Tanner Higgins, Director of Commonsense Education, posts a paper, What Makes a Good EdTech Tool Great that is, well, common sense! With experience in editing many reviews of online tools, he outlines seven points that developers would be wise to heed and cites examples of good practice:
With the tech topic of the fortnight – the use of Facebook data to manipulate the American elections – dismaying even those in the industry, I have been sharing the article Are you ready? Here is all the data Facebook and Google have on you (Curran, The Guardian, 3 March) with friends who are not knowledgeable about technological concerns, security, privacy. It’s worth reading, and sharing.
It’s always good to confirm what we know about our own learning! Although there is nothing new in this article, For PD, the days of one-and-done are dead and gone! (eSchool News, September 2017) it is a sensible summary of good practice and steers away from the one-session-fixes-all approach. We know that approach does not work, and usually, we know what works for us. Four best practices are suggested:
Time – prolonged, ongoing and sustained and as well, just-in-time and providing adequate time
Personal growth – giving the learner opportunities for increasing knowledge, skills and understanding
There are definite correlations with the eSchool article.
Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership’s (AITSL) 2014 report Designing professional learning is aimed at producing the “how to” of professional learning. The report provides guidance on designing professional learning that suits the context in which you are working, with an over-riding view that:
“Research has found that job-embedded professional learning is proving to be more effective in improving teacher practice in schools than many of the ‘traditional’ external professional learning opportunities. This means a shift towards professional learning that is primarily school-based and focused on improving teacher practice, where schools become learning communities and professional learning is part of teachers’ everyday work. This change creates a need for a greater understanding and awareness of learning design.”
“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:
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.
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:
Most significant change
Photo voice and photo elicitation
This toolkit is such a good starting point for learning about evaluation.
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
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
Is there a difference between problem-based learning and project-based learning? I found this post from John Larmer, in the Edutopia blog, a good explanation of the similarities and differences between project-based learning and problem-based learning. Here is his summary:
The author explains that in each, the essential elements of “gold standard” project-based learning are present.
A more recent Quartz blog post states that “the concept of different ‘learning styles’ is one of the greatest neuroscience myths”. Supported by evidence from several papers, the author suggests that we all fundamentally learn in a similar way and in spite of a “thriving industry devoted to such guidebooks”, there is little evidence to prove the hypothesis. It’s not surprising – the theory always seemed a little simplistic to me.
I like the notion of a modern professional learner, a person who recognises that we learn, not only through courses but also through experiences, on-the-job, partnerships and collaborations, and the internet. The Centre for Modern Professional Learning’s infographic explains well the myriad of ways in which we learn and tools we could use.