Technology in Schools – It’s about time

This post is a result of some stuff that has been buzzing around in my head lately. It is also a response to a post from one of my favourite educational thinkers – Joel Speranza. Joel’s post is called How to Manipulate Time with Technology.

Over the last ten years, I have worked in three different schools and in all three I’ve had some sort of leadership role to do with innovation in teaching and learning.

In that time, I’ve found myself repeating this statement a lot:

Technology is NOT my passion.

My passion is teaching and learning.

This is absolutely true. I chose to be a teacher, I did not choose to be an ‘IT guy’. In my leadership roles I have learnt and experienced the frustrations of the IT world in great detail. I don’t know my servers from my switches and I know how tricky it is communicating with IT staff. IT staff do an amazing job but, for most teachers and students, ‘IT’ is truly like another language. Conversely, for most IT staff, the language of ‘teaching and learning’ is a bit the same. This causes tension for teachers, students and IT staff alike.

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If I don’t laugh at these I’ll cry!

But here is the thing…

Although I constantly make my passion statement and I mean it sincerely, technology can enable us to transform and enhance teaching and learning. If you read Joel’s blog post you will see what I mean. When a teacher unlocks the power of technology in (and out of) their classroom it is a beautiful thing. There is no denying it, that, I am passionate about in a big way.

So that puts me in this really weird position, I don’t love technology, but I (and I think all teachers) love what it can do for teachers and students. In fact, we don’t just love what technology can do, we NEED what it can do. Technology can give us time, and time is the most precious gift of all. Reading Joel’s post helped crystallise this for me.

I guess it’s like my car. I don’t love cars. I’m not really interested in the different types of cars or the specifics of what’s happening under the bonnet. But I love getting from A to B quickly and comfortably. I love what my car can do. No, I NEED what it can do.

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NB. Not actually me.

When it comes to technology, the most common statement I hear from teachers is ‘I don’t have time to use that’ or ‘I don’t have time to learn how to use that’. I totally agree and totally disagree at the same time. Let me explain.

Teachers don’t have enough time. This is probably the biggest understatement in education. Read Joel’s post about work-life balance for some great insight. Thanks to technology, the world is ever-changing and advancing. We can do amazing stuff that was only recently inconceivable. However, the increase in what is possible drives an increase in expectations which infiltrates every industry in the world. Schools are no exception. So how do we keep up? How do schools and teachers meet the ever increasing expectations of the modern world? There is only so much time in the day!

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We need to reframe our thinking. If time is the problem, technology is the answer. I think the situation for teachers is actually that ‘we don’t have time NOT to use new technology’. The demands and expectations of the modern world are not possible to meet without the use of technology.

This is where I think school leadership plays a critical role. School leaders must acknowledge the importance of technology and time in modern education and plan accordingly. I think school leaders need to do the following:

  • Ensure the school has a robust and effective IT infrastructure that can service all staff and students
  • Identify technology tools that can enhance teaching and learning
  • Resource the school with these technology tools
  • Allocate time and support for teachers to learn how to use these technology tools
  • Help overcome the communication barrier between IT staff and teachers and students

I think the schools out there who are doing this the best are the most successful in achieving positive learning outcomes for students.

If you’ve read this far, hopefully you’re thinking about the technology situation in your own school. Is it up to par?

If so, awesome 🙂

If not, then in more ways than one, I think it’s about time.

Where is your school at with this? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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No homework? No Worries! – Flipping the norm

Sure, the flipped learning model is brilliant when students complete some video content at home prior to the lesson. It means we can go deeper in lesson time and it utilises the teacher’s full potential…

But does flipped learning have to be dependent on homework? I think not.

Last night was our Year 12 Formal. Not ideal having it on a Thursday night but our school is a busy, busy place and it was the best fit on our calendar. So today, after the dust had settled from frocking up and dancing the night away, Biology attendance in Lesson 4 was a little down. I had anticipated this so I hadn’t planned to progress too much further during the lesson. However the students who showed up (roughly half) were all up to date and ready to move forward with new content. It was at that point where I had a decision to make. Do I… a) teach the new content ‘lecture-style’ (which I never do anymore), or b) have the students view the relevant flipped video lessons in class (which I hardly ever do). I opted for b) and I’m so glad I did.

Here is a photo of what unfolded:

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I gave the students the links to these three flipped videos that I have made for the topic:

1. http://www.anytimeeducation.com/the-importance-of-energy-for-cells/

2. http://www.anytimeeducation.com/autotrophs-and-heterotrophs/

3. http://www.anytimeeducation.com/the-atp-cycle/

They grabbed their headphones and their exercise books and set about viewing the content just like they do at home.

Here’s what worked well:

  • They could all work at their own pace which meant the lesson was perfectly differentiated. If I went for lecture-style it would have been a one-size-fits all approach. It would have been too fast for some and too slow for others. I know this for a fact because the pace in which they moved through the video content varied significantly.
  • When they reached a point where they needed further clarification or didn’t understand something, I was on hand for immediate support. They also had each other to discuss their question with too. Normally they have to write down these questions and then ask me the next time they see me. I actually found there was an increase in the amount of questions students asked which was great.
  • Using my recorded content rather than a live lecture-style instruction really streamlined the lesson. I don’t know about you, but I’m prone to going off on the occasional tangent during direct instruction. Utilising the videos meant the students were getting exactly what they needed in a clear and concise manner that I was happy with.

So all in all, it was a great experience. Sure, most of the time I’m still going to stick to the traditional ‘flipped model’ and set the videos for homework. However, I’m more confident than ever that flipping within class time can be very beneficial too.

Happy Friday! Here’s to a productive lesson and a great weekend 🙂

 

FlipCon Australia 2015 – What an experience!

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I’ve just got back from an incredible couple of days at the first ever FlipCon Australia. It is a national conference on all things flipped learning and was started by the pioneers of flipped learning – Jon Bergmann and Aaron Sams from America. The conference was held at St Stephen’s College on the Gold Coast – a beautiful school with incredible facilities.

Jon and Aaron addressed the total delegation of around 200 educators with two fascinating and inspiring keynote presentations. There were also loads of fantastic workshops from experienced flipped educators from around the country. I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to facilitate two workshops. I was also asked to be a panelist for the secondary educators panel discussion. Being involved in this capacity was a really rewarding experience. I have met some amazing educators and made some great connections all over Australia.

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Above: Pics of me presenting a workshop and participating in the secondary panel

I put together the short video below to summarise my experiences and the things I’ve learned. I’ve shared this video back at my school. Check it out:

So if you watched the video you would have seen the announcement… My school Brighton Secondary School is hosting FlipCon Australia in November 2016! We are so excited. If it is anything like FlipCon 2015 it will be an event to remember.

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Flipped Learning – It’s NOT all about the videos.

In March this year, my Principal was unable to attend the Future Schools Conference in Sydney and sent me in her place. On his first trip to Australia, Jon Bergmann, American flipped learning pioneer and author, was presenting at this conference and I was really looking forward to it. Being an experienced flipped learning practitioner and advocate myself, I was interested to hear Jon’s perspective and build on my own ideas and those of all our teachers through the whole school program at Brighton. Jon didn’t disappoint. His presentation was excellent and I left even more inspired. Jon had many pearls of wisdom and made some great points, however, there was one point in particular that really stood out and resonated with me –

Flipped learning is NOT all about the videos

Flipped learning is all about the answer to this key question –

What is the best use of your face-to-face class time?

It is once you address this key question, that the power and potential of flipped learning becomes very clear. Flipped learning helps us as teachers to spend less class time on direct instruction and more time facilitating student-centred, personalised, challenge-based learning.

I was fortunate enough to meet Jon at the conference and we were able to discuss this further. He took interest in the Flipped Learning Program at my school and even interviewed me for his online radio show ‘The FlipSide’! You can check out the interview here – http://www.bamradionetwork.com/the-flip-side-with-jon-bergmann/2639-sharing-the-flipped-classroom-model Jon is going to visit our school later the this year and help us keep moving forward. We are very excited!

Now don’t get me wrong, whilst it is not all about the videos, the videos are an essential tool to enable the flip. Our school program has continued to progress and for the first half of the year and we have spent a lot of time on the development of our video production skills. However, now that we have our video techniques down, we can really focus in on the key question – What is the best use of your face-to-face class time? This is such an important question and the fact that all of our teachers will be working together to address it is a great thing.

Recently, I have had some fantastic opportunities to share what is happening with the Flipped Learning Program at Brighton Secondary School. I have published an article in Education Matters Magazine which you can see here – http://educationmattersmag.com.au/education-matters-secondary-may-2015-2/ and I have just returned from the national EduTECH Conference in Brisbane where I presented two breakout sessions on ‘Leading a School Through the Implementation of Flipped Classrooms’. Presenting at EduTECH was an absolutely amazing experience. It was great to be able to spread the word and inspire others and a significant opportunity for my own professional development. I’m very excited to be presenting again later this year at the Leading a Digital School Conference and Australia’s very first FlipCon which Jon Bergmann is bringing over from the U.S.

Looking forward to posting about those events soon!

Apple Distinguished Educator Class of 2015… Wooohooo!!! :)

I’ve kept this fairly quiet until now but guess what? Well, you’ve probably read the title… but yes, I’ve been selected to join the ADE Class of 2015! Our school has also been recognised as an Apple Distinguished School. It is very exciting.

If you are not familiar with the Apple Distinguished Educators Program, it is a global community of education leaders recognised for doing great things with Apple technology to transform teaching and learning. There are over 2000 ADEs worldwide and they work closely with Apple to lead innovation in education. Being part of the ADE community is much more than an honour — it’s an opportunity to make a difference. You can find out more here – https://www.apple.com/au/education/apple-distinguished-educator/

I have aspired to join the ADE Community since beginning at Brighton Secondary School as the Digital Learning Coordinator in 2014. The intake only occurs every two years so this was the first time I had applied. It was a pretty intensive, two-part application process.

The first part involved a written application addressing four headings:

  • How have you as an educator transformed your learning environment?
  • Illustrate how Apple technologies have helped in this transformation.
  • What successes have you seen with your learners?
  • How do you share these successes to influence the broader education community?

The second part was the most challenging (and also rewarding) part which involved producing a two-minute video that summarises the story told in the written application. Planning the video, capturing the footage, editing, keeping it to two minutes and fitting everything in was a huge task. It was a great experience though and I was really happy with the final product. Here it is:

The first part of my ADE journey begins later this year in Singapore at the Asia-Pacific ADE Institute, a four day professional learning/networking event for the class of 2015. I have heard amazing things about the Institute and I’m really looking forward to what I’m sure we be an incredible experience with some incredible people. Looking forward to telling that story in a future post!

I would encourage anyone reading this who uses Apple technology to transform their teaching and learning to start thinking about applying. The next intake won’t be until 2017, however the application process is usually consistent so you could start thinking about your application and video now and make sure you are ready. (The application period was only open for about 5-6 weeks this year!)

They probably won’t all read this post, but I’d like to acknowledge and thank all the staff and students who I have worked with along the way and who assisted in the preparation of my ADE application. I am extremely lucky to work with so many fantastic people.

PS. I’ve just returned from the annual EduTECH Conference in Brisbane where I presented the work from our school’s Flipped Classroom Program. It was brilliant and I’ll be posting about it very soon.

Have a good one 🙂

Mission: Whole School Flip!

So… It’s Week 5, Term 1 and I’ve been busy!

I’ve got a teacher recording studio up and running in my school. Check it out!

Brighton Secondary School Studio

I’ve been running induction sessions for interested teachers and the response has fantastic. In the induction sessions, I run through every part of the process – from setting up the cameras, to recording the lesson and then finally editing on the dedicated iMac using iMovie and Final Cut Pro.

Teachers from a wide range of curriculum areas have been having a go which has been great. Here are some pics from our sessions:

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and here are some screenshots from their final products!

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Our students are benefiting greatly from this approach. Having access to recorded content means that they are able to learn anytime and anywhere. It also means that valuable class time has been recuperated. Teachers can put more emphasis on the application of knowledge as they don’t have to spend as much time ‘lecturing’.

Whilst our teachers are encouraged to publish their video lessons on YouTube, the commonly asked questions about the flipped classroom approach are ‘What about students who don’t have internet access at home?’ ‘How do they access these videos?’ – These are very relevant and important questions and we have developed an excellent solution at our school. We are utilising a fantastic program called ClickView. ClickView is essentially a large video database where the videos can be stored locally on our school server and easily accessed by students. Any videos created by our teachers are uploaded directly onto our school ClickView server. The best part is that because all of our students have either an iPad or a MacBook Pro, they can easily download any of their teachers video lessons and watch them offline whenever they need to.

So at Brighton it’s a case of – No home internet…? No worries!!!

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It has been such great fun so far and we are only just getting started. This year, I am leading a whole school professional learning program on flipped classrooms. Teachers have formed small (3-4 people) Teacher Learning Communities (TLCs) and their goal is to produce recored lesson content and flip their classrooms. Obviously, with 103 teachers at our school the teacher recording studio is not going to be the technique of choice for everyone. As you can probably imagine, it is right down the far end in terms of complexity…

Enter MacBook Pros and iPads. All teachers have one of each and they are extremely powerful tools for producing recorded content. There are several very effective and very simple techniques we are using:

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  • Keynote presentations – so easy to make, or to take preexisting presentations and record narrations to bring them to life! Export it as a Quicktime video and voilà! – you have an anytime, anywhere resource for your students.

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  • Quicktime Screen Recordings – With a screen recording, your imagination is your only limitation. With Quicktime it is SO easy to capture a recorded lesson/tutorial. Move from some notes to a diagram, to an animation, back to your notes and then finish with a video clip. If you can do it on your MacBook, you can record it!

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  • iPad Apps – With these apps like Explain Everything (and the iPad camera) teachers can produce quality recorded content. It is so simple and so effective.

The key aspect to this professional learning program is TIME. We have dedicated two two-hour sessions per term and two of our four full day professional learning days (student free days). Teacher engagement has been great so far. I think all teachers are motivated by a passion to collaborate with each other and improve their pedagogy – which is exactly what our flipped classroom program is all about. I am very confident that passionate teachers coupled with time to collaborate and produce content will lead to some exciting and powerful outcomes for teaching and learning in our school.

Looking forward to updating you on how it’s going!

Anytime Education… Ready When You Are!

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It’s been a while since my last post. I think that is mostly due to the fact that my video lesson production is well and truly in full swing. Since setting up my home studio I have produced 14 videos and published them on my YouTube channel – https://www.youtube.com/user/jeremylecornu I’ve been busy!

The response to this new style of video production has been amazing. Since I have started using the two-camera technique and featuring myself in the videos the views have grown faster than I have seen with any other method. I’m up to about 180 subscribers now and I’m getting lots of really positive feedback from the viewers. I love it!

Take a look at some of my latest work –

Since my last post a friend of mine, James Dundon, who teaches Biology in another school has gotten involved. He has set up his own studio and is producing some great videos. We decided it would be cool to make a site that collated all of our Biology videos and arranged them into a topic list. That way it makes it a little easier for students to locate our videos based on the topics they need help with. This led to the start of – http://www.anytimeeducation.com

The Anytime Education site has been really successful so far. We are experiencing high numbers of traffic from, not just Australia, but all over the world. It’s pretty amazing when you stop and think about it. We are just two teachers making recorded lesson content for our own students, but at the same time we can help a huge audience of students around the world! We also have a Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/anytimeeducation which already has a following of almost 200 people.

The plan now is to just keep on making videos. There is a huge demand and there are lots of gaps in the topic list for us to fill!

I’m also busy setting up a studio in my school and running professional learning programs to help other teachers flip their classrooms. But that’s probably a whole new post in itself… watch this space.