I was privileged to be asked to attend an Apple event in Nottingham, focussing on how the iPad is being used (or could be used) an innovative ways in medicine.
Now, I must admit that aside from the fact my mother is a nurse and midwife, my medical knowledge is limited to what I’ve gleaned from St Elsewhere, ER and Scrubs. Take from that what you will. So you can probably appreciate my concern that I might end up being ‘outed’ as a fraud. It was too good an opportunity to miss, though, so off I went.
… and loved it.
There are two particular issues which stick in my head from the conference, beyond putting a face to some names and meeting some very nice people! First, a lot of the apps which were discussed (which didn’t focus specifically on medicine) are ones I’ve already experimented with. That was quite encouraging and I was able to make some (hopefully useful) comments during the session from a learning/teaching perspective. I sometimes forget that my interest in learning/teacing and the use of iPads puts me, to some extent, near the forefront. It was interesting to see others’ journeys and to support them by discussing my own understanding and experience using apps such as Nearpod and Join.Me and to be involved in helping them to move forward in their own learning journey.
The other aspect which interested me was listening to two medical students. Well, one just about to graduate and one who graduated last year. They talked about how they used iPads on many levels to support their own learning. It amused me somewhat that it was a bit of a revelation to them to use them with the patients. What interested me, though, was their attitude towards their own training. They were annoyed that there were attitudes amongst their trainers (uni staff/placement staff) which was very anti-technology/anti-tablet. What came across very clearly was this:
The question isn’t WHY should we use tablets; the question should be HOW should we use tablets (for training).
So, overall, a very good day in Nottingham. A big thank you to Colin (and Lawrence) for the invite and also to Oscar who was an excellent tutorial presenter.
Did you know? There are about 15,500 children in Scotland with severe eczema, a skin condition which can make your skin feel itchy and sore. This week on the Enquire blog, a young person with eczema tells their story and has a say on how schools could support young people facing this problem.
Want to hear other children and young people’s views? Check out this super new book full of ace drawings and quotes by Eczema Outreach Scotland, who you can contact for advice and support.
“Living with eczema has always been hard and its not a thing that can be ignored because if left untreated it can spread all over your body and can be very painful and itchy. I have only ever known a life living with eczema. I was born with eczema on my necks my arms and at the back of my legs the eczema around my neck was the worst and it made it very painful for me to move my neck but eventually overtime this went away. I have never experienced a time when i didn’t have to put on my creams religiously. The tricky thing about eczema is that it’s not like having a cough where you can just get cough syrup and you’ll be fine in a couple of days, no. Eczema is very different for each individual some people have it more severe than others and others have it in worse places and this is why it is difficult for doctors to prescribe a certain cream or moisturiser because they all have different results on people.
“Eczema really affects me at school because I find myself distracted from my work because of the irritation of it and often find myself scratching which makes it worse. At my school there is not really much support because not many people are even aware of eczema and even if they do know about it they are naive of the severity of it, sometimes people even mistake eczema for a rash or just a skin irritation. I think in schools people should be more educated about things like eczema because its so common and most people have many misconceptions about it such as that ‘Eczema can be passed on just by being near someone who has got it’ and it is these sorts of things that make life difficult when you’ve got eczema. I was lucky enough to have friends that understood it and who knew that it was a skin condition and it was treatable. However other people may not be so lucky and find that people avoid them or feel uncomfortable around you maybe fearing that you might spread it on to them. This is the problem with a lot of conditions people are afraid of what they do not understand if they were educated about it they will find though its a serious skin condition it can be managed with the right support and discipline.”
I have discussed the merits of #EdTechChat in a number of posts, how the discussions have helped me form a number of new ideas. In today's post am going to raise a complaint I have about the chat...
Every week, without fail, people discuss the EdTech that they find really useful - the functionality that makes them such great tools in education etc... But there is rarely any mention of HOW they became such great products. What was their development and roll out process?
NB EdSurge do a great job with exploring this but as someone who wants to explore this in a lot of detail I find their coverage can leave me wondering "But how..." on some specific points.
As I am not an educator there are some topics where I am not able to contribute a great deal in #EdTechChat sessions so find myself "lurking and learning." This week was one of those kinds of chats - it was an hour of me watching the Twitter wall cascade... app after app that educators find so useful that they are recommending them to others.
As I sat back and watched these Tweets there were two thoughts going through my head;
1) The future prospects of EdTech sales people is about as promising as someone on the check out counter Vs a self scan machine - Replaced! Redundant!
But what about "how did these companies do this?" I wondered why is it we never discuss this? Then I wondered;
Is it up to educators to explore (or even care) about how these results were achieved?
As a driver, when you jump in the car, you want to know that it will take you to your destination... not how to build an internal combustion engine.
Educators priority is to make sure that the #EdTech tools work in the class, not how the engine works. There is a big difference between the shiny customer facing car showroom and the factory they are built in... or the garage where poorly designed or old cars that have broken down are towed to.
I am extremely interested in how do we create better EdTech tools, how can we explore this in more detail?
Surely the best thing to do is to head down to the race track and ask the precision engineers who are on the fast lane with building great #EdTech... and asking the dare devil drivers to take our inventions for a spin to see what it can do.
I think this is an important issue because as David Feinleib reminds us in Why Start Ups Fail;
"No-one sets out to build a bad product... but it happens all the time"
And goes on to tell us just how much we need to "get right" or, depending on your perspective, how easy it is to get things wrong! There seems to be enough services in education that are not quite fit for purpose to demonstrate this to highlight the need.
Now there are some fantastic articles by EdSurge that do go into some detail about this, my current favourites that I can't stop Tweeting about being "EdTech in India - Go Slow or Go Home," "How Good Ideas Go Viral," "SVSUmmit: EdTech Jamboree" "How This Start up won over Oregon" But could we be doing more?
Start Up Edu Winners
If it's so easy to get things wrong then surely we should be asking those who are getting it right for some help. Anytime I see #EdTech being praised there seem to be one of two attributes;
1) They are developed by (or with close collaboration with) educators, or
2) A disproportionate number appear to be coming from some of the dedicated EdTech incubators that have been established.
But there are challenges with these models given;
- Educators teaching commitments and budget cuts they are extremely busy, so it can be challenging for smaller companies to engage with the sector.
This is something that the winner of Startup Weekend Edu, Tinker Ed, is looking to address as they will help to bring educators and start ups together to road test ideas.
- EdTech incubators have worked hard to establish a network of experts and mentors - whether seasoned tech entrepreneurs, investors or education experts.
However there are only a handful of these incubators - and it's great to see a couple being established in the UK.
This could also be a place for educators to offer their input on product ideas and improvements, but also to find out about how startups are operating in terms of best practice and culture that educators could experiment with at their schools and in their classrooms. I think that there are benefits to this kind of forum for suppliers and educators.
I would be delighted to be involved in establishing this kind of EdChat, but feel that others may be better placed to lead on it and (this will come as no surprise to my regular readers) I am thinking specifically of EdSurge here with support and/or co-moderators from people like;
- #EdTechChat and other EdChat moderators
- Graphite and other Edu peer review sites
- Startup Education Weekend winners
- EdTech incubators
- Startups that have achieved rapid and/or organic growth
Many of Scotland’s colleges are offering courses starting this January – covering a wide variety of subjects and potential careers.
Courses are available in many different areas, including Construction, Health and Social Care, Business and Administration, and Hospitality – offering qualifications sought by employers.
Cabinet Secretary for Education and Lifelong Learning Michael Russell said: “Colleges across Scotland have started advertising their courses beginning in the New Year and have lots of information for prospective students.
I would encourage anyone interested in starting a course for themselves or someone else or thinking about a change of career to go online and see what is available in 2014.”
Information about courses can be found on college websites:
The reason for the "mini-review" was that I had received anecdotal evidence that, although popular, the title and contents of the award weren't a great match. So I dedicated a little time each week to talking to individuals and groups about this qualification. In that time I think I've discussed it with a pretty large and representative cross-section of stakeholders. And it's clear that there is a consensus about a few things.
The title and qualification are liked. Overwhelmingly. So there is no question of the title changing. But there is also a clear view that the contents aren't quite right. The obvious things that are missing are mathematics and more "hard core" computer science, such as algorithms and data structures. As someone said: "There's no enough science in it to call it Computer Science".
The question is how we go about making changes to the award to make it a better fit. There are a number of options ranging from producing guidance to changing the award itself. I'll be taking this forward internally and keep you posted.
But the changes will not be rushed and will not be huge (if there are any changes at all to the award itself). The current award is popular, and has sufficient options to orient the award in a number of ways. No-one wanted huge changes. Whatever comes out will be a clear evolution of what's there now.
Contact Caroline if you want to know more about HND Computer Science.
An inspirational video about Google’s Driverless Cars:
My pupils were excited and intrigued by the rather sci-fi idea of Amazon delivering to your house within 30 minutes of delivery by a drone called an Octocopter. We discussed it in some detail about the amazing pros and the all to practical cons. Will it ever become a reality?
Here is an interesting article which covers some of the things we talked about in class, though it also suggests a cynical ploy by Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon!
Ideas like this fire the imagination of learners both young and old. Who knows what kind of a world we will live in by 2020? Driverless cars, 3D printers, undersea hotels, space tourism, and now parcels delivered by robots…. Maybe Blade Runner was on the money after all?