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Entries in design thinking (2)


#21CLHK '12 - How will I integrate technology in my classroom now? 

The 2012 21CLHK comference has just finished this weekend and now I have several tasks I'm sure other EdTech leaders have to think about. In fact, I now have many.

There were so many great strands going on at the conference that in the end I had to basically double up and dip in and out of a few towards the end and try to get a flavour of what was going on. The best of what I saw and heard came from Robyn Treyvaud and Sugatra Mitra's keynotes. Many people commented on Punya Mishra and the cross-over of Tachnology in TPACK . But in terms of our needs the former two hit the nail on the head. If you don't know who these people are then follow the links. But rest assured that they are key figures in education and technological usage within education.

The rest of the event was based around unconference type events that ranged from the basic tools needed to the more in-depth and leadership based discussions.





An example session run by Chris Smith from As you can see from the slide show that if you're familiar with the tools then you can glean the basic premise from here and share with your staff.

Where it got a little more in-depth was from the keynotes by the people at the top of this post and the more abstract questions like "how will a future 21st Century school look?" (in terms of curriculum) and, of course, the school leadership strands. Where you really had to be on your techical game though was in Dana Watts's e-portfolio session. This really made me think deeper about making online devices such as to manage multiple classes of e-portfolios. (the slideshow below is Dana's and not mine had to download to embed!)

What impressed me most was the unifying voice of the need to address the curriculum as it stands: The model that has been around for centuries. 
Dr. Mitra and his HiWEL research suggests that children no longer need the direction of the teacher as it traditonally stands. Instead the teacher will become the mediator (by as he put "a network of grandmas" referring to his research in teaching via Skype). His idea, based on the historical evidence of teaching and schooling losing key lessons (think: medievel times and the need to learn to ride a horse and use a sword) and then brought up to speed - the death of traditional mathematics. This was posed in the form of an analogy of a shopper at the check-out - who uses more mathematics? The shopper or the shop assistant? Followed up by 'the Internet as a prothesis for the brain' raised a few interesting sub-questions. What about over reliance on devices?
What I also enjoyed was the need to instil a games based learning module in classes rather than the Scratch and Kodu game building I currently employ. As much as I love the making (and playing ) of computer games it would make a lot more sense to it integrated in the classroom rather than in the ICT lab.

Task 1:

The upshot of this is that we need kit. So, with the great suggestion from a teacher at Kellet School, Hong Kong I am going to set up an armistice of tech gadgets. All parents in EPC will be asked if they want to hand over unused Nintendo DSs if they want to. I will begin with this console first as it easy to administer and add games (copies obviously) and use directly in the classroom. See here and here. We will then move on to the larger consoles like Wiis, XBOX, PSP, CUBE, N64 or other oldies like NES and SNES if we're (I say we, I mean me) lucky.
This should give me enough leverage to broker a Games based learning module when we move to a facilitator model of teaching next year.
If, I revert back the explanation of the changes above, I am pleased to have learned first hand the other side of this idea of accepting obselescence in education from Ewan MacIntosh and Tom Barrett in November. They partially touch on a similar theme where the learner is and should have more control of their learning. Step one: Collect a sample of online games suitable like this from Frankie Tam and these from persuasive games.

Task 2:

Open up the approach to teaching ICT in KS2 (to begin with before moving to KS1). The impetus gained from the training in November allowed one of the best game making projects I have ever witnessed. I'm not sure if this is to with the children's familiarity of scratch but Tom and Ewan's mantra of letting go of the reins really paid off.
The tasks in a nutshell: find the bigger question at the beginning of the topic and set the steps needed from then on.

Task 3:

Re-evaluate the purchasing and school improvement plan for next year based on the above. What equipment does a group of 4-6 children need to be successful in... X, Y, Z topic?

Task 4:

This one is more immediate: Policy and the re-writing of the first steps needed to creating a better, more parent and student focused framework for Digital Citizenship. Initially, I will begin by inviting parents in for a coffee morning and explaingin to them that I am re-writing this and need their input. What does digital citizenship look like in Year 3 now and how would you like it, as a parent/ student, to look? This I hope will be adopted at a similar time in KS3 and 4.
To summarise then, 21CLHK is fabulous and probably one of the best conferences I've too. That and TechEx at Patana School, Bangkok just for the sheer scale and the amount of thinking needed on our part to address your own vision.  I think also the quality of attendees and keynote speakers is something I was taken aback by. I just hope that our school can send more than one person next year as there is necessary learning at every corner.

Design Thinking: Workshops by Ewan McIntosh and Tom Barrett


On November the 8th we invited over Ewan McIntosh and Tom Barrett two of the leading specialists in ICT in education from the company NoTosh. They were here to work with all staff in Primary and Nursery plus a few from our Bi Lingual section too. They were here for 3 days and were structured so that year groups could work together in their teams and produce new and exciting resources to teach with. They also learned new methods to try and be more experimental with the ICT equipment we have in school.

The days began with our staff learning to use the Google suite of applications that mostly come with a Gmail account. Many people do not realise the potential that these applications have for education. Tom, who specialises in this field was the first teacher in the UK to become a certified Google Educator and leads the way in its use with his ideas called "Interesting Ways". If you should do a Google search for this you will see the variety of uses that have been put together from teachers all over the world.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Ewan, who has a media background working for Channel 4 in the UK, compliments this use of online tools by introducing teachers to new possibilities in story telling. His workshops teach us to how to add video, mobile devices, online games and digital stills to enhance the language children produce in their stories. This approach will lead us to become more creative in our approach to teaching with these devices. It also allows our students to take more control of their learning and to lead their own learning via collaboration - a key part that links both Ewan and Tom's ethos of Design Thinking. 

Design Thinking was the focus for our final day on the Friday. Both Tom and Ewan introduced the idea to us that 'letting go of the reins' and allowing students to take more control of their learning is fundamental to success in the modern classroom. So the key to us as teachers is to adapt and change and lead through use of the tools we have been introduced to this week; collaborate with our students and teach them with the creative opportunities these technologies provide.

This week has been great fun for me and I hope it has been too for all involved - Tom and Ewan were fabulous speakers and really encouraged those of us who, in light of change, can be nervous for the unexpected journey ahead. But, the teachers who attended this is just the beginning as we will have to share our creative ideas with them as part of our pledge to send the outcome to them in 4 - 6 months!