach – we need to change the way we teach……..is the instructional design right? How do we know that the technology is making a difference.

Pedagogy First, Tech Second if appropriate.

Pedagogy is the driver and tech is the accelerator. 

His school’s transformation took 5 years…..every time you use technology – is it making a difference?    He was in classrooms 70% of the day.  He wanted to make sure it was right.  The plan was created with the students and the teachers and the community.  We can’t be satisfied with isolated pockets of excellence.

They decided – No more desks in rows.  Kids brought their devices.  Every lesson had a defined goal. Feedback was a feature.

Real testament to change – transparency.  Let people go anywhere anytime.

Visitors went anywhere…….critical feedback was zero.  They worked on the foundation for years.   Kids learnt anywhere.   

Learning spaces and environment – school redesign reflects the real world and enhances essential skill sets.    put thinking games into common areas…..chess – this stimulated better relationships.

Makerspaces – his TL Laura – created makerspace and was empowered to make this change herself.

Went BYOD 5 years ago.   excuses or solution?   They focussed on how to use the devices and they had a clear focus.   

Tech should never drive instruction – it should support and enhance learning.    Engagement – this does not always equate to learning.   Are they constructing new knowledge? Are they applying new skills?  They focussed on student learning and the environment of the school. They focussed on teacher learning and decided it was no longer acceptable to be a disconnected nomad as a teacher.

What can we do tomorrow?

  • We need to create a PLN and build relationships. We should be helping each other because we are all in the business of helping kids to learn.

       Eric says he’s not smart…..just resourceful.

  • We need to think about how we communicate……
  • Ask – are we meeting our stakeholders where we are at.    are we engaged in 2 way feedback.  how are we interacting.  are we opening ourselves up?
  • Public relations – if you don’t tell your story – someone else will.
  • we have got to be willing to share…..create a brand presence.  it’s not about selling. it’s about building support for the amazing work we do. 

good leadership

share your vision

have the conversations

support change

embrace tech

learn from each other

model the expectations.

Digitally resilient – challenges, obstacles and excuses.   The person who says it can’t be done should not interrupt the person who is doing it.