Monthly Archives: January 2018

‘Nothing Ever Mattered More Than Not Doubting’ – A huge year for Scottish Education?⤴

from @ Just Trying to be Better Than Yesterday

On the first day of teaching practice in 1998, in the school at which I still teach, I entered the staff room nervously, eventually sitting down beside a kindly gentleman who greeted me warmly. We chatted for a while before he offered me some advice: get your jacket on and go and do something else. Teaching will ruin your life. Of course I was shocked and outraged; I looked upon what I assumed to be a cynical old fool and vowed that that would never happen to me. We went on to be friends over the next few years until he retired, but I never got over that first meeting, especially when I got to know this brilliant man who had been worn down by the education system.

Twenty years on and I can understand what he meant. Continuous change is exhausting and often demoralising. It often feels – like a repeat of ‘It’s a Knockout’ (wee joke for the kids) – that, while we’re trying to do our jobs there seems to be buckets of water being thrown over us from all angles. It’s so easy to allow yourself to become cynical and forget the younger teacher who walked in to the staff room for the first time. But we have to try. It’s why I like to mentor new teachers; they often remind me of me.

I wrote a post yesterday about where I thought we should be going in Scotland and what it might take to get there. I wanted to make the point that we should be prepared to push aside all of our resentments and gripes, all of our reasons to be cynical – of which there are many – and be prepared take control of our curriculum. It will take a huge shift in policy and approach to allow us to do that and it may well be naive; but whoever got anywhere without a bit of that. They may say I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one…

I hope that message came across in the post but I’m not sure I made that totally clear. I’m not asking for time; I’m not asking for a period of stability; I’m not even asking for any specific changes to the curriculum. I want to see a period where we take what we have now and start to talk about how it fits the needs of our children. We can debate forever whether the implementation of Curriculum for Excellence has been good or bad, how we’ve spent an inordinate time on S4-6 assessment, whether consultation has been non-existent or not. I’m bored with that. It’s like a revolving door of resentments – perceived or not  – and it’s getting us no where.

So in a year where we will have pay discussions, we should, as part of a modern day ‘McCrone Settlement’ be prepared to demand a say on the future of the curriculum. We should make promises that we will engage with research if we are given the space to do so – more teachers required please. I understand that there’s a lot of resentment out there, often rightly so, about time wasted. But if there’s a real chance of a curriculum approaching anywhere near ‘Excellent’ then it’s worth fighting for.

A few years ago, I bumped into that crusty old teacher. He’d gone back to Uni to study something he loved and he looked twenty years younger. He’d been burned out by the system. I don’t want that to happen to me. I want to look back and be proud that I was part of something special.

In this together – there’s no other way⤴

from @ Just Trying to be Better Than Yesterday

There’s a tendency to slip into absolutes in education: this works, that doesn’t; this has failed, that’s a success. In Scotland, it’s remarkable to notice that if , on Twitter, you make a positive comment about our curriculum, the same people will retweet and ‘like’; similarly, if you tweet a comment seemingly negative about CfE, there are the same names who jump in behind it. It’s not an especially healthy forum for debate. And, while we convince ourselves that, no matter what ‘side’ we’re on, we are right, it’s likely that both sides are probably wrong. Is there a point where we have to sit down and talk about why we might be wrong if we really want to make things right?

That situation is not helped by overblown, hyperbolic headlines about betraying a generation; I see enough wonderful things happening in our schools to know that that is nonsense. But to bury our heads in the sand and ignore our responsibilities to discuss the direction of travel is worrying. This week Professor Walter Humes threw his twopence into the debate. Seven Reasons Why Scottish Education is underperforming  It raises a host of difficult challenges which may rest uncomfortably with some, but I find it difficult to agree with most of it.

Of course it is easy to dig our heels in and ignore these questions; after all, we often dislike to venture outside of our comfort zones. But to see these issues not as criticisms but genuine attempts to take us on to the next stage, with unity and purpose, is an opportunity not to be passed aside. There are incredible things happening in Scottish Education, inspirational. Our focus on Health and Well-Being is truly a wonderful thing; SCEL is changing the way we learn as teachers;  and many more. But there are undoubtedly issues with Literacy; there are issues with how we look after our teachers’ Health and Well being and how we allow them to take part in the process of change. It would be foolish to ignore those.

Teachers’ disquiet stems from a long term perception that our own knowledge and skills and experience are often by-passed by the next strategy or next ‘big thing’. We work ourselves into the ground for our pupils but, while we are allegedly ‘consulted’ about changes in the curriculum, things come to us from above, with an edict to implement. We may have been involved in the process of implementation but our views on pedagogical relevance are rarely sought. We have no emotional involvement in changes, no awareness that our prior experience has been taken to consideration. It’s not difficult to see why as professionals, we feel deflated and marginalised.

Real change takes hard work;  it’s not a document or a directive. As teachers we should be taking more responsibility to try and make sure our voices are heard on pedagogy. We are a talented, professional and vastly experienced work-force. However, it is essential that we are also a questioning profession. That doesn’t mean we don’t like what’s going on; it means that we want our say and we want to be a part of the process. In a year when teachers’ pay is once again about to be a huge focus of the public discourse, our ability to shape our own future is more important than ever. If teachers are given the time and space to shape the future of our curriculum, unlike in the shallow, piecemeal way we’ve had for the last few years, then we are capable of shaping the the futures of the children in our classrooms. And, remember, they deserve no less.

Life in Links 28-01-2018⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Featured image: a screenshot of the DarkSiteFinder.com map.

Professional learning in leadership⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Newly-appointed headteachers can now apply to join Scottish College of Educational Leadership (SCEL)’s In Headship programme.  The In Headship programme encompasses the role of a headteacher as a strategic leader within, across and beyond the school community.  It is designed to facilitate and support head teachers in the transition through the early stages of headship, to enable them to develop as effective strategic leaders who contribute to system leadership. This programme aims to support the first phase of headship and develop an understanding of the Standard for Headship in practice. For more information and to apply, please visit:

http://www.scelscotland.org.uk/what-we-offer/school-leadership/in-headship/ …

For details of other leadership developments for education practitioners at all levels, please visit:

http://www.scelscotland.org.uk/

That’s #BETT18 #BETT2018 #BETTShow #Bettshow18⤴

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


Joe Wilson cc Leon Cych @eyebeams

That the delegates , exhibitors and conference organisers never seem to be quite able to agree on a unifying hashtag probably sums up the UK's biggest Educational Technology gathering . There is at once something for everyone and always that feeling that the really interesting , paradigm shifting piece of the jigsaw is tantalisingly missing , perhaps it is a virtual piece or in some other augmented reality ( no shortage of augmented and virtual reality in the show)

This year for once the meeting app worked well but the wifi I'm told was abysmal as usual.

If there was a unifying theme among the polished rabble of  hawkers , vendors , sideshows and keynote speakers this year,  it's probably the theme of 'Industry 4.0 '  This sits well with our mission to transform learning at City of Glasgow College through Citylearning4.0

It is a great privilege to get to gatherings like this and with that I think comes an obligation to share! 
I wonder what those I spotted from Education Scotland and SQA thought of this year's show.

Day One 

The usual running order and , as is often the case at BETT,  a new Education and Skills Minister. They appear to be upgraded every two years , like phones , but rarely come with new features.  The change of guard often comes in a new year reshuffle which can make it a tough gig for the incoming minister . While Anne Milton set out the stall
https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/anne-milton-speech-at-bett-show-2018 many folks knew that there was a more ambitious vision that had been prepared for her predecessor. I hope some of these ideas around digital literacy for all  arrive later in the year. It does present a more unifying vision than you find in other parts of UK . Also in this sphere it was  interesting that a new coding institute was announced not at BETT but at World Economic Forum  https://www.gov.uk/government/news/prime-minister-announces-20-million-institute-of-coding in same week.

I had my usual schedule of meetings with those I think have the tools and ideas to move learning on . Here is a quick summary of what I was having a look at.

Unio by Harness
https://uniobyharness.com/ 
Already used by growing number of schools across globe, I can see the attraction in schools space.
I think some of this capacity already in side GLOW for schools in Scotland.

Lucas Nuelle
https://www.lucas-nuelle.com/
When someone says 'these are the training systems used inside the German apprenticeship system', you need to have a look. Highly developed and finished training systems for most kinds of engineering . The sort of kit that many Colleges and Universities need for training learners for both the practical and theoretical elements of industrial learning. Yes, some of this can be virtualised now, but nothing beats setting up and working with real equipment.

ITSI
https://www.it.si/
From South Africa now a global player. A provider of digital text books along with a layer for note taking , additional support materials and assessment. Pushing into the school space. The College and University sector with virtual learning environments make assumptions around how digital texts are used in their own systems - interesting to see new models to encourage better embedding of digital texts coming from the school sector.

Magic Software Inc
https://www.magicsw.com/ 
A super Indian company working out at the cutting edge and delivering content and learning solutions for publishers and large global corporations. A great example of the small world we now live in when it comes to accessing and harnessing innovation from anywhere in the world.

Techcamp / Invent Ed
https://www.techcamp.org.ukhttps://www.invent-ed.uk/
Interesting to see this summer camp model emerging in England . Wasn't there to explore that. They have developed lots of simple robots , circuit boards and bots that they use as part of these technical summer schools and are now marketing these too. There are lots of robots and circuit boards about at BETT this year. At least you know these models have been tried and tested through the techcamps.

Frog Education
https://www.frogeducation.com/
This was a select gathering of Scottish Schools folk to have a look at a simple way of comparing learners materials against national standards . Something you might think that primary and secondary schools would have at the heart of their learning infrastructure. I am sure we will be hearing more about this innovative system over next year.

INTCAS
https://www.intcas.com
An early evening meeting with the innovative team behind Intcas, who are well on the way to developing a system that will change the face of international student recruitment and worth tuning into. A superb system for verifying and tracking international learners, it will become invaluable to institutions, learners , their parents and sponsors - through the ingenious use of social media and the harnessing of big data.


Day Two 

Starts with a quick dip into a session on Education and Industry4.0 chaired ably as ever by Bob Harrison with input from the new College of High Speed Rail  . I think there is now a pretty standard slide deck doing the rounds on what Industry4.0  it is delivered well ,  but also some invaluable insights around how the new College will be using virtual and augmented reality in teaching and assessment.

We also hear how well funded all of this is . I think I would have preferred to hear that this was being delivered and funded by a set of pre-existing colleges. But all credit to new college for its vision. I think a trip to see it in action will be a must for many Colleges across the UK.

Annoto
https://www.annoto.net/
A layer ( this is becoming a recurrent theme) that helps teachers and learners make more effective use of video resources no matter what format they are in. The tool can be embedded into any VLE. Interesting and parallels with some other systems I am aware of . Also captures learners interaction with content for learner and for institutional analysis.

Microsoft
https://www.microsoft.com/en-gb/education
They have a house this year at BETT - maybe they are betting their house on another successful year in Education and learning ? .  As always a lot of good things happening, if anything it reminded me I am overdue a sit down with Andy Nagle and the team in Scotland - they have a big part to play in raising learner and teacher digital literacy . I'm glad to see less minecraft this year and a sharper focus on digital literacy for teachers and learners.

Canvas by Instructure
https://www.canvasvle.co.uk/
If you have spotted some of my postings over the last year - you know I am a Canvas fan. It is just so learner friendly and now adopted by both Stirling University and Glasgow School of Art . There will be some more conversations with Canvas over the next few months and I expect other Scottish Colleges will join in too.

Blended Learning Consortium
http://www.blc-fe.org/
Grabbed some lunch with Peter from the BLC . Is it the best model ?  - I'm not sure - but it works for many Colleges across the UK and I know we are going to enjoy the benefits of becoming a member.

Google Education
https://plus.google.com/communities/103577237113072846685
I've used the link to the Scottish Google Educators Group. There is lots on the open web about Google for Education - there was one announcement around a paid for enterprise edition which I think some universities and training organisations will probably be interested in.

This was biggest gathering I've seen for a while of Scottish school learning technology folk at BETT for any offering, even free drink . The excitement was palpable and Google Apps for Education are excellent.  We will get all of this embedded in our own College's delivery. All learners really need to know their way around microsoft and google products. They should also be shown around a range of open source tools.

Fujitsu Education
http://www.fujitsu.com/uk/solutions/industry/education/
A pleasant dinner with the team from Fujitsu and their partners Intel , Netapp and more,  who are driving out an ambitious learning programme supporting learners and teachers - we look forward to supporting the programmes roll out in Scotland.

Day Three 

Like to Be
https://www.liketobe.org/
Well any excuse to catch up with Steve Wheeler . But the system is worth a look - linking employers to school learners at every stage and doing the important bits that careers guidance still falls very short on. While English and Welsh systems are different I've promised them an introduction to Skills Development Scotland.

Bonadrone
https://www.bonadrone.com/en/
This I think is innovative,  a drone that you print using a 3-D printer , build and at same time  build and create a controller and comes with all the associated teaching and learning materials. A small inside version and a very large drone for flying outside. Looks great for engaging learners of all ages in STEM



ReadSpeaker
https://www.readspeaker.com/
A really nice team and a very welcome cup of tea . I liked what I saw but I do wonder how the authentic voices they use will fair in a world of increasing artificial intelligence and automated voices.

Ollie Bray
http://olliebray.typepad.com/
He is so innovative and fast moving he is not keeping his blog up to date - lunch and a quick chat around both the movement and inertia in Scottish Education.

London CLC and Education Development Trust
https://londonclc.org.uk/
A quick chat about impact CLC and more broadly how the Education Development Trust has supported school transformation and teacher development in England . There is so much that could be learned here by Scottish system. See comment above about inertia.

Nisai Academy
https://www.nisai.com/
A flying visit to say hello to Dhruv and team  - and disbelief that Scottish system is still using peripatetic teachers to visit learners who can't make it to school - when  the learner could be part of an online class with a teacher and classmates everyday - see inertia ;-)

Texthelp
https://www.texthelp.com
Free for teachers still a superb tool grabbed a quick refresher course as I headed for the door

Northern Ireland Stand
https://www.investni.com/bett.html
I'll not rehash arguments I've made in previous years about why Scottish Education needs a stand at BETT . On one stand public education agencies and private companies that support learning in Northern Ireland



Surely one of these years SDS , SQA , SFC , Education Scotland and some of the upcoming learner companies in Scotland might get together ( maybe some Colleges)
Nice to be told I was doing a great job selling Scottish Education by my Northern Irish Colleagues as I ran for the airport.

Someone noted that Department for Education had a large stand - but it did not feature on the BETT Event map ! . The largest stand in the arena this year appeared to be that of CAPITA - shows how much money you can make 'delivering' services to the public education sector in UK.


That's it, quick shout out too to Tony Freedman, Charlie Love,  Lee Ballantyne , Malcolm Payton  and many others I met as I flew around the exhibition area to meetings and a wave to the  NoTosh team who were about too

You've got to move fast at BETT