Monthly Archives: December 2012

New Year Reflections and Predictions⤴

from @ .........Experimental Blog

thanks to  littleperson1832 for image

Last year's predictions were among others that  that "flipped classroom" would become the bullshit bingo word of the year Well I think it came to pass .

I heard it used by number of  touring educational gurus , senior educational managers and academics usually from the lectern or from the stage during  keynotes where no effort was really made to engage the audience. It would be good to get  a greater sense of a flipped classroom at some of the big keynote events like BETT in England or SLF in Scotland. There is still too an attitude that change and innovation comes from above and not from within organisations. Gurus should be setting audiences challenges not coming along with their own stock answers ..I think this was apparent this year in the political domain too across the UK but enough said on that.

It was the year too of the tablet - and they are marvellous and miraculous devices for consuming things . I think they are still challenged when it comes to creating and producing things.

So what to look forward too

1. I think Mozilla Badges and the impact of smaller chunks of assessment. particularly in the computing and coding areas will really support both staff development and learners. It works well in areas like webdesign as the infrastructure is there to support learners.  Have a look at the Mozilla Webmaker tools and badges

We are well positioned to support these in schools , colleges and work-based learning. Our policy in terms of accreditation of prior learning is well developed. I am hoping this helps speed up the adoption of initiatives like this across Scottish education and beyond.  I look forward to pushing this on with Sunny Lee and Doug Belshaw  (Check out Doug's badges on his blog)

2. Is a MOOC a Massive Open On-line Course or a Massively Optimistic Over-Hyped Course ? - Time will tell.   I believe that where the providers of MOOCS make their content open rather use  these as marketing windows or discounted ways to gain accreditation then they will become game changers - as folks will use the content in other useful ways. If the content was open then learners could really see what was involved in a particular course before signing up to it . School teachers could use chunks of learning for their own development and  use these with their students. School students could engage with open material directly. In many workplaces they will  become part of continuous professional development.

I like the optimism and the sense of discovery that surround these programmes.

It is easy to forget that learning is all about a sense of optimism and discovery - it is what spurs learning on.

It also needs to be valued and nurtured - whether it is  happening in a nursery class or with adult and community learners. However humble the learning - the sense of discovery is magical.

3. Open Content is the way ahead . It has been great to share the journey of JORUM over the last 10 years ( If it's inception is taken as the early discussions at the JISC Joint Committee for the Information Environment ) We have a real opportunity to push this on in Scotland through Scotland's Colleges Resource and I hope through the future iteration of GLOW. Ubiquitous and available learning is an important part of the Scottish learning tradition and we need to embrace OER. 

But we do need more policy drivers in this space and I hope through working with the Association for Learning Technology in Scotland we can get these. It would be great if this was the year that the Scottish Government , The Scottish Funding Council and all the educational agencies in Scotland , including my own  could make a commitment to Open Educational Resources. This would support College Regionalisation  break down the local authority silos in schools and almost above all encourage Higher Education to stop pontificating on what happens in schools ,  colleges and work-based learning and encourage them to contribute by sharing  more learning materials.

4. Will Higher Education in Scotland start working with rest of the education system ?  I have high hopes that this might be the year. We've done the right thing in giving HE some more resource over last few years and they occupy a position envied by many in rest of UK . If they opened up a bit more Universities could really support learning across Scotland and beyond. I think a special mention to Edinburgh University for leading charge on joining Coursera but these on-line courses don't come with open educational resources.

Hope that is enough food for thought and may you have a happy and prosperous 2013 when it arrives.



Safe Harbor⤴

from @ If You Don't Like Change…

Clarity on Safe Harbor

Clarity on Safe Harbor

As part of my involvement with the Scottish Government’s ICT Excellence in Education group I have been learning a lot about ‘Safe Harbor[sic] agreements and their impact on what we can and can’t do with data in schools. In addition, it has become very apparent that many people don’t know very much about the topic and that as a result, the default position is to block things rather than find out the reality. I don’t think it’s any secret that one of the services I really like for using with classes is Edmodo, but there have been questions raised about Edmodo and its safe harbor status so, in the interests of explanation and clarity, here’s a wee guide to what safe harbour is, how you can check whether a service is a signatory, and why Edmodo is safe to use.

We have a great responsibility in schools to keep pupil data safe and secure. However, in the ‘cloud’ computing age, it is becoming more and more common for our online data to be hosted ‘somewhere’, and it’s not always easy to know where. The relevant legislation and laws governing how this data is used lies within the Data Protection Act 1998 (DPA98). From a Scottish point of view, Data Protection is what is known as a ‘reserved matter’ — which means Westminster makes the law rather than the Scottish Government, so address any complaints to London!

Schedule 1 of the DPA98 lists its key principles as follows:

 1. Personal data shall be processed fairly and lawfully and, in particular, shall not be processed unless –

(a) at least one of the conditions in Schedule 2 is met, and
(b) in the case of sensitive personal data, at least one of the conditions in Schedule 3 is also met.

2. Personal data shall be obtained only for one or more specified and lawful purposes, and shall not be further processed in any manner incompatible with that purpose or those purposes.

3. Personal data shall be adequate, relevant and not excessive in relation to the purpose or purposes for which they are processed.

4. Personal data shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date.

5. Personal data processed for any purpose or purposes shall not be kept for longer than is necessary for that purpose or those purposes.

6. Personal data shall be processed in accordance with the rights of data subjects under this Act.

7. Appropriate technical and organisational measures shall be taken against unauthorised or unlawful processing of personal data and against accidental loss or destruction of, or damage to, personal data.

8. Personal data shall not be transferred to a country or territory outside the European Economic Area unless that country or territory ensures an adequate level of protection for the rights and freedoms of data subjects in relation to the processing of personal data.

The UK Data Protection was a direct response to EU Directive 95/46/EC which was introduced in 1995 and had to be enacted by the end of 1998 (hence the date of the UK DPA). It is fair to say that the EU and by extension, the UK, have some of the most rigorous data protection rules in the world. This has had the knock on effect of meaning that it is expressly forbidden for pupil data to be held outwith the European Economic Area (EEA — ie: the EU for all practical purposes) unless the company has agreed to observe the same level of protection for the data as that provided within the EEA. Note the important point, an individual company can be approved to host data, there is no requirement for there to be an agreement with a whole country. That said, because of the importance for American businesses in particular to be able to work seamlessly with residents of the European Union, it was decided to create a US-EU agreement in 2000 whereby American businesses and service providers could adopt the principles of EU Directive 95/46/EC. In effect, they would agree to maintain the same levels of security and protection of personal data as that offered within the EU. This is the ‘safe harbor’ agreement.

In order to transfer data outwith the EU, Principle 8 of the DPA98 comes into play. This states that:

Personal data shall not be transferred to a country or territory outside the EEA unless that country or territory ensures an adequate level of protection for the rights and freedoms of data subjects in relation to the processing of personal data.
Sending personal data outside the European Economic Area (Principle 8)

The ‘safe harbor’ agreement is overseen by the EU and the US Department of Commerce. As long as a company is signed up, we do not have to worry about the fact that data will be held in the US. There is, however, one very important condition to this which I will mention when talking about Edmodo in a minute or two.

In short… as long as a US company has agreed to observe ‘safe harbor’ environments — which they need to re-accredit themselves with every year — there should be no legal reasons why you should not use them. So… how do you check whether a company is a ‘safe harbor’ signatory?

How do you know?

The obvious place, and the first port of call, is the US Government’s Department of Commerce Safe Harbor site which you can find at http://export.gov/safeharbor/. However, you need to be aware that this site is not fully up to date… in fact, it really does need to get a serious overhaul! You can search, but you will struggle to find some really obvious companies thsat are signed up to the safe harbor agreement… which brings me to Edmodo and TRUSTe.

Is Edmodo a ‘Safe Harbor’ company?

One of the most popular sites that teachers have been adopting for using in class is Edmodo. It looks like a very well known social media site, but is designed from the ground up to be a virtual classroom with lots of whistles and bells. It also has the advantage of being popular with classes as they ‘get it’ from the word go. Chuck in the mobile Apps for iPhones, iPods and iPads, as well as the new Android app, and you begin to appreciate that Edmodo are really on to something (Disclosure: I am a fan!). There is, however, one particular fly in the ointment that needs to be addressed. I have seen a very snippy response from someone that Edmodo is not a ‘safe harbor’ company and so should not be used. The basis for this assertion was that Edmodo does not (yet) appear on the US Gov’s ‘Safe Harbor’ listings, but, as I mentioned above, the ‘official’ site is notoriously slow at updating, and does not have all safe harbor companies listed. Fortunately, there isTRUSTe TRUSTe. This is the online privacy company used by Microsoft, Apple, Disney and many, many others to ensure data and privacy legislation compliance. In short, they are in the business of keeping companies secure, and also in the business of ensuring that all their data is entirely up-to-date and relevant.

If you go to the TRUSTe search page (http://www.truste.com/consumer-privacy/trusted-directory/) you can enter any company or service name and will be given a list of all the relevant certificates or seals that the company holds. A quick search for Edmodo returns this:

TRUSTe Edmodo Search

TRUSTe Edmodo Search

Edmodo are indeed an EU Safe Harbor company… but I decided to bite the bullet and ask them why they didn’t appear on the US Gov Safe Harbor list. I dropped them a line and got a wonderful reply from Lucia who, amongst other things, let me know that their lawyers are working on speeding up the US Gov list. What she also reminded me of, was the condition I hinted at earlier. It is essential that in order to comply with the legislation, every learner who signs up for Edmodo completes a consent form. There are some samples available through Edmodo itself, but you will need to customise them for your school and to include a space for parents/carers to sign their agreement. Once you have received these, you should be good to go… unless, of course, your LA decides that Connected Learning is not a desirable thing. :-/

Summing Up

In conclusion, here are the sound bites that I should have just tweeted!

  • You can use a service/solution that hosts personal data outwith the EU as long as the company/service are signed up to the Safe Harbor agreement.
  • You should use TRUSTe as well as the US Government to check the safety credentials of a site.
  • Edmodo is a (rather awesome) ‘safe harbor’ company.

I hope this helps clear up some of the confusions I’ve been hearing about. Feel free to post a comment if you have any questions or wish further clarification. ;-)

[UPDATE — Meant to mention this in the main body of the post, but Google are also a safe harbor company which is great news if you wish to use Google Apps with your learners! ;-) ]


ICT For Teaching Assistants⤴

from @ TecnoTeach

Galloway, J and Norton, H (2011) ICT for teaching assistants. Oxon: Routledge.

http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415583077/

This book is not just for teaching assistants but for those involved in teaching children ICT skills and ways to use ICT for learning. The hardcore ICT skills associated with Word Processing, Data Handling, Creating and Presenting and Control and Modelling, are touched upon in this book. It does not provide sequential lesson plans but more of an overview of the main skills required to 'work' the software alongside some ideas how to use the software.

Do not expect step by step instructions to help plan lessons. Instead expect to use the book as a resource to develop your own knowledge of the skills that need to be taught for various ICT software.

What I do recommend from this book is the Inclusion' chapter where it provides clear instructions how to adapt computers to make them accessible to all learners.

ICT For Teaching Assistants⤴

from @ TecnoTeach

Galloway, J and Norton, H (2011) ICT for teaching assistants. Oxon: Routledge.

http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415583077/

This book is not just for teaching assistants but for those involved in teaching children ICT skills and ways to use ICT for learning. The hardcore ICT skills associated with Word Processing, Data Handling, Creating and Presenting and Control and Modelling, are touched upon in this book. It does not provide sequential lesson plans but more of an overview of the main skills required to 'work' the software alongside some ideas how to use the software.

Do not expect step by step instructions to help plan lessons. Instead expect to use the book as a resource to develop your own knowledge of the skills that need to be taught for various ICT software.

What I do recommend from this book is the Inclusion' chapter where it provides clear instructions how to adapt computers to make them accessible to all learners.

Desktop Wallpaper for January 2013⤴

from

The desktop wallpaper for January 2013 was taken in January 2011 at Lendrick Muir in Perthshire, Scotland. The wallpaper image was created with fd’s Flickr Toys

If you like it then please feel free to download and use it.

As ever there are also widescreen and iPhone versions available here.

Solomon, G. and Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0 new tools, new schools.Washington: ISTE.⤴

from @ TecnoTeach



When I first purchases this book in 2008 I immediately placed it on the reading list for the student teachers who were undertaking the ICT Elective module.  The book explained clearly the difference between Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and what the 'new' tools were and how they could be used.  For those students who had no understanding of what a blog and a wiki were this book met their needs.  

Now four years on I find this book a little too elementary and a little outdated.  The unfortunate thing about technology books is that they become outdated once they are printed.  With that said, there are still some aspects of the book that are worth sharing.

The digital native debate:
Solomon and Schrum sway to the digital native term used to describe today's generation of learners and how education should adapt to meet their needs.  Back in 2008 I was a great fan of Marc Prensky's 'digital native' term where I was quick to use the thinking behind this term as reasons to embrace technology in Education.  I believed that all students coming to University were technology savvy.  This thinking changed greatly when it became clear in ICT inputs that many of out so called 'digital natives' were competent users of email, instant messaging, Facebook etc but were not competent users of computer technology.  My change in view was noted in a previous post 'Digital Natives of Digitally Naive' where I began to question Prensky's views.  Although there is a debate about the notion that 'digital natives' are of a specific age rather than a generation, I still agree with Prensky's analogy of learning where he refers to learning being similar to the Federal Express where 'you can have the best delivery system in the world, but if no one is home to receive the package, it doesn't much matter. Too often, today's students are not there to receive what their teachers are delivering' (Prensky, 2010:10).  

Communities of practice:
Alongside promoting the digital native terminology in their book, Solomon and Schrum also discuss the notion of communities of practice using online technology.  The social constructivist opportunities afforded by social technologies online, blogs, wikis, forums, social networks etc, provide platforms to enable users/participants to communicate, collaborate and create together.  It should be noted, as discussed in a previous post, that not all collaborative activities online need to have active participation by all members.  Larusson & Alterman (2009) refer to two types of collaborative activities online: tightly coupled activities and loosely coupled activities.

Tightly Coupled Activities - connect to create shared products.  Students must stay coordinated and focus on key materials.
Loosely Coupled Activities - connect but do not need an end product.  Not every contribution must be recognised.
'a space in which you can plan and reflect in depth on your practice, helping identify your strengths and find ways of building on these' (p.1).
OR
'a collection of materials put together in a meaningful way to demonstrate the practice and learning of an educational practitioner' (p.1).
An ePortfolio is NOT 'a random collection of materials and artefacts'.
They also stipulate three elements of an ePortfolio:
Reflection - Why something was undertaken a specific way.
Description - What happened?
Evaluation - How did this affect me?
For Forde et al. they see the purpose of an ePortfolio as:
* to illustrate achievements?
* to demonstrate ongoing developments of thinking and practice?
* to collect evidence?
* to provide a vehicle for reflection?



EPortfolios:
Finally, Solomon & Schrum discuss how blogs and wikis can be used for ePortfolios.  What is worth noting from their discussion of these two tools is what the purpose of a blog and a wiki are.  Too often these tools are mixed up and are not used for the correct purpose resulting in not be using appropriately and effectively.  Solomon and Schrum explain what I believe is an effective way of using these tools. Use a blog as a reflective diary or to share one's thoughts, ideas, things that are happening etc.  It is for the moment publication but can also be retrievable.  Similar to an online newspaper.  A wiki, on the other hand, is a place to store and showcase specific artefacts or to be used as an area for asynchronous collaboration (can only be synchronous if each user is assigned a different page).  A wiki is similar to a website but much similar to create and publish.

No matter which tool is used  an ePortfolio needs to have a clear education purpose and engagement.  It should not just be used!

In Forde, C., McMahon, M. & Reeves, J. (2009). Putting Together Professional Portfolios. London: Sage., they state that an ePortfolio is: 'a means of structuring, demonstrating and reflecting on your development as a professional.  At the heart of portfolio development is your learning' (Forde, 2009, p,13).

Their description of an ePortfolio is:


'a space in which you can plan and reflect in depth on your practice, helping identify your strengths and find ways of building on these' (p.1).

OR

'a collection of materials put together in a meaningful way to demonstrate the practice and learning of an educational practitioner' (p.1).

IT IS NOT

'a random collection of materials and artefacts'.

They also describe the purpose of an ePortfolio as a place:


* to illustrate achievements?
* to demonstrate ongoing developments of thinking and practice?
* to collect evidence?
* to provide a vehicle for reflection?


Where three elements should be evident:

Reflection - Why something was undertaken a specific way.
Description - What happened?
Evaluation - How did this affect me?


My Final Thoughts:
This book provides some insight into three social media tools that can be found in Scotland's Intranet educational platform, GLOW.  By reading this book, educators would have a greater understanding how to use the tools in GLOW effectively and appropriately.  Will I still keep this book on my reading list?  Yes!  Student primary teachers need to know how to use these basic web 2.0 tools.  Yes we now have Twitter and Social Network sites, but, the basics still need to be known.

Solomon, G. and Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0 new tools, new schools.Washington: ISTE.⤴

from @ TecnoTeach



When I first purchases this book in 2008 I immediately placed it on the reading list for the student teachers who were undertaking the ICT Elective module.  The book explained clearly the difference between Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 and what the 'new' tools were and how they could be used.  For those students who had no understanding of what a blog and a wiki were this book met their needs.  

Now four years on I find this book a little too elementary and a little outdated.  The unfortunate thing about technology books is that they become outdated once they are printed.  With that said, there are still some aspects of the book that are worth sharing.

The digital native debate:
Solomon and Schrum sway to the digital native term used to describe today's generation of learners and how education should adapt to meet their needs.  Back in 2008 I was a great fan of Marc Prensky's 'digital native' term where I was quick to use the thinking behind this term as reasons to embrace technology in Education.  I believed that all students coming to University were technology savvy.  This thinking changed greatly when it became clear in ICT inputs that many of out so called 'digital natives' were competent users of email, instant messaging, Facebook etc but were not competent users of computer technology.  My change in view was noted in a previous post 'Digital Natives of Digitally Naive' where I began to question Prensky's views.  Although there is a debate about the notion that 'digital natives' are of a specific age rather than a generation, I still agree with Prensky's analogy of learning where he refers to learning being similar to the Federal Express where 'you can have the best delivery system in the world, but if no one is home to receive the package, it doesn't much matter. Too often, today's students are not there to receive what their teachers are delivering' (Prensky, 2010:10).  

Communities of practice:
Alongside promoting the digital native terminology in their book, Solomon and Schrum also discuss the notion of communities of practice using online technology.  The social constructivist opportunities afforded by social technologies online, blogs, wikis, forums, social networks etc, provide platforms to enable users/participants to communicate, collaborate and create together.  It should be noted, as discussed in a previous post, that not all collaborative activities online need to have active participation by all members.  Larusson & Alterman (2009) refer to two types of collaborative activities online: tightly coupled activities and loosely coupled activities.

Tightly Coupled Activities - connect to create shared products.  Students must stay coordinated and focus on key materials.
Loosely Coupled Activities - connect but do not need an end product.  Not every contribution must be recognised.
'a space in which you can plan and reflect in depth on your practice, helping identify your strengths and find ways of building on these' (p.1).
OR
'a collection of materials put together in a meaningful way to demonstrate the practice and learning of an educational practitioner' (p.1).
An ePortfolio is NOT 'a random collection of materials and artefacts'.
They also stipulate three elements of an ePortfolio:
Reflection - Why something was undertaken a specific way.
Description - What happened?
Evaluation - How did this affect me?
For Forde et al. they see the purpose of an ePortfolio as:
* to illustrate achievements?
* to demonstrate ongoing developments of thinking and practice?
* to collect evidence?
* to provide a vehicle for reflection?



EPortfolios:
Finally, Solomon & Schrum discuss how blogs and wikis can be used for ePortfolios.  What is worth noting from their discussion of these two tools is what the purpose of a blog and a wiki are.  Too often these tools are mixed up and are not used for the correct purpose resulting in not be using appropriately and effectively.  Solomon and Schrum explain what I believe is an effective way of using these tools. Use a blog as a reflective diary or to share one's thoughts, ideas, things that are happening etc.  It is for the moment publication but can also be retrievable.  Similar to an online newspaper.  A wiki, on the other hand, is a place to store and showcase specific artefacts or to be used as an area for asynchronous collaboration (can only be synchronous if each user is assigned a different page).  A wiki is similar to a website but much similar to create and publish.

No matter which tool is used  an ePortfolio needs to have a clear education purpose and engagement.  It should not just be used!

In Forde, C., McMahon, M. & Reeves, J. (2009). Putting Together Professional Portfolios. London: Sage., they state that an ePortfolio is: 'a means of structuring, demonstrating and reflecting on your development as a professional.  At the heart of portfolio development is your learning' (Forde, 2009, p,13).

Their description of an ePortfolio is:


'a space in which you can plan and reflect in depth on your practice, helping identify your strengths and find ways of building on these' (p.1).

OR

'a collection of materials put together in a meaningful way to demonstrate the practice and learning of an educational practitioner' (p.1).

IT IS NOT

'a random collection of materials and artefacts'.

They also describe the purpose of an ePortfolio as a place:


* to illustrate achievements?
* to demonstrate ongoing developments of thinking and practice?
* to collect evidence?
* to provide a vehicle for reflection?


Where three elements should be evident:

Reflection - Why something was undertaken a specific way.
Description - What happened?
Evaluation - How did this affect me?


My Final Thoughts:
This book provides some insight into three social media tools that can be found in Scotland's Intranet educational platform, GLOW.  By reading this book, educators would have a greater understanding how to use the tools in GLOW effectively and appropriately.  Will I still keep this book on my reading list?  Yes!  Student primary teachers need to know how to use these basic web 2.0 tools.  Yes we now have Twitter and Social Network sites, but, the basics still need to be known.

The Days are so Short⤴

from

There is so little daylight at this time of year in Scotland. Over the Christmas break it has been very wet, windy and dark. Michael McIntyre talks about being in Glasgow. He notes that when opening the curtains in the morning the room gets darker. Whilst this is meant for laughs it has been feeling like that over the last couple of weeks. The days are very short and it has been very dark and gloomy. 2012 has been a very wet year and we have felt this very keenly. The rain has stopped us getting out for long walks over the holiday. The poor light has stopped me taking many photos with the new lens I was given for my birthday.

In the middle of winter we need to remember the light. The open fire brings us warmth as well as light. The Christmas decorations are provide a sense of light and life. The candle flame flickers and lights up the dark corners. We need the reminder of brighter times and lighter days. At times like these I tell anyone who will listen that I would like to live somewhere warmer and brighter. I don’t. I live in the west of Scotland. I grew up here. In the midst of the darkness we need to remember the light.

So as we head to another new year and reflect on the passing on the old I am minded to think on the darkness around and the light we can be. The days are very short and it can feel very dark. We need to be like the candle flame. We need to light up the darkness. No matter how dark it is we need to be light.

To the moon (but not back, yet): a year in the clouds⤴

from @ Ewan McIntosh | Digital Media & Education

Ewan McIntosh 2012 travels
For the past six new years I've taken an interest in how much I'm sitting on a plane each year, destroying the planet that my children will inherit. Travel is an increasingly inevitable part of business, particularly in tough economic climates where, if you're not prepared to jump on a plane I fear one might lose any momentum worth talking about. For all the Google Hangouts, Skypes and Facetimes in the world, my team and I at NoTosh have found that online interactions lead only to one thing: people want to cement relationships face-to-face at some point.

2011 was already a headying number of miles to crunch, mostly at the back of the plane, I hasten to add. This year makes last year's 130,000 miles or so look like a stroll in a large park. Heck, by June this year I'd already covered 30,000 miles more than that.

10 times around the world, one trip to the moon (but only a little bit back towards home), and about 10 trees to plant: that's what 2012's 242,226 miles represent.

Why so much travel on planes?

NoTosh has been growing this year. 2011 saw Tom Barrett join the family, this year another great addition in Peter Ford. I've never been a fan of "hiring help", having a company website listing legions of 'staff' who, actually, are part-timers or an occasional extra face when the lone consultant at the top of the pyramid ends up over-stretched. As someone who's hired consultants from that kind of "broad church", I've rarely had the experience I thought I would. As a teacher "being given PD", I've felt the painful lack of continuity between a string of different consultants brought in, lacking any connection between their message, research or impact. With NoTosh, a tight-bound team who very often live out of each other's pockets, people have been able to play off the different personalities of the team. This means that all of us have been traveling more, as more people ask for seconds or thirds on the learning we've been doing with them.

A non-existent Scottish / UK market, and a booming clutch of global clients has led to many more trips through to Scandinavia, the Middle East and Australia. Scottish revenues at NoTosh are tiny - maybe around 5% of our total this year. The UK as a whole contributes a lot less than 50% of our turnover. It might be down to the economic squeeze - although we work in countries with far more squeeze to their purses than Scotland or the rest of the UK - or it might be a degree of tall-poppy-syndrome for which we are famous. It's more likely down to the fact that we've not yet really made an effort to sell anywhere in the world, let alone Scotland. Everything NoTosh has achieved so far has been down to kindly word of mouth, great partners and superb teachers that have put in the hours on interesting, impactful practice. For that, we are grateful. Even if it means that we get a bit clogged up with airplane aircon.

Australia is in itself big reason for a well-worn seat 14F. We've purposefully been looking to Australia since early 2011 as a place that a) has a heritage of great education innovation, b) realises there's always more to learn, and c) shares some of the educational heritage of Scotland. This year has been back-to-back Australia, working with schools throughout Brisbane and Sydney's Catholic Education Departments, as well as with independent schools there. We've also been working on creative projects with political parties and other groups, something we want to expand upon. 

Will we reduce those miles? Yes.

Tom BarrettIf you don't want to travel somewhere, you live there. 2013 should see fewer of those trips to Oz and back - there was a point earlier in 2012 where I'd done seven return trips in 12 months! Tom Barrett moves in a matter days, with his family, to engage schools and creative groups who want to help build NoTosh - permanently - downunder. I'm grateful to Tom beyond words for the commitment he's made to our team in doing this - it was a case of stars aligning between his and his families wishes, and our opportunity here and now. I'm sure the promise of sunshine and the occasional beach might soften the blow for him and his family.

We're likely to hire again, too. We've spotted some talent that we're interested in, and now need to find those larger clients or groups of schools who, over a year, say, want to begin engaging with us on some deep projects on assessment, design thinking or creativity. We're also sure that there are more schools and groups of schools in the UK with whom we could build as strong a relationship as we have elsewhere.

Peter FordWe're building incredibly exciting UK-based programmes. Peter Ford has been a lead on three significant projects over the past nine months that have involved our whole team. We'll be sharing these in the New Year, along with their global expansion in 2013. For us, it's just great to see more, larger, bigger scale learning programmes taking hold in the UK, in spite of the recession.

There are a few other surprises, too, that my team and I will keep under wraps for the moment. If they're any good, you'll know about them in good time, I guess. All of these, though, are geared up to keeping our landing gear down, firmly planted on solid ground as much as possible. Wish us luck!