Thursday, January 15, 2015

Developing digitally literate learners

At the Learning with Digital Techonologies Symposium (way back in August 2014 at the National Library) I was interviewed regarding the digital journey we are on implementing learning using digital technologies. The video has just now been produced and a couple of snippets of my interview have been included in this piece:

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Google Mission Control [#GTASYD14] / Destination Moonshot!

Recently I had the privilege of attending the Google Teacher Academy in Sydney with 50 other amazing educators from across NZ and Australia.  This academy, the first to be rolled out under the facilitation of +NoTosh Captain's Tom Barrett and Hamish Curry (along with our GTA mentors) was an exciting opportunity into a new style of academy for Google that put the focus on pedagogy.  Don't get me wrong, there was Googly-goodness in our two days on site however we took a different trajectory to past academies.  Just like in our education settings, the use of integrating technology in learning is driven by our curriculum and learning needs, so too was the underlying theme towards our journey in this academy.
photo: +Suan Yeo
The academy was centred around the concept of creating and planning for Moonshots using a design thinking process that NoTosh have used extensively in educational settings. A moonshot is a project or proposal that: 1) addresses a huge problem; 2) proposes a radical solution; 3) uses break through technology.  I first hear of Moonshots and saw the video at our own Festival of Education so knew the two days would be full of challenge, questioning and pathways.  The framework that NoTosh use of immersion, synthesis, ideation and prototyping/feedback was carefully scaffolded with useful mini activities to support our thinking in small groups.  Useful take-outs that I know I'll use again are: Hexagon thinking strategy, Critique Protocols "be hard on content, soft on people" using HAKRS, HMW framing template for our Moonshots (pictured) and the 3-step drawing for prototyping our ideas (& thinking).
The 50 participants were divided into 8 groups.  I was in Team Black Sheep, which aptly embraced the Moonshot definition. I'd like to thank our Team Black Sheep members: +Chris Woldhouis, +Michael Ha, +Alfina Jackson, +Angela Lee, +Nick Wilson and guided by our mentor +Rich Lambert for the collaboration, connection, challenge and conversation that started prior to our arrival and will continue over the next 6 months as we report our progress towards achieving our Moonshots.

Whereas in past academies participants may have sat in mini workshops related to learning about different Google tools/products, this year the mentors flipped this idea and led sessions that fitted into the pedagogy first theme.  Sessions were facilitated around the themes of community, curiosity and creativity to work our what Google tools we could then use to support these components of future focused pedagogy.  

The immersion in Google-life was a big feature of the academy.  We had the opportunity of visiting 3 of the Google buildings in Sydney's Pyrmont area of Darling Harbour.  The work spaces are unique as are the modes of transport that can be used between buildings (if walking is not enough for you why not try a scooter, skateboard or a unicycle).  The album below features some of the common spaces that we were allowed to view.  We were treated to meals at three different staff canteen's that had a huge array of healthy options for us to dine on and some stunning scenery!

A highlight for me was listening to invited guest speaker Annie Parker of Muru-D who embraced the idea of thinking big and promoting entrepreneurship spirit in our kids.  The process she discuss was a practical life example of the design thinking process we were working through in our Moonshot using the NoTosh framework.  She ignited a personal project that I've been sitting on quietly for the last 10 years that I am keen to bring to fruition in the next 12 months [so watch this space!]. I loved this quote that she shared that really hit home that each one of us can make a difference by Margaret Mead.  Having participated in this Google Teacher Academy I can officially say that I'm a Google Certified Teacher - I love how a fellow GTASYD participant Rob McTaggart describes a GCT from his reflective blog post... "A Google Certified Teacher is someone who sees a problem with no easy solution but will go about finding a way to do it anyway.  These educators believe they can make a big difference to education.  And many of us will." 

While I'll be keeping in touch with many of the #GTASYD14 via online networks and through continued hangouts (particularly with Team Black Sheep).  The other special group that I'll have a lot of face to face opportunities will be the kiwi contingent of the #GTASYD cohort (and in particular the Auckland based GCTs).  Here we all are:

The tweets that were #GTASYD:

The Album that is #GTASYD:

I look forward to posting more about my Moonshot and progress, soon...WATCH this SPACE.

Application - Google Teacher Academy: Sydney 2014

I was determined this year to get accepted into the Google Teacher Academy (GTA) in Sydney to become a Google Certified Teacher (GCT). This academy was to be the first lead by NoTosh using a new format focusing on design thinking where we would be exploring, designing and launching solutions to some of education's chunkiest problems. As with all GTA's there is an emphasis on personal growth and collaboration, while GTA Sydney is also all about empowering us to make sustainable change in our communities.  
Google Certified Teachers are:
  • Outstanding educators with a passion for using technologies and approaches to improve teaching and learning.
  • Creative leaders who understand opportunities and challenges and have a desire to help empower others in their local community and beyond.
  • Ambassadors for change who model high expectations, life-long learning, collaboration, equity, and innovation.
For the application process we had to complete an online form, however I found it was best to copy the form to a Google Doc and compose your answers first before completing the online form. Many of the responses were limited to 200 or 400 characters (not words) so like an extended tweet. I found this process to suit my learning style as it meant that I had to be very concise with my answers and it also meant that I was careful to embed links into my answers to show further on-line evidence to support my responses.  I knew using the Google Shortener for URL was exactly 20 characters and this was included into the character count. The application questions revolved around the three main criteria for being a GCT and you were also asked to show examples of how you met each of the three GCT criteria. This was where the external links helped.  

To start the application process you had to record a six-word memoir to describe yourself. I put out a Google Form to colleagues to get them to come up with six descriptors and to help me identify which of the three GCT criteria (above) they perceived to be my strength, which was to be the focus of my one minute video. This was an interesting processin itself, seeing what others perceived to be my area of strength. In the end I chose my memoir to be "Enthusiastically projecting positivity and continuous improvement" along with being a Creative Leader
Here is my one minute video that I chose to do in the style of a Google Hangout:

Sunday, August 10, 2014

#edchatNZ Blogging Meme

Term three has had a busy start for me with the first three Saturdays consumed with connecting face to face with my online PLN at #educampAKLD, #educampTT and the inaugural #edchatNZ conference.  I was waiting for the end of this third event to write a post and was procrastinating, however thanks to being challenged by Bridget Casse to participate in the #edchatNZ meme I am prompted to waste no more time!

If you get included in the blogging meme: copy/paste the questions and instructions into your own blog then fill out your own answers. Share on twitter tagging 5 friends.

1. How did you attend the #Edchatnz Conference? (Face 2 Face, followed online or didn't)I was lucky enough to attend BOTH days Face 2 Face

2. How many others attended from your school or organisation?I was flying SOLO at this one however I got to carpool both days with @Mrs_Hyde, @Carobush and @annagerrit which made the trip to the other side of town a lot of fun and giggles.

3.How many #Edchatnz challenges did you complete?I got several Grelfies done over the two days, this really cheezy one first thing on arrival on Friday with Annemarie, Caroline and Diana...

and this Geeky (I say Gorgeous) Glasses Grelfie on Saturday with Bridget Casse @bridgetcasse and Phillipa @AKeenReader

I also love this one with two people that I admire greatly Annemarie and Mark

*Plus I did get people up and dancing in the very first session with Andrew Cowie (thanks to the assistance of Annemarie) video evidenced here: which scored me this wonderful conference prize of a Samsung Galaxy Gear (great because I'm a Samsung S4 user & Android fan)

4. Who are 3 people that you connected with and what did you learn from them?Amy McCauley - Google Sites session: subscribing to changes & making a filter in Gmail in box to sort theseAndrew Cowie - an app to show what other sites are tracking your movements onlineReid Walker - the joy of seeing a tweep having "aha" moments at Pam Hook's session for primary teachers on Solo Taxonmy

5. What session are you gutted that you missed?Modern Learning Environments with Mark Osborne.  

6. Who is one person that you would like to have taken to Edchatnz and what key thing would they have learned? 
I would of loved it if Tana Klaricich could of been there in person but I know she was following via our twitter updates. 

7. Is there a person you didn’t get to meet/chat with (F2F/online) that you wished you had? WhyI wanted to make a connection with Karla Hull from Ngatea School.  I've been connecting with her a few times recently on twitter and she wasn't able to attend in the end.  I like what I've read via twitter and the blogs coming out of Ngatea School on transforming learning spaces.

8. What is the next book you are going to read and why? Alan November "Who owns the learning?" suggested this week to me twice and it's under $20 on Book Depository It is about students using technology to drive their learning.

9. What is one thing you plan to do to continue the Education Revolution you learnt about at #EdchatNZ?
It's ok to be a lone nut, but having a mixed group of nuts is better - variety is the spice of life - seek out the nut in others to try something new.

10. Will you take a risk and hand your students a blank canvas?In my role as a DP our staff are my initial 'students' so giving out a blank canvas supported by 'paint by numbers' is more my style

Who do will I tag with this meme: Aimie Sibson
Michelle Simms
Gosh the formatting in this post jumped all over the place!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Setting up iPADs using VPP & Meraki

In the next phase of our learning with digital technologies we rolled out 2 iPADs per junior class (10 classes) and 1 iPAD for each of our six learning assistants who work 1-1 or in a small group with students. A total of 26 iPADs therefore needed sorting out. We are a "pc", "Google"and "Chromebook" school so working within the apple iOS was new for me.
Firstly, I had to get my head in the right space to research what other school's were doing. It's great being able to send out a tweet to get the collective wisdom of my twitter PLN for some advice.  I put out this tweet...
which linked me through to lots of interesting feedback and advice.  I then had a skpye session with the lovely Anna Gerrit to see how she had set them up at her school. Our LwDT facilitator Esther Casey also provided some great support with her contact in other schools and what/how other schools had set up their iPADs when they weren't "apple" schools.  My main priority was to ensure that I set up a system so that apps were legally purchased and deployed to each of the iPADS.  Plus I discovered the importance of having similar naming conventions for each iPAD and details in the Apple ID set up across the school.
Here are the steps that I have done (for better and worse) and how I'd do it differently for when/if we get more iPADs:
  1. Create a Google account for each iPAD so they have email within our school system.  This was easy to do as I'm the administrator for our school.  This way all the iPADs have a similar naming convention and password. The email then became the apple ID.  I also set up the iPADs as a separate organisation within the administration panel.
  2. I set up a VPP (Volume Purchasing Programme) account through Apple Education so that I could bulk purchase apps for the team (purchases over 20+ reduces the cost of each app).  This process took over a week to set up from the time you submit your details.
  3. As we didn't have a MAC computer to use as a server to push out the apps through either Configurator or Profile Manager I decided that we would use Meraki as a MDM (Mobile Device Management) service.  Setting up the Meraki account was quick and easy.  The instructions to link the VPP account and Meraki was simple too with very clear instructions (including images!).  
  4. I then set up the apple IDs using the Google email address that was created - unfortunately I had to change the password convention on my Google mail addresses to align with the Apple ID conventions of having 8 characters, a capital letter and a numeral, so this took a bit of time (plus I used my email address as the rescue email which meant that I had to log in to apple ID not only 26 times to activate those accounts, but a further 26 times to activate my address as the rescue email address).  A long tedious process but simple enough.  See my next time advice - as I wouldn't do it this way next time.
  5. In Meraki you "invite" each Apple ID/email/iPAD to receive apps pushed to it through the iTunes store.  This is where I encountered a problem.  The Meraki invites were really easy - but the set up of the iTunes billing information was problematic! It took several hours on the phone to apple support for them to activate each iTunes account as you can only have one credit card linked for every three accounts and while I had deleted the billing information each time, there were issues with from the iTunes store.  This was really frustrating! I even shed a tear through the stress of trying to sort it all out, which is very unlike me! So hopefully this post can help others through this mistake - see my next time advice.
  6. Finally, once all the Meraki invites had been accepted through the iTune accounts I could allocate (in Meraki) which apps purchased in the VPP could be allocated to which iPAD.  I had purchased some different apps for the learning assistants iPADs.
  7. I then gave the iPADs out to the staff who could then turn on the iPADs, put in their new Apple ID and then go to the iTunes store to the 'purchased' apps section and download the apps onto the physical iPAD.
Next time advice:
  1. When setting up the Google mail accounts use the same password conventions as Apple ID from the start - I had to go back in and change my gmail account passwords so that they aligned with the Apple IDs - time consuming but necessary. The password must contain a capital letter, numeral and be at least 8 characters.
  2. Create the Apple IDs through purchasing a "free app" then you don't have to enter in billing information - this was the BIGGEST head ache for me!  As unfortunately there was an Apple error that took 2 weeks for Apple to resolve in-order for the accounts associated with our email to accept the credit card - it was very frustrating and I was on the brink of deleting all accounts and creating the Apple IDs through the "free app" way - so please follow this recommendation, + it saves the $1 per activation on the credit card per account that could be used for purchasing an app instead!