Going Google Apps… finally!

Its been awhile since I last wrote a blog post as so much has been changing I guess and time gets away from oneself.  I have been working on my own business Kristina Hollis Ed Tech Consulting, and enjoying a great variety of jobs and experiences.  I have also started working back within the NSW DEC at a Hunter Valley school.  Whilst I am still settling into a new school and working out the ‘lay of the land’ so to speak, I have been excited to find that the NSW DEC has finally released Google Apps and provided access for all staff and students to this essential suite of tools.  I have been a Moodle advocate and trainer for 5-6 years now and still firmly believe it to be the best LMS out there, however, Google Apps is definitely a suite of tools, when used the right way, that could rival any LMS.

Benefits of Google Apps

My own personal and professional beliefs about the benefits of Google Apps are:

  • SSO (single sign on) for students to a large number of apps in one browser is simplifying navigation and creating a user-friendly learning experience.
  • Collaboration is easier than ever and revision history plus comments make it possible for teachers and other group members to track work and changes more successfully.
  • Cloud storage is the best way for students to store and manage their work, no longer needing to rely on a USB they will probably lose or potentially corrupt.
  • Extensions bring even more potential to the already ‘brimming-with-possibilities’ suite of apps, assisting individual schools and educators to customise their experiences.
  • Google Classroom is a fantastic way to get students to submit work as it will go into automatically created Google Drive folders, making it easy for teachers to find the work later, download in a ZIP folder and mark.
  • The integration of apps for the purpose of productivity and organisation will assist students to become owners of their learning experiences and more accountable for them in the long-run.
  • Making your own website has never been easier than it is in Google Sites.

There are many other benefits but these are my top ones and I’m looking forward to helping colleagues learn these for themselves and discover the potential Google Apps give them in their own teaching and learning.

Check out the Google for Education website for more information.


iPads in Education – Where are we heading?

The college where I am Leader of Learning Technologies and Information Resources Manager is making the move to 1-1 with iPads next year and this is a journey that certainly does not have an end date. What research have I gathered to inform the implementation and training process?

There has been so much information from so many sources to digest and to make use of in preparation for our own implementation.  I’ve always loved curating resources but my curation has gone to a whole new level with my growing addiction to Pinterest and creating many purposeful pinboards.  Twitter is of course a vital part of curation and as the largest social bookmarking site it has provided great gems for me to read and consider on this journey so far.

  1. A More Flexible iPad Classroom Through Apple TV goo.gl/cSXD6a via @TeachThought
  2. How Tablets Can Enable Meaningful Connections for Students and Teachers | MindShift blogs.kqed.org/mindshift/2013… via @MindShiftKQED
  3. Integrated blogging app for iPad, could be handy for my trip: ictevangelist.com/integrated-blo…
  4. What the iPad Is and What It Isn’t | @langwitches bit.ly/14QsnEz #edtech #plaea
  5. Educational Technology and Mobile Learning: SAMR model | @BrightBytes sco.lt/7Fm0Wn #eddtech #edchat
  6. EdTechSandyK: iPad Basic Training for Teachers | @LeonarderRod sco.lt/52Jkn3 Great info from @edtechsandyk #ipadchat #mobile2013
  7. iPurpose before iPad Always a pleasure to read Mark’s work mgleeson.edublogs.org/ipurpose-befor…
  8. Results and iPads discussed – The Impact of New Technology in Schools #edtech zite.to/18binTv
  9. The Impact of iPads in Schools – Results are in! #edtech bit.ly/16tVIAv
  10. Resources for teacher development that I collated & developed recently – iPads in the classroom buff.ly/14AzQnh #ipaded #edtech
  11. In The Netherlands, Schools Are Letting IPads Do The Teaching By @christinachaey fastcompany.com/3016125/fast-f… via @FastCompany

The Padagogy Wheel, developed by Adelaide’s Allan Carrington has played a big role in the professional development I have provided colleagues and has informed my own practice with planning for more intentional classroom use of iPads.  His work has been made with Creative Commons licensing and I appreciate being to utilise such great work.

  1. Introduction to the Padagogy Wheel
  2. Padagogy Wheel developed to refocus on learning rather than technology. Flip your thinking! unity.net.au/allansportfoli… @AllanADL #edtechsa
  3. The Padagogy Wheel unity.net.au/padwheel/padwh… #T4L13
  4. #cegsa Padagogy Wheel. For excellence what attributes do graduates need & how can we develop. Pls do svy.mk/18ZFuFY & help #edchat
  5. So Cool! Teach with #iPads The Padagogy Wheel V3.0, including QR Code linked videos! unity.net.au/padwheel/padwh… #edutech #ImpCol SV
  6. Mapping of Bloom’s for learning outcomes and linked activities (Ss video). iOS Apps linked Padagogy Wheel youtube.com/watch?v=RAYVQl… #caedchat

So where are we heading?  What do we hope to see in the classroom as a result of this move?  I can’t speak for everyone in the college as to what outcomes would be desirable from the implementation but as a college we are committed to modelling, teaching and facilitating opportunities for our students to become motivated, lifelong learners.  I would love to see the students taking more initiative in their learning, directing their learning experiences more and exploring information in ways they had not previously considered.  The opportunities excite me and I hope to have every opportunity to demonstrate  just how much is possible when students have a personal device at their fingertips, ready to learn ‘just-in-time’.  We aren’t heading towards teachers being obsolete or irrelevant in the classroom by any means, however, teachers’ roles will change and they will become part of a portal to a whole new world of information and opportunities.

Bloom and Grow Forever

Well Benjamin Bloom probably couldn’t have predicted the long-term relevancy and sustainability of his taxonomy when he coined it in the 1950s but even now in the 21st century, the Blooms taxonomy is still informing work all across educational institutes.  In the midst of planning for a major implementation of mobile learning with iPads, I have been search and contemplating the best practice methods for doing so with both staff and students.  I have written posts on the two best examples of models so far that I’ve found and I remain loyal to these two. However, it is now a matter of how to implement this effectively within professional development that I deliver to my colleagues.

padagogy wheel smallThe iPad is the focus of this new learning adventure because it is to be introduced into classroom teaching and learning for the first time on a more permanent basis. However, I will continue to emphasise it to everyone as I have until now that it is not about the technology it is about enhancing good teaching practise with today’s tools, engaging the minds of 21st century learners in a way that will be of most relevance to them. I want to see good pedagogical practise still be the focus. It is for this Eason that I will be firmly adopting the two models I have mentioned before: The Rule of 6 by Jim Norwood and The Padagogy Wheel by Allan Carrington. These two models to me represent the key foundational principles of good teaching and learning experiences and they can easily provide a scaffold for designing lessons that utilise the iPad as a tool for accomplishing learning outcomes.

So, the first outcome I want my colleagues to achieve is, they will be able to identify lesson within their units of work that can be modified to make use of the apps and affordances provided by an iPad.  They cool,d do this by reading through their units of work and highlighting key verbs that align with the levels of Blooms taxonomy and then use a resource such as The Padagogy Wheel to identify appropriate apps. I also want them to be considering the reason they use apps and the purpose the app serves, reflecting on the SAMR model.

SAMR modelI do not want to force too much on my colleagues all at once so I do not think I will bring up the SAMR model just yet but work on the know,edge and skills they have with apps and knowing when to use them and then progress to using them in a way that modifies or defines the tasks, not just simply substituting other tools with technology or slightly augmenting the task with technology but completely redesigning activities to make effective use of all the iPad offers.

Therefore, it is my plan that I teach them how to identify where in their already established units of work that they can utilise the iPad and then facilitate their learning about news apps that will assist in these areas. The pedagogy and practise is still the focus.

My main concerns at the moment are addressing the needs of everyone, providing enough resources and instruction but not too much, motivating colleagues to seek more knowledge and skills and identifying the most important aspects of the implementation that need to be considered. My colleagues are most concerned about being time-poor and having workloads that are very full and also include implementing a new curriculum next year as well.

Power Tools Plus

I am floored every time I am witness to the great experience, passion, and skill of teachers who use ICT in their daily teaching and learning.  I work for a cutting-edge educational project called PLANE that explores teachers use of ICT and celebrates their highly accomplished practice in integrating a variety of tools into a range of contexts.  It excites me when I am in a session with such amazing educators who are really driving the change in schools.  So many of these teachers are using online tools, websites, social media and more to engage their students and staff in ICT and I wanted to share a few that they have opened my eyes to, some I had heard of but they are using them in highly effective ways and it is very encouraging.

Strip Designer is a great app that offers the opportunity for users to create comic strips with a very easy to use interface and tool set.  I see this as a great way of presenting content/information in an alternative and even more engaging way than usual and of course as an even better resource for students to use to publish their own work creatively.

Comic Life is another great tool for online comic strip creation and I have used it and Marvel’s create your own comic tool as well.

iBuild App is a site that promises you a 1-2-3 experience to create your own app in minutes!  So many people want to create their own apps but don’t know where to start, this is a great place to start.  No coding required and all free!

Spider Scribe is a concept mapping tool, one of many out there but this one is better than most that I’ve experienced.  This tool allows your to connect text, docs, images, videos, and even locations on maps.  Its a one-stop-shop as far as concept mapping goes.  I personally cannot wait to use this tool for planning research and presentations that I will be doing.

There are a plethora of tools out there on the web for teachers to utilise in ways that just make facilitating student learning so rich and varied.  These tools offer so much potential and when harnessed and integrated intentionally they are power tools.  I’ll continue to share more on these tools in the future so stay tuned… 🙂

Collaborate through Content Curation

Internet content curation has grown exponentially in the last few years and as I look at who has been reading my blog of late, just even in the last two days, at least 20 of the 40-50 views have been via Scoop.It.  I decided the read further into this internet phenomenon and found some great sites.  This article by David Kapuler lists the Top 10 Sites for Curating the Web, which enlightened me to other curation opportunities that I had not heard of as yet.

A few of the sites I have actively used, however, some I had not heard of and they sound great.  Not so many years ago it was only bookmarking sites like Diigo and Delicious that really offered curating tools but now there are sites like Scoop.It and Paper.Li out there creating digital libraries of so many fantastic resources.  Twitter has become the biggest social bookmarking tool on the Internet and in that sense, also an incredibly popular tool for curation.  Here are some statistics shared in the article Content Curators Are The New Superheros Of The Web by Steven Rosenbaum:

Yesterday, 250 million photos were uploaded to Facebook, 864,000 hours of video were uploaded to YouTube, and 294 BILLION emails were sent. And that’s not counting all the check-ins, friend requests, Yelp reviews and Amazon posts, and pins on Pinterest….If you want to understand how fast curation is growing on the web, just take a look at Pinterest. The two-year-old visual clipping and publishing platform has now surpassed 10 million users, making it the fastest-growing web service on the web ever, according to Comscore. Comscore reported that Pinterest was the fastest independent site to hit 10 million monthly uniques in the U.S.

Curation to me is like a Google search, I type in a query and Google delivers me a list of resources that match that query.  Curation is about knowledge discovery through the lens of a specific topic.  Brittany Morin writes on The Huffington Post about The Curated Web and says that:

Curators, by modern definition, carefully and decisively choose among the best of all that’s available and often create entirely new ideas and perspectives out of that information, all while using their own voice… Editors improve content authored by others; the curators are those authors. The Internet has given rise to all kinds of bite-sized editorial content – photos, videos, and even 140-character sentences. Curators can find the best bits and pieces of this content and evolve it into a bigger picture or idea.

I’m very much into mobile technology and devices and in today’s culture of Internet browsing and other activity on mobile devices, being able to curate on a mobile device is very important.  These are the sites below that could be used for curating information:

I’m very keen on exploring these apps more, especially Pearltrees so stay posted…

Twitter – A World of Knowledge Sharing

  1. I heard last year that as far as social bookmarking sites go, Twitter is the number one site for bookmarking, even though it was not first intended to be for bookmarking.  However, whilst it does not bookmark URLs, images and videos in the same way as Diigo might it has become the main place for global URL sharing.  It’s fantastic!! I love seeing what amazing new bits of information, resources, tools, and quotes I can pick up everyday but also, the connections I can make is extremely valuable.  Anyone who follows my tweets will know that when I am at a conference I take my notes all through my tweets.  I do this because it allows me to put in URLs that are immediately accessible and because if I catch things said and others don’t they can catch it later and I like to contribute to that back-channel conversation.  I have been favouriting more tweets of late too but then thinking, what do I do with them besides bookmarking them in my Diigo account?  I love using Storify so I thought it might be a good idea to regularly reflect on my favourite tweets in Storify and then publish on my blog.  So below are my favourite tweets for the last week or so.
  2. I have only been a Twitter user for the last 18 months but I use it more than I do Facebook at the moment and it is certainly more productive to use.  I get so much from Twitter these days and these tools shared above assist in identifying ways to make the most out of Twitter.  I already use my Twitter account and feed in my blog and in Paper.Li, Flipboard and in Storify but there are other ways I’m keen to explore in making use of my tweets as well.  I would like to try Twups and Tweetwally because of organising my tweets and aggregating are probably two of the more important things I want to be able to do.  The archivist tool that is shown in the second tweet is also a great way to summarise statistics on a hashtag which can be very valuable in conference situations for example.

  3. Assessing student achievement of learning outcomes is a high priority in education and the four tools shared in the above tweet offer different tools and software for assessing this student achievement.  Customisable quizzes and tests, can be designed to suit your individual educational context and provide detailed reports and summaries following the assessment.  I’m currently not in a teaching role but they sound like great resources to try out.
  4. This image was one of the first things that caught my eye when I went to the #flipclass
    results trending on Twitter a few days ago.  It’s a very effective representation of the
    Flipped Classroom, PBL and Bloom’s all in one visual resource.   There
    is so much packed into the image but if I follow a pathway within that
    image its full of great scaffolding for developing learning experiences
    that integrate the Flipped Classroom, PBL and Bloom’s taxonomy. 
  5. Worded in six questions is the ‘criteria’ for what might make an educator innovative.  It’s something I’ve heard debated in many education circles over the last few years, what is innovation and what makes someone an innovator?  I like this article but words can’t put a box around a person or type of person and define them as an innovator or not but it could be an interesting start to what does make an innovator.
  6. I remember learning about metacognition in 1st year university and the many lectures and tutorials that were spent debating what really defined metacognition.  This is a very simple breakdown of what metacognition is, examples of metacognition skills and strategies for the facilitation of self-regulatory learning.
  7. A very well designed Prezi, even if it is still nausea producing to just flick through and get a quick overview.  Worth a look through still 🙂
  8. planejourney
    What Teachers Need to Know about #BYOD ( Bring Your Own Device ) Trend in Education http://shar.es/tfCV2 via @medkh9 #edutech #edtech
  9. The above article strongly advocates BYOD for education.  It’s a risky venture and there are so many implications to consider in integrating such an approach to delivering teaching and learning but would it also enhance opportunities that are sometimes limited by poor school budgets?  As a high school teacher I had very little access to technology and getting a class onto computers to do a task was very painful.  However, I was also in a school where the students came from a low socioeconomic background and could not possibly be expected to bring their own devices to school.  Many of the students did have iPods but then it was the wall put up by the school that said we can’t use mobile devices in class because they aren’t art of learning.  So, it’s a constant battle but I do believe strongly in the value of the BYOD movement because it makes learning meaningful and personal, amongst many other benefits.

    Finally,  a great read below to end this post….