Monthly Archives: August 2019

August. Over but not out.⤴


Today is the last day of the month in which I turned fifty.

Edna O’ Brien wrote that August is a Wicked Month; for me, it has always been a reflective month. This year was all the more so. A big birthday comes with big expectations, some pressures and big hopes. Of course, in reality, it is just another day… and any day, any event and any action is given meaning only by the labels and importance that our collective or individual consciousness assigns to it.

But to me 50 is important.

There is something that gives me an inordinate and almost childish sense of pride in declaring that I have reached this age.

Three years ago I wrote a book that showed that reaching fifty hadn’t always been on the cards for me.

Writing that book was the start of an intensive phase of trying to shake off some of the unhelpful habits that I had developed over many years; habits which had, in many senses, helped me to survive and succeed but which were no longer needed and had, in fact, become harmful.

Writing that book was very helpful to me and, by all accounts, has helped others who have read it. On several occasions I have also hugely regretted writing it and putting so much of myself out there, particularly when others have used the vulnerability in it as a reason to judge me and even attack me.

On balance, though, I am very proud of what I did.

But that book was not the end of my story or indeed the beginning of some new, completely balanced and content me.

Without doubt it contains insights and wisdom by which I need to live my life…But since writing it, I have learnt that wisdom and insight don’t solve things on their own.

Sometimes the things that help us most are not rational and cerebral but rather physical and emotional.

So, here, some additional insights at the advanced age of 50.

Keeping going doesn’t get rid of painful feelings. If we want to really free ourselves of emotional pain, we need to stop and face it full on. For me, talking did not achieve this. Connecting physically with the memories (through EMDR) and with my physical self (though yoga) has helped. It hasn’t been easy and at times I have wanted to give up and revert to the frantic habitual activity that has enabled me to cope for so long. But frantic activity is a substitute for real life.

You will never be enough for everyone else but you can learn to be enough for yourself. 50 is a good age at which to decide whose opinions matter and whose don’t. It is worth writing a list. And checking it twice. Or a million times.

Hormones have a lot to answer for. When you think you have relapsed into mental ill-health, it is probably the menopause.

The internet is an astonishing force for good and an astonishing force for bad.

Everything you are going though has somewhere been felt by someone else and expressed in a song or book. Never stop listening and never stop reading.

Love is the answer. Love for your self and love for others and the planet.

If someone thinks you are a weirdo then that is more to do with their fears and insecurities than it is about you.

You are enough, more than enough, right here and right now. I am too, even though there are many days when I don’t feel it.

I’ve made it to fifty. So there.

Wednesday 2nd October 2019 16.30-18.30 Sighthill Campus, Edinburgh College #NMIS #Openscot Please RT⤴

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

 NMIS Skills

I haven't posted on this for a while but this has been keeping us really busy and attracting a lot of interest around both the open assets and how we did this . The model is applicable to lots of cross educational partnerships. The NMIS is finally making the news more regularly too - as bidding opens for construction of the physical centre.

Here is an opportunity to meet the team and find out more - book up now event is free , places are limited.

The National Manufacturing Institute Scotland (NMIS) is a unique networked partnership of Colleges and Universities across Scotland with digital learning resources for everyone and tailored programmes of CPD for those with an interest in Industry4.0.

Come along to our Edinburgh Teachmeet to find out about the partnership, the resource and how to become an ambassador. This is relevant to all staff in Colleges, Schools, Training Providers and Higher Education institutions interested in digital skills and industry4.0.

Edinburgh Teachmeet
You are invited to our Teachmeet to promote digital skills, sharing and collaboration.
A Teachmeet is an organised (but informal) meeting where participants are offered a variety of nano (two-minute) or macro (seven-minute) presentations on any aspect of education.
Participants can be actively involved as presenters, or can simply relax and listen to all that will be on offer.

Click to book your place as a participant or as a presenter now!

Date: Wednesday 2nd October 2019
Time: 16.30-18.30
Location: Sighthill Campus, Edinburgh College, Bankhead Ave, Edinburgh EH11 4DE

Please share this information widely with your colleagues- we look forward to seeing you on 2nd October!

Scottish Learning Festival 2019 DYW Workshops⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

The Scottish Learning Festival is the largest annual professional learning event for Scottish education and over the years we have welcomed thousands of educational practitioners from across Scotland and beyond. SLF is open to all educational practitioners involved in Scottish education and is completely free for everyone to attend.

The conference, organised by Education Scotland, boasts over 100 seminars and a fantastic line up of keynote speakers and opportunities for professional networking.

The exhibition, organised by Springboard Events in conjunction with Education Scotland, has over 225 exhibitors, showcasing thousands of products. There’s something for everyone involved in Scottish Education at SLF.

With a combination of top quality keynote speakers, interactive seminars and the ever popular exhibition, SLF is the ideal place to share thinking and discuss education.

Attending the event supports your career long professional learning by helping to keep your professional practice fresh, up-to-date and relevant. You can also find opportunities to discover innovative practice, new resources and exchange knowledge and ideas with thousands of professional colleagues and experts.

25-26 September 2019

This year’s DYW themed workshops are:

A whole school approach to developing and applying skills in problem based learning

Improving Gender Balance: Promoting equity through exploring gender stereotypes

Belonging, Believing, Achieving

Leadership for all to facilitate deep involvement in the life of the school and community, empowering learners to embed skills in a real life context

Recognising Wider Learning and Achievement – supporting equity and employability

Implementing a My World of Work profile to help young people showcase their skills and achievements

Further information can be found in the DYW-Flyer-SLF

Writer’s Block⤴


I’ve stalled. With just under five months till I submit my completed thesis I have run out of steam. I have no time to waste, and so I waste time. I know all of the advice – I have given it many times, but still I pause. My bookshelves are tidied, my yarn is sorted, my fridge is clean.

I still feel that I need to give myself permission to write. I’m framing my thesis as an auto-ethnography because that feels right – it feels authentic – but I still struggle to justify my approach. Maybe I worry that it is not rigorous enough – maybe my background in anglo-analytic philosophy has trained me to privilege an argumentative style over the explanatory … Maybe I need to channel my inner philosopher (note to self: do not channel your inner Deleuze).

Whatever, the time has come. I remind myself of one of my favourite quotes:

“Fool,” said my muse to me. “Look in thy heart and write.”

Wish me luck …

Musings on Educational Technology and Learning⤴

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

Thanks to ALT and CMALT Programme Pages for image 

I was asked by a commercial organisation some questions around where I think technology around learning and assessment is currently and where it might be going .  I was presenting this week too at the Scottish Qualifications E-Assessment Group - so probably good time to share this generic thinking. Think some of CEAG stuff will be shared at a later date. The questions here specifically about work based learning.

What do you recognise as the current, most effective methods in training and assessment?

This is two questions but I think you mean in a formal learning and training setting where assessment is linked to training and competency assessment for regulatory purposes in the workplace.

Is there particular types of training you feel would best suited to deliver through technology, and is there other types you feel should stay the same in the way it's delivered?

It is actually all about cost and efficacy, some things are always best demonstrated in real life - so the skill and assessment at same time , But increasingly simulation will be used for formative assessment - how can AR and VR be used to give candidate experience without cost of running full summative assessment . Been happening for along time in things like pilot training or even container ship skippering - where people spend hours working through simulations both to develop basic skills and to deal with hazardous situations that could not practically be assessed in real life .You are also beginning to see good application artificial intelligence to both guide learners through materials and to assess their capabilities.

Training should be as real as possible and observed and recorded for reflection and evaluation, that should be staying the same.  

What are your reasons for that?

Almost everything that is knowledge and understanding should by now be assessed on line - dependent on nature of content by MCQ , Short answer questions etc - or simply assessed at same time by candidate being filmed performing the task and through this demonstrating they have the underpinning knowledge. This is within all organisation reach. 

What technologies do you use or know of that are in use today to train, develop and assess the workforce?

It is actually all about cost and efficacy, some things are always best demonstrated in real life - so the skill and the assessment at same time , But increasingly simulation will be used for formative assessment - how can Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality be used to give the candidate experience without cost of running a full summative assessment . Been happening for a long time in things like pilot training or even container ship skippering - where people spend hours working through simulations both to develop basic skills and to deal with hazardous situations that could not practically or cost effectively be assessed in real life.

Policy can be real barrier. In England the switch back to End Point Assessment in apprenticeships will actually skew the value of the assessments and have added a lot of cost to the assessment process. 
What are the benefits or challenges with using these technologies?

I've worked as an  independent educational consultant and  in large organisations, I use and appraise regularly a range of platforms and technologies - they all come with own benefits and challenges - the main thing is to pick technology that fits the aims and outcomes of the learning. Make sure it is as future proof as it can be and uses standards that are open. 

For training it's got to be video - at entry level a youtube channel - but you can use lots of platforms , for delivery you need a Virtual Learning Environment  or Learning Management System  - you choose - VLE normal in education LMS in workplace learning - systems have own strengths and weaknesses .  An e-portfolio and reflective approach if done properly along with some MCQs probably the most effective approach for learner - but often regulatory requirements stipulate assessment strategies. 

VLE/ Moodle/ Canvas / Brightspace/ Google Classroom - I am seeing as core currently or relevant LMS Totora , People Soft , Bridge etc in workplace environment 
The main challenge is getting whatever platform embedded in practice - the default for many trainers is still paper and or email. 

Do you know of any future technologies that will enhance training, development and assessment? What are you doing, if anything, to prepare for these new methods?

I am working with City of Glasgow College currently they have the full package of useful platforms that enable on-line assessment and feedback - Turnitin , Gradebooks etc 
We've invested in content Blended Learning Consortium , a platform for video - ( Clickview) , we are working out how to use Google Apps for Education and Microsoft 365 particularly teams in supporting our training.

We train training staff in use of H5P so they can build their own interactive content when they need it and we are working out how to get them thinking about learning design. So the VLE is more than a collection of powerpoints and word documents and 
we  are no longer reliant of a few staff with higher level learning object creation skills. 

We are looking at systems around artificial intelligence - how it can support learner journey , Blockchain - how badges can be linked to certification and verified evidence 
In a College setting we are looking at how we can share more open educational resources - massive open on-line courses may be beyond us - but we have platforms that can do the same. We should have offers for students and the broader community who can't engage with formal education .  Where you can everyone should be giving away learning materials. See Open Scotland Declaration. 

But it does mean we need to get all staff to think about digital learning design - it is more than blended learning or flipping the classroom - you can plan and use new delivery and collaborative learning strategies. - you need to re-think your engagement strategies.  In old money you lesson plans need to be different. Have a look at ABC Learning Design.

What are the barriers to using technology to train, develop or assess staff?  

These get lower all the time but often it is the digital skills of the staff who are being asked to change their delivery skills to a blended one that requires less face to face time. 
Learners in the main lap up being able to learn and be assessed at times and on devices that suit them.

It should leave trainers more time to focus on the learners who are struggling.
In Glasgow not everyone has broadband but most learners have a smartphone ! 

Our Skills Landscape work highlighted a shift towards new, innovative ways of learning including the use of simulation in training.  Do you think there will be a drastic change to the way we learn in the short term (5 – 10 years)?

Yes I do - what is holding things back is probably regulatory environment and the skill sets of training and assessment companies - and to be fair it is still the cost of some technologies,  building a simulation is still expensive and repurposing one - if for instance the assessment rubric changes can be equally expensive - I think we may see some more partnerships with games industry around building and creation of simulations. Or whole area may be rethought Augmented Reality and layering questions and problems over other media is probably more cost effective than full Virtual Reality. 

Have you received feedback from your workforce regarding recent training?  Any comments on what has worked well or what they would change?

A lot of the regulatory  mandatory training is simply bought off the shelf - repurposed slightly - company logo etc and delivered in chunks through VLE or LMS generally its is not very good - but delivers an audit record of those who have read materials and passed assessment - staff find it boring but realise it is a necessity - it should be better than this . As cost of development of materials come down we are creating and developing more materials in house. 
What is working well - re-thinking approaches building closer partnership with Google for instance - see for example 

How do you think we can assure competency using technology? 

Yes,  you certainly can - sampling and all the things you need should now be on line - audit trails , analytics , lots of things that should make both internal and external verfication easier across a very broad range of assessment strategies. And a lot of things I've suggested already - around real practical skills it is hard to fake doing something on video.
For the learner they should have an on-line digital portfolio showing their on-going CPD - 


Putting your best foot forward with #altc⤴


[This post was previously posted on the ALTC website.]

What to expect from the ALT Conference’s social media channels and how to get involved.  

The ALT Conference is almost upon as and we’re looking forward to welcoming delegates to the city and University of Edinburgh.  Edinburgh is a wonderful city to visit at any time of the year, but we appreciate that traveling to attend conferences is not always practical or possible, so in order to ensure that the conference is as accessible and inclusive as possible, ALT provides a range of online channels to enable you to participate in the conference remotely.  Frances Bell has already written a really helpful post on how to participate in the conference online.

In addition to watching the ALT conference livestream, and signing up for VConnecting sessions, you can engage with the conference through ALT’s social media channels and the #altc hashtag, which is already hotting up as delegates prepare for the conference. 

The ALT Conference has always had a really lively and engaging social media presence, which draws in participants from all over the world. I’m delighted to help facilitate this as part of ALT’s social media team, along with partners in crime Rich Goodman (@bulgenen), from the University of Loughborough, and photographer Chris Bull (@chrisbull1980).  My role is to livetweet the conference keynotes from ALT’s official twitter account @A_L_T, while Rich will be tweeting Chris’ photographs, which really capture the buzz and energy of the conference.  You can see Chris’ pictures from last year’s ALT Conference on ALT’s flickr channel, and in keeping with ALT’s strategic commitment to openness, they’re all Creative Commons licensed. 

CC BY NC 2.0, Chris Bull for the Association for Learning Technology on flickr

I’ve written several blog posts over the years about my experience of live tweeting the ALT conference, and in my CMALT portfolio I reflected on the difference between tweeting for ALT in an official capacity,  and tweeting from my own personal account:

Live tweeting in an official capacity for events such as the ALT Conference requires a different approach to live tweeting from my own personal account.  When I live tweet on behalf of an event organiser I try to keep my tweets as factual, neutral and representative as possible. It’s important not to misrepresent the speaker or inadvertently tweet anything that might bring the organisation into disrepute.  If I’m tweeting personally, I tend to tweet the points that interest me, adding my own thoughts and comments along the way.

The ALT Conference has a justifiable reputation for the quality of its keynotes, and this year is no exception.  Although it can be a little daunting, it’s a real privilege to livetweet such inspirational speakers.

It’s hard to overestimate the influence Sue Beckingham (@suebecks) has had on the learning technology community in the UK, through her blog Social Media for Learning, the weekly #LTHEchat twitter chat, and the open online course Bring Your Own Device for Learning. Sue brings a nuanced and critical approach to the use of social media in teaching and learning and is generous in sharing her practice and experience with the community. 

I heard Ollie Bray (@olliebray) speaking many years ago when he was Head Teacher at Kingussie High School and I remember being really intrigued by his inspirational approaches to teaching and learning and innovative use of technology and social media, so I’m really looking forward to hearing about and livetweeting his recent work connecting play and education at the LEGO Foundation. 

I’m particularly thrilled to hear Jesse Stommel (@Jessifer), as I’ve followed him on twitter for some time and I’m a huge admirer of his work.  Just a few weeks ago I was following the Digital Pedagogy Lab, co-founded by Jesse, on twitter and though I only dipped my toe into the incredibly rich stream of tweets it was a really rewarding and thought provoking experience. 

Whether you’ll be with us in Edinburgh or joining us remotely, we’d encourage you to get involved with the ALT Conference online. You can do this by:

  • Following the official ALT twitter account @A_L_T / 
  • Following the conference hashtag #altc
  • Tweeting your own comments, reflections and pictures on the #altc conference hashtag. 
  • Sharing your photographs online, remember to use the #altc hashtag and add an open licence!

You don’t need a twitter account to read @A_L_T’s tweets and to follow the #altc tag, but you do need an account if you want to retweet and comment. 

And of course no ALT event would be complete without the occasional #shoetweet

#altc #shoetweet, CC BY, Lorna M. Campbell

So put our best foot forward and join us in Edinburgh and online for #altc

Some Skypeathon Ideas⤴

from @ Edu Tech Stories

I've done what I can over the years (As and when I've been able) to support tools that I'm a fan of. This includes Skype and encouraging people to get involved with events like the Skypeathon since it started in 2015.

In 2015 it looked like 2 Scottish schools got involved with the Skypeathon, fifteen in 2016 and two initiatives in 2017 (Not sure about 2018).

This post includes some ideas that might help more Scottish schools connect in 2019.

Skype Rivalries 
One of the most successful initiatives with the Skypeathon in Scottish Schools was the year that Paul Watkins organised the 'Three Nations Challenge" a competition between Scotland, England and Wales to see who could travel the most virtual miles.

I wonder what would happen if this was re-ran in any number of the following combinations.

Traditional sports rivalries in US Sports - College & NFL
In our first attempt at content marketing and market research and our Twitter in FE report in collaboration with Social Nation author, Barry Libert we noticed the Texas A&M Vs Texas Uni football rivalry spilling into social media (But in a friendly way... not like political adversaries go after one another today)

In our search for good examples of colleges in Social Media and who had the most fans, we came across a great example involving Texas A&M and The University of Texas.

The longstanding rivalry between the two universities never fails to cause a stir amongst students & fans. In the modern age of Facebook and Twitter, the competition extends beyond the playing field and onto the Internet. These two rival universities compete with one another to have the most followers and fans. At the time of writing this currently stands at;

Texas A&M = 16,000 followers Vs Texas Uni = 13,000 (via Twitter in FE Report 2012)

A twist on this might be that the Twitter chats and/or Edcamp organisers from each state compete against other state Twitter chat and/or EdCamp to see who wins the bragging rights for the most miles travelled within and outside of their state?

Here's a list of Edchat ModeratorsEdcamp Accounts and Edcamp organisers

In Scotland (And across the UK) this could be seeing who Skypes with the most people within their Local Authority outside their district, perhaps buddying up with a state for the right kind of collusion (AKA not the political kind of collusion) to clock those Skype miles up.

To find Schools on Twitter in Scotland (Last updated in 2017) check out this Zeemap

Scottish Schools on Twitter
(Click on the list or pin to see class/departmental accounts)

Microsoft Ambassadors
Or perhaps there could be collusion along Microsoft Ambassador lines with #MIEExperts, #SkypeMTs, Mincraft Global Mentors, Flipgrid Ambassadors, Wakelet Ambassadors and their students seeing which group can get the most schools making that all important first Skype call.

Authors, Industry Experts & VFTs 
Once you've got schools in your district signed up and have established an alliance with a region/community from across the pond... Perhaps you could recruit an author, industry expert or virtual field trip location and book them up before any of your (friendly!) rivals do ;)

You can connect with authors and VFTs on the Microsoft Education Community (MEC) or simply Tag  them in Tweet

Possible Competitions
Some of the things regarding the friendly competition could include:

The most miles traveled
The best call
The class that learned the most on a call
Incentives to stay in touch over the course of the year and the best collaboration between the Skypeathon 2019 and the 2020 event.

Some Wizard Skype Magic... And Serious Fun!
Ever read a book called Harry Potter? Remember the sorting hat? Did you see how seriously those kids took the house competition... and how loyal they were?

#WhatIf... There was Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin for Skype?

I've been exploring some Citizenship ideas with a few educators for some young digital leaders and wonder what some friendly rivalries could look like.

Perhaps having educators and authors who help students to encourage other classes, schools, educators and students connect. 

Based on some of the books me and my kids have got a lot out of over the last couple of years this could include books like:

Spy Quest 
Agent Jones' Mission is to encourage reluctant readers to discover the world of books and he has helped bring reading to life in our house.

If, as we suspect, Be More Pirate author Sam Conniff is right and that 

'Professional Rule Breaking will be an in-demand skill'

Then applying principles from this book will come in useful... Just look at Greta Thrunberg and the School Climate Strike if you are looking for any evidence of this. (Sam Conniff has also inspired young people through his work at Livity)

Rough Diamond
Nicole Yershon's book is all about creativity, digital and organisational transformation and how she helped young people who were 'Rough Diamond's' to shine when she created and ran the Ogilvy Labs.

Gamers, Youtubers & Other Smart Stems
We have seen how 15 year olds are making money from things like the Fortnite World Cup, YouTube and other ideas that simply were not here a decade or two ago... Minecraft experts like Stephen Reid, Minecraft Global Mentors and organisations like Smart Stems could help with this group

New Power Super Heroes 
A lot of kids - some of whom might be lonely at school and/or are having a hard time - can tend to lose themselves in the Marvel and DC universe. 

Other lost kids are not so lucky and find that instead of super heroes it's the white supremacist spaces that they get lost in... Their minds getting warped by people who call the New Zealand Terrorist 'Patron Saint of the Far Right??!

Lets help those kids find the right kind of IRL role models and help them develop their own super powers... and their 'New Power' skills.

As all ideas this one may be a bad idea to start with, an OK idea, or a good one but just isn't ready yet. 

...Maybe it needs a little more collusion with more turtles that we haven't met yet before there is that 'Eureka' moment and/or the meeting of minds and mixing with other people's 'Slow Hunches'. I love those freaking good idea Turtles!

Confused about that last paragraph (Or, indeed, the entire post?) check this video out
Image result for where ideas come from steven johnson
Where Ideas Come From #ForTheWeb

Scottish education on the brink of profound change in professional learning⤴

from @ School Leadership - A Scottish Perspective

As most schools in Scotland have now returned for the new school session after the summer break, this is a time of great excitement and refocused activity in all schools. Teachers have had the summer break to recover from their exertions, and demands placed on them, during the previous school year, and have no doubt been anticipating the year ahead, as the summer holidays drew to a close.

I was in a Secondary school last Monday working with staff from that school and their feeder primary schools. It was great to feel the buzz and excitement people were generally feeling about the year ahead. Most staff I spoke to articulated how excited they were to get going again, and about the year ahead. I remember that buzz myself from when I was still in school, both as a teacher and headteacher. I never lost that throughout my career, and it is one of the things I miss most about not being in a school, especially at this time of the year.

As children returned over the rest of this week, the sense of excitement has only picked up, amongst  staff and  their learners I have passed numerous schools this week and have seen first hand smiling happy learners in school playgrounds and on their way to, or from, their schools. If we can't all feel excited and positive at this time of the year, will we ever?

One of the most exciting changes and developments I see happening across Scottish education at the moment is around our approach to professional learning. What I have witnessed and experienced this week, has got me excited about not only  about the school year ahead, but also for the future beyond.

Since 2010, when Graham Donaldson wrote 'Teaching Scotland's Future', which looked at initial teacher education and professional learning within the profession, there has been a focus on how we prepare and educate our trainee teachers, as well as on how we support them to keep learning and growing throughout their careers. When he considered the GTCS Standards For Registration, as well as what research was telling us about the most impactful professional learning, with a focus on the impact for learners,  he said that the GTCS should consider refreshed new standards which 'could include pedagogy, up to date subject knowledge and the use of inquiry-based improvement.' All of Donaldson's 51 recommendations were adopted in their entirety by the Scottish government.

He went on to say 'The most successful education systems invest in developing their teachers as reflective, accomplished and enquiring professionals...who have the capacity to engage fully with the complexities of education, and to be key actors in shaping educational change.'

The GTCS (General Teaching Council Scotland) reflected this when they re-drafted their professional standards in 2012. Amongst the professional values that they identified as important for all educators is one of Professional Commitment, with teachers at all stages of their career 'committing to lifelong enquiry, learning, professional development and leadership as core aspects of professionalism and collaborative practice.'

The new Professional Learning Model, developed by SCEL and Education Scotland in 2018, identifies three key areas for professional learning. These are learning through enquiry, learning through collaboration and learning in order to deepen knowledge and understanding. 

All of these policy, standards and models agree that success of professional learning should be be measured in terms of impact for learners.

I think it is good that we have a policy framework and standards which support enquiry as a key aspect of professional learning. In my experience, policy can either support what we are trying to achieve every day in our classrooms or school, or it can hinder us. In respect to professional learning, I think we have the policy and structures in place to support what we are all trying to achieve. That policy, those standards, and the learning model all emerged out of engagement with research around the most impactful professional learning from across the globe.

That research has consistently shown that learning that is reflective, inquiring, collaborative and context specific, has the greatest impacts for learners at all levels. Professional Learning that increases teacher agency, teacher leadership and develops adaptive expertise, all leads to the development of self-improving teachers, schools and systems, which Donaldson alluded to and which has been called for directly by Fullan, Hargreaves, Timperley and others.

So we have the policy and structures that support a different approach to professional learning, which helps. However, I have always believed that improvement cannot be imposed, either by legislation or top-down direction. True, deep embedded, improvement, and the desire to do so, has to be intrinsic within individuals. What we require from systems and leaders, is to create the conditions and cultures which support and allow such intrinsic dispositions to flourish and grow,

Which is why I am so heartened by what I have experienced and witnessed in the short time that Scottish schools have been back since the summer holidays.The vehicle that we have chosen to connect all these elements of professional learning in Scotland is practitioner enquiry or collaborative enquiry. I was working with the cluster of schools in Falkirk on Monday because they have begun to engage with practitioner enquiry. Some are further down the road of engagement than others, and that is fine, but collectively they have agreed to use practitioner enquiry as the focus of their individual and collective professional learning, and they have committed to this for the long term, not just one school session.

When I returned from this session, exhilarated by what I had seen and heard, I saw on Twitter that other schools, clusters and local authorities were also engaging on their own journey with enquiry. Kate Wall, from Strathclyde University was at Stirling High School talking about how to make practitioner enquiry real in your practice. Fife Professional Learning Team tweeted about their practitioner enquiry professional leaning programme and there were tweets from the East Renfrew PEST team (Practitioner Enquiry Support Team) East and West Lothian have set up a TEN (Teachers as Enquirers Network)support  network, to work with teachers in both authorities who are engaged in enquiry work. Mark Priestley and Valerie Drew, from Stirling University continue to work in schools using their Collaborative Enquiry model, and there is more work happening on the same them from Edinburgh University, Glasgow, Dundee and Aberdeen. Add to these the work to support enquiry from SCEL (Scottish College for Educational Leadership), Education Scotland and the GTCS, a head of steam is building up around enquiry across Scotland.

I also had another meeting later in the week with  a lead officer for professional learning and Principal Education Psychologist at East Lothian as we spoke more about practitioner enquiry, and I heard about their own journey and their plans for supporting their schools further with enquiry. We agreed to explore further how we could help teachers and schools, and I could contribute from my own experience and practice.

I have been a long-time advocate, and user, of practitioner enquiry for individual, school and system development, even writing a book about my own experiences and insights. So, to see all this activity and  genuine interest in Scottish schools and system is a delight for me.

This really promises to be a game changer in terms of professional learning and impacts for teachers and learners, and could shift the Scottish system towards my own personal Nirvana, which is the self-improving system, confident in its ability to know its impact and how to keep developing this further. All of this being done because we have a repeatable process that encourages the disposition of self-improvement, with individuals and  a system that are intrinsically motivated to keep developing, with  professional educators who's thinking and practice is research informed, and who understand  themselves and their impacts well. That really would be a game changer!

Obviously we still have a long way to go, but I am encouraged by the road so many are travelling, and we must take the time necessary so that enquiry does not mutate into a lesser version of its original self and purpose. But if we get this right the ultimate beneficiaries should be all our learners, and Scotland itself.

Skype Master Student – Connect Globally to Help Locally⤴

from @ Edu Tech Stories

This post includes what I hope will happen when trying to develop the idea of a Skype Master Student initiative to the stage where it becomes a good idea so that others will get involved and run with.

The next stage is to take Sam Conniff's advice in Be More Pirate and try to engage one of the groups that - for various reasons - is a tough audience for me. 

This post, like my previous one is more cathartic and 'thinking out loud' as much as anything. It details what I would like to happen... but will, no doubt, hit road blocks and/or may take a few attempts.

My own kids' school(s) should not be a tough audience for me - just like this post, like the one I wrote last July, should be a single paragraph:

"I want my kids to be able to make Skype calls at school, to connect with the kind of people that I've been able to connect with... But in order to do that a bit of encouragement and hustle is needed"

But I've found that's not how things work. Four years ago I would have (and did!) scratch my head about how and why it was so tough. Nicole Yershon articulates this very well in her fantastic book about creativity and innovation.

"We were laying the road as we go along and to write a PowerPoint to explain it, is actually quite difficult" Rough Diamond 

So... What if you have ideas but don't have a voice? 

To give just one example... What if you agree with people like Chris van der Kuyl that 'Education lacks leadership*' and agree that you feel there would be a lot of benefits if Scottish Educators were to collaborate more.

However, unlike those who do have a voice, you are not a position to simply give a fancy keynote speech at and think nothing more about it?

(*IMHO the observations from my previous post detail this quite clearly how and where education lacks leadership from policy makers)  

One piece of advice was to 'Keep Telling your Story' but, thanks to the person who gave me this very advice, I've since found that those who do have a voice will take the story and alter it

"You have to be sure to tell your side of the story... Because if you don't, the truth will be invented by other people to get the credit" Nicole Yershon, Rough Diamond 

So it would appear that there are two options...

1) Just give up and conform.

2) Take Susan Cain and Steve Wozniak's advice and start a @LiveQuiet revolution and work alone. 

"Most inventors and enginners I've met are like me - they're shy and they live in their heads. They're almost like artists. In fact the best of them are artists. And artists work best alone where they can control an inventions design without a lot of other people designing it for marketing or some other committee. I don't believe anything really revolutionary has been invented by committee. If you're that rare engineer who's an inventor and also an artist, I'm going to give you some advice that might be hard to take. That advice is : Work alone.You're going to be best able to design revolutionary products and features if you're working on your own. Not on a committee. Not on a team." Steve Wozniak via Susan Cain's fantastic book "Quiet"

Work on an idea until it becomes a good idea to 'Flatten the path' and 'Lower the barrier' to help others... until the rationale for the idea is beyond obvious and the value in exploring it no longer needs any explanation at all.
This Comment is pure gold to this particular Pirate!
I've come REALLY close to the first option in the last 12 months, including last week. 

However, a kind word from various groups of people in my network and two experiences with my kids have helped.

The people who have provided a kind word know who they are - if anything happens with this going forward it might not have without your input! TY - The two experiences with my kids are below.

My World of Work Day
Last year there was a "World of Work" day at my 8 year old son's school, and parents were asked if they wanted to get involved. I didn't get involved. The reason?

I "lack presence," I've done the 'stand up and pretend to be an extrovert' stuff on sales calls and at conferences... I'm neither a fan of public speaking and find current sales practices to be so 1980s Gordon Gekko... and, if you take a look at companies that scale well you'll notice that the times they are a changing.

(If you check out my Confessions of an EdTech Salesman from Jan 2014 you'll see that @TolleyA pretty much modeled this at ISTE this year)

Another reason I didn't get involved is because what I was working on wasn't quite ready. 

It is now ready, but the timing might not quite fit in with the schools World of Work Day schedule. So unless a rule or two is broken, they might not hear about the exciting summer that one of their young students has had.

When I picked my son up from school after his World of Work Day, I asked:

Was anyone from Minecraft there?
Was anyone from YouTube there?
Was anyone from Fortnite there?
Was anyone from Pokemon Go there?
Was anyone from Xbox there?
Was anyone from Microsoft there?
Was anyone from Google there?
Was anyone from Apple there?

All games and tech that he likes... answer to each question was 'No' until I get an exasperated 

"Look Dad! No-one from any technology companies were there today! OK!" 

For no reason what's so ever I'll just park this comment from our Right Honourable Education Secratery here

“Our children and young people can access more information at the click of a button than at any point in history” John Swinney, EdTech50 Schools report... along with a link to my previous post: The Choice.

As Twitter highlights all too well, it's easy to criticize and leave things there... complete with a cutting comment or an insult ("Words on a Screen Hurt" Howard Rhiengold Virtual Communities). 

But I asked these things as I felt I was working on a solution to this lack of tech companies at the school's World of Work Day.

When Agent Isaac turned up to Westquarter Primary School on his DigCitSummit SpyQuest Mission Classroom Skype Call to model the movements aim to 'Act Locally; Connect Globally' I envisioned inverting this so that once he had connected globally it would help locally with this very issue.

"When we set  out  to  create  a  community  of  technical scholars  in  Silicon  Valley, there wasn't much here and the rest of the world looked awfully big.  Now a lot of the rest of the  world  is  here" Fred Terman, The Father of Silicon Valley.

The end of this post highlights that we're now ready to go with this as soon as others are ready for the idea.

The Joy of CEX... And Breaking Little Rules
I've delayed writing this post as I knew that if I hit 'publish' I'll see it through, because I would hate to get the support of others only for me to say 

"I'm tired, I've had enough... I'll only get the same results as previous attempts" 

A trip to the game shop CEX with my teenage son at the weekend helped with this. Here's the story...

Teenage son had most of the money for the game he wanted. 

He then had to haggle for the rest in the shop but telling me why he felt he deserved the additional amount he needed (It took a while, it was a fierce negotiation!)

When he secures the additional funds I then see that the game isn't quite age appropriate... Great opportunity for confidence building, thinks me... as well as to encourage a little Be More Pirate rule breaking too.

We're talking about a quiet kid here... a real introvert, he'll avoid things like going up to any counter to pay for something if at all possible, so suggesting that they go up to the counter while breaking a rule?

Well it almost never happened, at one point he put the game away and walked out with the money... talk about cutting your nose to spite your face! Or - more like it - talk about a stubborn streak!!

EVENTUALLY I get him to go back in and give it a go... saying "any problems and I'll go in and get it"

10 minutes later he comes out looking pleased with himself and a little more confident... complete with game in hand and a receipt, then says 

"Well last time I tried to get a game in there they asked for ID and I had to wait 30 mins for Mum to come and get it for me, so you can't blame me for (Being a stroppy, stubborn teenager) not wanting to go up to the counter by myself"

So, like said stroppy teenager, there's a good chance I'm older and wiser too... there's also a good chance that the next project(s) I work on will pan out differently too.

Connect Globally to Help Locally - Rationale, Progress & The Plan
The plan is extremely simple...and is unchanged since the Skype Master Student post I wrote last July:

"I want my kids to be able to make Skype calls at school, to connect with the kind of people that I've been able to connect with... But in order to do that a bit of encouragement and hustle is needed"

Or if you prefer the #EdTech50 Schools report:

“A simple idea that is possible to introduce elsewhere. Good example of becoming a global citizen using Skype” Ysgol Bae Baglan, Port Talbot entry.

I know a student at one of my kids' school who has been busy connecting with people globally and could help with local initiatives like their World of Work day.

In addition to this, if Shane Snow and Sam Conniff are right that Story Telling will be the #1 Business Skill of the next few years and that we should Tell Tall Tales like Blackbeard, we think this one is pretty awesome:

A 7 year old student connecting with @TolleyA in Tennessee and having their work presented at one of the world’s biggest Edu conferences and helping local #EdTech50 entrepreneur @GoutcherD with his @SpyQuest Mission to encourage reluctant readers to explore the world of books.

The Plan
To arrange for some people who have been involved with some of these projects to drop into the school to discuss their World of Work with this young Spy Guy Pirate Piggy and his class and have those who live a little too far to be there in person (But are close to our hearts and never far from our minds) to Skype in to say 'Hello' and discuss their world of work too.

I have 5 main groups in mind, that I think would work well, and would take up about an hour of the school/classes time.

Skype Advocates
This could include Scottish Skype Master Teachers, people from Microsoft/Skype, Virtual Field Trips, Authors or people who are fans of events like the Skypeathon.

This could include people who are Digital Citizenship experts and/or people who are exploring digital transformation/the future of work. People like Nicole Yershon, David Goutcher, Sam Conniff, Mark Babbitt, Susan Bearden among others.

We are seeing all kinds of ways that people are finding a way to make a living with games, whether through Youtube/Twitch or the Fortnite World Cup. Agent Piggy wants to move to Tennessee so he can play Minecraft in class, I am sure there are less drastic (And more affordable!) options... perhaps starting with having people like Immersive Minds Stephen Ried and Global Minecraft Mentors like @TolleyA and experts like Sherry Jones skype in to discuss how they use Minecraft and other games in education.

The Well Beings
Since 2015 I have been looking at the early online community 'The Well' and am delighted to be able to say that some of the members of this community - the Well Beings - are interested in getting involved and would love to skype with more schools and classrooms

SkypeMS Fans
We have a group of people who really like the idea of a 'Skype Master Student' idea to help the Skype Master Teachers to help other classes and schools to make that all important - but, like anything that's new, nerve wracking! - first call.

Date & Venue
In an ideal world the date for this would be the 2nd September as a few people who would like to be involved are available on that date.

I would love for a call like this to take place at one of my own kids' schools... But appreciate that things don't always go to plan. I always try to plan for the best... prepare for the worst.

That's no different as I try to take the Skype Master Student idea from an idea -> to a good idea, by trying to tell the best EdTech Stories that I possibly can... Even if it does involve breaking the odd rule or two ;)