Choosing and Evaluating Educational Technologies

We have seen it all too often – school leaders seeing a new technology application, thinking it fulfils an immediate need, and purchasing without investigating how this product integrates and overlaps with existing applications.  I find it difficult to comprehend why one would not start with a needs analysis.

Edsurge, an organisation committed to connecting educators with emerging technology trends, products, events and the entrepreneurs who build new applications,  has good advice on choosing, vetting and purchasing Edtech products in this post  and downloadable sixty-eight page guide, The Edtech Selection Playbook.

The message is clear:  start with a needs analysis; ensure that research studies are reliable, valid, without bias and not merely marketing-promoted hype.


Minecraft for Education

Today, Minecraft Education announced that the full version Education Edition is now available for purchase in eleven languages and fifty countries.  For more information see the Minecraft: Education Edition website


According to the marketing information, “this full version includes the Classroom Mode companion app, allowing educators to manage world settings, communicate with students, give items, and teleport students in the Minecraft world. It displays a map view of the Minecraft world, a list of all the students in the world, a set of world management settings and a chat window.”

Voicethread revisited

I am always amazed that my colleagues have not shared my excitement about Voicethread as a potential tool for communication and collaboration.  What is Voicethread?  Upload a stimulus image, slideshow, document or video clip, post a provocative question, then have students respond, either in text or verbally.

Here’s a short introduction to creating a Voicethread:

I am delighted to learn that Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia is embracing Voicethread, integrating it into the learning management system, iLearn, as a tool for collaboration and asynchronous chat.


Ideas on presentation…or what not to do!

Rebecca Ritchie, Senior Designer at Macquarie University writes an amusing account on making PowerPoint presentations interesting in her blog post Ideas you can steal to make your presentation not boring.  We all know the “rules” but we continue to see presentations that bring to mind “death by PowerPoint” – too much text, too much animation, too many bullet points.

Be sure to follow the link to Death by PowerPoint for Don McMillan’s video demonstrating what not to do – it is very funny.


Re-igniting the Fire

Confessions of a Cognitive Heart – I relate so well to this post!

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach talks about the struggle to remain creative with one’s use of technology in education and in professional learning.  She discusses the excitement that came from watching and, even more important, being involved with the first wave of social media and connection.  Then the “new wave of learners”!

“At first, it seemed they were enthralled with our messages and a few (now thought leaders in the connected spaces) took the ideas and ran with them. They became the new “us” (the ones who were sharing transparently) on Twitter, which became the new blogs, and in 140 characters of cognitive bliss they began to teach us all.”

Then, she states, things changed!  Instead of original ideas, there were “echoes” – nothing creative, nothing new but a repetition and regurgitation of the older ideas.

I loved the opportunities for professional learning and followed my favourite academics and practitioners…BUT…  I don’t really want to hear about walking the dog, or the dinner menu.  I stopped reading for a while – my loss, not those I follow!

Sheryl took up the challenge and embraced changes to her work, attitude, research, content and performance.  The passion came back.  Share her wisdom with fourteen reality checks – there’s good advice for us all.

Flipping the Classroom

From the Global Digital Citizenship Foundation comes this blog post (August 2016) on the flipped classroom.  The post introduces four videos, as examples of how to video a lesson effectively, by commenting:

Looking for inspiration for your engaging flipped videos? We’ve chosen 3 prolific flipped video lecturers and examined their videos to see what it is that makes them awesome. We’ve also figured out how they do them! From the very simple to the most complex, these are flipped learning examples that stand out in our minds!”

I like the commentary for each, noting techniques, the way the recording might impact on teaching and learning and the structure of the recording.

Professional Learning Communities

This post, Professional Learning Communities bring benefits for teachers, students from Education Dive K-12, made me reflect on professional learning communities. PLCs are not a new concept. Richard DuFour and his team were promoting the idea of professional learning communities in 2004, with three big ideas outlined in this article:

  1. Ensuring that students learn
  2. A culture of collaboration
  3. A focus on results

Professor Louise Stoll, University of London, worked with a team of Australian leaders, through AITSL to explore and share strategies for developing creative professional learning communities. These leaders participated in dialogue around the latest research focused on collaborative and creative professional learning and leadership.  Here are the series of three video clips from her workshops.




TPACK Explained

This new blog is to be a commentary on all things in the world of learning technologies and pedagogical practice for both school and for tertiary education levels.

Let’s get started with TPACK.  According to this model, there are three elements and seven intersecting components required for effective technology integration – content, pedagogy and technology.

TPACK-newWho better to explain the rationale than the authors?  Koehler’s description of TPACK can be found here.

SAMR – Ruben Puentedura’s model

Keynote speaker at the AIS IT Management and Leadership Conference in Canberra was Ruben Puentedura, renowned for his SAMR model of technology enhancement and transformation.   It’s good to be reminded of the usefulness of this model!

At the enhancement level:

  • Substitution – where technology is used as a substitution tool with no significant change to the activity
  • Augmentation – technology enhances the activity but there is no significant improvement in the design

At the transformation level:

  • Modification – technology allows the activity to be redesigned and improved
  • Redefinition – the re-creation of new tasks that could not have been done without technology