Staff Training

Lots of edubloggers have been plugging this so I'm probably another echo in the aggregator but the second annual K12 Online Conference starts very soon. I'll cut'n'paste the blurb so you get the gist if you haven't already heard about it:

The K-12 Online Conference invites participation from educators around the world interested in innovative ways Web 2.0 tools and technologies can be used to improve learning. This FREE conference run by volunteers and open to everyone. The 2007 conference theme is “Playing with Boundaries”. This year’s conference begins with a pre-conference keynote the week of October 8, 2007. The following two weeks, October 15-19 and October 22-26, forty presentations will be posted online to the conference blog (this website) for participants to download and view. Live Events in the form of three “Fireside Chats” and a culminating “When Night Falls” event will be announced. Everyone is encouraged to participate in both live events during the conference as well as asynchronous conversations.

K12 Online Conference is a special event because last year I got to present amongst the cream of online educators and was pretty well received. I didn't get a guernsey this year but this time around I get to fully immerse myself as participant.

So, after stating elsewhere on the edublogosphere my distaste for lists and rankings, I'll contradict myself and give you five good reasons to check it out.

  1. There is a great blend of innovation from those who promote web based learning and those who implement in the classroom. You'll never get this much talent at one conference - ever, except at K12. The fact that two classroom based teachers, Clarence Fisher and Brian Crosby, are amongst the keynote speakers should warm many hearts, including Mark Ahlness's!
  2. You make connections with new educators. If not for K12, I may not have become colleagues with Chris Harbeck, Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, Kim Cofino or Chris Betcher, just to name a few.
  3. You suddenly have a huge arsenal of resources that you can use back in your own school without reinventing the wheel. It's all there archived, just waiting for you whenever it suits.
  4. Help desk is included. At most conferences, you've got the workshop facilitator or presenter for a small amount of time and after that, you're on your own. But at the K12, you can easily contact any presenter for help or more information via the comments, linking back to their blog where you can usually find contact details. At any time in the future!
  5. It's free and as far as I know, totally untainted by commercial interests. This makes it an amazing grassroots event - for educators by educators, specifically in the K-12 sector.

Hope to see you there. I think I might stick my name down to host a Skype hour of "When Night Falls."


qtel.jpgToday was a pretty good day. A project that I've been coordinating (hence my job title) came to fruition in a meaningful and successful way. We held a Staff Professional Learning day with the theme of "Quality Teaching And eLearning" - a grass roots event that helped to hone in on our Interactive Whiteboard program and the wider implications of technology and pedagogy. It might be small potatoes compared to some events that many people are involved in but it was very important for our school's forward momentum in this area.

My role was to come up with an overall concept and then shape it into a day that would benefit the staff and give them opportunity to build on their skills, learn from each other and access some outside expertise. I convened a committee who helped with decision making and shouldered the workload involved and we came up with a plan.

So today, the day unfolded in a blend that had its moments from an organisational viewpoint (mainly timing of events) but catered pretty well for our diverse range of staff. We were lucky enough to have Dr. Trudy Sweeney as our opening keynote who talked about the research about the Millennium Generation, how it related to the latest IWB research and the importance of focussing on good teaching. It was interesting to see quotes she used to back up the view that teachers are crucial to the learning process for students, including critic of modern education, Kevin Donnelly! We then broke up into three groups for some Interactive Whiteboard workshops. I was lucky enough to take the Advanced group where I did a brief re-run of my iwb 2.0 workshop from the CEGSA conference. It ended up being more conversational than presentational but that's OK.

We broke for morning tea (Italian pastries, yum!) and Yvonne Murtagh was there in time to tell us all about the Digital Learning Bank. She walked us through the different formats and types of content there and gave the staff plenty of time to explore and play. We then broke for a slightly late lunch (curries!) and in the afternoon, we had a two rounds of teacher run Hands On Workshops. These were excellent and it was great that we have enough staff with the confidence to run something for their peers. We had 50 minute workshops on Digital Stories, Recording in Audacity, Introduction to Claymation, Using Scanners and DVDs, eBooks, Interactive Websites, Online Subscription Services and my contribution was an introduction to social bookmarking with That was a bit tricky - 45 minutes was probably too short a time span when I had five complete newbies and two who already had accounts but wanted to find out more about the network features. Still, the good thing about it being a school event is that staff who want me to show them more don't have far to go to find me. We were going to finish with an overview on EdCap but time ran out so we finished up with our prize draws at the end where a few lucky staff members won prizes of wine and a memory stick.

Many thanks to my hard working committee. It was nice to bring something from concept to fruition and be the lead on it the whole way. This sort of grassroots structure for professional learning could be a useful blueprint for South Australian schools.

1 Comment

These are my notes from today's session with Jenny Gore which was organised by several principals, who closed their schools for the day and assembled over 200 teachers here at Morphettville Racecourse here in Adelaide. The notes are raw, direct extractions from Jenny's slides and speech - any of my own reflections will be in italics. Feel free to ignore this post as the notes will make much more sense to me than any external reader who wasn't there today - but you may find nuggets that ring true as well!

Quality Teaching: Background and Overview
In context - authentic pedagogy, productive pedagogy, quality teaching.
Referred to Queensland work on Productive Pedagogies – research team went into schools that were innovative to examine what was working, started with authentic as the base for the Productive Pedagogies, learning styles is had to measure in improved outcomes (interesting point - Jenny pointed out that in Australia, education had taken MI beyond what Howard Gardner intended and labelled kids as particular types of learners, all Gardner wanted to point out was that there were different styles of learning, not that one style is the sole way someone learns) so PP was a researchers model while QT model is designed as a teachers’ model. Dimensions of QT - intellectual quality, quality learning environment, significance. All dimensions work together as a package; you can’t implement one after the other.

Pedagogy = Instruction + Assessment.

What we ask of students is critical, “sinking to the occasion” is the result if we don’t place high demands on students.
Based on sound and broad research, it is a framework (a lens to look at what you are doing), it is generic (and requires translation to each individual teachers’ role), builds on what teachers already know and do, provides concepts and language to talk and reflect on practice, it’s a model (everything must be in their place, all parts fitting)
Interesting that US data is used as research justification for an Australian framework.
Schools contribute to the inequality in society - strong correlation between engagement and intellectual quality. Secondary school assessment tasks one of a higher quality than primary, but primary schools have higher intellectual quality than their secondary counterparts. Teachers’ dispositions and beliefs directly influence the quality of outcomes for their students. No relationship between years of experience to quality results.
Collaborative planning time is a major factor. Differences between classes are greater then the differences between schools. Quality of what we deliver directly affects their outcomes.

What is Intellectual Quality? Deep knowledge, deep understanding, problematic knowledge, high order thinking, metalanguage and substantive communication. Key point of deep knowledge is - what do you want them to learn? Why does it matter? Between the topic and the outcome is what we want the students to learn. All knowledge is constructed from different perspectives - it is problematic. Applies to knowledge -where does it come from? Knowledge is open to question. Lots of work has been done on thinking one the past decade. Lower order thinking is vitally important but is a problem if that is all that is done. High order thinking must connect to deep understanding, the main ideas or it can be worthless. Metalanguage is the language about language. Substantive communication is sustained over time on the subjects of curriculum, teachers listening differently and asking elaborative questions, applies to written and expressive work

What is quality learning environment? Explicit quality criteria, engagement, high expectations, social support, students’ self-regulation, student direction. Expect kids to justify their choices, show them or tell then what is expected, you feel engagement more than an observe can see it, high expectations are crucial to student success, ask more, how much time spent on behavior takes away from instruction and learning, giving some control for their learning over to the student but giving all over to the student is irresponsible.

What is significance? Background knowledge, cultural knowledge, knowledge integration, inclusivity, connectedness and narrative. Making connections of diverse fragments through deep knowledge. Classrooms need to be inclusive environments. Connected tasks of relevance, when is it useful to have an audience, power of stories to enrich learning.
Use planning time well: In relation to QT ask the following questions:
What do I want students to learn?
Why does learning matter?
What am I going to get the students to produce?
How well do I expect them to do it?

Coding Exercise using Teacher video sample.

We watched a 15 minute condensed lesson from an Art lesson and then coded the lesson according to the eighteen identified elements for the QT framework.

This was an interesting exercise as we had to refer to a 1 to 5 numbering system to grade various aspects of the lesson on the video. I started making notes (I had left my booklets for the session at home) but after Annabel lent me her copy, I made steady progress. Looking at another's teacher's work is really challenging as I started recognising deficiencies and areas to work on within my own classroom practice. The 18 elements really got me thinking about the whole overall practice of teaching - and how important the teaching aspect is to ensuring the success for kids. Too much structure and the kids never get to think for themselves or make choices and expecting them to choose and learn without interference is setting them up for failure in the primary school setting and as Jenny reminded us, is professionally irresponsible. I thought about the Personal Research Projects my class are doing and how they really need some explicit steps and expectations spelt out to them. If the essential learning for that project is learning how to find information, extract and verify it, then present it back to their peers using some pre-determined skills and methods, then that needs to be explicitly taught and all expectations laid out clearly so that all students can experience success in gaining those skills.

Jenny brought us back to the session after our lunch break with this set of dot points:

Quality Teaching not as an extra
Doing what you already do, differently.
Doing what you already do, better.
Doing what you already do, more aware.

Afternoon Coding Exercise on the Assessment task coding sheet.

I tackled this task with my principal and her student-teacher niece and we had to analyse a performance task based on Harry Potter according to the 14 criteria (4 less because it was a written task not a teaching performance). Again, this was easier because we were able to chat and discuss our choices. This was important because then we were able to get our head around what each section entailed - Problematic Knowledge was certainly an area that is not easy to define and then judge.

After that exercise we had to sum up with a statement about one thing we would take away from the day. Around our table, we ran out of time to hear my little blurb so I'll post it here - "I need to plan more effectively and only offer relevant activities/lessons/tasks to my class" - the framework can be a really effective tool in this regard and fits well with the UbD planning our school has embraced.  


I received a pleasant e-mail the other day from Anne Mason who's the National Facilitator, Online communities from ICT PD Online who are organising the Time4 Online Conference over in New Zealand which started today! She wanted to check that a link from the Pre-Conference Preview area to my K12 Online Conference presentation from last year was fine with me. Just goes to show that you can be featured in a conference without doing anything extra - it's extremely flattering. I mean I was amazed when I found my own words quoted back at me on a wiki created by Rachel Jeffares, so potentially being re-introduced to more Kiwi educators via a re-run of my presentation will be very cool. (Of course, just because it's there on the page doesn't mean anyone will click and view!) And the whole event is available for anyone connected to enrol and learn. I'll certainly be checking it out.time4online.jpg

Like Bill Kerr, I've submitted my workshop and presentation abstracts for CEGSA 2007 here in Adelaide, subject to approval. Hopefully, they'll help to shed light on some of the things I've been exploring here via this blog. This year, I'll try and record my presentations so that their availability isn't dependent on being at Thebarton Senior College on the 19th - 2oth July, 2007.


Course Title: Online Teachers - Stay Connected and Relevant (presentation)
Description: Innovative teachers are connecting online and providing relevant, globally connected learning for their students, leveraging emerging online tools. In the 21st century, it is my position that all teachers should have an online presence and it has never been easier to be connecting and learning with other educators. Hear from two real teachers pushing the boundaries of connected learning - Chris Harbeck, a middle school Mathematics teacher from Manitoba, Canada on his students' unprojects and Vicki Davis, award winning teacher from Georgia, USA on her wiki based projects, Flat World and Horizon projects that brought classrooms scattered across the world together to work on emerging issues relevant students. By building on their pioneering work, and being prepared to share their own experiences and resources, teachers can make the online world work for them, ensuring that their students have powerful role models who use technology for lifelong learning.


Course Title: IWB 2.0 - Web 2.0 meets the Interactive Whiteboard (workshop)
Description: The interactive whiteboard is capable of so much more than what is offered with the standard software package. When connected to the Internet, the IWB can become the classroom's collaborative digital portal. By using the latest Web 2.0 tools and sites, the IWB will allow your class to participate in global classroom connections, to access breaking multimedia information and share ideas and learning with others. In this workshop, you will get an overview of the most suitable Web 2.0 tools and interactive websites that will maximise the use of your IWB and start or add to a bookmarking account for sharing of these excellent resources.

I'm also doing a joint workshop called More Cool Web 2 Tools with Vonnie from SouthOz E-learning. I won't post that here yet because we have to hammer a few more details out but it will be a tour of some of the newer tools on the Web 2 block. Should be fun!


Leonard Low points out that an effective way of getting educators on board with new technologies is to focus on the outcomes gained by technology use, not the technologies themselves. He says:-

By first demonstrating the application of technology, and providing a clear picture of the goal - how it might improve teaching and learning - we can help educators to better understand why they might want to become more proficient with educational technology tools, even before they start grappling with them.

So, if I wanted to sum up my own payoff for engaging with web based tools as an incentive for others to follow my lead, it could read something like this.

  • I get to experience other people's classroom practice.
  • Other people listen and respond to my ideas.
  • Others suggest resources and advice with my needs and interests in mind.
  • I find empathy and sympathy for my professional frustrations.
  • I talk with and network with educators worldwide.
  • My ideas and words are quoted and used by others in their professional work.
  • New and emerging trends come to my notice.
  • My work can be retrieved and used by anyone with a web connection.

Any other obvious ones I should include?

Attribution: Image: 'Technology won9t save you.' by hfabulous


I'm really disappointed and angry. The reason? It has been officially announced that South Australia's world renowned centre for innovation and training for ICT in education, Technology School Of the Future (generally referred to by most teachers as TSOF) is to be closed and moved from its base at Hindmarsh. I found out via a colleague and the teacher grapevine on Wednesday, had it confirmed via professional association email lists on Thursday and then on Friday, this article appeared in a sidebar on a page in the Advertiser, Adelaide's only daily newspaper.

Outrage as school plan is ditched.


Principals are furious the Technology School of the Future has been scrapped.

South Australian Primary Principals Association president Glyn O'Brien said there was an "outcry" over plans to replace the school at Hindmarsh with online services and video conferencing.

The school was run as a part of the Education Development Centre and, while it had no permanent students, provided a physical base for school groups to visit for programs such as robotics or digital electronics.

"The centre was set up to give kids the really cutting edge technology and amazing computer programs - the sort of things primary schools can't afford to buy," Ms O'Brien said.

Replacing the school with a program, staffed by nine teachers travelling around the state with a "bootload" of technology, would be inadequate, she said.

Education Minister Jane Lomax-Smith announced this week that professional development for teachers would be delivered by video conferencing and 18 "eTeachers" would be appointed to develop online activities for students.

Opposition Education spokesman Duncan McFetridge said the school, established in 1989, was being closed by "stealth". "Teachers come from all over the world ... for some reason they decide now they will try to do it online," he said.

An Education Department spokeswoman said that physical attendance at the school's courses had dropped 400 per cent over four years.

In retrospect, the signs that this was on the State Government's mind have been there for a while. The final statistic quoted at the end of the article is the result of budgetary cutbacks, a user pays policy for facility and expertise hire, a reduction in consultants available to schools and other services once available to DECS schools for free being priced out of the range of classrooms and schools. I've blogged before about TSOF and its challenge to stay relevant to the massive changes occurring on the web but the solution in the minds of those in charge seems to be to simply pull the pin. That, in my mind, is extremely short sighted and ignorant.

Here, we have a world class facility, proudly showed off to Queen Elizabeth II a few years back, supposedly ready for the scrapheap just to help balance the state budget. The plan to replace it with videoconferencing and online courses only is just ludicrous. Sure, it's important to develop those online capabilities but with a teaching force here that averages close to fifty years of age, their learning needs also need to be taken into account. If we want educators capable of delivering ICT rich curriculum for our 21st Century students, then scrapping the physical headquarters of technology innovation makes no sense at all.

TSOF has been important to my own professional development. I've attended courses, I've been part of Quality Teacher Programs, I've taken classes there to use the facilities and to showcase their work to others, I've presented there and attended quite a few conferences as well. I've worked closely with TSOF staff as well on research grants, the Web 2.0 Showcase, consultancy on interactive whiteboards - where will all this sort of stuff take place?

The South Australian education community deserves better than this. More resources should be going into this important facility - instead, we feel the bitter sting of the axe carefully spun into a press release strategically timed to coincide with the end of a busy, frantic and tiring work year.

My next step is to personally email the Premier and the Minister for Education. I think and hope they've underestimated the backlash coming their way.

Yesterday, I read this great post from Warrick Wynne that summed up things rather well. Warrick writes:

It’s hard enough sometimes to get through the day without having to plumb the depths of the future.

That’s the thing sometimes isn’t it? One of the reasons that the big picture and visionary is so often hijacked by the immediate and the now.

That's the thing - a shortsighted "let's scrap this expensive centre and promise something that sounds futuristic" for a few savings today and lose sight of the big picture that TSOF was originally founded and funded properly for in the first place. What's next?


I know that regular readers of this blog are probably sick of hearing about my presentation for the K-12 Online Conference but seeing Bloglines dropped RSS feeds for several weeks and I've unable to post for several days, this may be news so I am publishing my blurb and links here for anyone interested to check out.

Graham is an ICT Coordinator in a primary school in suburban Adelaide with a focus on inquiry based learning and interactive whiteboards. He sees that information literacy and Web 2.0 technologies go hand in hand and will have a significant impact on his role. As well as working with students who are comfortable in the digital world, his role also involves helping his colleagues come on board with the effective use of technology for learning in the classroom.

The changing information landscape of the 21st Century demands that our students develop new skills of information literacy and become knowledge producers as an integral component of their learning. But what of the professionals charged with these students’ education? Can they be convinced of the need for personal change to keep pace with their students’ world? Are they even aware of the exponential changes taking place? How would they get started in their classrooms? This online presentation will explore some of the barriers faced by educators seeking to improve and influence their colleagues’ perceptions of the internet, and Web 2.0 in particular, as a vehicle for learning. It will pull together various resources that could be useful as starting points for discussion and explore some of the concerns and trepidations of average teachers struggling already with a heavy workload. This presentation will use a wiki as its base and seek to leverage the online Conference participants to help create some possible answers and resources for those of us who recognize the need for our colleagues to be at our sides, providing best practice for our digital age students.


Supporting Links

Add Mike Seyfang's mp3 audio only adaptation here as well.

I've just spent the last three days at PLOTPD training with my principal ond our two new Assistant Principals for 2007. PLOT stands for Professional Learning Online Tool which lead some to the incorrect assumption that it was about technology. No, it wasn't and it may be a positive sign for the future that the technological aspect is embedded into the broader topic of leadership. I heard references to Marc Prensky, Ian Dukes, Daniel Pink and Thomas Friedman all in the context of our students' needs as 21st Century learners. There is a website however, called the PLOT tool, accessible by subscription but apart from perusing that as team, the three days were mainly engaged in conversation and discussion. PLOT training is capably led by David Anderson and Joan Dalton who structured a wide range of hands on activities and discussions that had everyone mixing and interacting regardless of their school position. This training is aimed at school leadership teams interested in establishing "communities of learning" within their own staff and school but the eight or so schools represented had their agendas to run as well. Ours was definitely an opportunity to meet together as a 2007 leadership team for the first time, get to know each other, establish some agreement about how to operate as a cohesive team and be "on the same page." It actually took until Monday afternoon before we even spent any time together because we were paired and then grouped semi-randomly in a series of activities. One activity had two of us interviewing each other about our respective schools on the topics of School Strengths, School Challenges and School Priorities. There was one other but I didn't take notes in the way I normally would in regular "transmission mode" training.Another activity on the second day had us matched up with new people again from other sites and this time, we shared significant changes during our lifetime. This sparked an interesting discussion amongst the group with three members talking about their perceived drop in social and educational standards, things were better in the past, kids of today are only self interested etc. I begged to differ without much success. I pointed out that the current generation are the most surveilled ever, parents tend to be on an overprotective high and that things weren't always so rosy in the past. When someone bemoaned the breakdown of the family unit, my mind wondered how many abused wives and children suffered under the moral silence of the day and passed these destructive behaviours onto the next generation. There was also extended conversation along the lines of, "Students of today expect everything to be fun. They have to learn that not all of education can be fun. Most of it has to be hard work because that's what life is like."
I thought to myself that wasn't the case at all. I think students expect purpose and engagement as opposed to fun and it's not unreasonable for them to have that. I'd be worried that unimaginative or lazy teaching could easily hide behind such a philosophy or outlook. Anyway, the follow on to this discussion was the identifying of qualities, skills and aptitudes needed for the kids in our schools to succeed. Even my colleagues from my group helped to generate words like - flexible, can work in a team, savvy - even though the choice of self-discipline came across to me like veiled criticism of today's kids.

Anyway, there were segments dealing with "tough conversations", norms and values with useful metaphors and anecdotes skillfully scattered throughout. David and Joan are extremely skillful facilitators and although I've run out of steam reflecting on these three days, there are many useful strategies, structures and protocols that I have gained and can use to improve my raw and emerging leadership skills.

Research has consistently shown that all the things that schools can control, it is the quality of pedagogy that most directly and most powerfully affects the quality of learning outcomes that students demonstrate.

Maybe in order for the Web 2.0 in Education tipping point to happen, those of us at the sparsely populated end need to jump up and down a bit to get the platform moving!

I just found out that a workshop I had planned and offered for teachers here in Adelaide has been cancelled due to a lack of numbers. Whether that is due to timing, lack of interest or whatever, it is a little bit disappointing from my point of view. The momentum I thought might have been there after the Web2 Showcase hasn't happened although all is not lost - hopefully, Al's workshop will still have a good attendance - but my efforts at getting more local teachers on board and blogging has lost some of its traction.

All is not lost however and this little setback may be great fodder for my next venture as part of the K-12 Online Conference. I sent in a submission at the end of last month for the strand of Overcoming Obstacles and received an e-mail the other night from Wesley Fryer confirming that my online presentation/workshop titled "No Teacher Left Behind - The Urgency Of Web 2.0" had been accepted. I'm not an expert but I feel that it was a topic worth exploring and I could certainly leverage my Learning Network to put together a resource that might help to provide a way forward and to shed some more light on the many obstacles that schools and educators face when using Web 2.0 tools for learning. I've set up a wiki (almost standard procedure these days!) to house my stuff and anyone can check it out and add to it (if you are a wikispaces member) or email me any ideas and links that you think might fit in with my theme.

The changing information landscape of the 21st Century demands that our students develop new skills of information literacy and become knowledge producers as an integral component of their learning. But what of the professionals charged with these students' education? Can they be convinced of the need for personal change to keep pace with their students' world? Are they even aware of the exponential changes taking place? How would they get started in their classrooms?

This online presentation will explore some of the barriers faced by educators seeking to improve and influence their colleagues’ perceptions of the internet, and Web 2.0 in particular, as a vehicle for learning. It will pull together various resources that could be useful as starting points for discussion and explore some of the concerns and trepidations of average teachers struggling already with a heavy workload. This presentation will use this wiki as its base and seek to leverage the online Conference participants to help create some possible answers and resources for those of us who recognize the need for our colleagues to be at our sides, providing best practice for our digital age students.

I suppose I now have some time to spend at the K-12 and I don't have to postpone my double booked doctor's appointment. Oh, and I can make that council meeting at my son's primary school....

I have to agree with Mike. It was great to co-present tonight with such passionate educators eager to open up their experience and expertise to the wider educational community. This was to a f2f audience of nearly 60 and out to 9 venues via Centra. Now I reckon that doing demonstrations of Web 2.0/social software/ read/write web stuff is very hard to do via the videoconferencing medium and I think that being conscious of catering for a group of people I couldn't see interfered with my presentation which I thought was below my own expectations. Luckily, everyone else was brilliant and covered for my not showing how to edit a wiki (conscious that the Centra audience wouldn't see) and not being able to retrieve my links for StartPages from my wiki when I needed to. As always, a workaround is always necessary but it wasn't until I was enthralled by Mike's excellent Mashup that what I already knew dawned on me. If I can't access a link from a previously identified source that I've set up, then my content is re-packaged and re-distributed via RSS in a number of ways that I could have accessed more easily than typing in the URL by hand!! I needed to run my StartPage section from my links page on my wiki but it looked like wikispaces decided to go down right at that moment. (I still maintain that using Internet Explorer was a big factor. Go Firefox! Go Flock!) So, if I was confronted by that in the future, I could have gone straight to my blog or my Bloglines or my PageFlakes feed for my blog and grabbed the links from my StartPages review or gone to Mike's Bloglines feed for my wiki RSS feed.

Anyway, I wasn't sure what to make of the audience response to our presentation. There was quite a bit of joviality and smiles amongst the presenters but the audience was very serious - they were either concentrating hard or concerned about what it all means for them. Love some feedback from anyone who was in the audience - what did you make of it all?

Flickr Image - Mike's view of Vonnie, Al and I.