After attending an excellent presentation by Kellie Britnell, Program Manager, Outreach and Education, from the Office of the eSafety Commissioner, I explored the resources on their website.  What an amazing job they do with resources. – games, videos, stories and activities for all age groups, for schools, for parents, for women, for the community.  

Their remit is wide!  Complaints about cyberbullying, inappropriate online materials, harassment and more are handled by the office.

We learned about the challenges of streaming video – short term but wide exposure –  and location-based apps, many of which are explained on the website.

The Office partners with social media providers – Facebook, Google, Instagram, and others – and can negotiate to take down offensive material.

From their website:

“The Office of the Children’s eSafety Commissioner works cooperatively with its social media partners to remove cyberbullying material targeted toward an Australian child. All of our Tier scheme partners are recognised for the safety measures they have in place. These safety measures include:

  • terms of use that prohibit cyberbullying material being posted on the service;
  • a complaints mechanism which facilitates removal of cyberbullying material;
  • a nominated person that the Office liaises with in regards to complaints…”

This is a site that all schools, educators and parents should visit.  It’s well worth exploring in depth.

Evaluation toolkit

I have been thinking about how to evaluate the impact and effectiveness of a large school inquiry-based project, and what methodologies will be used.  Here’s a great starting point!   Developed by Western Sydney University’s School of Education and the Department of Education’s Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation, this 2016 paper, Evaluative thinking toolkit, from the NSW Department of Education Futures Learning, is a concise summary of the methods used to collect and analyse data.   It summarises the principles and methodology of:

  1. Focus groups
  2. Interviews
  3. Most significant change
  4. Photo voice and photo elicitation
  5. Student products
  6. Student surveys
  7. Video

This toolkit is such a good starting point for learning about evaluation.

Action research workshop

Last week, I was privileged to attend a one-off workshop on action research and mentoring.  Designed by Sydney University’s Department of Education and delivered by Dr Debra Talbot, the course dug deep into the underpinnings of this research methodology.  Practitioners embarking on an action research project:

  • recognise that there is a local problem and desires improvement
  • research knowledge about the problem from external sources
  • formulate an inquiry question that is specific
  • collect data within the local context
  • design a method of intervention
  • reflects and evaluate
  • bring others together to validate and collaborate

Debra discussed the principles through the work of Professor Stephen Kemmis, Charles Sturt University and Susan Groundwater-Smith. She presented strategies for working with teachers on their action research projects, planning the questions and collecting and analysing the data, modelling the strategies throughout the workshop. 

We used case studies to practise collecting data by classroom observation; we observed and discussed the challenges of working with interview data.  

As well as links to the grounded research underpinning this methodology, the take-home for me was that rigorous planning is vital, and getting the research question right is, perhaps, the hardest part. 

Debra outlined characteristics and principles of good practice in mentoring:

  • One-to-one mentoring relationship
  • Likely to be novice mentored by expert although equitable is also possible
  • Similarities with clinical supervision
  • Most importantly, it can serve to transform both partners in the mentoring process

This was a condensed workshop, custom-tailored.  Sydney University delivers an Action Research two-module 5 x 2 hour (each module) course, endorsed by NESA and addressing Australian Professional Teaching Standards.

Kemmis, S. (2009). Action research as a practice-based practice. Educational Action Research 17(3):463-474