Monthly Archives: June 2018

Circular Records Hall on Atlas Obscura⤴

from

I was quietly chuffed a couple of weeks ago when one of my photographs was featured in Atlas Obscura, and even more so, because the picture in question was one that I uploaded to Wikimedia Commons as part of the Wiki Loves Monuments competition last year.  See?  Good things happen when you contribute to the Commons.  You can read the Atlas Obscura article here: General Register Building of the National Archives of Scotland, and the original image is available on Wikimedia Commons here: General Register Office, Circular Record Hall.

I actually snapped this picture during a consultation meeting on the Scottish Government’s Digital Educations strategy a few years ago and as far as I ca recall it was taken on an ancient beaten up old iPhone.

Endings⤴

from

As we approach the end of term in Scotland, this is my message to staff:

It was such a privilege on Thursday to hear the brilliant leaving speeches for staff.

 It got me thinking about what I would say about myself in a leaving speech.

How often do we stop and reflect on what we have done and what we have been to others? Probably not enough.

As teachers, we are naturally inclined towards celebrating the successes of pupils and making them feel good about themselves.

But how often do we look at our own achievements and give ourselves a quiet “thank you” or “well done”.

 Do you, like me, tend to focus on what has not been done, rather than what has been?

 I was chatting to a pupil the other day about the concept of whether we were “glass half empty” or “glass half full” types and they brilliantly said: “but sometimes the glass IS half empty, if you have drunk from it and sometimes it IS half full, if you have filled it half way from the tap.”

 Of course, it can be both. And our thoughts can be both: sometimes more positive and sometimes more negative.

 And so, as we go into this holiday, I set you a challenge. Fill your glass with a favourite drink and write yourself a congratulatory piece about all you have done and achieved this year.

And then drink a toast to you.

I am immensely grateful for all that all of you do and have done. You should be too.

 Have a fantastic summer.

Reading for pleasure is not merely about the reading for pleasure.⤴

from @ Just Trying to be Better Than Yesterday

Reading ‘Why Baseball Matters’ by Susan Jacobs recently, I was struck by the writer’s concern for the future of the game as a spectator sport. Apparently attendances at games is down massively, especially in those under twenty-five, who seem to prefer to access their sport in small, smart phone friendly chunks. Major League Baseball is very concerned. It seems that the next generation of sports fan has trouble with the patient build up of play, the potential for low scores and the possibility of a game that could last at least three hours. When you consider that the season consists of over 150 games then you might think they have a point.

More recently I had a fascinating conversation with my Higher class about their fears over upcoming exams. Of course, they felt the pressure from all sides about doing their best. They put pressure on themselves. They seemed too believe that they’d been told that failure wasn’t an option and that scared them. But what concerned them most about the actual exam was the necessity of sitting for three hours in silence (two halves of ninety minutes). To most of them silence was anathema; it didn’t figure anywhere in their lives; they didn’t know how to cope with that level of concentration.

Isn’t this just another reason to say that reading is important? I read Twitter with horror at times when I see that some folk think that expecting young people to read for pleasure is unnecessary and ‘not really our job’’. I can’t fathom that; it doesn’t make sense. Of course we want them to be strong readers but without the experience of sitting for long periods in quiet contemplation with a book, then think of all we are losing. How easily we give up on it, on them. How damaging that may be.

Part of my reasoning for starting every lesson with ten minutes of uninterrupted reading is that young people very often don’t get that quiet anywhere else in their school day. Developing the ability to sit still and concentrate on what they are doing – even if it takes many of them a while to get there – is hugely important for them. So reading fore pleasure is not merely about consuming literature, whatever that might mean to the individual. It is about creating the conditions for thinking and contemplation; it is about respecting the silence of others; it is about so much more than just the reading material.

So don’t give up on younger readers. It seems crazy to suggest that being able to read well is enough, that reading is an optional extra. Think of the benefits of being a lifelong reader that we’ve all had. Think of the benefits they’ll reap later when they have developed the ability to concentrate on a baseball game, a football game, a cricket game, a Shakespeare play without reaching for their phones. There are enough distractions for them. Let’s try and give them something that might help them with that.

Gaelic (Learners) in the secondary curriculum⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

e-Sgoil is an interactive, real-time teaching facility which uses Glow, Office 365 and Vscene to make Gaelic part of the curriculum in any school in Scotland.  e-Sgoil is offering  National 5 and Higher Gaelic (Learners) from August 2018.  This may be to provide progression with the 1+2 Approach to Languages in the broad general education or within the senior phase, or to enable learners to access Gaelic as a new subject.

e-Sgoil can also offer weekly inputs for Gaelic (Learners)  in the broad general education.

For more information, please contact e-sgoil@gnes.net or phone 01851 822850.

A review of e-Sgoil’s first year of operation is available here:

http://e-sgoil.com/media/1133/e-sgoil-report-year-1-june-2018.pdf

 

 

Intcas Useful system disruption.⤴

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

Eighteen months  ago,  I spotted Intcas and saw an organisation becoming a  disruptor in a sector that has for too long relied on very long paper trails. 

It is worth having a root around their homepages to see seamless compliance in action. 

International study is a maze of uncertainty for both the international student and very often just as complex for the receiving institution. 

A signatory to the Groningen Declaration  I've been following Intcas's development closely as they expanded their global footprint

Intcas brings artificial intelligence into international student recruitment,  this offers huge benefits for centres and for learners .  Already affiliated to 500 global banks and connected to students and institutions  across the world .The platform allows learners to explore, design and build their careers using a single system.

As an international recruitment officer, imagine a guaranteed pipeline of learners with authenticated entry qualifications, verified visa entry requirements and with the pre-verification that learner has the funding in place to meet their financial commitments . This including access to  learners supported by national and other scholarship funds.

For the learner and their parents guarantees around the robustness of the degree on offer,  and that an appropriate accommodation and support network is in place - including in some subject areas a clear pipeline to employment .

In the UK domestic market too a glimpse of a system that  with a bit of thought could do much to re-invigorate  a more unified approach to matching employers , awarding bodies and apprenticeships and refreshingly an organisation that is thinking about the expanding global market for both higher and further education. 

Intcas will appeal to learners and their parents and schools , colleges and universities recruiting in the international market place around the world .  It will be of direct interest to agencies and government departments and to global awarding organisations looking for a partner with the systems in place to with the systems in place to support their accredited institutions and learners

https://www.groningendeclaration.org/intcas/

https://thepienews.com/news/intcas-wins-funding-for-ai-platform/

https://bdaily.co.uk/articles/2018/03/19/edtech-company-intcas-secures-2m-series-a-funding

https://www.buila.ac.uk/news/2018/intcas-raises-4-1m-funding-for-ai-platform

Microsoft Aquires Flipgrid⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Bookmarked Flipgrid's Next Chapter by Joey Taralson (Flipgrid.)
We are proud to announce that Flipgrid is now a part of Microsoft, sharing a mission to empower every student to achieve more. And just like Office 365, Flipgrid is now free for all educators and students.

Microsoft acquires Flipgrid, makes it free for education.

I’ve not used Flipgrid, it might be a struggle with our bandwidth, but it looks interesting. A bit late for this term, but I might look at it next session.

Given you can sign on with an O365 account I wonder if this will be considered part of Glow? You can sign-on with a google account too.

Flipgrid is where your students go to share ideas and learn together. It’s where students amplify and feel amplified. It’s video the way students use video. Short. Authentic. And fun!

from: Flipgrid – Video for student engagement and formative assessment

Be the Pink Panther⤴

from

Today’s Daily Create  brought to mind a quote from Deleuze and Guattari’s A Thousand Plateaus:

Write to the nth power, the n – 1 power, write with slogans: Make rhizomes, not roots, never plant! Don’t sow, grow offshoots! Don’t be one or multiple, be multiplicities! Run lines, never plot a point! Speed turns the point into a line! Be quick, even when standing still! Line of chance, line  of hips, line of flight. Don’t bring out the General in you! Don’t have just ideas, just have an idea (Godard). Have short-term ideas. Make maps, not photos or drawings. Be the Pink Panther and your loves will be like the wasp and the orchid, the cat and the baboon. ATP p. 24-5

It’s all about heterogeneity and rhizomes, of course – about working outside the lines, about not conforming to state control. It’s the essence of DS106 and CLMooc, for me. So here’s a gif for today:

via GIPHY

A couple of quick blog tweaks⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Firstly; I’ve removed most of the post formats leaving the 2 I actually use here. Standard goes to the front page, status to the status. I organise kinds with the post kinds plugin. My Format box now looks like this:

add_action( 'after_setup_theme', 'childtheme_formats', 11 );
function childtheme_formats(){
add_theme_support( 'post-formats', array( 'status') );
}

I added the above to my child themes function.php

Based on Post Formats Formats_in_a_Child_Theme in the WordPress Codex. Standard Format is formatless, so you just add the ones you want in addition.

Secondly; I’ve moved the quote and content generated from the Post Kinds plugin to below the post. This is in the Post Kinds setting so was simple. Having them above my remarks meant that the quote was going to micro.blog and twitter rather than my comment.

I hope to have a bit more time over the summer holidays to rethink and rewire the blog. Some of the decisions I’ve made were perhaps not the best.

Most of the functions that have do with micro.blog and microblogging that live in my child theme’s functions.php in a gist.

Learning Analytics Policy Development⤴

from

I wrote this up in a short brain dump to share with some colleagues internally recently, but since our Learning Analytics Principles and Purposes policy has now been re-published with a CC license, I thought it might be worth sharing some of the back story … Continue reading Learning Analytics Policy Development

Reflections on CELT Symposium 2018⤴

from

I was delighted to have the opportunity to visit NUI Galway last week for the annual CELT Symposium. It was the first time I’d been to Galway, but it reminded me a lot of a (much!) bigger version of my home town of Stornoway in the Western Isles so it felt a bit like home away from home.

The theme of this years symposium was Design for Learning: Teaching and Learning Spaces for Higher Eduction and, as always, it was a really thought provoking and engaging event. Although I’ve never been to CELT before I always follow the conference hashtag on twitter so it was great to be invited to participate in person this year. I’m not going to attempt to summarise the entire symposium, but I do want to briefly mention a few highlights.

Alastair Blyth, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Architecture at the University of Westminster, opened the conference with a keynote on Re-imagining Learning Spaces in Higher Education. Alastair noted that conversations about space are never just about space, they’re conversations about pedagogy, curriculum, technology, time and most importantly people. Learning is a social process, so learning spaces need to be learner centred and inclusive, and they need to enable collaboration between both students and teachers.  Alastair also highlighted the important civic function of universities, which blurs the boundary of public and private space.  This is a function that has always been central to the University of Edinburgh and indeed the university’s civic mission is written into the institution’s vision for open eduction.

Lorna Campbell & Donna Lanclos, CC BY-SA 2.0, Catherine Cronin

Anthropologist Donna Lanclos also gave a really inspiring keynote on supporting active learning pedagogies through creative physical spaces.  Creating the space is just the starting point, staff need time to develop a curriculum that maximises the effectiveness of active learning spaces. Experimenting with teaching in this way can be unsettling for students, as it’s a different model of authority. Teachers that are comfortable in active learning spaces, are comfortable with the realisation that they are not the main point of the learning experience.  Research shows that active pedagogies and active teaching and learning strategies break down inequalities in student success. If we choose not to adopt these approaches, then it becomes a social justice issue.  Donna cautioned against asking students what they want from libraries and learning spaces; instead, ask them what they do, where they go, ask them about their own learning spaces. We need institutional spaces that facilitate collaborative learning, we can’t just send our students to Starbucks. Donna also introduced us to the wonderfully icky concept of Sticky Campuses – campuses that students want to come back to.

Another session that really captivated me was Catriona Carlin‘s lovely talk about designing biodiverse spaces to feel joy and inspire learning. Catriona reminded us that the outdoors isn’t just for ecologists, the outdoors enables people to think outside the frameworks that constrain them, allowing them to notice, observe and think.  A timely reminder for us all!

Given the Symposium’s focus on physical teaching and learning spaces, I was a little worried that my closing keynote, The Soul of Liberty,  on digital open learning spaces, might be a little off the mark, so I was really encouraged by all the positive feedback I got from participants on twitter both during my talk and after I posted the transcript here on my blog.  It’s particularly gratifying to see such a positive response to our Open Content Curation Student Interns and the Wikimedia in the Classroom initiatives led by our wonderful Wikimedian in Residence Ewan McAndrew.  I’d also like to give a little shout out to Alice White, WiR at the Wellcome Library, and my colleague Anne-Marie Scott, whose gorgeous photographs of the Processions collaborative art work I used in my slides.

I’d just like to finish by thanking Catherine Cronin and Ian McLaren for inviting me to the Symposium and to all at NUI Galway who worked so hard to make it such a welcoming and engaging event. Tapadh leibh a huille duinne!