Tag Archives: Covid

Lockdown 2 day 1⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Lockdown 2 day 1

Well we didn’t get off to a great start.

Working from home today.

I’d set out a light weeks program in a blog post for the pupils and emailed the parents. In both post and email I’d try to make it clear we were trying to really get every pupil involved from the start.

Planned our first Team meeting for 2pm as that was the same time we used in the first lockdown.

Teams seemed to get off to a bad start across the country.

A number of schools, pupils and parents have reported the technology running slowly or not at all.

This didn’t cause me as much problems as some. I upload most of the files I want the pupils to use to the class blog. I figure this avoids password problems. Also Teams slowdown.

It did seem to cause problems in our meeting. Only about half the pupils managed to get on. The others could access Teams but not get onto the meeting. Hard to know if this was related to the reported problem or not. It was certainly frustrating seeing the messages from the class repeatedly trying to get in.

Worth noting that I joined the meeting on my mac and iPad. The iPad on mute and used as a screen share. This has improved a lot since the first lockdown. Joining on the iPad second it gave me a choice to swap to it or join without audio. The latter let me share the iPad screen, and from what I could tell it was not to laggy (as the pupils say). Laterally in the first lockdown I abandoned screen sharing or using PowerPoint and just share files in the chat as we had a pretty bad experience. This gives me hope for an improved experience.

Back to the digital classroom⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

From tomorrow I’ll be back in the digital classroom. I can’t say I’m very happy about it. For all my love of technology I much prefer the real classroom.

I’ve been reviewing my previous lockdown experience, I continue to find reading my old blog posts useful.  Also interesting to see what happened in the first week of term last session.

Last time I felt I spent very little time learning new stuff or seeing what other people were doing. As I recall my head was down. I believed that I cut out social media pretty much. I just had a look at my 2020 twitter stats:

And was surprised to see I was wrong about that.

It feel like there is a lot more pressure on this time round. I think, as teachers, we put enough pressure on ourselves, not sure the idea of teachers, schools and LAs having to produce data to justify themselves is a great idea. I gathered my own last time, and held myself to account  blogged about it, that felt tough enough.

I certainly hope that whoever tries to hold us to account understands the situation, the amount of prep needed to teach online, whether preparing for a live lesson or creating asynchronous ones.

Beginning the World Over Again⤴

from @ robin_macp

I was encouraged to write this by Jill Berry and Lena Carter, who both wrote excellent reflective blogs recently that show why they’re two of the most important voices in education, and are people that I respect greatly (links are at the end). It’s been far too long since I wrote something for my own website, but I’ve been able to contribute pieces to various other blogs and media outlets this year. If you’ve never taken up writing about education, but have always had an itch to do so, I strongly recommend it. The thought process that goes into blogging is, for me, the best and most therapeutic form of professional reflection. 

James Furlong and Owain Bristow

There can be no doubt that 2020 was a year that brought many lows, but for me the loss of two colleagues far outweighs anything else that happened. When I was Head of History at Wellington College, James Furlong was in the same role at the Holt School in Wokingham. He was a lovely guy, with a sharp intellect and superb subject knowledge. I got to know him through professional learning events that we ran for history teachers, and he very kindly took on School Direct trainees from my department. They always came back full of praise for the wisdom and advice that he imparted. James was tragically killed in a senseless terrorist attack in Reading, and I can only imagine how that would have impacted on his school community – who, it must be said, gave wonderfully compassionate support to their staff and pupils. James was an active member of the LGBTQI+ community who went out of his way to help people; he was the very epitome of kindness. The Holt are raising money for a memorial garden in his memory, and you can make a donation here.

In August, our Head of Biology at Robert Gordon’s College, Owain Bristow, died in a tragic accident just after we had returned to school. Owain was a brilliant scientist, with a quirky sense of humour, and the tributes that poured in showed just how much he meant to everyone in our community. He loved the outdoors, and dedicated much of his spare time to volunteering with Aberdeen Young Walkers. He was also a top-level athlete, an enthusiastic pantomime performer, and a much-loved son, boyfriend and uncle. The book that we put together of all the letters, cards, pictures and messages we received shows just how many lives he changed for the better. 

Both men gave so much to their schools, but also to wider society. As teachers, we know what we do is important, but we perhaps underestimate just how much. The legacy left by James and Owain shows the true value of the teaching profession. They are greatly missed.

Life as a new headteacher

I started my first headship in August this year, and the phrase that I have heard many times is that I’ve had “a baptism of fire”. True, crisis management has been a consistent feature of my first few months, but ultimately you know what you sign up for when you become a head. It is undoubtedly hard, and it’s not for everyone, but the support you get is amazing. My advice is to try to build up a strong network around you; people who can advise you, provide a sympathetic ear, and also be a critical friend. The better your network, the more able you are to do your job. 

I wrote this blog a few years back about senior leadership, and reflecting on it now I think it holds up pretty well. The tweet by Amy Fast that inspired it is, still, excellent advice:

I did the Scottish MSc level qualification ‘Into Headship’ in 2019-20 at Stirling University, and I can very much recommend it. Everyone I know who has taken it has been full of praise, unlike many people I know who have done NPQH. The reading part is the most challenging for many, but I loved that aspect and picked up a few things along the way. The work on the Complexity Leadership Theory (CLT) by Uhl-Bien et al (2007), although not on the prescribed reading list, was perhaps the best thing I read so if you have time then try to delve into it. I think it’s the closest thing to my experience of senior leadership so far.

Lockdown and remote learning

I described the second lockdown in a message to parents this week as “the sequel that nobody wanted, to a movie that no one enjoyed.” However, it won’t last forever and it has at least forced us to find creative solutions to problems that we’ve never faced before. Another colleague made a great point to me this week, namely that the paradigm shift that we’ve experienced has done much to destroy the ‘aye beens’ culture that affects not just Scottish education, but global systems too. That is to say, that we do many things because that’s the way we’ve always done them, without questioning why. I’ve never bought into that; I think we should do things because we know it’s the best way to do them. That’s now throwing national assessment into sharp relief, and I’ve been involved with other leaders in Scottish education in trying to open this debate up since before lockdown, as you can read about in this TES piece. We might, at last, be getting some traction. 

I wrote a piece when we entered the first lockdown about remote learning, and I think much of it still holds true. However, things have moved on, so there is scope to update this based on what we’ve learned over the last few months. It’s been interesting to see this blog getting a lot more hits in the past fortnight, so if you have fresher thoughts about what makes for effective remote learning then please do share them.

Srebrenica – the 25th Anniversary

Two of the things that I’ve been very sad to see fall by the wayside due to COVID were events for Remembering Srebrenica Scotland. I was supposed to lead a delegation of Scottish educators to Bosnia last April, and we’ve had to put this on hold until we’re able to travel again. My colleagues at RSS, especially Marsaili Fraser and Robert McNeil, put a huge amount of effort into curating an exhibition at the Kelvingrove to mark the 25th anniversary of the genocide at Srebrenica. I hope that their efforts will be available to the public in due course. I did manage to record a podcast with Jasmine Miller (who I’ve been privileged to work with on many different educational projects), and her full Srebrenica Stories series is well worth listening to.

The point of what we do at RSS is not to vilify any groups of people, but to challenge toxic ideology. We’ve seen far too much of that in 2020, and the recent events on Capitol Hill show that misinformation and demagoguery holds the capacity to rip apart the fabric of civil society. We are in the midst of a struggle to establish the values that we want for the future, and I sincerely hope that the consequences of the death of George Floyd will lead to the better angels of humankind rising above our demons. If we are going to live in a world that is just and fair, we need to see diversity as strength, and build a culture that actively celebrates it, and doesn’t just acknowledge it. As one of my colleagues says, tolerance is a weak virtue. Let’s take allyship forward this year, and champion the causes that matter. 

Professional learning – a golden age?

One of the definite silver linings of the past year has been a flourishing of professional learning. I ran a series with Mark Healy called the Professional Learning Gaitherin’, which brought together some of the leading voices in Scottish education to give weekly talks and twitter chats each Saturday morning during the summer term. It developed a strong following and it’s been interesting to see people watching these long after the series came to an end. A key feature is that the PL Gaitherin’ was free, and the same applied to excellent collections produced by researchEd Home and the Teacher Development Trust, and new events like ScotEd 2020 (you can find me at the end, but you’re much better off starting at the beginning). Some have called this a ‘golden age’ of professional learning, which is correct in the sense of the opportunities out there, but perhaps less accurate in that teachers struggled to engage with anything beyond upskilling on technology. Still, the legacy is there and I hope 2021 allows people more opportunity to become research informed in their practice. 

Coming out of the curve

There will be a post-COVID world in which there will be incredible opportunities. I’m trying to use any spare energy and time to plan for that world, because it will be a unique moment in time in which we can capitalise on the gains that we have undoubtedly made. I’m genuinely excited by that, and what I’ve written above shows, I hope, that it has never been more important to be involved in education. As Tom Paine said, “we have it in our power to begin the world over again”. Let’s get it right this time.

Further reflective reading

Nurture 20/21 – Jill Berry

Pride After A Fall – Lena Carter

Active Summer with Fresh Challenges Ahead.⤴

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

How do you measure what has been a challenging time for all ? 

It's not been the end of the world ( translation of my French surf shirt ).  My lock down beard 
(recorded in zoom and teams meetings)  has now gone and we are getting ready for the new session. Here are some links that reflect our work over the summer and our preparations for the new session. It is not the end , nor the beginning of the end of blended learning , it is just the start of a very different and much more learner centred form of education. 


We are ready with a new online standard for all,  and much more summarised on the LTA Blog Site . This is a summary of some great work across the Learning and Teaching Academy team , it has been a real team effort.  

I wrote a paper in April/May about the landscape we are all in,  and I've been fortunate to get pieces in the May Edition of Teaching Scotland.  I've linked my  CoVid posts for posterity

What is certain is that we are planning well - what is less certain are the challenges that lie ahead. 




Sign Up for Scottish Association of Learning Technology SIG Event with a difference 22nd of June⤴

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


Learning technologist in a University , College , local authority schools or other learning environment ? 

Could you please take a few moments to upload a video of yourself talking about what has helped you with the transition to remote learning and teaching, either from an individual or institutional perspective?

Don't be shy - we want to hear your voice ! 
If you are really shy - wear a disguise ;-) 
Is that asking for trouble ;-) 

And look forward to seeing you in person at the ALT Scotland SIG 
Please also remember to register for the event:

If you are reading this message - could promote the event within your institutions too that would be great!

Very best wishes,


ALT Scotland Special Interest Group Co-Chairs
Joe and Vicki



Dr Vicki H.M. Dale,   University of Glasgow
Joe Wilson MA, MBA , DipEd , PGCSE City of Glasgow College


7 Myths About Education Recovery⤴

from @ Graeme’s Blog

Some schools in England re-opened this week, shining a spotlight on the questions and anxieties that surround the mammoth task of recovering education. In Scotland, the national Education Recovery Group was established very early so all relevant voices, including those of teachers, employers and parents, could be heard. This has meant that planning has progressed quickly and with less confusion and fewer problems than has been the case south of the border. I’ve still read and heard some strange things though, and am trying to process some of them here.

1. Schools are dangerous.
Guidance was issued last week detailing the understanding amongst the Chief Medical Officer’s Advisory Group on the risks of returning to school and, commendably, where these were majority or minority views . Whilst this doesn’t cover every scenario, at least schools have something to work with. We can continuing planning for a phased return to school, knowing what to do to minimise the risk. Teachers won’t need to wear hazmat suits but careful thought will be needed around the surfaces and furnishings in classrooms and on the groupings coming into school and how to minimise interactions. Everyone will need to stay 2 metres apart. All local authorities have logistics gurus (shadowy figures, rarely seen during daylight) who are working hard on plans for additional hand-washing facilities, safe school transport and other nightmarishly complex tasks . This can only happen because of the sensible decision to work collaboratively towards an August return at the earliest. Any earlier would have been unfeasible for the significant changes that need to be made to make things safe. Parents and pupils should be reassured that a lot of thought is going into this and that schools will be as safe as possible.

2. Schools are safe.
Ok, they are; I’ve just written that above. The point I’m making is that schools are not naturally environments that are “Covid-19 secure”: it is only by making massive changes in how we access, use and run schools that we can make them safe. Every teacher, pupil and parent needs to understand that, if schools are to re-open, they must be vastly different from before. We can have far fewer pupils in at any one time and time will be needed in between different groups to clean surfaces properly. Classrooms, groupings and timetables will be very different. Serving school lunches, in any averagely-sized secondary school, is likely to be impossible. To stagger lunch service for even a few hundred pupils would take so long, and be so disruptive to the school day and teaching capacity, it is genuinely not worth bothering about. There is a big question here for schools to consider bravely: far better a highly productive morning than a full day with lunch staggered disruptively over a three hour window.

Some subjects will need a complete re-think. Take PE for example. In most school changing rooms physical distancing will be impractical and contact sports or even passing the ball will be off-limits. At the same time, we know that getting meaningful physical education is hugely important for our young people’s physical and mental wellbeing. PE teachers will rise to the challenge of transforming what they do (and most all PE teachers could beat me up if I suggested otherwise).

3. Remote learning is bad.
Teaching is highly interactive and intuitive. It relies on a series of millions of rich interactions in the context of a safe classroom environment and trusting relationships. This can never be replicated online. But just because traditional teaching cannot take place doesn’t mean that learning isn’t happening. Across the world teachers have worked incredibly hard to learn a whole new range of skills and not just about digital platforms. Teachers are thinking deeply about the pedagogy they need to set up learning and to make it accessible and engaging for pupils. I found Cassie Buchanan’s webinar really helpful in informing my thinking about how we could keep a sense of flow in learning from week to week. Our school adopted a weekly Content > Task > Hand-in > Follow up model to structure our asynchronous approach. We quickly agreed we all needed to use the same platform and the same weekly structure to make it as easy as possible for pupils to ‘get to’ and access the learning. Our teachers spent the recent in-service days sharing their experiences, both in terms of digital tips, but also the strategies they had begun to use to build and maintain pupil engagement. We used the EFF videos on self-regulated learning to stimulate discussion and ask ourselves deep questions about how we can cultivate these dispositions in our learners both now (entirely remotely) and next term when we will have a blend of in-school and remote learning.

Is it perfect? No. Is every teacher a digital guru? No. Is every pupil 100% engaged? No. (Spoiler alert: they weren’t always 100% engaged before either!) However, amazingly, we have achieved a transformation in a whole school approach to learning in a matter of weeks. There has been a complete shift from, in the frantic few days before schools closed, hastily curating resources on a myriad of platforms “just in case we shut”, to a coherent and consistent online learning approach that the Open University would be proud of. It has been the school improvement equivalent of implementing 3 years’ worth of change in 3 months.

It was refreshing to read Neil Oliver’s piece celebrating the impact of hard-working teachers across the country and to see the early shoots of Scottish pupils developing the skills they will need to thrive in the future world of working remotely and independently. Our own workforce is now actively preparing to enhance our strong remote offer by blending it with some face-to-face teaching next term. Teachers across Scotland, and the world, should be incredibly proud of what has been achieved in such a short space of time and without access to buildings.

4. Pupils will just jump straight back in.
Of course, many pupils (and adults) are struggling without the structures of the school day, the support of teachers and the social development and wellbeing that come from being part of a school community. They are desperate to get back and we are desperate to bring them back, safely. But I suspect most parents and pupils – and many staff, myself included – have not yet got our heads around how different things will be and how the ‘normal’ that we crave to get back simply won’t exist for a while. Schools will be almost unrecognisable.

Last week we removed all of the furniture from a classroom and set it up as a Covid safe learning space: minimising surfaces and furnishings, spreading out the desks and ensuring that all humans would be positioned 2 metres apart. It is grim. I remember as a primary pupil going to visit (with a frequency I now consider inexplicable) the mock Victorian Classroom that was set up in the old Ancrum Road Primary School in Dundee: our experiment immediately reminded me of that room. School is going to look and feel vastly different but – parents and pupils – don’t worry. Teachers across Scotland are already thinking of how we can prepare and support you with this. In actual fact, the phased return that will be necessary as part of the staggered approach to education recovery will be helpful for many young people.

5. More pupils in school means better learning.
Wrong. The Scottish Government has asked schools to ensure that as many pupils as can safely return come back to school at any one time. We need to approach this ambitiously, but with a focus on learning, not numbers. One approach could be to divide every possible space into 2 metre chunks and add up the number, giving the optimum number of pupils who can attend on any given day. This would do our pupils a great disservice and lead to real inequity across the country. Different year groups need different things and all schools will still have staff (and pupils) in the shielding category who will not be available. In a secondary, the most sensible way to run S1 and S2 is to offer a Japanese style ‘home room’ set up where a small group of pupils stay in the same room and teachers move to them (but not as often as they would normally change over). Older pupils have chosen different combinations of subjects, including those delivered by colleges and other partners, so need a very different set up. In both cases, with only one or two year groups in school, crafty timetabling can ensure that pupils still access a broad curriculum. However, if Scotland starts a space race to jam the highest possible % of pupils into a building, then we swap craftiness for cack-handedness and will have to reduce the range of subjects for everyone. What’s best for pupils? Fewer days in school accessing a broad curriculum, or more time in school following a narrower set of subjects?

Importantly, keeping a smaller number of students in schools will still allow them to access – at staggered times, and in Covid safe ways we will help them to learn – the social spaces in schools. Pasi Sahlberg and others have already made the case for the importance of having self-directed social times when we return to school and this will be crucial to achieve the positive impact on students’ wellbeing that we are all so desperate to see. If we pack the school with as many pupils as possible then break times will need to be in the same classrooms pupils are working in and we will lose an opportunity for the social and unsupervised interaction that our young people have been denied during lockdown.

6. Children have fallen behind. They should just repeat last year.
Behind who? Every school in the world has been closed. Of course, pupils will have forgotten things and got out of habits; some will have regressed significantly in some areas and others will have switched off from learning completely. We know some groups of learners will have been disadvantaged by lockdown more than others and that the attainment gap will have widened. But they are returning to buildings full of professionals who will support them. This is actually the real, meaty part of education ‘recovery’ that we are going to wrestle with over the next few years. It will require the utmost creativity and resilience. But nobody needs to repeat a year; all schools are moving forwards.

7. Next year’s exams should go ahead as normal.
Bonkers! Despite all my positive arguments about remote learning, Senior Phase pupils are following courses that were designed to have far more contact time with teachers than they are ever going to experience. Pupils, parents and teachers need a clear message reassuring them that the pressure to get through the same amount of content is off and that a blended approach (to use an ‘on trend’ expression) of coursework, teacher judgement and perhaps some form of shortened exam will be applied for certification next year. I happen to think the SQA have responded reasonably well to the situation they were placed in (albeit we will find out in August what “data validation” really means) but the Scottish education community must use the exit from this crisis as an opportunity to consider whether we want the Senior Phase to continue being, for many learners, three years of high stakes all-or-nothing tests.

Now, more than ever, is the time for teachers to take the lead and ensure that decisions about education recovery are taken on exactly that basis: what will maximise learning?

Notes:

  1. I do hope Daisy Christodoulou doesn’t come after me for plagiarising her title. It just seemed like a good idea and I’m sure she doesn’t have copyright on the word ‘myth’.
  2. Who am I kidding? As if Daisy Christodoulou would ever read my blog. She doesn’t even know who I am.

Busy , Busy , Busy⤴

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



I started trying to record what the new Learning and Teaching Academy has been up to on a weekly basis . I can't really believe this is week 10 of the lock down . 

I'm just about to push around a newsletter that is testament to all the hard work put in by teams and staff across the College.  June will be just as busy with virtual events across the College and nationally .  Hoping to finalise details of an ALT Scotland Special Interest Group meeting for end of this month - this week. 


( with thanks to Tom Duff) 

Here is a wee list of what we have achieved in 10 weeks.

  1. On day college closed we had advice in place for teaching , support and students on working remotely.
  2. We moved all support on line - our inbox every day has now dealt with around 1500 support requests ( at 27/5)
  3. We immediately rolled out Zoom as a practical delivery tool for teachers and provided associated support.
  4. We’ve run 2 webinars a day covering critical systems and support – with more than 950 staff attending sessions . Through online booking platform and we've had great feedback.
  5. Our offer has tracked staff demand – initially focusing on communication tools , now focusing on assessment and evidence gathering tools and we will focus on learning design to make courses more digital and blended for start of next session. ( we are using our own version of ABC Learning Design. 
  6. We have continued both to support a number of commercial projects like https://www.offsiteready.com/  and have won more commercial funding during lock down – and we are still bidding for new business. ( we are just about to roll out a UFI Project - watch this space) 
  7. We documented our approach and it has been picked up as good practice and will feature in a future GTCS Magazine.
  8. From 17 March we have offered a digital first library service with advice, support, guidance and access to resources for students and staff.
  9. We have designed, developed and launched the Learning and Teaching Academy online presence. Re-branded existing pages and building whole new libguide platform and creating a wordpress site and created a suite of short instructional videos and guides for staff working remotely.
  10. Our team has offered an online landscape to enable and support teaching teams to deliver online. With daily learning opportunities such as webinars to online learning courses that encourage and exploit digital technologies such as Teams, Zooms and many educational technologies and software.
  11. The LTA has successfully created a team ethic that is centred on supporting academic development and enhancing teaching and learning within City and beyond.
  12. We just managed to squeeze out a Jisc Digital Insights Student survey - which I know will give us some valuable data on how learners are coping in lockdown.
  13. We are now well positioned to start the real work of transforming delivery at City of Glasgow College in a new working landscape.
In amongst this I've  continued to support the College Scotland's #DigitalAmbition work now morphing into a more directed bit of work to deal with the immediate crisis . I've to completing data gathering for feedback to be in this week. 

Also managed to present  on a CDN/Jisc Virtual Bridge Sessions along with some of my colleagues. 

whew ! 

It’s time to talk about the new normal for schools⤴

from @ Graeme’s Blog

The class of 2020 will never forget their summer without exams. But what seemed unusual last term will pale in comparison with the seismic changes Scottish education is about to witness.

The First Minister has announced that physical distancing must remain in place until a vaccine is available. We must re-think – radically, deeply and creatively – how we “do” school in line with our new way of living.

For much of the coming session, schools cannot have all of their pupils in the building on the same day. Who should be prioritised? Senior pupils working towards qualifications and transitions, or younger year groups with perhaps greater wellbeing needs? Should secondaries alternate between dedicated days for BGE pupils and days for Senior Phase (S4-6)? Would alternate weeks be better? Safer? Just what is the maximum number of pupils you can fit into a Covid-safe classroom (a question considered brilliantly by Blair Minchin). Perhaps English and Maths teachers will finally discover the benefits of practical-sized classes, de-bunking the myth that children need greater supervision with the Bunsen burner than with the gerund (despite all our disagreeing). (Sorry).

Spring time is when many of us cover topics that simply must be taught outside. Where else can you teach Housman properly but under the shade of a cherry tree? Danish schools returned this week, taking as much learning as possible outdoors and Scottish teachers will exploit this opportunity to the full. As we head into autumn though, I’d guess this will become a less attractive option for all 5 periods of Higher Physics. Perhaps schools will follow the example of supermarkets and have clear lines at 2 metre intervals throughout social spaces. But what should we do if (when?) young people, deprived of peer contact for so long, decide to cross them? What happens for the young child who is stuck with their shoe laces, can’t wipe their nose, or just needs a hug from a friend?

In larger schools, having even two year groups in a building means 400-500 youngsters. Will it actually be possible for them to move through corridors every 50 minutes and observe distancing rules, or do we need something different? How will our transport (and teaching!) contracts cope with flexible school days? It is the time in the academic year when timetablers, having elegantly re-arranged the last few periods of S3 French, step-back with a hubristic grin and gaze at their gleaming matrices, desperate to explain their marvellous creations – slowly – to colleagues unfamiliar with the dark arts. Should they rip them up? Will these timetables ever be fully realised if the new normal needs new structures? We need to adapt the school day and week to minimise risk and maximise learning.

Across the country schools set up, seemingly overnight, new ways of teaching remotely and providing childcare for key workers; these will still be needed. Every pupil will need access to an engaging, user-friendly digital platform for the days it’s not their turn to be in school. Every single classroom in Scotland just got flipped. Royally. We must think deeply about how this changes our pedagogy for the coming session.

How employers and unions advise on PPE will be a crucial factor in the big question of “when?” we return. And, as advice on shielding becomes more detailed, we will learn which of our colleagues and pupils will stay at home indefinitely and consider how to support them.

But all of this is merely the starter task. Highly complex challenges lie ahead. How do schools continue to deliver their role in identifying and responding to wellbeing needs, GIRFEC and child protection concerns? How can we best support pupils with complex needs over the next year? The world of work changed unrecognisably overnight and, if economic predictions are even half true, the labour market for future school leavers will be even more complex and challenging than it was 5 weeks ago. Preparing young people to navigate this has never been more important but business and industry will have less capacity to support our DYW activity.

With the current focus on estimates for this year’s SQA candidates, it seems a tad gauche to pose a question about the 2021 exam diet. But it needs to be asked. By August, an entire cohort of Scottish children will have had their learning certified, and been awarded qualifications, without ever knowing the chill of an exam hall, the sound of 200 pens scribbling in synergy or the smell of a fusty invigilator. They have learned deep knowledge, skills and concepts. They will go on to wonderful things and they will cope with them. The next destination in their learner journey will welcome them with open arms (and will probably never make them sit an exam either). It turns out that we can trust teachers after all. We will have evidence that we do not need exams.

If we know now that the 2021 qualification cohort will have significantly less direct teaching than their predecessors, is it fair to assess them using the papers that are already written and locked in a Dalkeith vault? No. They too will need something different.

The rationale for Scotland’s Curriculum and the indispensability of the 4 capacities have been reinforced by the Covid-19 crisis. That same crisis has exposed the irrelevance of exams to real-life challenges. We have made commendable progress over the past decade in our approaches to teaching, learning and curriculum. I am not arguing we abolish our national exam system overnight (thought about it!) but it is time for certification to catch up. It is time for Scotland to stop being the country that assesses practical woodwork and hospitality with unseen written tests.

The Scottish education community has risen admirably to the challenges of the last few weeks. It will embrace the coming session with the same courage and creativity. Let’s take our inspirationally resilient First Minister at her word and engage in a grown-up conversation about how we do school for the new normal. Let’s be optimistic: from crisis comes progress.

Caveat 1: In the unlikely event anyone (I know) reads this, I am not saying any of this will happen in the school I am privileged to call my workplace. It is merely an attempt to un-burst my head! (“I write to know what I think”, Joan Didion)

Caveat 2: Timetablers are good people, especially our timetabler.

Caveat 3: Invigilators are really good people. You all smell lovely and I’m sorry.

#OER20 Still reverberating around kitchens and home offices around the world.⤴

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

The  #OER20 conference was an interesting experience . It was brilliantly switched from face to face to becoming a wholly on-line conference in a matter of weeks and it proved to be a great experience on many levels. What a great achievement by ALT team who have even shared the methodology they employed to run the online conference.

The #OER conference always has great speakers and explores a broad range of open educational practice from around the globe. In some ways with us all sitting isolating in different parts of the world and beaming into home offices , kitchens in my case ,  it seemed to emphasise the global nature of open educational thinking and practices.

I'm guessing we were all balancing our institutional commitments. I've reflected these in some earlier posts and workload and on-line meetings did get in the way of some of the sessions I would have liked to tune in to.

The on-line conference grew from it's usual physical size of around 400 delegates to 1300 delegates , the social hangouts and back channels allowed some of the networking and chatting that is a critical component of the learning that comes from a conferences, though I have to say I missed the mingling and meeting old friends and new.

It was topical and on the ball and even managed to have its own Blackboard Collaborate Bombing - it's not just Zoom, it  can happen on any platform folks.


I've embedded the conference playlist here ..




You can sneak a peak and many of the attendees who completed a splot and played social bingo.
As Lorna Campbell succinctly highlights

Please note, the OER20 conference wasn’t just free as in speech, it was also free as in beer, so if you participated in the event, either listening in to the presentations, or even just following the hashtag online, please consider making a donation to the conference fund. Every little helps to support ALT and cover the cost.

Our own session went well ... without rehearsal we summed up what we have achieved through a collaborative partnership around a shared G-Suite for Education - and the travails of getting staff to work in the open. You can find a recording of session and be your own judge.  The site is in transition to NMIS and Strathclyde University and is currently not sitting on it's usual domain - the resources are open and reflects well on what was a real team effort and a development that I think breaks the mould in Scottish education at least.

And finally delighted to be chairing next year's conference along with Lou Mycroft and Louise Drumm . Wherever the conference physically happens and I am hoping we can bring it to Glasgow ,  I know it will be very different.

I look forward to shaping it with the ALT team and my co-chairs.

In meantime I have three days off - I mooted this with rest of family,  I am going on a camping trip into my suburban back garden.  Initially, they thought I had finally cracked , but I think they maybe joining me. Now is the time to think differently folks.







A week in learning technology #Clickview #OER20⤴

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


So update we ran 10 webinars last week and over 250 staff tuned in .Between the learning tech and library team we dealt with over 1000 inquires through help desks and social media.  We now have around 700 staff across teaching and support with an active zoom account and we look good to go. 

In between the full on workload I managed to support a Clickview Online Conference presenting to some 418 colleagues across UK. It is worth checking out video, not for my input , but for the excellent overview of ClickViewYou will find out in session how we are using ClickView - many of our own staff have not yet embedded this in their teaching.  That's the next target - we have just started rolling out Click-view Training . I am publishing this a bit prematurely simply to show a workshop how to embed publicly available click-view content . 


In this current week ..

We’ve worked out that the wider community need some Zoom training so we are opening that up - offering free seats to the public - to make sure staff in front line services are confident Zoom users. We will open up our subsequent offers too.

I wonder what other colleges and universities could open up for to colleagues across public sector - we are now living in a remote working, on-line world.

Our own programme is expanding, having covered key communication channels, we are adding ClickView Training and for some Microsoft Teams training and we’ve added an online booking system - to make sign up easier.
And we are planning on building around a community of practice https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/teach-online while promoting the bridge initiative from CDN and jisc . Tomorrow we are creating a What's On Page to capture more of the on-line events and training that are available to the College staff across the UK and beyond.


And I delivered a paper on how we harnessed google sites to deliver a national programme at #oer20 on Wednesday - Blackboard Collaborate this time globally 1200 delegates making this biggest #OER conference yet . Special thanks to my co-presenter Dr Lewis Ross and in the background Dr Julian Hopkins , John Casey and colleagues who supported delivery of this project including Jim Hannigan at SDS . They included a nice platform for delegates to introduce themselves https://oer20.socialbingo.oerconf.org/participants/joe-wilson
I borrowed the meme from Clint Lalonde .

I'll post later on fabulous online #oer20 experience and some exciting news.
In meantime this is what's making us laugh this week.