Saturday, 4 October 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, 10 August 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, 19 July 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!

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Our GAFE Launch >>>3, >>2, >1 - GOOGLE !

Wow! What a term it has been - one term down into our Google Apps for Education and it's really transformed learning opportunities for our students in the senior team.
Part of our strategic roll out of learning with digital technologies saw us at the end of term 1 having a fantastic Chromebook and Google Apps for Education launching day in our senior school.  The Board of Trustees and PTA generously have supplied each of our five senior classes with ten Chromebooks.  All students have a GAFE account for their learning and teachers are using the Hapara teacher dashboard to manage and access student accounts.

The Chromebooks have been cleverly stored in lockable filing cabinets with dish racks as a cheap solution for security and storage.  Each Chromebook has been set up to only accept school domain log ins and we have created a sticker as a deterrent for would-be thieves to alert them to this fact.

Some of the kids reflections from Room 19 using VoiceThread of our launch:

I've had a few schools visit regarding how I went about deploying the Chromebooks and this has been some of the resources and steps I took:

GAFE parent letter:
Google Kids launch presentation:
Google Parent's meeting presentation:
VLN discussion on CMC set up:

Not used yet but link from +FionaGrant  to investigate Synergyse launches free interactive training for the Google Apps Admin Console - See more at:

No point getting Chromebooks without paying the extra Chrome Management console $39 (approx I think).  You get whoever you are purchasing the Chromebooks through to get the licences for the CMC.  Then when you initially log into the Chromebook you set the wifi settings first and then Ctrl + e to enrol the chromebook on your domain (with your domain login is fine).

The process I took and timings for setting up 55 (initally) for the Chromebooks:
  1. Got a parent helper to label all devices with the room and the date we got them.  As each class had 10 we labelled them 19/1 through to 19/10 and then date was just 201404.  She also labelled the corresponding box with the computer number (19/1-10) and these were on a Google Sheet. (This took about 2 hours)
  2. Then we plugged in a bar scanner and with the Google Sheet opened with the class Chromebook numbers opened (in order) was able to bar -code scan the outside of the box to get the serial number of each Chromebook off quickly.  This took only 5-10 minutes - initially I had the parent helper tediously typing in the serial number but this ended up being the quickest and accurate.
  3. Our TTS guy then opened them up and connected them to our school wifi logged into the internet - we have all our school owned devices set to this separate WLAN so that the kids didn't need to authenticate each time they and enrolled each device.  Not sure how long this took him but it was just on one of his scheduled fortnightly visits.
  4. The Chromebooks were boxed up ready for the kids to unwrap!
  5. I spent about 2 hours just going through the settings on the GAFE admin domain turning things on and off (as per list on VLN at your discretion). I also had a play around with a couple of the apps that I wanted the kids to be able to have deployed to the devices "typing club" was essential as we have such a long domain name to log in "" so hoped that the kids might use this app in a self directed learning way.
Setting up the GAFE logins/hapara:
Kiwi Schools did this process for us, however I was inpatient and pushed them along!  I had spoken to Fiona Grant (Manaiakalani cluster) about what needed to be put onto the .csv file and got it prepared and sent off to Kiwi Schools who then uploaded it to Hapara - essentially you prepare 2 .csv files one with the teachers and room numbers and one with the kids information.  Once it's uploaded in the correct format Hapara then add access to the teachers, who can then print out the class info with the kids log in and intial password.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Reflections from the Festival of Education

The Festival of Education was held in three locations across New Zealand this week and I had the opportunity to present and attend most of the Auckland event held at the Viaduct Events Centre. Here are some reflections of my experience:

I had previously been part of the inaugural session of TeachMeetNZ in 2013 and enjoyed this exciting new platform for sharing professional learning, so I jumped at the opportunity of being part of the virtual presentation organised by Sonya van Schijik.  A TeachMeet is a professional learning opportunity where up to 10 presenters join a Google Hangout and share a nano presentation (approximately 3 minutes) of a strategy that is working well in their professional practice.  The Hangout is streamed live via the internet and recorded so that viewers can rewind the learning and unpack the presentations at a time that suits them.

Sonya was coordinating the session in front of a live audience at the Viaduct Events Centre and co-presenting from their homes across New Zealand in the Hangout were: Juliet Revell, Myles Webb, Monika Kern, Diana Wilkes, Emma Alaalatoa-Dale, Manu Faaea-Semeatu and myself.  The Hangout was supported by Kathy Scott as master time-keeper with her rattlesnake (aka jingle bells) and Marnel van der Spuy as chat-wing moderator and tweeter for the event.

Getting organised I joined the Hangout ten minutes prior to "going live" only to find that my computer at home wanted to allow an update for Google voice and video to optimise my Hangout experience, I allowed this and joined the Hangout - only to find I could see my fellow presenters but not hear them.  I was to present third in the line-up for the day, so was anxious as to whether I would miss my cue to start, or whether my presentation would be seen or heard.  My colleagues were great in the chat bar trying to help me out with all sorts of problem solving, and then it happened ... my computer FROZE! I was nervous already about presenting live, and the thought that I could be connected to the Hangout and not hear was already raising the nerve factor and then this! I calmly tried to shut down my computer which then had the whirring cog of death displayed - I had to resort to physically pulling the power plug out of the wall and rebooting the computer.  Now as we all know, clock watching doesn't help in these circumstances, and what seemed forever to boot back up, I finally rejoined the Hangout for TeachMeetNZ with sound and video! Hurrah! I caught my breathe, wiped off my sweaty palms and shared my presentation last.  

So what did I learn in all of this?  I truly believe that this platform for presenting and sharing ideas is valuable because it is recorded permanently and viewers can go back at anytime and rewatch the ideas being presented.  There is a supporting wikispace that clearly profiles each of the TeachMeetNZ sessions and presenters.  Each presenter has a page with links to their presentation and online digital footprint. I also learnt that many of our staff often look to contributors of events like these or facilitators as 'experts' and that things 'don't go wrong technically ever for us' however I think with my technical issues on the day, it shows that you need persistence and tenacity to keep calm and keep on trying with digital technologies.  I also have a closer connection with the presenters (albeit virtually) 
Here's my contribution to our full Google Hangout below:

Here's our Google Hangout Presentation (my segment is at 33.30):

Christian Long 
Christian spoke about the influence of The Third Teacher . In essence in every student’s life there are 3 teachers:

  1. The parents/adults/teachers
  2. Their peers
  3. The environment - everything around us affects us (similar to the Reggio Emilia philosophy that there is an influence in the relationship between community and learning).
Christian works with a group of designers who create learning environments that are seen to have a positive influence on student learning. He has been involved in projects to repurpose old building and land, as well as designing new structures like this one below form the KOC Foundation inTurkey.

Christian spoke of the need to have more creative problem solving in the curriculum in order to equip students for the future and promoted the notion of getting into a "moonshot mindset" and getting students to "prototype" by embracing the now and launching ideas in a prototype style, rather than waiting until you are sure you have completely worked out all the kinks. I loved this video he showed that embraced this thinking - particularly the quote "have the courage to try, that's how great things happen."
John Hattie

I missed John Hattie's keynote address, however had the opportunity to join his chatroom session that continued the discussion from the keynote of "High impact, passionate teachers".  Hattie discussed the difference between expert and experienced teachers isn't the from the years of service one might have but of those teachers that work with their students at a deeper level to increase and accelerate student outcomes. The image below I snapped quickly on what expert teachers do:
Michael Fullan
I was lucky enough to attend both the keynote and chatroom session from Michael Fullan.  This felt like a real treat to be in the presence of such a respected educator.  I loved everything that he had to say, and would refer people to his website to find a wealth of shared articles on his work.  I particularly agree with the notion of Principal as lead learner, modelling and participating in the learning and professional development that staff are undertaking. He talked about effective change occurring through the strength and sustainability of a school with the quality of the lateral relationships - "if you want to change the group, use the group to change the group" this can be achieved through leveraging the quality of knowledge and collectivity of ideas. He states that in the unplanned revolution pedagogy is the driver, technology is the accelerator -He looks to Hattie’s work which stated no correlation between technology and student outcomes, however this is possibly because the technology has been acquired without the pedagogy in mind - now there is a flip towards the pedagogy first. He also promoted the use of Hattie's discovery that Teacher as Facilitator (.17) was too passive and Teacher as Activator (.60) was the desired state for working in the deep with students as this wasn't a passive state.

Deep learning (21st Century learning skills) - Of the six characteristics 3-6 have previously been included in 21st Century learning skills however 1-2 have been added in recent times...Character - persistence, resilience etc…, Citizenship is based more on the empathetic side, global thinking.

Fullan also discussed that Principal's do not get trained in developing the group - coaching models are particularly useful to help build the capacity of the organisation. I'd refer you to the book that Fullan has written along with Hargreaves "Professional Capital" which outlines the formula
PC=f(HC, SC, DC). Professional Capital - decisional capital (quality of knowledge for decisions), social (quality of the group and purposeful relationships, collaboration) and human (quality of individual). Social capital needs to be the driver - you can have quality individuals, however if they aren’t in a culture of growth then they will be rejected - collaboration is key - to what extend do you and other teachers work in a coordinated and effective way to improve outcomes for the students. I look forward to investigating more of his work on his site and in his book Stratosphere too.

Other reflections
I loved the showcase of student work using digital technologies from schools in the Manaiakalani Trust. A delightful boy named Robin from Glen Innes School politely came up to me and asked whether I'd like to look at some of his learning on his netbook. He shared with me his learning on his blog (link to come) and we discussed the features of a quality comment which he had been learning about too.

I also got interviewed for a quick segment for the Inspired by You channel. Where I said that when I was at school Mr VK of Manurewa High (now at Botany Secondary) was inspiring because of the relationships he had with his classes to make learning fun and engaging. I thanked Kim Benjamin as a leader who was always so positive in her dialogue with others and then stated the Festival was a great opportunity to showcase the excellence and variety across the sector.
Finally, it was great to make face to face connections with many educators that I am usually online with. The Festival of Education was held over a weekend, therefore it has meant that many of us have not stopped working. The difference I think for those that contributed and attend, is our deep commitment and passion towards our own learning and contributing to the sector for better outcomes for everyone. It was disappointing then not to see it showcased in any national news broadcasts.