Thursday, 14 November 2013

A year in review or 10 Things I learned this year

As usual, when a year draws to a close, people look back over the previous 12 or so months and reflect on opportunities or misses. I am looking back to record what I learned this year in terms of training, BYOD and staff and pupil development. I am starting to enjoy these '10...' posts so you can expect more:

1). Everyone learns at their own pace...

...and sometimes, as a trainer, we need to accept that. Along with this goes the provision that some people will not want to learn what we prescribe. This goes for adults and children. As teachers and trainers we need to 'hook' a person by showing the possibilities of a technology and not necessarily the end point. At school we call it a 'technological journey' that every staff member is on and we try to help them along their own path rather than a path we have chosen. As a teacher I believe that we need to do the same for our children. In my view this is the only way to create a lifelong learner, a child or adult who studies for the love of learning and not just for tests and exams.

2.) Technology can help us do this.

It allows a teacher the space to differentiate, set multiple projects on the same theme, or just give the children time to learn their own thing or in their own way. To this end I tried a very short version of 20% time after reading 10 Reasons To Try 20% Time In The Classroom and gave the students a project that was self directed and self paced but had the underlying premise of looking at the technology behind their favourite hobby, sport or passion.

3). Google knows everything but can't teach it!

It is up to the teacher to teach children how to research, analyse and interpret the things Google can tell them.

4).Google is awesome

After attending the GAFESummit in Cape Town (Here is my post on that: 10 things I will be taking from the I decided Google was awesome. Not for the content but for the technologies it drives or associates itself with, either through the 20% time they give their staff or from a passionate group of educators and developers around the world. There is a passion for education that is at the core of Google and that it shares with a large group of educators around the world.

Oh! and the Loon project, Google is awesome because of the Loon project!! (Project Loon)

5).Apple is awesome...

...and especially the South African Apple team at ThinkAhead who constantly strive to show the power of technology in the classroom. As a BYOTablet school we have had to lean on their knowledge all through the year. Best of all we have been able to teach them too, with neither side worried about ego's or point scoring.

6). Put them together and a classroom is awesome!

IMHO, my situation would not work without the combined resources of Google and Apple, both in terms of technology and cloud computing. With a growing Google Apps ecosystem on all tablets and the ease of use of the Apple devices our school has been able to push the limits of what students are capable of in terms of technology and learning. I no longer have to draw information from unwilling minds, the student is able to show their ideas and knowledge in so many forms that it is possible for every student to show their knowledge.

7). Creative Commons Search

I have written about this before but it is just so useful I put it in again!

8). Content Creation Apps

Along with many others I have moved away from content delivery apps and towards the apps that allow a student to create something of their own abd share it with someone else. Especially useful for this type of teaching and learning is the Book Creator App and I would like to thank +Dan Amos for the opportunity to be a part of the development and testing of the latest version of this app (and good luck with the Android launch!), it just gets better and better. Other useful apps include ExplainEverythingiFiles, Edmodo and Dropbox. Each of these have helped with our schools workflow solution. Speaking of which...

9). Workflow Solutions

every school must have one, especially in terms of effective assessment and learning. Also, every school needs to find on that suits their style and philosophy. Very often 'pre-packaged' solutions just don't cut it!
So...find a way that suits your school and don't delay because you are unsure. Rather be flexible, apologise for mistakes and accept feedback and criticism then act on it.

10). 10 things posts

I have really enjoyed this type of post, both as a writing style and for reading. I find the idea of a list to work through or a list to create allows me to pick and choose what I find valuable. uses this style of blogging often and very effectively.

Lastly, Thank you to everyone who read my posts this year. Next year is a year of comments, so feel free to leave yours!