Tag Archives: education

Short-sighted, dark ages abrogation of responsibility.

SMH article – Quit Facebook or be expelled. http://goo.gl/58Ha6

A Queensland school Principal is threatening to expell students if she discovers they are under 13 with a Facebook account.

Blames cyberbullying as the reason; claims it is a legal issue – praises parents who stickybeak into their children’s lives (does the term helicopter parents pop into your head right now?)  Worse somehow manages to get ‘expert’ support and confirmation of her ground-breaking brave decision.

The only ground breaking here is caused by head firmly burying itself in sand.
It also goes to prove that no matter how ridiculous your claim – someone somewhere (often with Dr in front of their name) will be prepared to back you.

The cowardliness involved in hiding behind a public system’s ‘rules’ and totally denying the base problem is upsetting, particularly when it from someone supposedly in a leadership position charged with the education of young people. There is no such thing as cyberbullying – it is just bullying bullying with modern technology thrown in. Semantics? No, bullying has been around since Noah was a boy and the methods have kept pace. This is a social/pastoral issue and not dealing with it, by claiming technology is responsible is poor and shortsighted.

Additionally to run from your responsibility of teaching children how to deal with the world in which they live – rather than hanker back to old people’s time is woeful.

It’s sad that the parent body tolerate this and haven’t taken the Principal to task is only a measure of their like confusion.

Kids already live in an online world. This isn’t going away. We have the responsibility to make them good digital citizens for their own sake as well as society. Failing to teach them how to live in their world is as equally stupid as failing to teach them social manners and how to cross the road.

This totally inappropriate action by an ill-informed, poorly advised Principal should, be held up as an example of what NOT to do.

Where is the offer to teach children how to be good digital citizens? where is the pastoral support for those who bully, where is the offer to skill up those bullied with some resilience training, where is the acknowledgement that the world for children is different from that in which we old people grew up, where is the acknowledgement that positive on line persona is one of the most rapidly growing requirements that young people have?

Kids MUST have Facebook – they MUST have their own domain, they MUST have total control over any online repository/system that is associated with their identity. Their online persona will be a greater force and more important than anything old people will ever get to understand. In any doubt? try applying for a job and not getting Googled… See if resumes have more than a few years of lifespan left (if that). Failing to get this and failing to act on it is doing them a grave injustice and the false claims – weasel wording – abrogation of responsibility is something parents should be railing against.



There is at once a sensibility and futility of Bring Your Own Technology for schools.

The practical sensibility is that it would end the increasingly difficult situation of supporting the costs of maintaining organisation sized collections of technology. Particularly within the rapidly changing computing world, maintaining it, keeping it trouble free and doing so while most users have possibly more powerful equipment at home or certainly more personalised and learner oriented.

The futility is that we can’t use them properly. Schools simply use computers are replacements for text books, school worksheets, library or encyclopedias. That doesn’t need personalisation, it certainly doesn’t need the most powerful. What it does need is to keep the status quo of schools who are under the demands of external assessment systems, which have no way of recogising or allocating a number grade to student work.

If we were to start allowing students to be creative in their responses to assignments and projects, if we were to give creative options to students in how they approached their learning, then the traditional way of recognising achievement of syllabus content would be next to impossible. Teachers are not trained or experienced in this area, they haven’t encountered the capacities of technology when applied to learning.

How would they allocate a grade to student work? How would they condense an entire semester’s work into a pithy sentence or two in the end of term report? How would they be able to successfully designate dux through a mark with an accuracy of 2 or 3 decimal places?

The pipe dream of students bringing and being responsible for their own technology would be extraordinary. We’d have to change assessment schemes. We’d have to find some way of recognising individuality. We’d have to find some way of coping with students who learn differently from the ‘norm’. We’d have to make provision for teaching them applications skills on programs that class teachers may not have even seen. We’d have to hand over some power and not assume teachers have all the answers.  Ludicrous!

BYOT, pftttt!

Digital Thingamabob course

Work continues on the Yr 6 (Et. Al.) Digital Thingamabob course.  Still no resolution on quite what to call it. But that’s less important than making sure the coverage is appropriate.

The focus remains on producing students who can use a laptop to support their learning; to be creative; to produce responses to assignments and homework in a broader manner than those with only the three Rs. And almost as importantly to make nettizens of them so that they, A) don’t make fools of themselves on-line and B) conversely make themselves look good on-line.

Here’s the outline so far; Digital literacy or here for the non-pictorials;  http://sirchriss.com/?page_id=166

The support material is also underway and as yet I’ve not found anything (Creative Commons or otherwise) that would be a suitable option simply to insert into the course structure, without almost as much modification as starting from scratch. Perhaps I’m being too picky or contrary.

Digital Competence

The capacity to participate in a digital world


Digital Access:  The capacity to use and own digital technology.

This should be gender irrelevant, and encompass the capacity to explore and be undaunted by new things. This forms the basis of being a digitally capable citizen. Digital exclusion of any kind is restrictive to the growth of human beings in a digitally natured society (like schools).

Digital Commerce: The capacity to participate in an increasingly cashless society.

This must include the recognition of imbalance during trade, the recognition of when being ‘ripped-off’, and how to be successful consumers of online goods and services. The understanding of hidden small print and sneaky deals, and long term ramifications of signing up for services. To select

Digital Literacy: The capacity to access information with discrimination and verification of that information’s veracity.

To express oneself in non-written ways, encompassing multimedia constructs. To select appropriate methodologies and applications suited to purpose and be discriminating in that choice. To personalise and purpose focus own computers and mobile devices and link them towards a synergetic relationship.  To construct personalised portal applications. To understand different file formats and their open or closed-ness.  To be RSS aware as a basis for managing information overload.

Digital Learning: To have self management skills in learning activities.

To manage digital media and files supporting learning. To keep reflective portfolios and recognise patterns of learning in order to be aware of own learning style and preferences. To know how to seek out what is needed to fill learning gaps. To know how to seek mentors, support, peers, information sources, etc, when constructing personal learning networks. To maintain the currency and freshness of that network in changing situations.

Digital self protection: The capacity to be self protecting against digital attack.

From computer virus, malware, online fraud, identify theft, or cyberbullying. The capacity to construct a positive image of self in cyberspace, untarnished by inadvertent inappropriate activities. To manage one’s own digital footprint. To protect digital assets with appropriate backup and storage. To protect hardware and maintain it in working order. To maintain digital skills sufficient to be on equal level when participating in the job market.

Digital wellbeing: The capacity to use technology to enhance rather than be detrimental to health.

To set and maintain routines, schedules and time limits appropriate for using technology. To have sufficient OH&S knowledge to promote self wellbeing. To understand ergonomics as applied to technology use. To have strategies and knowledge enough to deal with cyberbullying. To have awareness of the time consuming (addictive) nature of cyber activities.


Digital responsibility: To know about copyright, other digital laws and ethical use of technology.

To know how to not infringe creative rights and find alternative sources of media for personal consumption. To know how to avoid illegal activity, knowingly done or inadvertently done. To refrain from using technology and digital skills to cause harm or distress to others be they of a less, equal or more skilled nature. To have self protecting, human feeling awareness capabilities around social networking. To develop competency in new methods of communication etiquette suited to the media chosen. To know how to choose the right system per situation. To respect/protect the privacy of other people’s sensitive information.

Digital Etiquette:   To appreciate appropriateness when interacting with humans – seen or unseen and mechanical response systems.

To be discriminating in file sharing – cloud computing and interchangeable file types. To use appropriate language subsets, suitable to the media chosen.


An issue that is increasingly important for students and of vital importance for any leader and evangelist of ICT in education is the capacity to take regular classroom activities out of that classroom both spatially and temporally. We are, like many, a college with insufficient face to face teaching time; so access to the learning minds of students outside school hours is vital. Tools that tap into screenagers enamourment of social networking and technology are an important solution to this problem. Crooked Timber’s Henry Farrell identifies five major uses for blogs in education.

First, teachers use blogs to replace the standard class Web page. Teachers post class times and rules, assignments, project, notifications, suggested readings, and exercises.

Second, and often accompanying the first, teachers post links to Internet items that relate to their course.

Third, blogs are used to organise in class discussions.

Fourth, teachers use blogs to organise class seminars and to provide summaries of readings. Used in this way, the blogs become “group blogs”—that is, individual blogs authored by a group of people.

Fifth, students may be asked to write their own blogs as part of their course grade.

Farrell’s fifth use of blogs could, with little change become, requiring students to construct their own lesson material or compile their findings of ongoing experiments or exchange possibilities with peers – within a stipulated project, either teacher or student generated.

For an example of this; a Year 9 Science class, via www.blogger.com (See pictures below) were required not to submit a final assignment paper but produce a blog of the experimental progress concerning water quality and associated flora and fauna in a waterway in Centennial Park. Review by peers counted for as much of the final mark as the teacher input. Blogs were specifically chosen so as to raise digital literacy, remove possibility of a last minute all nighter, allow considered reflection or contributions and access by the teacher in non-school settings. The science teacher was also able to improve the students learning by adopting uses 1, 2 and 3 (Farrell). The class teacher used the students’ own blog entries to link to sites of interest or further exploration (use 2). The ‘scaffold’ in the students own head served as the basis from which to explore and so expand. The teacher also had a blog entry to act as a reference page to review the topic as the study progressed, acting as an advanced organiser page and an index to the students’ own work (use 1).  While not a use specific to the project, discussion was encouraged across the blogs as to the interest level and completeness of peer work.

Blogs can be in-house, but the resultant ‘in captivity’ nature then negates the value of being internet based. An important value of a blog is that students know they have a more public reach; that they are potentially in the face of an audience of global proportions; having outside review as a real possibility gives gravitas to their approach and writing.

Sample blog entries from yr 9 Science class.

I have finished writing my scientific report. All of the experiments and observations and research I completed taught me a lot about an area that I live so close to but knew hardly anything about. I found the open ended investigation really interesting and enjoyed doing it. Now that I know so much more about the protected wetland, it makes me want to help maintain its existence. It was fun, but it feels good to be finished!
Today i tested the turbidity and salt presence of ny first 2 samples and as they were from the harbour they were very high salt. I am going to do my moisture and organic content of my 2nd lot of soil samples. Because the science teachers are using the drying oven at school i have to use the second oven in the boarding kitchen. The kitchen won’t let me use their scales so straight after school today i went to phillip and weighed out 2 lots of each soil and what i will do is put all 8 in the oven but i will take the first 4 out at an hour and a half and the other four at 3 hours because i am unable to weigh them inbetween so this way the first ones will be moisture and the second organic. This weekend i hope to go and take more pictures of the gardens and work on my report.
due to miss b being away on tuesday, i have had to delay my parent rock, texture and colour testings. these tests are the last ones that need to be completed so every test has been completed at least once. they will be tested during lunchtimes, whenever miss b is available.
once these are complete i can begin sections of my report that invlove methods and results.
i have already begun writting my draft report; the introduction and reference section.
also called the Health officer from Randwick council- Mark Leona about the new stormwater system that has been installed. results from this arent determinable yet as to how it has impacted as it is still early days but i did get some details on the system.

the regeneration number did not respond, this reference is not too important though.
nor did the Environment officer at randwick 9399 xxxx

Digital Literacy course for Yr 6

I have begun to write a course for my Year 6 class.
This is proving to be difficult and I might end up producing a lot of it on the fly.

It must dovetail with the regular curriculum, hopefully be a little in front so that when they need computing skills to produce something a little beyond the regular essay-type assignments, they think in terms of digital storytelling or take a multimedia approach.

I also want to avoid handing them worksheets and paper based material (I’m an advocate of gracefully grandfathering all text books).
This must be partly self exploration and mostly practical.

It should make them competent in the 9 elements of digital literacy at least those pertinent to 11 year olds. And in context of, making the technology they have part of their creative world, not just a tool to Google and word process with. Their own online protection is primarily important and as such they may end up using social networks such as Facebook or something similar. At least they’ll have a chance to learn how to use it sensibly and to their advantage, rather than stumble and post inappropriate pictures and comments. It must cover many of the common Web 2.0 tools we take for granted (Twitter, Bogs, Wikis, Delicious, Etherpad Etc.)

Here’s the extent of the thought process so far.

Digital literacy course

Comments and constructive input welcome

Is a laptop school fundamentally different from a school where students have laptops?

I think so because of where the focus is; it’s on who carries responsibility for using the technology. Teaching staff have done a fairly poor job over the last 20 years in adopting technology (remember that this is a broad stroke statement and not a comment on those individuals who do some truly remarkable things in a classroom). Maybe it’s time to stop banging our heads against the wall for teachers who don’t, won’t, or can’t get with it. Stop putting pressure on the overworked, on those too overwhelmed to actually consider upskilling, on those too old for this new fangled stuff, on those who won’t make any sacrifice in the long holidays they have, on those for whom the same old same old has sufficed for the last umpteen years, and leave them alone…       to teach. Let them just teach.

But, how about putting the effort we waste in shepherding unresponsive teaching staff to PD into making self directed, self responsible, self contained learning machines out of the students. Give them the transferable skills to administratively look after their learning, their notes, their portfolios, to research better, to develop maintain and share a personal learning network, to be critical of data sources, to know what to do when things go wrong, to make technology as much a part of their learning process as a pen.
Have them do this independently of the teacher, without making it an interruption to the teacher’s teaching style by having it as just another thing on their desk, like pencils, paper and text books.  We refocus who we concentrate on – all the school ICT integrators who’ve been banging away at teaching staff and admin workers and school leadership for years and years now – forget them, if they don’t want to join in leave them behind. Let’s try leading the revolution from where all revolutions come – bottom up. Governments can throw money our way, they can sound bite the term ‘digital education revolution’ all they like – they can’t make one – they can’t lead one, they don’t get it. Governments don’t start revolutions, they live through them, or in most case they don’t. Hmm let me eat cake.

Julia Gillard (bless her cotton socks) spouts on about a digital education revolution and throws some money at some hardware and a bit of infrastructure. Pointless. Nice, thanks for the laptops, but pointless. The same excuses will be trotted about again and again. The same old PC Vs Mac war will erupt again the same old poor me from primary teachers will flare against senior teachers, and around and around we will go.
Governments should be working at the extremities – training new start teachers better and assessing school leavers in a totally different way – but that’s for another blog post.

So how about a school where kids have laptops. NO not a laptop school a regular traditional good school, but kids happen to have laptops.
If we claim some of the KLE teaching time to show students how to research efficiently, to be critical of information sources, to maintain file structures and documents with proper tags so study becomes more structured and less daunting, to form PLNs to work in collaborative ways with peers to produce material in multimedia options and not just printed paper based ‘essays’, to establish links to current data sources, to do all the cool brilliant things we know should be done with ICT, then we have started the revolution.

Teachers don’t have to give up anything (yet) administrators don’t have to find money to send teachers to PD that they don’t even want to do, ICT coordinators won’t need to get so many grey hairs so soon and yet ICT might just get a chance to strut it’s stuff.

So – what shall we teach these laptop owners?
How to aggregate via RSS useful, current and appropriate information
How to develop a PLN
How to construct a digital footprint (positively)
How to search the net via the right tools the way that gets the best results
How to present their school work in a creative way

How to express their creativity through the applications available
How to connect with their peers to share work and ideasHow to develop a Twitter following
How to construct a self reflecting e-portfolio
How to choose the right software for the job
How to blog your homework
How to think about how you learn
How to…

Go on – add to the list

The Google toilet roll

Imagine you’ve asked a librarian (they do still exist) in bold voice, I’d like to know about {insert topic of choice} – She ducks behind the counter pops back up holding a toilet roll  – or equivalent lengthy sheet of paper – absolutely full of entries.  They are the places on any page on any book anywhere that the topic of you choice appears. Useless right?  What we’d really expect is some librarian sense to cut in there and she’d actually give you a whole book or whole chapter not only on the topic of your choice but in pertinent form to you. Thinking primary school level or PhD here.

 But!  this toilet roll approach is exactly what Google gives you. Millions of entries with no sense of context and rarely any likely hood of educational value or connection to the assignment or project you’ve set or are taking.         So why do we do that?    Probably because Google forgot to put “directory” on the front page.  It’s hidden away in the depths of the labs section. That’s where all the cool things are in case you haven’t seen it.

Don’t let students search in the main page of Google unless they have really learned good searching techniques. The Directory search is much more forgiving, much more educationally valuable and likely to get them their homework done in half the time and with much better results.

 Remember this is good for you to set better assignments and projects too.