Monday, October 28, 2013

C@SS Conference - Keynote 2

Professional Learning And Networking for Computing- Scotland’s PLAN C
Dr Quintin Cutts (Senior Lecturer at Glasgow University)

There is a problem with many new school buildings where there is no staffroom - no place to meet together and share practice. Many teachers are as a result increasingly isolated.

Quintin Cutts Photo by
David Muir
Creative Commons License
Proposal for CPD that came from grassroots. The ADiCOST group was given as an example of teachers working together and supporting… and sharing. (Can’t find web presence another than this Scratch page)

One of the key aims of PLAN C is therefore Community Building. Lead teachers have already been identified and local groups are being formed. Sharing between the groups can also take place. Some sharing can already take place. For example, between people with Information Systems experience and people with Computing experience coming together to build expertise for Nat 5. CPD does not have to come from the expert at the front - there are many people in the classroom with knowledge and experience.

Hope is that local hubs will start in March/April 2014. There will be local sharing and community, but there will be more formal sessions too.

Important questions have to be addressed. For example, why teach Computing Science in schools? Our subject is under threat, we have to be able to articulate what we do and why. One reason is connected to problem solving. Often our approach to problem solving is to use intuition. The problem with that is that the real world has hidden mechanisms and is not always very intuitive. If the way things work is so hidden, we need a method of creation and testing of hypotheses - Computational Thinking gives us a model for doing this. Computing can deliver a skill set that is useful across the curriculum.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

C@SS Conference - Keynote 1

Classrooms, Kitchens and Farms: Exploring the Narrative Nature of PCK
Professor Sally Fincher
(Professor of Computing Education at University of Kent)

Cookbooks: Mrs Beeton was the first to separate ingredients from method and also gave some contextual information (e.g. The cost of the meal.) This was very influential but other ways of describing recipes are possible, for example the engineer's cookbook time is on the x-axis and ingredients are on the y-axis. The best selling non-fiction book a wee while ago was Jamie Oliver's 30 minute meals. A comment on Amazon said the problem with the book was to prepare a meal in 30 minutes with Jamie's book, you had to be Jamie Oliver!

Knowledge is situated. You have the knowledge in the recipe but you need a whole bunch of other skills and experiences to pull it off. Often the best way is to see someone else make the food (mother, friend, ...). How do teachers share this situated knowledge? How do we learn from the experience of others?

One way Sally has tried is through Disciplinary Commons where people who are teaching the same areas meet on a regular basis to share practice and experience. Gave the example of introducing selection - don't start with the complex logic and flowcharts. Start with playing cards and lay hem out - ask people to choose the largest. If you do it that way, they will not be able to explain how the chose the right one. If instead, you put the cards face down and say they can only look at two at a time, then they can start to unpick what they are doing. This marries the content knowledge (about selection) with pedagogical knowledge (how people learn) and experiential knowledge (about what we've taught before and whether or not it was successful). Disciplinary Commons has an archive of portfolios with:

  • Context
  • Content
  • Instructional design
  • Delivery
  • Assessment
  • Evaluation

There is also a commentary to contextualise. This narrative knowledge is not a recipe but supports and builds expertise.

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

IPad Sharing Practice - General Discussion

Why not Android?
Various issues were raised. Ease of use of iPads was one key feature. Maturity of Apps and teaching tools was also cited. Protected nature of iPad environment was also seen as an advantage. Was acknowledged that it is a constantly moving area and that the "best solution today could easily change tomorrow.

Creativity seen as great for lower school but is it valuable to upper school too?
Research a key element of many S5/6 courses and the iPad is very useful in this regard. But is it as effective for creating large dissertations and reports? Is screen and onscreen keyboard too limiting? Various views were expressed most did not see it as a problem but a minority remained unconvinced.

Tools for teachers?
The 3sys browser based tool was recommended. Also mentioned was Rover to give access to Flash content.

Does 1:1 undermine collaborative work?
Some evidence (from Preston Lodge?) that their devices were used by pupils to create study and self organised support groups. Major advantage of 1:1 is the personal nature of the device. Instead of a school resource sitting unused in a cupboard at weekends and holidays, pupils can make much better use of the technology. Also, acknowledges the pupils are lifelong learners and reflects reality of the world in which they are growing up.

Technical issues?
Evidence shows 1:1 devices are damaged less often perhaps because of the sense of ownership. Importance of good case (Griffin Survivor seen as a must for pupils) emphasised. High School of Dundee reported no technical problems at all with their iPads. Some issues with AppleTV but seems to have been ironed out with latest version and iOS.

Interactive Whiteboards?
Argued that iPad and 1:1 was more interactive than IWBs.

Networking Issues?
Tablets have simplified the process of using computers - when you use the app, the iPad becomes the app. The same is not true for networking! {Still a black art! -- DDM}

Initially many schools are locking it down on the principle that it is easier to open later rather than to tighten things up after leaving things open.

Device Management Software
Was suggested it might be better to have different profiles for different groups (e.g. one for each year group) although it was acknowledged this does added to admin load. Stewart's Melville want to use AirWatch and a web based login system which sets up device. They see the devices as personal and therefore give the user as much control as possible. High School of Dundee has added the restriction that only age appropriate content can be downloaded but not restricted otherwise. Normal filtering on network when in school but not restricted when used at home as that is seen as parental responsibility.

Don't focus on an app - focus on the function!

How do you get an overview of a years work of there is no "jotter" of work?ePortfolio tools still being investigated. Teacher record keeping perhaps more important.

What happens if they forget their iPads?
What happens when a pupil forgets a textbook? Schools where it is in use found it is not an issue - they forget books, but they don't forget their iPads! Also, no problem about them not being charged!

iPad Sharing Practice - The Edinburgh Academy Junior School

Ben Dean and Rob Tyrell

Book Creator:
Book Creator was used to report to parents. Teacher created a book from a template for every pupil and took video (for example of pupil reading) and pictures of work (e.g. seeing writing develop). Used maximum of 30 seconds of video. Made notes on various aspects of the pupil work. On the targets page, the pupil could be videoed saying what they wanted to achieve. Parents can not only hear what the teacher thinks but can easily see and hear from their own child.

It did take more time to set this up and prepare for the parents' night but the teacher felt it was definitely worth it! All the notes and information in the one place.

Other developments:
They had someone from Cedar School speaking to the school. They are also making use of that style of reporting, for example, Cedar School sent out an end of year report to parents in a similar format.

School also set up Silver Surfer days to get grandparents up to speed on iPad use.

IPad Sharing Practice - High School of Dundee

David Smith
Initially sceptical about the transformative power of iPads. Clearly a great device but less clear what impact it would have on teaching. Turning points were: increasing use of personal iPad; and visit to Cedars School of Excellence (probably the first 1:1 iPad school in the world). Became increasingly clear that they had to move to some 1:1 solution and two years ago, the iPad seemed the best way to go. Pilot project launched with two year groups and all staff involved got iPads about eight weeks before pupils. Formed links with University of Dundee which was seen to be mutually beneficial.
This year being rolled out to most of the school with a BYOD approach for upper years. The school treats the iPads lie a book list item and parents are expected to buy, although school is providing leasing option.
Some teachers unclear about how it will be used. Concern also that they would be starting from scratch. Specifically, how were they to access existing content? For example, no solution was given to access network drives, so a variety of approaches were developed. In retrospect, they think they should have given clearer guidance on using a standard way since less confident staff have not developed clear methods and lack of consistency in approach has caused issues. Perhaps should have looked at something like WebDAV.
Also, in retrospect, too much time was spent on how to use the apps and not enough time on the pedagogy - how to teach with the iPads. Sharing good practice seen as very important now.
Managing expectations is important. Wanted to make it clear that, "It's an investment, not a race!" Pupils expectations were easier to manage as they accepted they would not be using the iPads all lesson, every lesson - only when it was appropriate. Teachers though felt obliged to give parents their money's worth. The SAMR model was used again to help teachers see the long term goals as well as the short term changes that are manageable.
Measuring Success
The school measured the success of the trial by questionnaires issued to staff, pupils and parents. The University of Dundee came on board and collected data on attitudes as well as what was happening in the classroom. They have not investigated the impact on academic success but have instead focused on engagement with learning.
They have data on what the pupils thought they got out of it. Creating and presenting was the listed as the top benefit. Gaming was mentioned by the younger pupils - some use made of educational games but mainly they liked being able to play on the iPads, for example when it was wet and they could not go out to play. The pupils, particularly the older pupils, found they were carrying less - fewer books and notes - which was seen as a major benefit. The also likes the communication opportunities, for example, they S2 group very quickly set up a messenger group for the year group that was mostly used for school /educational messages.
Pupils very much saw the iPad as a creative tool - for example using Notation And BookCreator.

Some parents wanted to print but pupils did not see that as an issue at all.
What was reaction to adding iPad to required "kit" list?
Hasn't been a problem. But they were careful not to make promises about savings (although Maths department are using TI calculator app and on iPad texts and are seeing savings).

IPad Sharing Practice - St Aloysiuus

James Cluckie

Previously used shared notebooks, interactive whiteboards and GoogleDocs but there were problems, for example, difficult to react flexibly when you have to book notebooks well in advance. A few years ago, went for a NetBook solution. Felt this was more appropriate than iPad because there was a familiarity with Windows, felt it was more appropriate for creating content (iPads were seen as more useful for consuming content), and a minimum spec was defined so parents could buy alternative devices if they preferred.

There were pros and cons. It was felt that the classroom management software gave some control over what pupils were doing on devices, although he admitted that staff soon learned that, just like any other resource, direct observation of pupils while they work is usually the most effective way of monitoring what is going on.

Problems included managing expectations - for example, pupils should not expect to use the devices all the time in every class all day. Staff also frustrated that they did not have the time to develop as many uses as they would have liked. The devices were cheap and were too easily damaged. The school we surprised {I'm not! -- DDM} at the lack of IT skills in the pupils. Final nail in the coffin was the collapse of the Netbook market.

Evaluation of alternative advices took in laptops, android devices and iPads (among others). As programme rolled forward, they decided to allow mixed environment as they felt they should continue to support the Netbook. In first week of new year, it was about 20% iPad and 80% Netbook. Within two weeks, that had turned around completely and about 80% now use iPads. Support a BYOD approach for iPads (anything from iPad 2 up). Offering leased option to parents. Most staff/students have gone newer iPads but a few have gone for iPad mini.

Staff were surveyed about their confidence in using the iPad. Most are now confident in their own use and are looking for more advanced training.

School is using Schoology which offers similar facilities as eBackpack. School no longer issues paper based pupil planners. Instead, the teacher enters things such as homework into Schoology and this is automatically copied into pupil diaries. Have just rolled out parent access to Schoology. Some MIS programs supported although again, mostly American systems.

Explain Everything being used a s a screencasting tool. Being used by pupils to submit work. Example given of a pupil submission showing her understanding time - allows demonstration of deeper understanding. Working on an SAMR model. See tools such as Explain Everything as helping the move into the Modification and Redefinition stages.

Meraki Device Management used. Reflector App used to send iPad display to existing projectors - works but "is a bit flaky"!

The iPad has found wide acceptance with staff and pupils. Only 7% of staff say they still need help with the basics, although small but very vocal minority remain anti-Apple!

Location:Edinburgh, United Kingdom

iPad Sharing Practice - Lomond School

Iain Morrison

Described how school has moved from "mobile classroom" approach to a 1:1 iPad scheme.

Problems with the mobile classroom included the reliability of the laptops and the increasingly lengthy startup times. Guided by discussion with colleagues and research such as the Scotland iPad Evaluation, led to the decision to go for 1:1 iPad rather than Bring Your Own Device. (Importance of sense of ownership seemed important.) there was complete backing from Education and Finance Committees as well as the Board of Governors. Felt it was important not to pass cost on to parents. Was seen as an educational provision, like textbooks and other equipment.

Staff devices were distributed first. Research and discussion made it clear this was important. There were two training sessions per week after school in June. When staff returned after summer, (almost?) all were on board and keen to get the iPads out to pupils. A small group has been formed to help support staff and help drive developments. Also, asked by Socrative to pilot new version of their app.

Improved broadband connection. Created fibre optic link to Junior school. Re-wired internal network. Installed Aerohive wi-fi in all locations. Set up AirWatch Mobile Device Management. Purchased whole school apps through Apple Volume Purchase Program scheme.

They went for latest 16 GB iPads, a Survivor iPad case (seen as important for field use of the iPads) and full accidental loss/theft/damage cover. Still distributing the devices, partly because they waited for iOS 7. (New functionality added with iOS 7 allows things to be done that previously required AirWatch, a Macintosh, or specialist equipment.

Pupils will receive basic training and there will also be a number of iPad Education evenings that will explain how parents can allow certain apps to be downloaded as well as how they can use parental controls etc.

Have not gone for AppleTV yet so still looking at projector connectivity and wi-fi printing.

Going to set up pupil "Apple Genius" group that will run like a lunchtime club.

Delays during the summer. Did not find AirWatch's customer support staff particularly helpful. Underestimated device setup time (small school, only to technical support staff added to difficulty). New iOS release delayed things too.

Using eBackpack to manage workflow through the iPads. Pupils and staff can write on PDFs. Handles submission, grading and return of assignments. Works as ePortfolio as well as Gradebook. (Parents can be given access to gradebook - although that is for future development in Lomond.) It does link with a numb of MIS systems and can export to other systems (such as e1).

What is the plan for refreshing the devices?
Plan to refresh on. 3-4 year program. They decided to buy the iPads outright rather than lease. Will offer the devices for sale to pupils when they leave school.

Location:Edinburgh,United Kingdom