Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Signing out

Thanks Wayne, Niki, and everyone on the course.  Feels good to have everything done!

Enjoy your final term and the summer holiday to follow.

See you all next year!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Learning Reflection 4

    This course has been quite a different experience from the previous courses that I have done through extra mural study, with the main difference being around that uncertainly that I have had in my own mind with exactly what I have needed to do to complete assignments.  However, this has led to the process being more rewarding through finding my way through assignments 1.1 and 1.2 relatively successfully, with, hopefully, this being the same case for 2.1 and 2.2.

    I enjoyed the structure of the SP4Ed programme, with the variety of readings (although I did find it a little overwhelming at times, with the daily requirements over the course of the programme).  I particularly enjoyed the use of Twitter for micro blogging, as I believe that Twitter is an underutilized tool in education.  I can see how Twitter is very effective for sharing ideas through class Twitter feeds (instead of the usual blogs), as well as a tool for reflecting on learning and building connections between home, students and teachers.  My own research aims to demonstrate how Twitter can be beneficial in a blended learning environment.

    I found scenario planning to be a very worthwhile process for schools to use as a means of preparing for the future.  In my own experiences I have made some poor decisions, with the decisions being made based on expected futures and current practice, without looking at potential future and unexpected events.  One such example has been as a senior manager investing on net-books and a computer suite full of desktops at a time when there was the rumored development of tablet devices.

    In regards to scenario planning, the most enjoyable task that I have completed for the course was the writing of the newspaper article looking at possible futures.  This really did encourage me to reflect on what the future might hold, while at the same time thinking about how so many of the predictions that I can remember being made 20 years ago not having come to light, with many classes still being run the same way that they were decades ago.

      The one overarching question that I do have around digital and future learning relates to the previous paragraph; this being, does the future have the big changes that so many are predicting around the implementation of ICT to support future learning?  I have been on the receiving end of two ICT clusters, and it is difficult to see what impact these clusters had, if any, regarding the integration of ICT in class programmes, this being despite the hundreds of thousands of dollars that supposedly went into upskilling teachers.  I believe that the lack of accountability in these clusters led to a relative few receiving almost all of the professional development, then not passing on to those who needed the support for their own development.  Any future such programmes will need considerably more planning and thought, as well as accountability on those who are leading the development.

      Although I am now aware of change processes, and have focused on the Concerns Based Adoption Model for assignment 1.1, an area of learning for me is still around successful long term change and implementation.  I am hoping that the initiatives that I have set up in my school, stemming from both EDEM627 and EDEM630, have long term viability, especially as we are bombarded with exciting and new ideas and information everyday.  I need to ensure that I focus on what's important to my own school community, while taking into account the many opportunities that are available for creating the best possible learning environment for the students at my school.  

        Wednesday, September 25, 2013

        Learning Reflection 3

        The E Learning Maturity Model has been the focus of my most recent reading for this course.  This model looks at a structured and systematic approach to analyzing the ability of an institution to sustain technology development within a school.  The idea of structure and systems is one that I find appealing, as it provides a foundation from where an organisation can look at and prepare for scenario planning.  This is particularly relevant to me, as I have been involved in new technology implementations in the past for which there has been, at best, limited sustainability after a key person in the process has left the school, or moved on to other things.  One such example of this has been class blogging through Twitter in my previous school.  After I left and was no longer driving the programme, the number and regularity of posts reduced dramatically.  This tells me that I should have put in place process to ensure that the programme had long term viability and sustainability.

        In regards to the E Learning Maturity Model, I believe that there is almost too much to focus on in the analysis.  I have recently read the book Insanely Simple, which is based on the success of the Apple Company after the 'second coming' of Steve Jobs in 1997.  The book highlights many examples of the success of Apple being the direct result of Job's aversion to an over focus on detail, preferring to focus on a few simple things, both in the overall structure of the company, and in the finer details of particular products.  In the case of the overall structure of the company (Segal, 2012), Jobs removed many items from the product line; in the case of a specific products, Jobs wanted the operation of an iPod Touch to have just the one button.

        From my own perspective, in the school that I am working in, I would like to focus on a few questions in any strategic analysis.  I believe that too many areas of focus, such as in the E Learning Maturity Model, will lead to the analysis being done in a way in which, ironically, the finer detail could be missed, as areas are paid scant attention to.  Conversely, when the focus is on fewer areas, there is more likely to be more attention paid to each of these areas; analysis by depth, as opposed to breadth.

        Having stated the above, a way that I would work around it would be to look at only one of the seven areas of the E Learning Maturity Model at a time, as was the case in my previous post when the Learning process category was used to analyse a tertiary course that I participated in some time ago.  In the case of the research / case study that I am doing for EDEM630, this could be around the Support process, looking at the level of support that I, as manager, provides to the organisation in regards to using Twitter as a means of engaging with students with their learning, and families to involve them in the learning of children.


        Segal, K. (2012) Insanely Simple, The Obsession that Drives Apple. New York: Penguin Group.

        Monday, September 16, 2013

        eMM Intuative Assessment

        I am conducting an intuitive assessment of the processes L1, L2 and L3 based on my knowledge of, and participation in, a course restricted to the delivery dimension. I have selected an undergraduate course for which I was an extramural student as part of a Certificate in Fitness Studies programme.

        I will be using the eMM capability assessment scale of: 

        • Not Adequate (NA); 
        • Partially Adequate (PA); 
        • Largely Adequate (LA); or 
        • Fully Adequate (FA)

        L1. Learning objectives are apparent in the design and implementation of courses.

        LA: Formally stated learning objectives normally provided in course documentation available prior to enrolment but are missing in some cases or inconsistently provided in the range of course documents.

        LA: Most, but not all, assessments and learning activities contain explicit linkages to course learning objectives or restate learning objectives using different wording.

        LA: Learning objectives are linked to wider programme or institutional objectives in most but not all courses, or only stated subsequent to course design and development.

        PA: Learning objectives dominated by recall with few addressing other outcomes.

        LA: Learning objectives and course workload expectations are linked during the design and development of most, but not all courses.

        L2. Students are provided with mechanisms for interaction with teaching staff and other students. 

        PA: Interaction between staff and students provided only through a limited or informal mechanism or only through face to face contact.

        FA: Course documentation contains clear and consistently presented lists of teaching staff email addresses repeated in suitable places.

        LA: Technical support is provided to students to assist them in making effective use of the available communication channels, but support is not actively promoted or provided to all students.

        L3. Student skill development for e-learning is provided.

        FA: The relationships between all key course components and activities are conveyed to students formally and consistently.

        LA: Formal opportunities for students to practice with e-learning technologies and pedagogies provided after commencement of courses, or only cover some technologies and pedagogies or some courses.

        PA: E-learning skills support and training is provided informally and depends on the teaching staff skills and availability.

        NA: No provision for feedback beyond the marks assigned for assessed work.

        Value Judgement of my Reliability:
        This analysis is based on my subjective memory of a course that I completed several years ago (2002). As this is to be an intuitive activity only, I have not gone back to check details on the above-mentioned criteria. It is based purely on the recollections and memories of my participation as an extramural student. I do not recall having completed an evaluation of the course, and have not had access to any formal course evaluation done by other participants.  I do have some confidence in the validity of many of the assessments, as the course is one that I enjoyed, with the enjoyment and engagement enhancing my memories of many aspects of the programme.

        The above assessment is based only on my own memories, recollections and perceptions. There is no evidential basis and it has been compiled as part of formal coursework.  It is not to be used as valid assessment of any real course.

        Saturday, August 10, 2013

        Learning Reflection 2

        Recent work on EDEM630 has been based around scenario planning, a concepts that I hadn’t previously been aware of or known about.   

        I see the difference between the strategic planning and scenario planning as the difference between predicting the future (strategic planning) and preparing for the future (scenario planning).  Predicting the future looks to focus resourcing and thinking more specifically towards likely outcomes based on recent history, current trends, and expected futures.  Preparing for the future looks more towards uncertainties that may happen, with strategies in place to address all uncertainties, should they come to light.

        Having been in senior management in schools for some time, I have been involved in countless strategic planning sessions; looking to set the direction of the school to best suit the needs of students.  I now feel that the scenario planning approach is a more effective means for long term forecasts for strategic decisions.  It goes beyond the ‘all eggs in one basket’ approach that, I believe, is the case with strategic planning.

        In creating scenarios it is important to be creative in both the scenarios, and the procedures and systems to meet the identified outcomes (Sargent, 2011).  Lack of imagination can lead to too much similarity, meaning a strategic planning predicting approach may as well have been used.  From my own perspective, I will be looking towards the learning the processes that are used to identify possible futures in the scenario planning process.  I often go into situations with predetermined ideas that I find hard to waver from.  I need to be able to put my own limited thoughts. ideas and opinions aside to look towards a broader range of scenarios.

        I found the newspaper article activity to be the most enjoyable and valuable of all that I did for the SP4Ed programme.  This really encouraged me to reflect on a possible future scenario for learners, as well as the events and uncertainties that led up to the possible future I identified.  In doing so I examined my own beliefs, as well as the skills and knowledge that I believe will be needed to have a future impact and role in education.

        I found the Horizon Report on trends to be absolutely fascinating, enlightening and affirming.  The two trends that I focused on for a blog post; social media and cloud computing; are areas that I have been following for sometime, and have tried to embed in the schools that I have worked in.  The Horizon Report will provide me with evidence that I can use to, hopefully, convince others that both are areas worthy of implementing.  

        A key question that I have related to scenario planning is based around having too many areas of focus for the future.  Preparing for a number of uncertainties could potentially spread resourcing thinly, particularly if scenarios prepared for are too outlandish and simply unlikely to happen.  Perhaps there are benefits in predicting and resourcing towards the more likely future, based on careful analysis of recent trends.

        I found the scenario matrix activity extremely challenging, and relied on those who did the task before me for support by looking at their matrixes.  Having finally completed my own, a question I have is ‘what next?’.  Do I take the preferred outcome and focus on that; but still acknowledge the lesser desired outcomes, or do I focus primarily on the least desired outcome, knowing that if it does eventuate my organisation is at least prepared for it?

        A key part in implementation of scenario planning will be convincing others of it’s worth. Miesing and van Ness (2007) discuss the need to focus on the right issue, otherwise considerable time, effort and resources could be spent on a focus that has only minimal impact on the overall direction of the school.  I will need to identify a significant issue, then bring other key stakeholders in to work through the scenario planning process to convince them of it’s worth.

        Ways and Burbank (2005) outline a systematic approach for scenario planning.  However, knowing what to do and actually doing it are two quite different things. I need to now take the knowledge that I have acquired and implement it, something that I will do through the process of participating in EDEM630.

        Miesing, P., & van Ness, R. K. (2007). Exercise: Scenario Planning. Organization Management Journal (Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.), 4(2), 148-167.

        Sargent, K. (2011). scenario planning. Contract, 52(5), 60.

        Ways, S. B., & Burbank, C. (2005). Scenario Planning. Public Roads, 69(2), 1.

        Friday, August 9, 2013

        Newspaper Article: Students take over the 'classroom'!

        Teachers are a thing of the past; children have taken over the classroom to design their own learning programmes.

        Education has changed a lot in recent times; students are no longer following a timetable and lesson plans set by their teacher within the four walls of a classroom.  They are now planning their own learning and doing it anywhere; at home, in the local library, or even in the park on a sunny afternoon!

        Since the introduction of online learning programmes and the availability inexpensive hardware to access content, there has been a significant change in the way that many students are going about their learning.

        With the nationwide availability of ultra fast broadband and inexpensive throwaway mobile learning tools, personalized learning is available to just about anyone who chooses this means of education.  However, there are 'losers' in this story; those teachers and educators who didn't prepare for the future back as far as 2013 and start to up-skill themselves and future-proof their schools to meet the needs of the next generation of learners.  The teachers and schools who saw where education was heading, and took the time to participate in professional development, are now in high demand to plan learning environments to meet the needs of the independent learner.

        This news is significant and newsworthy as it shows how what was once seen as the only way of educating students, this being in a traditional school environment, can change through the use of new technology and a change of mindset.  Other organisations need to beware and forewarned; if it can happen in schools, it can happen in hospitals, the armed services; nowhere is 'safe' from the growing reach of new technologies.

        Back in the early part of the century many aspects of using computers and ICT technology were quite complicated, often beyond the reach of primary school children.  A significant change happened with the introduction of the iPad and the app system that ran alongside it.  Since then technology has become increasingly accessible to even the youngest child.  No longer were children required to know complicated computer code; they now had access to a huge range of learning tools at the press of a button.

        Around the same time as the iPad was introduced there also came a wealth of online courses that enabled students to participate in personalized learning programmes.  Remember the Khan Academy?  At the time it seemed to be groundbreaking, but only a few 'tech savvy  teachers were prepared to use it in the own classrooms.  Now teachers who don't utilize online programmes are seen as old fashioned relics who are trying to hold onto a system that is long past it's use by date.

        Children are now able to design their own school curriculum with the aid of online tutors and quality interactive online learning programmes.  Children are working at a pace that suites them, and are no longer having to wait for their slower paced peers to catch up with them before moving on to a new concept. Virtual classrooms are now being set up all over the world, with New Zealand students in the same 'class' as children from Switzerland, Argentina, South Africa and anywhere else there are others with similar learning needs.  Students are now truly 'global independents' who are able to participate in their learning at anytime that suites them, not just simply between the hours of 9.00am and 3.00pm.

        There hasn't been a new school built in New Zealand since 2020, and many schools are losing students in droves to online learning environments.  This has led to huge cost savings for the Ministry of Education, with funds now being targeted directly to teaching and learning, and away from bricks, mortar, administration and auxiliary staff wages.  This has enabled the Ministry to fund resources for every child moving to online schools, meaning that the latest technology isn't only available for those families who can afford it.

        There are some who oppose the move towards student centered online learning.  Members of the Luddite School System have gone on record stating that children are losing their ability to interact with others in a normal face-to-face way.  The Luddite Charter School System strictly forbids the use of any modern technology in their classrooms, preferring their students take part in teacher led, practical hands-on activities with other children in their age group.

        It will be interesting to see which education approach will win out in the long term.  However, at this point of time the move towards student centered online learning environments is attracting more students everyday.  It is clear that those who saw this type of learning as a possibility back as far as 2013 have had the advantage of being prepared for the future that has now happened.


        Thursday, August 8, 2013

        Scenario Matrix - What will education look like in 2033?

        What will education look like in 2033? This is based on three uncertainties:

        1. the role and impact of technology for learning in the future;
        2. where learning takes place for students; and
        3. is the learning teacher centered or student centered?.

        Four scenarios

        1. Learner centered and technology enhanced - globally based and independent.  This group is called the Global Independents.
        2. Learner centered with limited technology - locally based and independent.  This group is called the Local Independents.
        3. Teacher centered with technology - globally based and reliant.  This group is called the Global Reliants.
        4. Teacher centered with limited technology - locally based and reliant.  This group is called the Local Reliants.

        Global Independents
        The Global Independents take responsibility for their own learning, with learning taking place outside of the traditional classroom environment.  Students identify the learning topics, areas, and focus that best suits their needs, goals and aspirations.  These learners may be guided by a facilitator, but the agenda is largely set by the student.  Technology resources are used extensively to access resources globally to support programmes.

        Local independents
        The Local Independents also take responsibility for their own learning, with learning taking place outside of the traditional classroom environment.  Students identify the learning topics, areas, and focus that best suits their needs, goals and aspirations.  These learners may be guided by a facilitator, but the agenda is largely set by the student.  Local Independents utilize local resources to support their learning, focusing on community needs and events, and basing their learning around addressing local issues.  ICT resources do not play a part in their learning, preferring traditional hands-on and practical learning experiences.

        Global Reliants
        A teacher has the responsibility of setting the learning agenda of Global Reliants, with learning taking place in a traditional classroom environment.  The teacher will identify the learning topics, areas, and focus that best suit the needs, goals and aspirations of the student, guided by a centralized curriculum.  Technology resources are used extensively to access resources globally to support programmes.

        Local Reliants
        A teacher has the responsibility of setting the learning agenda of Global Reliants, with learning taking place in a traditional classroom environment.  The teacher will identify the learning topics, areas, and focus that best suits their needs, goals and aspirations of the student, guided by a centralized curriculum.  Technology resources are not used, with the schools choosing more traditional approaches for curriculum delivery.

        Tuesday, August 6, 2013

        Selection and justification of major trends

        Horizons Report and Web Research Findings

        Online learning
        Hybrid learning
        Social media for interacting, presenting ideas and communicating
        Open access to information and resources
        The roll of schools now that information is so widely available on the web
        Professional development for staff in use and implementation of ICT
        Cloud computing
        Mobile learning
        Open content
        3D printing
        Virtual and remote laboratories
        Educational gaming
        Electronic interactive textbooks

        Two major trends in my own context

        Social media 
        • The use of the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and Pinterest as a means on engaging, interacting, sharing ideas and communicating with individuals and groups.
        • My current school is focussing on using Twitter and Facebook as a means of sharing, communicating and engaging with our community.  We have a school Facebook page, class Twitter feeds, a school Twitter feed, and Google Plus is used as a means of delivering a Mandarin language programme.  There has been a very positive response from the community re the use of social media resources.
        Cloud Computing

        • Cloud computing involves services being utilized that are 'off site' and not stored locally on servers. Examples include Google Apps and Office 365.  Resources can be accessed from anywhere, on almost any device with that is able to connect to the Internet.
        • My school has invested heavily in terms of time and training in the use of Google Apps, We have chosen to use Google Apps because the interface is similar regardless of the devices that are used to access specific apps. Another key factor in our choice has been the fact that all updates are done online, without the need to involve tech support agencies, leading to considerable savings in maintenance. This is particularly significant in a small school with a limited budget.

        Friday, August 2, 2013

        Decision-making simulation

        Self Determination for Programme Leaders

        My decision-making context:
        I am reviewing the scenario through the lens of of a school principal of a Catholic School in provincial New Zealand.  

        Overview of the scenario:
        This is a very student centred approach to learning.  There are significant support structures available for and provided to the learner from the community beyond the classroom walls.  Experts are utilized from the community to provide programmes that are specific to the needs of individual students; there is a strong partnership between school staff and outside providers.  Instructional material is diverse, with there being no set text or programme outline.  The classroom can be anywhere, certainly not limited to a traditional classroom that has the students doing all of their learning in the one traditional teaching space.

        Brainstorm list of recommended decisions:
        What checks will be put in place to ensure that learning providers have the skills necessary to meet the needs of students?
        Is the learning too personalised in terms of possible future application in wider contexts for the students?
        Are there resources available in the community to support learners, or will there be a need to look beyond the immediate community?
        Will this type of learning attracted learners?
        Conversely, will this type of learning environment repel potential students and their families?
        What physical ICT resources will be needed to support the learners and learning environment?

        Two most important strategic decisions:
        What checks will be put in place to ensure that learning providers have the skills necessary to meet the learning needs of students?
        When counting on individuals and organisations who have not had specific training in working with students there will need to be considerable guidance, at least initially, to ensure that they have the pedagogical knowledge to support specific content knowledge and skills to meet the diverse learning needs of students.
        Is the learning too personalised in terms of possible future application in wider contexts for the students?
        Students in a primary school need a broad range of skills to meet the increasing learning requirements that are placed on them by statutory demands, such as curriculum requirements and national standards.  A too narrow focus may lead to strong skills and ability on some areas, but could be detrimental when looking at the ‘bigger picture’ in terms of the long term knowledge and skills acquisition to be successful in the New Zealand school learning environment.

        Transferability of recommended decisions for the scenarios alternatives:
        What checks will be put in place to ensure that learning providers have the skills necessary to meet the learning needs of students?
        As the scenarios develop across the spectrum, from the bottom left to the top right of the figure 1 diagram, this becomes more relevant.  The four scenarios move from a more tightly structure programme, in which the provider has considerable influence in the teaching and delivery of programmes, through to a far more open structure, in which outside providers and resources are utilized to meet the needs of students and deliver programmes.
        Is the learning too personalised in terms of possible future application in wider contexts for the students?
        This is determined by the selection of programmes in any of the four scenarios.  Any of the four approaches could be based around either a very narrow or broad curriculum.  The breadth of the curriculum isn’t determined by the methodology for delivering it.

        Thursday, August 1, 2013

        My view and opinion of scenario planning

        I think that the scenario planning approach is a valid and useful one.  The idea of preparing for a number of possible futures is a particularly relevant one for me, as I have seen strategic decisions that have been based on current and likely trends to make significant purchases for school ICT resources that have turned out to be shortsighted; an example being substantial funding going towards netbooks shortly before the widely rumoured introduction of tablets, particularly the iPad.  This highlights to me how scenario planning in digital technologies is such a relevant process; change is happening so quickly; clearly strategies need to be in place to cater for this rapid change of pace in our world
        I do see a potential disadvantage of scenario planning being stretching resources to focus on a range of outcomes, as opposed to focusing on lesser, and quite likely, areas of needs.  
        In my own context of social media, I am aware of emerging tools, such as Google Plus and Pinterest, that could potentially be more useful in a school environment that the two I am focusing on (Facebook and Twitter).  Scenario Planning offers an avenue for for preparing for the possible implementation of the likes of Google Plus, possibly through the use of professional development on the resource to ensure that if the need arises, staff have the skills, knowledge and ability to implement the new system.
        For my own needs, I will be looking towards the processes that are used to identify possible futures in the scenario planning process.  I often go into situations with predetermined ideas (netbooks!) that I find hard to waver from.  I need to be able to put my own thoughts. ideas and opinions aside to look towards more than the one scenario.

        The three most important skills for generating effective scenarios and why I deem these skills to be important

        Creative thinking and imagination
        For the scenario planning to be successful there is a need for those taking part in the process to be creative in their thinking. Sargent (2011) describes how scenario planning requires multiple options to avoid dead ends.  This requires those involved to be able to identify a number of futures, as well as procedures and systems to meet the identified outcomes.  A lack of creative thinking will lead to similar outcomes, almost along the traditional strategic planning approach that is based on what is happening and what is likely to happen.

        A systematic approach
        Ways and Burbank (2005) outline a systematic approach to scenario planning.  Their process involves a series of six steps to work through: researching the driving forces; determining patterns of interaction; creating their scenarios; analyzing the implications; evaluating the scenarios; and monitoring the indicators.  These steps could be applied to any future forecasting through scenario planning, and are important because they provide a structured framework to ensure that, although the outcomes are uncertain, the methodology for preparing for a range of futures is consistent.
        The ability to focus on the right issue
        Miesing and van Ness (2007) highlight the need to identify the big question, the compelling scenario question.  This question will focus on the single overarching strategic issue for the organisation.  If this step is not taken to identify the most significant issue, then all other steps that follow, and the energy required to take these steps, are not done so for the best long term interests of the organisation as the focus should have been used in on another more relevant factor.

        Miesing, P., & van Ness, R. K. (2007). Exercise: Scenario Planning. Organization Management Journal (Palgrave Macmillan Ltd.), 4(2), 148-167.

        Sargent, K. (2011). scenario planning. Contract, 52(5), 60.

        Ways, S. B., & Burbank, C. (2005). Scenario Planning. Public Roads, 69(2), 1.

        "Scenarios can’t predict the future, so what’s the point?”

        Although a scenario can’t predict the future, a scenario planning approach to what may happen can put the planner in a position in which he / she is prepared to face a number of possible futures. 

        There is a significant difference between predicting the future and preparing for the future.  Predicting for the future is more than likely to be based on the past and what is happening now, then predicting what is most likely to happen based of these two factors.  It is almost a ‘putting all of your eggs in one basket approach’, with one outcome being considered, and all resourcing and strategic planning focused on that one outcome eventuating.

        Preparing for the future suggests the planner being ready for a number of possible future outcomes. No one can be sure of what the future holds, but steps can be put in place to be ready to meet the effects of events that may take place.  Scenario planning gives the planner a degree of confidence that they have some control over what the future may have in store.

        Monday, July 29, 2013

        SP4Ed Introduction

        Hi everyone.  My name is Tim Nelson, a participant in the Canterbury University EDEM630 course; Change With Digital Technology.  I'm the principal of St Mary's School, a Catholic School in Carterton, New Zealand.

        My aim for this blog is twofold; the first being to stay on top of the requirements for the abovementioned Canterbury University course (I'm being honest!), and the other being to use SP4Ed format to connect with others to identify resources and ideas to support my EDEM630 focus, this being 'Is social media and effective means for schools to engage with students and their families?'

        I'm also interested in the process that the MOOC offers for learning. I've created and used online learning environments several times in the past, most recently a Google Plus site to teach an online Mandarin language programme to Year 5 - 8 students in my school. I'm very interested to see if this MOOC type environment could be used on a small scale for primary school students.

        I'm looking forward to networking with others on this course, regardless of your focus. I believe that some of the best learning and ideas come by stumbling across ideas and resources that you're not necessarily looking for. Several years ago I 'discovered' Google Docs when I was aimlessly looking through the 'More' link on the Google homepage. This has led to me using and promoting Google Apps extensively ever since. Perhaps I will find another equally useful resource through connecting with other participants on this course.

        All the best everyone!

        Saturday, July 27, 2013

        Reflection 1

        Initially I found it difficult settling on a focus for the course assignments.  To overcome this I thought about two questions:

        • What is happening in my school?; and
        • What is relevant to my school?

        Doing this led to my choosing a focus that I am interested in; 'Is social media and effective means for schools to engage with students and their families?'  I’ve enjoyed reading case studies and readings on the use of Twitter to engage with students, a topic that I am quite passionate about.  

        Readings on change theory have had a significant impact on the way I will approach change in the future, particularly from a leadership perspective.  I had a similar goal in my previous school around using Twitter as a class blog format for sharing and engaging with families.  This was ‘implemented’ with little professional development.  My expectations were that, because using Twitter through an iPad is ‘easy’, all teachers would readily use it as a replacement for blogs, which we had used in the past.  

        The Concerns-Based adoption Model has been especially enlightening to me.  The reading shows the stages of concern that those affected by change may go through.  The reading gave me more empathy for teachers as individuals, I am now more understanding of the different stages of the change process that individuals might be at, as opposed to grouping them all together and expecting the same thing.

        I can see that when a planned change process is in place, change is more likely to be long term.  The school where I previously led the implementation of Twitter has not seen sustained use of the resource from a majority of teachers after my having left.  I believe that this can be attributed in some part to the ‘one size fits all’ model that I led for introducing the resource; as soon as I left and the pressure was off (from my constant reminders to update), posts on many of the Twitter feeds are infrequent at best.

        A key question that I had as I chose my focus was what social media resources would be the basis of my research and use.  Ideally I would have liked to have used Google Plus, as I can see how this could be so effective in a school community environment.  Unfortunately the is a 13+ age restriction on this, so it’s not accessible for almost all of the students in my school.  I am still using Facebook, despite the age restriction that it also has, as the key resource for connecting with families.  The primary reason so my selection of Facebook being that so many in the school community already use it and are familiar with how it works.

        I chose Twitter for students as there is no age restriction on it’s use.  My experience in working with children as young as 10 has been very positive.  Twitter engages and excites children as they learn the many benefits and uses of the resource.

        Another question has been how can I encourage teachers to see the benefits of social media for their students and as a means of communicating with families.  This will be addressed through using the Concerns-Based Adoption Model, for the reasons that I have outlined above.

        What type of information will be shared on the different social media platforms has been a further question that I have thought about at length.  Facebook and Twitter have quite different features, strengths and weaknesses.  How I will take advantage of the strengths and overcome the weaknesses will be key in ensuring the long term viability of the change.

        I am looking at researching possible levels of privacy for posts, comments and feedback on Twitter.  Some in my school community have genuine concerns about the digital footprint of their children, and the access that others may have to information about students.  I will look at internet safety information to provide assurance for those parents and caregivers who do have these concerns.

        Overall this change journey has been both challenging and exciting for me.  I am looking forward to seeing how it develops, and am hopeful that it will lead to long terms benefits for my whole school community.

        Saturday, July 20, 2013

        E-activity 2.2: Essay plan

        Is social media and effective means for schools to engage with students and their families?

        Abstract Prepare an abstract of 350 words summarising the topic, key findings and conclusion
        To be prepared once essay has been written.

        Introduction: Describe your context of change and research question including:
        The nature and characteristics of the technology innovation (i.e. the what?)
        This will focus around introducing the two primary social media programmes, Facebook and Twitter; what are the benefits?  What will they be used for?  What am I hoping to achieve?.  I will cover my previous experiences in introducing and implementing the programmes at another school.  I will also discuss the implementation of Google Plus at my previous school, and why it didn’t work.  Finally, I will comment how it was done in an ad-hoc trial and error way, without any use of a change model guide.
        An explanation of the importance and significance of the change for teachers and learners (i.e. the why?).
        Here I will focus on what has happened in the past re engaging with students and families for all purposes around communication of information, content and ideas.  This will include the likes of parent interviews and newsletters for parents.  For students the focus will be on traditional in class face to face teaching.  In regards to teachers, both of the above statements will be taken into account in regards to how they engage with parents and students.  This is where I will introduce the limitations of what has traditionally been done; how the school has not taken advantage of available resources to effectively engage with members of the school community..  
        The thesis / or problem statement or research question What is the main idea, point of view or central question you will address in your review of the change model(s)
        Is social media and effective means for schools to engage with students and their families?

        Body: This is the main part of the essay which should cover:
        A description of the change model(s) Identify an appropriate model of change which informs your thesis or problem. Summarise the relevant model with appropriate connections to your topic / context.
        Awareness of teachers, students and parents;
        Knowledge of teachers, students and parents;
        Use by parents, teachers and students;
        Management by parents, teachers and students;
        Analysis by teachers;
        Collaboration with other resources and programmes by teachers;
        Modifications and changes by teachers, based on what has taken place so far; how can it be improved? How can it be more effective?
        A review of the implications of the change model for your own context. You should cover both strengths and shortcomings or pros and cons of the model(s).
        For the next two sections I will use de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats model to review the implications:
        Red:  Gut feeling, has the change model been effective?  
        Yellow:  What are the strengths?
        Black:  What are the limitations?

        Conclusion: Including for example, recommendations for the future or lessons learned.
        White:  What has been the result of the implementation?  What are the facts?
        Green Hat:  What needs to be changed / modified?  Does anything need to be changed or modified?