Monthly Archives: December 2011

What does it tell you when…⤴

from @ ICT-Echo

... a school doesn't have a website?

I find myself using a variety of website to gain information and knowledge about the schools my students have been placed in for their school experiences.

I'll use Google to start, although I have other regular sites that I can go to first, to get an overview. The regular sites tend to appear at the top of the google list: LTScotland, HMIe, Wikipedia, RateMyTeacher, local government. From this list the most obvious omission is the school's website, but I'll return to this later.

LTScotland or Education Scotland host a site called Scottish Schools Online which is a searchable directory of all the schools in Scotland. It provides basic information: map, address, telephone, local authority, web address, email, SEED number, school type and school information links.

The school information links provide statistics and general information about the performance of the school and measures of socio-economic status. These include examination results, attendance & absence data, leavers destinations and free school meal percentages.

The HMIe website provides reports on the quality of schools against the evaluation framework known as How Good Is Our School (HIGIOS). I would be surprised if their were any schools in Scotland that did not have a published report dated within the last 7 years. But I'm not planning to search through the 2826 entries to see if any report exceed this date.

A Wikipedia entry is not always there for every school. It usually takes either a dedicated alumni or member of staff to muster the time and effort to submit an entry to this site.

The local government website vary in detail and quality. Over the years accessing the details about a school from these can be infuriating. Especially in local authorities where they have been in the process of rebuilding and merging schools. The details, especially contact details, are not always kept up to date. I have found myself on several occasions (eg Stirling High School) having to ask builder or local dog walkers for directions to where the new school is. Where these website can be useful is in accessing the start and end times to the various parts of the school day. These will either be on the webpage or can be found in a downloadable copy of the school handbook which is sometimes hosted on these sites.

You might think that RateMyTeacher is not a very useful site for gaining information about a school, but you'd be wrong. I'm not talking about or interested in the arbitrary scores allocated to teachers but to the fact that the list of teachers names is available online. Not all school websites include a staff list for a variety of different reasons and it's nice to know the name of the teacher that you're going to meet when you visit the school.

Lastly, I return to the ommission: a school website. Most schools have a website that list the basic information and conforms to a default standard. It may list staff and parental information and course choices and pupil activities and contact details and location. Some sophisticated sites are based around blogs or contain twitter feeds. Regardless of the quality or quantity or information on the website the majority of schools have one. It's the norm.

So what does it tell me about a school when they don't have one? To be honest it raises more questions than answers, the main one being why?

What does it tell you when…⤴

from @ ICT-Echo

... a school doesn't have a website?

I find myself using a variety of website to gain information and knowledge about the schools my students have been placed in for their school experiences.

I'll use Google to start, although I have other regular sites that I can go to first, to get an overview. The regular sites tend to appear at the top of the google list: LTScotland, HMIe, Wikipedia, RateMyTeacher, local government. From this list the most obvious omission is the school's website, but I'll return to this later.

LTScotland or Education Scotland host a site called Scottish Schools Online which is a searchable directory of all the schools in Scotland. It provides basic information: map, address, telephone, local authority, web address, email, SEED number, school type and school information links.

The school information links provide statistics and general information about the performance of the school and measures of socio-economic status. These include examination results, attendance & absence data, leavers destinations and free school meal percentages.

The HMIe website provides reports on the quality of schools against the evaluation framework known as How Good Is Our School (HIGIOS). I would be surprised if their were any schools in Scotland that did not have a published report dated within the last 7 years. But I'm not planning to search through the 2826 entries to see if any report exceed this date.

A Wikipedia entry is not always there for every school. It usually takes either a dedicated alumni or member of staff to muster the time and effort to submit an entry to this site.

The local government website vary in detail and quality. Over the years accessing the details about a school from these can be infuriating. Especially in local authorities where they have been in the process of rebuilding and merging schools. The details, especially contact details, are not always kept up to date. I have found myself on several occasions (eg Stirling High School) having to ask builder or local dog walkers for directions to where the new school is. Where these website can be useful is in accessing the start and end times to the various parts of the school day. These will either be on the webpage or can be found in a downloadable copy of the school handbook which is sometimes hosted on these sites.

You might think that RateMyTeacher is not a very useful site for gaining information about a school, but you'd be wrong. I'm not talking about or interested in the arbitrary scores allocated to teachers but to the fact that the list of teachers names is available online. Not all school websites include a staff list for a variety of different reasons and it's nice to know the name of the teacher that you're going to meet when you visit the school.

Lastly, I return to the ommission: a school website. Most schools have a website that list the basic information and conforms to a default standard. It may list staff and parental information and course choices and pupil activities and contact details and location. Some sophisticated sites are based around blogs or contain twitter feeds. Regardless of the quality or quantity or information on the website the majority of schools have one. It's the norm.

So what does it tell me about a school when they don't have one? To be honest it raises more questions than answers, the main one being why?

A 2 Speed YouTube?⤴

from @ Digital Signposts

Imager

image credit: theqspeaks CC Licnece BY_NC_SA

“Opening up a world of educational content with YouTube for Schools”

As a firm advocate of video for learning, I really hope Google’s recently launched YouTube for Schools service will get YouTube into more schools.  Then if those schools were to move from YouTube for Schools to the default open YouTube, that would  be even better.
As expected the initial reactions to the launch of YouTube for  Schools on the  educational blogs and twitter feeds has been welcoming and positive and .... largely.......uncritical.

Google’s  bold statement (above), has obviously struck a chord with lots of educators, despite the fact that the content on YouTube has always been open and available to schools should they wish to access it. There are of course many schools and administrations that have; (misguidedly in my opinion), chosen to block it,  but that is an entirely different matter.

Search-13
Therefore is Google really opening or providing anything new?  No, what YouTube for Schools does is offer a filter switch by which school IT admins can allow access to the Youtube.com/education subdomain  i.e. YouTube Edu, whilst still allowing the blocking of  open YouTube. The keywords in Gooogles rationale are:  safety and distraction together with  school friendly/teacher friendly and free. Taking these points in order:
  • if YouTube is really that dangerous;  why are many schools using it without any significant issues as Daniel Stucke points out in his post?  
  • distraction; lots of glib references to cats and music; from both Google and commentators but no analysis of the causes of distraction
  • school/teacher friendly is a pretty meaningless term, but could possibly be interpreted as spoon feeding.....having the spadework done for you.... avoiding issues of digital literacy?
  • YouTube has always been free ... ‘no brainer’
The YouTube Edu content is sourced from over "600 partners” and indeed there are some excellent videos from the likes of NASA, RSA, Smithsonian and TED. Nevertheless there are also a lot of talking heads and dry lectures.  There is very little evidence of student authored videos or the student voice, instead it is very much a one-way street where video is used to "illustrate."  I think YouTube Edu focuses too heavily on 'subjects' and ‘grades’ rather than the interconnectedness of knowledge or the educational affordances of video. Perhaps it is just my take, but there seems to be a very US centric feel to the service. I have also noted; that many, if not the majority of clips still feature pre-roll and pop-up adverts.

There is of course no shortage of educational video being curated and shared on the web.  A good example is WatchKnow.org; a moderated wiki where and  teachers  recommend, aggregate and curate educational content from a number of video services including YouTube. Another developing service in the UK is EdmediaShare, where educators in HE and FE upload, share and discuss the videos they are using. The emphasis within EdmediaShare is on  how to leverage the pedagogical value of the videos and can be used in different learning contexts as well as subjects using the Dial-e framework developed at the University of Hull.

I am not convinced about new either; YouTube  hosts hundreds or even thousands of  channels and playlists that have educational value. I  would argue that this value is best determined by a community of educators curating and sharing, rather than a committee even if it does include teachers and Google educators. YouTube has become such a powerful educational platform because of its serendipity - the discovery, of new videos and channels, facilitated and promoted through social networks.

Of the 35 hours of video uploaded every minute to YouTube, a significant amount will be extremely current, relevant and topical. YouTube provides instantaneous access to many events of local and global significance as they happen, for example the recent Japan Tsunami, Arab Spring or a local Starling roost  - all good  examples. Teachers should have access to; and be able to decide; if, how, and when to use such videos; and also consider the age group and how to frame them in an appropriate learning context

In my opinion what YouTube should be doing, is helping teachers to understand and use the
excellent creative YouTube tools such as: Playlists, Editing, Captions, Video Manager  and promoting embedding YouTube content in other educational resources, as they do in YouTube for Teachers. Teachers should be encouraged to address the issues of raised by comments and how related videos algorithms work and evaluate their effectiveness. This is all part of developing digital and media literacies. Offering a solution based on 'removing' comments and related videos is pedagogically unsound.

To give Google some credit they have factored in a suggest option for  channels, but here's the rub - it must must be sourced from a YouTube partner! .... rather than selected for its true educational merit.
 
So in the final analysis what we end up with is a digital video library, a walled garden.
whereby a ‘committee’ and Google deems what is educational video, which can then be allocated to teachers on an individual basis by an IT admin. I think this is  a backward step for video for learning. It will will be interesting to watch how this plays out and follow the crossover, both ways,  between YouTube for Schools and Open YouTube. Of course my big worry is that some currently Open YouTube users would move to the YouTube for Schools.

A 2 Speed YouTube?⤴

from @ Digital Signposts

Imager

image credit: theqspeaks CC Licnece BY_NC_SA

“Opening up a world of educational content with YouTube for Schools”

As a firm advocate of video for learning, I really hope Google’s recently launched YouTube for Schools service will get YouTube into more schools.  Then if those schools were to move from YouTube for Schools to the default open YouTube, that would  be even better.
As expected the initial reactions to the launch of YouTube for  Schools on the  educational blogs and twitter feeds has been welcoming and positive and .... largely.......uncritical.

Google’s  bold statement (above), has obviously struck a chord with lots of educators, despite the fact that the content on YouTube has always been open and available to schools should they wish to access it. There are of course many schools and administrations that have; (misguidedly in my opinion), chosen to block it,  but that is an entirely different matter.

Search-13
Therefore is Google really opening or providing anything new?  No, what YouTube for Schools does is offer a filter switch by which school IT admins can allow access to the Youtube.com/education subdomain  i.e. YouTube Edu, whilst still allowing the blocking of  open YouTube. The keywords in Gooogles rationale are:  safety and distraction together with  school friendly/teacher friendly and free. Taking these points in order:
  • if YouTube is really that dangerous;  why are many schools using it without any significant issues as Daniel Stucke points out in his post?  
  • distraction; lots of glib references to cats and music; from both Google and commentators but no analysis of the causes of distraction
  • school/teacher friendly is a pretty meaningless term, but could possibly be interpreted as spoon feeding.....having the spadework done for you.... avoiding issues of digital literacy?
  • YouTube has always been free ... ‘no brainer’
The YouTube Edu content is sourced from over "600 partners” and indeed there are some excellent videos from the likes of NASA, RSA, Smithsonian and TED. Nevertheless there are also a lot of talking heads and dry lectures.  There is very little evidence of student authored videos or the student voice, instead it is very much a one-way street where video is used to "illustrate."  I think YouTube Edu focuses too heavily on 'subjects' and ‘grades’ rather than the interconnectedness of knowledge or the educational affordances of video. Perhaps it is just my take, but there seems to be a very US centric feel to the service. I have also noted; that many, if not the majority of clips still feature pre-roll and pop-up adverts.

There is of course no shortage of educational video being curated and shared on the web.  A good example is WatchKnow.org; a moderated wiki where and  teachers  recommend, aggregate and curate educational content from a number of video services including YouTube. Another developing service in the UK is EdmediaShare, where educators in HE and FE upload, share and discuss the videos they are using. The emphasis within EdmediaShare is on  how to leverage the pedagogical value of the videos and can be used in different learning contexts as well as subjects using the Dial-e framework developed at the University of Hull.

I am not convinced about new either; YouTube  hosts hundreds or even thousands of  channels and playlists that have educational value. I  would argue that this value is best determined by a community of educators curating and sharing, rather than a committee even if it does include teachers and Google educators. YouTube has become such a powerful educational platform because of its serendipity - the discovery, of new videos and channels, facilitated and promoted through social networks.

Of the 35 hours of video uploaded every minute to YouTube, a significant amount will be extremely current, relevant and topical. YouTube provides instantaneous access to many events of local and global significance as they happen, for example the recent Japan Tsunami, Arab Spring or a local Starling roost  - all good  examples. Teachers should have access to; and be able to decide; if, how, and when to use such videos; and also consider the age group and how to frame them in an appropriate learning context

In my opinion what YouTube should be doing, is helping teachers to understand and use the
excellent creative YouTube tools such as: Playlists, Editing, Captions, Video Manager  and promoting embedding YouTube content in other educational resources, as they do in YouTube for Teachers. Teachers should be encouraged to address the issues of raised by comments and how related videos algorithms work and evaluate their effectiveness. This is all part of developing digital and media literacies. Offering a solution based on 'removing' comments and related videos is pedagogically unsound.

To give Google some credit they have factored in a suggest option for  channels, but here's the rub - it must must be sourced from a YouTube partner! .... rather than selected for its true educational merit.
 
So in the final analysis what we end up with is a digital video library, a walled garden.
whereby a ‘committee’ and Google deems what is educational video, which can then be allocated to teachers on an individual basis by an IT admin. I think this is  a backward step for video for learning. It will will be interesting to watch how this plays out and follow the crossover, both ways,  between YouTube for Schools and Open YouTube. Of course my big worry is that some currently Open YouTube users would move to the YouTube for Schools.

Rethinking the Maths Curriculum⤴

from

Dan Meyer’s TED Talk on the failing maths curriculum, is without a doubt my favourite. He may not be the most confident or charismatic speaker but he is so obviously, in-your-face-passionate about teaching that you can’t help but believe everything he says (and if you don’t agree with that reasoning I’d still hazard a guess that you nodded along with him because what he says is so true). He wants to completely strip maths back; lose the unnecessary words and explanation – it’s maths after all, not literature – just give pupils a problem to solve using the knowledge you have (hopefully) been successful in providing them with. His recommendations for teaching and learning hit the epitome of problem finding and for that reason alone I think they are genius.

I’ve read a lot of articles and posts comparing Dan’s recommendation for maths against that of Salman Khan, and more often than not Dan wins. I can fully understand why Dan wins, he’s a teacher and he is passionate about being a teacher; Salman Khan has created an interactive website to teach rather than going out into the classroom to do so himself. But here’s the point that almost everyone is missing or choosing to ignore… Salman Khan has a potential classroom of 6 billion people; Dan Meyer has a classroom of around 30 pupils. This is not Dan Meyer’s fault, and at the end of the day his face to face methods probably do trump those of a PC, but neither method is wrong. In fact, I think that if you combine the two methods you are pretty much winning. OK so pupils might not watch Khan Academy videos at home… but they might! Give your class the option, tell them about Khan Academy, set videos and exercises for them to complete at home; adopt Dan Meyer’s approach in the classroom, having faith that your pupils are learning the math facts at home at a pace which suits them, and see where you are in a week, month, year’s time. Some pupils won’t watch Khan Academy at home, but, to be blunt, some pupils just don’t like maths! Those kids who want to do better, who enjoy being in the maths classroom, they are likely to not only try Khan Academy, but to love it!

Dan Meyer’s approach depends on pupils knowing the basics; Khan Academy can help free class time by allowing pupils to be tutored for free at home. Give pupils the basics, give them the resources to revisit the basics, allow yourself to use software which tells you where your pupils are struggling and run with Dan Meyer’s new approach to the maths curriculum. 

http://www.ted.com/talks/view/lang///id/855 

Higher Computing- Pupil support and Pupil Voice⤴

from

Overview

Last session, the Computing Department in John Ogilvie High School, South Lanarkshire, decided to create a Glow Group to host all of the resources that pupils studying Higher Computing would need access to throughout the year. Joe Kane is Head of the Business Education and Computing faculty and undertook the task of building the Group,

Context

Click to see full image

Click to see full image

Joe was keen to ensure that pupils studying Higher Computing had easy access to all information and resources they would need for the course and also would have a place where they could give feedback.

He wanted to simplify the look of the Glow Group and aid pupils’ navigation around it and so decided to use a graphical interface along with hidden pages.

On the Noticeboard page of the Group, Joe deleted the default web parts from the page, added a Text Editor web part and uploaded an image to it. He then created ‘hot spots’ on the image to provide links to each of the hidden pages.

Some pagesEach part of the image then acts like a button, linking to a separate hidden page and gives pupils access to course notes, tests, past papers, homework, study information, useful web links, a pupil voice feedback area and a blog giving specific course information.

Because of the use of hidden pages, only the Noticeboard page tab is visible in the Group, so Joe chose to create a navigation system on each page, to enable pupils to go from page to page without having to go back to the main page each time.

Like the Noticeboard page, this was done by uploading an image to a Text Editor Web part and creating hot spots to each page.


The Pages

Each page in the Glow Group is beautifully simple and easy to use, containing only a few web parts. For example:

Past Papers Page

Click to see full image

Click to see full image

This page contains only three web parts – two text editors and a Document Store. Both text editor web parts have had their borders and title bars removed so that only the images which have been uploaded into them are visible.

The Document Store hosts Past Paper exam questions and marking schemes to aid pupils in their exam preparation and enables the staff in the Department to ensure that all relevant information is shared with pupils.

 

 


Notes Page

Course Notes PageThis page also contains Text Editor web parts (3) and a Document Store.

In order for Joe to ensure that each page contained a different Document store, containing the folders and documents relevant to the purpose of the page, he had to create new Document Library web parts from scratch for each page, using the Advanced Settings link in the Glow Group. Had he not done this and had simply added a document store to each page from the web parts gallery, he would have had the same document store, containing the same documents, on every page. You can find out more about this and how to create new web parts from scratch in the ‘how to’ videos in the Recipe section below.

Blog Page

Blog pageJoe created a Higher Computing blog to enable him to give up to date information to pupils. Once he had created the Glow Blog, he copied the web address of the view of the blog. Joe then removed the blog web part from the page and instead added a Page Viewer web part, adding in the web address of the view of the blog to it. This enabled pupils to have a direct view of the blog content.

In the blog, Joe was then able to write posts to share information about the course revision guides, holiday revision and Supported Study.

Pupil Voice Page

Pupil Voice pageThe Pupil Voice page gives pupils the chance to give feedback on the Higher Computing course, to enable staff to then make changes in order to help them continually improve the learning experience for pupils.

Survey sampleOn the page there is a Document store with evaluation documents which pupils can use to give their opinions on Positive, Negative and Interesting elements of the course. In here also are the results of a survey which Joe did with pupils last session to gather their thoughts on the course. This was done using ‘Survey Monkey’, however this year, Joe has decided to use a Glow Survey instead and so the web part for this is also on the Pupil Voice page. Using the Glow Survey will enable Joe to have an overview of the whole class’s feedback, as well as being able to see individual pupil responses. Results can be displayed in a variety of ways, including graphically.

These are just four of the pages in the Glow Group. In the following video we can take a look at the whole Group:


Tour of Higher Computing Glow Group (13:44)

Higher Computing- Pupil support and Pupil Voice

 

Ingredients

Joe chose to create the Higher Computing Glow Group using hidden pages, with links made to them via a graphical interface. This is done by uploading an image to a Text Editor web part then creating ‘hot spots’ to each of the pages on selected parts of the image.  In order to do all of this, Joe therefore needed to do the following:

–    Create a Glow Group at school level
–    Delete the Documents, Discussions and Glow Groups pages
–    Create Hidden Page
–    On the Noticeboard Page, delete the default web parts, upload an image to a Text Editor web part and create hot  spots on the image to link to each of the hidden pages
–    On each of the hidden pages, upload an image to a Text Editor web part and create hot spots on the image to link to each of the other hidden pages.

Since Joe needed separate document stores on many of the pages in the Glow Group, he also needed to create new Document Libraries from scratch, to avoid simply having the same Document store duplicated on every page.

A Glow Blog had to be created. Joe chose to then use the Page Viewer web part to show the view of the Blog.

A Glow Survey was created, with multiple choice questions using the ‘ratings scale’ option, to enable Joe to gather pupil feedback on the Higher Computing course.


Recipe

The following videos explain how to replicate some of these elements of the Higher Computing Glow Group. The context of these videos is different, but the process is exactly the same.

How to remove pages from a Glow Group and close web parts from a page (2:22)
Higher Computing- Pupil support and Pupil Voice

How to create a hidden page and hyperlink text to access it (10:39)
Higher Computing- Pupil support and Pupil Voice

How to hotspot an image and link it to a hidden page (6:22)
Higher Computing- Pupil support and Pupil Voice

How to create a new Document Store (5:57)
Higher Computing- Pupil support and Pupil Voice

How to add a Glow Blog to a Glow Group and create the blog (6:12)
Higher Computing- Pupil support and Pupil Voice

How to view a Glow Blog through the Page Viewer web part (4:53)
Higher Computing- Pupil support and Pupil Voice

How to create a survey (14:16)
Higher Computing- Pupil support and Pupil Voice

How to respond to a survey (5:19)
Higher Computing- Pupil support and Pupil Voice


Impact

Perhaps the best way to judge whether the Glow Group has been beneficial is to listen to the thoughts of the pupils who used it. Here are what some of them had to say:

I thought that the glow group was very useful as it had all the required course notes which was easily accessible from home. I liked this because it meant that if I had missed a set of notes or lost a set I could easily get a new copy without using up the teachers time”. Sean

Sitting Higher Computing last year, I felt glow was a great study tool.  With the online daily guide of what to study each night, it really helped me keep my studying on track, as it gave you a guide line of what to study, for how long and what was coming up. This section also updates us on homework or tests that were coming up. It allowed you to submit homework online at any point. This was great as you could receive immediate feed back, the following day. It also prevented you from losing or forgetting sheets.   It covered all the course and recalled on subtopics that we had done at the start of term. The notes on power point were also a great help to look over if I was unsure on any particular parts of a topic, these notes went into further detail and helped explain when I did not understand. With the past papers and marking schemes, this was a great study revision, as they were easy to access and find. Also the previous class test that we had sat were available online, this was a further study guide that was available nowhere else. The site was very easy to use and navigate around. I personally feel this would be a great revision and home tool for all subjects.  All of this helped me greatly to stay on track and achieve my grade B that I had hoped for.” Alix

The Glow program was useful by providing remote and digital access to homework as well as a balanced revision timetable. Being able to download homework meant that the problem of losing sheets disappeared completely and being able to upload digital documents meant that when homework was handed in there was no loss of a jotter and thus access to notes, so studying could carry on in lots of little chunks instead of needing a big rush to catch up after a few days. I would recommend using Glow just because of how useful digitised work is when you have written notes, and having a good revision timetable always handy is a bonus. Daniel

Glow last year was good as Mr Kane was able to set us a study plan every week so we knew which to study every night in order to achieve the best grade possible. We were also able to access past papers as well as the marking instructions. Glow was effective when coming up to our exams as I was able to know what to study for when at home as well as at school. Tommy

I think glow was a useful, educational tool in which we were able to access at home and see our study plan and online past papers. This benefited me greatly and allowed me to work the best of my ability and achieve a high grade.Stephen

Good points about using the glow group in Higher Computing last year were that it allowed the class to gain access to all resources needed for the course and all past papers that would be needed for revision. It also gave us a study guide for specific subjects to study when at home which was optional which was good as it gave us areas that people may need help on as well as being able to issue homework and do homework on computer and send it back to the teacher”. Connor

Joe Kane also talks about the benefits that he got from using the Glow Group with the pupils. He feels that the blog has been the most useful element: 

“For me, the blog had the biggest impact as pupils would come to school having checked the revision guide. They would then be able to informally feedback on the aspects of the course that they found tricky when revising.”

Rating: 5.0/5 (2 votes cast)

Day 2 PIL Global Forum⤴

from @ Islay ICT

image

The day started even earlier than planned. That's why the agenda is written on to remind me.

During day 1 I had meet and spent some time with the group of teachers I was working with.

My group are from left to right are Alinazim from Azerbaijan, Tahmeena from Pakistan, Saba from UAE and Kara from Sweden (Below). Unfortunately Jenny from Bolivia (and her translator, Daniela) didn’t make it to Washington.

These were all amazing educators in their own right. They had already won the national and regional forum competitions for their Virtual Classroom Tours of there projects.

We are called SERC 7. The name is from our visit today on our Learning Excursion. We were group 7 heading to Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre – SERC.

First though the was a keynote from Microsoft’s VP for Education, Anthony Salcito. Ollie Bray has a great post on this and it was a very powerful mood setter for the event.

Off to buses with our groups. Once we had found them…

443657190

The Learning Excursions were a range of information gathering trips. Some groups went to the Zoo others went to the Gardens. We one of 8 groups that went to SERC.

SERC is about an hour outside Washington. In fact its in another state, Maryland. We had a stunning drive out of the city on a beautiful clear autumn day. Due to the time in travelling we had lunch on the buses.

At SERC we had a background talk on what the work i that's done. One thing that really caught my attention was the Distance learning programme.

SERC have a mobile video conference (VC) broadcast unit. This means they can broadcast to any internet connected classroom in the world. Having used VC extensively I know that is is a very powerful media. Much more powerful than TV or YouTube as the pupils involved can ask questions and interact. Something more schools could take advantage of.

We were give several options to go and look at; from building an Remotely Operated Vehicle to getting out in a canoe into the bay. The group decided we would split up and cover as many of the activities as possible.

I attended a topic called Environment Builders. This, it turned out, was looking at demonstrations and doing a few activities looking at how animals have an affect on the environment.

For example, we used the SERC (Soon to be) downloadable resources on jellyfish body design to conduct an experiment about the affect that different body types have on the water temperature layering.

Then a sampling exercise to look at how the Scientists estimate what the populations are in the bay. Using mixed beans and statistics

and a final exercise on the affect of different types of plants and animals have on the amount of light.

We I liked about these exercises was that none of them required high tech equipment or resources but demonstrated real effects and phenomena in very real and practical ways.

It was then a few minutes breathing space as the groups gathered and I could actually take in just how beautiful the environment was that day….

…but no time to dawdle, it was back on the coach to talk with our groups as we headed back into Washington. This was a slower run as we  hit traffic. Therefore we were late for our next mentor session.

An Introduction to Coaching

Coaching and Mentoring is something we have been doing on Islay for several years. In fact only a few weeks before Mathew Boyle had done some work with our senior pupils on this.

To me this something that is a vital skill for all learners. A shared understanding of the language and process  of learning and be able to have positive conversations about learning.

I was surprised at how many of these great educators had not done any courses on this or were even aware of it.

On the timetable it shows that we had sometime………. actually we had homework. We had to go to our team members and apply the skills we had jut been looking at.

The feedback from lots of the Mentors was that teams got a lot out of the coaching conversations. In fact they wish they had had the conversations right at the start of the event as they made them think. Some even restructured the talks they gave because of the Coaching conversations. That's the power of these.

In the evening I decided to go with the group of mentors for dinner at Old Ebbit’s Grill rather than go with the national groups for dinner. I wanted to get to know people outside the formal sessions. This is exactly what happened. About 14 of us had a fantastic meal and amazing conversations about all sorts of things.

This was also the first time I had the 2 bottles of Whisky with me to share. A Bottle of Bowmore 18 year cask strength and a 16 year old Jura, also cask strength. The idea was that they would go further.

Everyone was very impressed. In fact our waiter for the evening, Kevin, was allowed to taste them. He had the most amazing descriptions of them for the group. A natural born poet I feel.

Conversations continued back at the hotel in all sorts of ways and in all sorts of topics ……….

Day 2 PIL Global Forum⤴

from @ Islay ICT

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The day started even earlier than planned. That's why the agenda is written on to remind me.

During day 1 I had meet and spent some time with the group of teachers I was working with.

My group are from left to right are Alinazim from Azerbaijan, Tahmeena from Pakistan, Saba from UAE and Kara from Sweden (Below). Unfortunately Jenny from Bolivia (and her translator, Daniela) didn’t make it to Washington.

These were all amazing educators in their own right. They had already won the national and regional forum competitions for their Virtual Classroom Tours of there projects.

We are called SERC 7. The name is from our visit today on our Learning Excursion. We were group 7 heading to Smithsonian Environmental Research Centre – SERC.

First though the was a keynote from Microsoft’s VP for Education, Anthony Salcito. Ollie Bray has a great post on this and it was a very powerful mood setter for the event.

Off to buses with our groups. Once we had found them…

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The Learning Excursions were a range of information gathering trips. Some groups went to the Zoo others went to the Gardens. We one of 8 groups that went to SERC.

SERC is about an hour outside Washington. In fact its in another state, Maryland. We had a stunning drive out of the city on a beautiful clear autumn day. Due to the time in travelling we had lunch on the buses.

At SERC we had a background talk on what the work i that's done. One thing that really caught my attention was the Distance learning programme.

SERC have a mobile video conference (VC) broadcast unit. This means they can broadcast to any internet connected classroom in the world. Having used VC extensively I know that is is a very powerful media. Much more powerful than TV or YouTube as the pupils involved can ask questions and interact. Something more schools could take advantage of.

We were give several options to go and look at; from building an Remotely Operated Vehicle to getting out in a canoe into the bay. The group decided we would split up and cover as many of the activities as possible.

I attended a topic called Environment Builders. This, it turned out, was looking at demonstrations and doing a few activities looking at how animals have an affect on the environment.

For example, we used the SERC (Soon to be) downloadable resources on jellyfish body design to conduct an experiment about the affect that different body types have on the water temperature layering.

Then a sampling exercise to look at how the Scientists estimate what the populations are in the bay. Using mixed beans and statistics

and a final exercise on the affect of different types of plants and animals have on the amount of light.

We I liked about these exercises was that none of them required high tech equipment or resources but demonstrated real effects and phenomena in very real and practical ways.

It was then a few minutes breathing space as the groups gathered and I could actually take in just how beautiful the environment was that day….

…but no time to dawdle, it was back on the coach to talk with our groups as we headed back into Washington. This was a slower run as we  hit traffic. Therefore we were late for our next mentor session.

An Introduction to Coaching

Coaching and Mentoring is something we have been doing on Islay for several years. In fact only a few weeks before Mathew Boyle had done some work with our senior pupils on this.

To me this something that is a vital skill for all learners. A shared understanding of the language and process  of learning and be able to have positive conversations about learning.

I was surprised at how many of these great educators had not done any courses on this or were even aware of it.

On the timetable it shows that we had sometime………. actually we had homework. We had to go to our team members and apply the skills we had jut been looking at.

The feedback from lots of the Mentors was that teams got a lot out of the coaching conversations. In fact they wish they had had the conversations right at the start of the event as they made them think. Some even restructured the talks they gave because of the Coaching conversations. That's the power of these.

In the evening I decided to go with the group of mentors for dinner at Old Ebbit’s Grill rather than go with the national groups for dinner. I wanted to get to know people outside the formal sessions. This is exactly what happened. About 14 of us had a fantastic meal and amazing conversations about all sorts of things.

This was also the first time I had the 2 bottles of Whisky with me to share. A Bottle of Bowmore 18 year cask strength and a 16 year old Jura, also cask strength. The idea was that they would go further.

Everyone was very impressed. In fact our waiter for the evening, Kevin, was allowed to taste them. He had the most amazing descriptions of them for the group. A natural born poet I feel.

Conversations continued back at the hotel in all sorts of ways and in all sorts of topics ……….