iCloud Drive: Are my files synced?⤴

from @ ICT & Education

I am a Dropbox user. I like Dropbox. It’s useful, handy, reliable and efficient. However, I’m also intrigued by iCloud which will allow my files to sync to my numerous Apple devices easier … and it’s cheaper. So I’m currently working with both, giving iCloud a fair crack of the whip, as it were.

One thing that iCloud Drive doesn’t do, however, is provide some visual information about what has (or has not) been synced. Dropbox has little blue circles/green ticks; iCloud has nothing.

However, having done a quick search online, there is a partial solution to this. Using Terminal I can type the following command and get a basic list. It’s not pretty but it does the job.

brctl log --wait --shorten

What is Inclusion?⤴

from @ Pedagoo.org

My official title is Assistant Head Teacher: Director of Inclusion. However, what does inclusion actually mean… The definition to me means allowing everyone equal access to a service, in this context, education. Irrespective of age, gender, race, sexuality, class, status, religion, learning ability, physical ability and so on. It is a term that has increased in popularity over the years, a […]

I Am Fed Up With Awards!⤴

from @ School Leadership - A Scottish Perspective

I was asked this week if my schools would take part in yet another award scheme. This time it was for sports and, yes, we could gain Bronze, Silver or Gold awards simply by jumping through some simple hoops (not literally). My heart sank. I was shown the tick-list of criteria for the awards. As usual the first two, Bronze and Silver could be achieved quite easily through self-assessment, whilst the Gold award required a lot more boxes to be ticked, including the one marked 'development plan', and required external assessment. The format was pretty familiar, as this structure was the same as found in most of the award schemes we have either been involved in, or asked to be involved in.  The Green Flag Eco award scheme was much the same. One of my schools was heavily involved in this scheme before I arrived, and had already achieved Silver awards and their first Green Flag, the top award possible at that time. The school and the pupils were now fully engaged in striving for their second Green Flag. At this time the carrot was dangled was that once you had attained your third Green Flag award you then retained the Green Flag permanently. We achieved our second Green Flag and continued to work hard to achieve the third. Staff and pupils were well into the work and the school met every criteria as we recycled everything, reduced our carbon footprint and made sure sustainability was a key thought in everything we did in the school and the community. Our school letterheads now included the logo of the Eco award and it's influence was found everywhere. As we neared the assessment for our third Green Flag we heard the criteria had changed and we would no longer be given a permanent award if we achieved the three Green Flags. I think this is the point when we decided to think again about our involvement in this scheme and other similar ones.

We looked again at the purpose of what we were doing. We talked to pupils and we talked to parents. They quite liked the awards and seeing the flags and certificates on display. The point I made to them and to staff was that I felt the awards were not the things that were important, it was the processes and practice that was crucial. If we really believed in being Eco-friendly and environmentally aware, and that this was important to ourselves individually and as a school then the practices that supported this should be ones that are embedded in our ethos and culture. They are what we do. And they were. My point was if that is the case, why bother about the awards? We should be doing what we do because we believe it is the right thing to do. We were already applying this principle and attitude to everything we do in terms of school development, so it was relatively easy for us to come to the conclusion that we should apply the same values to everything we do. We changed our approach to everything. From that point we decided that our approach to everything would be driven by our values and what we believed to be right, not a desire to jump through hoops to achieve some award.

We stopped chasing awards but we still kept developing and improving what we did, but in a deep and sustainable way, driven by values. So it was from this standpoint that I assessed the latest award scheme we were being asked to take part in this week. However, this was not my decision alone and I took it to all the staff to see what they thought. When I explained the scheme I could tell by the look on their faces and lack of response what they were going to say. The said that sport and physical activity was important and everyone recognised this, and that is why we provide our pupils with so many opportunities, within the curriculum and without, to be active. We do this because it is important, not to win an award, not even to meet some arbitrary Government set target, but because we believe we should. They asked what was the point of participating in another award scheme if we were doing everything they were looking for already. This would be more work, in terms of paperwork and plans, therefore would eat into available time, for no discernible gain.

If someone wants to come along and give us an award for what we are doing, that would be great. But awards are not the drivers for anything we do, those are our values and principles. five of our teachers received awards from the GTCS this summer for their work using practitioner enquiry practices to develop their teaching and the learning in their classrooms. The awards were nice, but they were a by-product of their desire and commitment to be better teachers and to improve what they do for their learners. They would have still been doing what they did whether they were likely to get some award or not. They are driven by their professionalism and their values, as are we all. It is the same with all school development. We are doing what we do because we believe in it, not because somebody else tells us what we should be doing or, worse, because we think that is what the HMIe want us to do. Michael Fullan speaks of 'right and wrong drivers' in schools, we believe we have the right drivers for what we do, and awards are not them.

I heard today I have been selected randomly to be interviewed as part of our council's application for Investors In People recognition. That could be messy!

Why is it important for teachers to engage with research as part of their practice?⤴

from @ Pedagoo.org

Are you a teacher in Scotland? If so, did you know that you can use your myGTCS login to access education related academic journal articles through EBSCO? No? You should totally check it out: gtcs.org.uk/ebsco To support this, the GTCS has put together a ‘Research Engagement Group‘, which I’m a member of. From Monday to […]

The More You Ignore Me, The Closer I Get⤴

from @ Just Trying To Be Better Than Yesterday

Even after fifteen years in the classroom, the thing that causes me most grief, the thing that results in more sleepless nights than anything else is behaviour management. It’s the thing that new teachers ask most about and struggle with in the same way we all did in those first years. Because there is no quick fix, is there? There is no strategy which will eradicate the bad stuff. It takes years of classroom experience to be able to deal well with that, whether your lesson is ‘worth behaving for’ or not, as someone tweeted recently, and even then it is difficult to get right.

So it would be daft to ignore bad behaviour, wouldn’t it? Storing up problems for the future, surely. Well, maybe not. After trying everything with certain students this year I have decided to ignore them. Hold on. There is some method to my madness. In general, students misbehave because they desire attention. Problems arise when we give them that. And, of course, sometimes we have to. However, I’ve experienced a bizarre turnaround with two students who I have, more or less, ignored for the last two weeks. It has been difficult. It has been hard to bite my tongue, take a deep breath and concentrate on the well-behaved masses for a change. But I did it. And I think it worked.

Starving that desire for attention seems to have caused the students to look for it in another way. By doing the work. By being polite. By putting up a hand to ask for help instead of shouting out. And, slowly, I have started to return to them. Not always, yet. But I have and they seem to be responding. The rest of the class are working like troopers and the ‘ignored’ realise that they have lost their audience. Now, of course, the danger is twofold here: firstly, that I bring them back too soon and we return the way it was before – some days an unteachable class; secondly, that I ignore them for too long and they permanently disengage. It’s a situation I  must deal with carefully.

But before you go back to school and ignore every badly behaved student, proceed with caution. There may be silly things like making an obvious show of being bored or resting a head on a desk which might not be the thing to ignore. There may well be genuine disengagement already and ignoring them might be exactly what they are looking for. Think carefully about the individual and consider how they might react. If it’s a last resort, hey, it’s worth a try.

Bad behaviour is so difficult to deal with because we take it personally at times. We take it as an affront to our well-prepared lesson and and and an insult to us as teachers. It’s not, of course, or very rarely, but that feeling only disappears after lots of experience. But it is our reactions that very often escalate situations. Our egos take over and we, whether we like it or not, get into conflict with young people. That young kid who is behaving like a midge on a camping trip we simply want to swat away. Perhaps if we simply let it buzz about it would go away without our intervention.

The research behind games-based learning⤴

from @ teachitgeek

The research behind game-based learning


Games improve knowledge acquisition

Because games are active and participatory, they can motivate people to learn and increase their long-term knowledge. For example, one study in the Netherlands by Huizenga, Admiraal, Akkerman, and Dam (2009) found that students who played a game about medieval Amsterdam learned 24% more than those who used traditional methods.

Games improve grades

Numerous studies have shown learning is more effective if it’s accompanied by games. For example, Richard Blunt (2009) of Advanced Distributed Learning found that in three American universities, students who learned through games had better grades than those who didn’t: some 70% of game-playing students scored As, compared to less than 40% of non-game-playing students. At the elementary school level, Marc Prensky (2001) reported that students who played games performed 24 to 50% better in vocabulary and math than students who did not.

Via elevate

Thoughts on #OEPSforum14 and the Battle for Open⤴

from @ Open World

This rather crowded map of open education in Scotland is the product of a brief ten minute brainstorm I took part in at the launch of the Open University’s Opening Education Practices in Scotland (OEPS) project in Edinburgh last week.


Open Education in Scotland
Contributors:  Linda Creanor, Natalie Lafferty, Heather Gibson, Peter Cannell and Lorna M. Campbell

My scribbles may not be very legible, and the geography is questionable, but even if you can’t read the text, this map does give a good impression of the sheer breadth of open education practice already taking place across all sectors of Scottish education. And it also gives a good impression of the significant task facing the OEPS project if they are to effectively engage with existing open education initiatives in Scotland. This is a point that Sheila MacNeill and Joe Wilson have already raised in two thoughtful blog posts (Stuck in the middle with…open and #Oepsforum14 #Openscot Reflections.) Though supportive of the project and enthusiastic about its potential, both Sheila and Joe have raised valid questions about how OEPS plans to support existing open practice in Scotland, and how it will construct a distinctly Scottish narrative of open education.

During a typically thought provoking presentation on The Battle for Open, Martin Weller warned us that if we don’t engage with open education practice now, we’ll be sold a packaged version of what it is. To my mind, engagement with existing open education initiatives in Scotland will be key to the success of the OEPS project. It is critical that the project engages practitioners in creating a Scottish narrative of open education, rather than delivering a packaged alternative.

 I’m not going to attempt to summarise the entire meeting, you can get a good flavour of the event from Sheila and Joe’s blog posts, this storify put together by Heather Gibson of QAA Scotland and Martin Hawksey’s TAGS archive. There are a couple of points I want to reflect on however.

The OEPS Online Hub

One of the objectives of the OEPS project is to build an “online hub to encourage and share best practice in open education”. This hub, which will be based on the OU’s existing OpenLearn Works platform, is being developed by members of the OEPS team based at the OU’s Open Media Unit in Milton Keynes. In a parallel session focused on the hub, we were asked to prioritise user stories and requirements, devised by the project team, from the perspective of practitioners and learners. The group I was part of went a bit off piste with this task and in the process raised some valid questions regarding the role of the hub.   There was some confusion as to the exact nature of the online hub, and whether it was intended to be an OER repository. One participant questioned whether there was a real need for another online repository in Scotland when we already have Jorum and Re:Source, and the uptake of centralised repositories generally is notoriously low. The project team explained that although the hub will aggregate resources from other OER collections and enable users to export content, it is not intended to compete with existing OER repositories such as Jorum and OER Commons, it’s aim is primarily to support a community of open education practitioners. While there was a suggestion that this approach sounded a little bit “if we build it they will come”, it’s reassuring to know that OEPS will be focusing on supporting practitioner communities rather than on building another platform in what is already a very crowded space. Questions were also raised regarding the users stories and requirements drafted by the project team, with one participant asking whether a requirements gathering exercise had been undertaken in Scotland to determine the sector’s specific need for an online hub.

The Thorny Issue of Funding

The second point I want to reflect on is the rather thorny issue of funding, or more precisely, the relationship between funding and open education. This is an issue that Martin Weller touched on during his Battle For Open presentation. Martin pointed out that most battles are about money, and that there is a lot of money at stake in open education. This is certainly a point I would agree with, in some quarters at least. Martin also introduced the concept of “guerrilla research” which he contrasted with traditional research as follows…


from The Art of Guerilla Research by Martin Weller

While this is an attractive model, (and I <3 Beaker) I can’t help wondering how guerrilla research is supported; after all, it’s hard to “Do research” without funding at some level. And the same applies to open education, we all know that open doesn’t equal free, and that funding is required to support open education practice. Sheila MacNeill has written compellingly on this subject in her earlier blog post Open education practice, luxury item or everyday essential?  I’m not going to re-hash Sheila’s arguments, but I think there are a lots of undercurrents relating to the relationship between openness and funding that we still need to surface.

Which brings me back to the scribbled map at the top of this post. Many of the open education initiatives in Scotland are unfunded, voluntary, or funded on institutional shoestring budgets. It’s commendable that Scottish education has done so much with so little, and perhaps this is what sustainable open education practice looks like, but it does make me wonder how much more could be achieved if funding was available to support open education right across the sector. While it’s hugely encouraging that the Scottish Funding Council has made a significant investment in open education by funding the OEPS project, and I have every confidence that the project team will make a significant contribution to supporting open education practice in Scotland, I can’t help holding on to a glimmer of hope that at some stage in the future SFC will launch an open education funding call that is open to all sectors of Scottish education.