Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘Technology’

Will PokémonGO ‘Save’ Education – and ELT?

In ELT and ELL, News & Updates (from the CBO), Technology on 14/07/2016 at 7:50 am

 

As you might have guessed from my last (tongue-in-cheek) post, I’ve always had a healthy suspicion about blog posts that seem to jump on the latest bandwagon…or the next ‘big’ thing (esp. when that thing is technology-driven).

Sadly, even EDUcators fall for the pull towards the Dark Side:

Self-promotion (cartoon)

…adopting a Kardashian-esque approach to drawing people to their Social Media sites!

 

As I mentioned, Pokémon GO is taking the world by storm – the new Social Media ‘drug’ that has busynesses asking how they can best leverage it (for profit, of course)…and thousands of kids almost getting killed as they cross the road! 

Pokemon Dogs TG ver 130716

Those lovely chaps at Nintendo and Niantic are busy pushing the game with the very sexy tagline ‘The Game Is Only As Good As The Community’ – and seeing as though the second and last word of that tagline are currently all the GO with many a digital cheerleader in EDUcation, I thought I’d dig a round the web and blogosphere a wee bit and what we are saying about Pokémon GO in EDUcation!

See if I am right to be such a Doubting Thomas…by throwing a few rocks at the Internet!

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Blogger (crap blog)

It was not long before one of my rocks ‘hit’ a website!

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A ready-to-GO lesson plan (a 26-page lesson plan…with 40 exercises) from BREAKING NEWS ENGLISH.com (a website developed and maintained by Sean Banville).

I’d seen a few of Sean’s lessons before – and his site definitely lives up to it’s name! Pokémon GO is ‘big, breaking news’…

Now, I am not sure if Sean is an EDUmarketing genius or whether he just accidentally tripped over one of the greatest ways to keep his site on everyone’s Social Media lips (Facebook mostly) – all the stuff on his site is going to be driven by every single trending hashtag (as soon as he gets it out there)! Excellent – bloody genius!

I can see how many teachers would love this material…indeed there are loads of personal recommendations on his Facebook page. I found myself admiring the sheer amount of work he has churned out and got up on the web (he has a wide range of other sites) – I just have no bloody idea how he finds the time!

The problem is that… he is an Arsenal supporter!

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No, shiriously – I just have a wee problem with seeing pages and pages of gap fill exercises, multiple choice questions, true / false reading items, and cloze tests…that I know (in my cynical, black, shrivelled heart) will just be printed up, blindly photocopied and used to breathe life the ‘twin sins’ we see all too often in ELL and ELT:

TWIN SINS TG ver 130716

To be fair, I would be very pushed to brand Sean as the type of Social Media Whore (SMW) we see on so many busyness sites – he is just doing what he says he does (on the lid)…and hands out materials that TEACHers can (and do) use in their classrooms. Further, he does throw in a good range of semi-communicative activities (I just hope these are not the activities that TEACHers ‘skip’ to ‘get through’ all the other more suitable ‘exam prep-esque’ activities) and he clearly knows his ‘ELT stuff’.

but...

Come on…you had to have seen that coming!

I guess I’d just like to see more evidence of sites like this encouraging teachers to ‘thunk’ or ask themselves bigger questions:

ARE WE DOING WHAT IS BEST notepad 130716

…or helping ELTers get ‘out of the box’ a bit more.

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I threw a few more rocks…

…and found the type of post I had assumed there would be thousands of!

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14 Reasons Why Pokemon GO Is the Future of LEARNing (by David Theriault) drew on just about all my tactics to reach his audience (just gotta find an image of him wearing one of those hats)!

Or, so I though initially (do NOT read the last TWO paragraphs of this post)!

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Come on…what self-respecting EDUdigitalcheerleader is going to ignore this wonderful listicle (OK – a list of ‘14’ is a bit awkward…but you gotta love the way he uses the phrase ‘Future of LEARNing’)!

What? I have done the same…SHUT UP!

Read on…

His post starts with the facts – kids love their Smartphones – and rolls smoothly into a ‘subtle challenge’ (to TEACHers). This he does just before making you feel a wee bit ‘guilty’ (if all you are doing is gap-filling and MCQs) by throwing the cornerstones of modern LEARNing at you: the creativity, sharing, community-building, movement, interactivity and virtual field trips enabled by EDtech Toys!

Many of you will probably cry out…

Hadi Ordan 130716 (1)

…but David’s post has got a lot of praise (and, more importantly, HITS)!

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This is also true of the third post I discovered. Written by Lori Gracey and entitled Pokemon GO: What Education Should Be, I had to have a read of this one, too! After all, Lori got as many HITS as David (I wonder if they compared stats, at all).

Lori does a wonderful job of explaining how much better the Android / iOS app version is over the card game (my 5-year-old daughter used to drag my wife and I to a darkened, underground warehouse to buy these when we were in Dubai…scarier than the drive to Ajman or Ras Al Khaimah for our monthly XXXXX XXX…but that’s another story)!

CARDS to GO TG ver 130716 (1)

She admits that she is not really sure how Pokémon GO will help her meet her ‘vision’ – people coming together to have fun and solve problems – but she has a stab at a few decent suggestions…and it is the start of a pretty good vison!

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The thing is…the ideas both she and David discuss in their posts are really quite ‘nice’ – BUT, even together, just did not convince me that Pokémon GO is the Future of LEARNing:

NEW and SHINY TG ver 130716

It certainly won’t ‘save’ us from many of the EDUwoes we face today!

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That having been said their titles got our attention – and, even though these titles weren’t really the best lid for the tin,  I (for one) LEARNed some new stuff…and they got me THUNKing!

Thats a wrap

I was about to wrap things up when I came across a ‘not-PokemonGO-post’, you know, one of those posts that says it is NOT a XXXXXXXX post – from George Couros.

It was cleverly titled, too – ‘#PokemonGo, Being Observant, and Innovation’ (even had the hashtag embedded in the title…and the ‘gap’ removed – smart move, George)!

George plugged his new book (come on…who ain’t gonna do that?) but (more importantly) ended up making me feel a little guilty, too.

Why…you ask!

Well, I had been ‘bashing’ (albeit a wee bit tongue-in-cheek) people in the draft version of this post – and he reminded me that David (Lori and perhaps even Sean – though he did not mention them specifically) was “paying attention and being observant to our world” (mindful, perhaps)…and that these qualities are critical to innovation.

Thinkers wanted (blog ver 02 TG)

He was right, of course!  Isn’t that the very thing I was so nasty about when I had a go at Sean’s site and materials? Sorry, Sean…

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What we are seeing with the mad rush to get Pokemon GO posts into the blogosphere (I hope) by EDUcators is not thinly-veiled attempts at shameless self-promotion (and ‘HITS’…as my initial free advice suggested) – but rather, in George’s words, they are a few initial ‘iterations’ of how we can make Pokemon GO ‘fit’ the vision we have for EDUcation.

In order to do that, we need to be very explicit about what that vision is – and keep asking questions of the latest BIG thing in EDtech

How does this EDtech TG ver 130716

8…and never forget:

Telling the TRUTH TG ver 130716

T..

3 Evidence-Based Tactics To Increase Traffic To Your Social Media Sites…RIGHT NOW!

In News & Updates (from the CBO), Technology on 13/07/2016 at 7:08 pm

Pokemon Dogs TG ver 130716

Confused? You will be…

 

Pokémon GO is taking the world by storm (or maybe it’s just the stories that are cropping up about the players’ and their little adventures)!

 

This is a bandwagon you cannot miss out on…an opportunity to be ‘liked’, retweeted, poked, ‘favourited’ and even followed!

 

My FREE ‘marketing guru’ advice to you…exclusively for YOU is:

Pokemon Tactics TG ver 130716

OK – perhaps No. 04 should have read “Use a snappy listicle of 3, 5 or 10”! Problem was I could not find my cute little number 4 graphic…

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Pokemon Brand Switich TG ver 130716

The hat idea ‘works’ – just see how many ‘likes’ I got in the first hour!

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8T..

 

When DIGITAL Natives… ‘Sleep’!

In Adult Learners, News & Updates (from the CBO), Technology on 19/03/2014 at 10:39 am

Slide628

I have been working far too hard these past few weeks – and, as we all know;

All work, and no play…makes Tony Hoca a “dull” boy!

Tony Hoca (new avatar)

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This weekend, I did a little webinar for those lovely boys and girls (all girls, actually!) over at The Spring Blog Festival – and talked about my own visual literacy “journey”.

I’m still getting the hang of this “webinar busyness” – time just whizzed by and I had so much fun doing it! And, to boot – I made some new cyber-playmates”

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Slide11

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THANK YOUNellie Hocam, Shelly Hocam and Slyvia Hocam 😉

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Doing that session (at 22:00 on a Sunday nite!) really helped me remember how important it is to thunk about visual literacy – in my bloggery…and my life in general:

Slide3

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…but sometimes that “little boy” can go too far!

Camera…software…editing “time”:

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When digital natives go to sleep (TG ver)

When digital immigrants go to sleep (TG ver)

…on the sofa TONITE, I guess!

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Have a GREAT day!

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What EXACTLY are the “Skills” needed by 21st Century TEACHERS? – The “Robocop” Upgrade…

In Classroom Teaching, ELT and ELL, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness, Technology on 18/02/2014 at 3:24 pm

21C Teacher (Robocop ver) 160214 TG

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I have been heard to say that you can’t throw a rock into the blogosphere these days without hitting a post or article on the 21st Century “something-or-other”.

Love it or hate it – the notion of 21st Century Skills is one of those HOT topics these days – especially in Turkey. Sadly, however, the discussions on EDtech here seem to be dominated by some very strange creatures…you know them as:

21C Digi Cheerleaders

…IDIOTS, mostly!

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The real problem is:

Digi Cheerleading Rabbits

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IDIOTS that are breeding like bloody rabbitson steroids!

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IDIOTS that (still) do not link the 21C concept to real LEARNing – choosing instead to focus on what seems to be both the engine and the fuel of the 21st Century…..

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Don’t get me wrong…I’m not some kind of EDtech luddite who wants to put a stop to the so-called tablet and akıllı tahta dönemi we are currently witnessing in Turkey.

Turkey is my adopted home, I am a “milli enişte” and I am amazingly proud that I helped co-create one of Turkey’s first “digital natives” (and also one of the toughest and most beautiful, too – ask me about the “Türk kızı” who took down men twice her size on the Turkish TV version of “Wipe-Out”).

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I am a “daddy”, too!

A very proud one….

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21C LEARNing FIRST

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But, my business is LEARNing (as if you didn’t know) – not TECHnology. And, I’m interested in how we actually “do” something with all the talk-we-are-talking these days – talk about the new kids on the curriculum block:

  • INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL and CREATIVE THINKING
  • PROBLEM-SOLVING and CREATIVITY
  • COMMUNICATION, COLLABORATION and SHARING
  • COGNITIVE and EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
  • ETHICS, ACTION and ACCOUNTABILITY
  • LEADERSHIP, AGILITY and ENTREPRENEURIALISM
  • CURIOSITY, EXPERIMENTATION and RISK-TAKING
  • SELF-DISCIPLINE, RIGOUR and REFLECTION
…even:
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IMAGINEERING
(a wonderful “skill” that brings many of the above together)… 
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 21C SMARTBoards and DUMBIdeas

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We know here in Turkey (not that different to the rest of the world…really) that we still have major challenges with:

  • ORAL and WRITTEN COMMUNICATION (the 3R’s in TURKISH) – of course!
  • ENGLISH LANGUAGE (the 3R’s in ELL)

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But, the TECH (and the so-called “new digital landscape”) still gets many more column inches and pixels than student LEARNing.

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Our raging debate, a debate that others in the US and Europe have picked up, centres on Turkey’s plans to purchase 15,000,000 tablets over the next few years (as part of the Fatih Project) – and has international and domestic commentators really talking:

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Actually, I’m not sure if we should be talking about the tablets (the PM was today…again and again and again) – we should be discussing the skills the tablets are supposed to be ushering into Turkish schools.

…and, the impact of these skills on TEACHers.

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In an earlier post, I discussed how these 21st Century realities are creating a new set of roles for TEACHers:

However, discussion on how these roles translate into a new evolving set of teacher skillsliteracies and fluencies has been (very) limited – especially, in Turkey.

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Isn’t it time we started to ask some REAL questions:

  • What skills do TEACHers (in Turkey) need as we continue our march into the 21st Century?
  • How many of these skills actually relate to how we deploy and use TECHNOLOGY?
  • How many of them relate to effective LEARNing and TEACHing?
  • What do TEACHers actually think themselves – and what do their LEARNers think?
  • How effectively is TEACHer (and LEARNer) LEARNing being promoted and supported (in Turkey)?
  • What else needs to change to make the 21st Century “wishlist” a reality?

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Hey, maybe we can even start asking some of the most basic questions.

Questions like:

21C TECHnology SECOND

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I’d love to see some fresh ideas and comments. 

If not (and you are a lover of “bedtime reading”) – here’s a little list of some resources on allthings21Cskills:

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Tony’s 21st CENTURY LEARNing Library

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I do luv “me TECH”…BUT…!

In Classroom Teaching, Technology, Uncategorized on 18/09/2012 at 1:04 pm

I do…those of you that know me (in the “real” and digi-worlds both) know this, too.

…I mean what is there not to luv?

…except that dogs are not quite there, yet! Sorry. Dexter…

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I mean…all that great hardware, all that great software, all that great webware…that allows me to do so much “social LEARNing” (my wife tells me it’s quite “anti-social”…what does she know…she doesn’t even have a Facebook account)!

OK, OK…I know that I have said (in the past) that I hate the phrase:

…and, always maintain that:

…but there is so much “stuff” to LEARN out there!

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The thing is…I’m an “education-guy” (and a bit of a Star Wars fan)…and do, from time to time, thunk is terms of alternativesabsolutes (I’m human, too).

Absolutes like…

Heck…if I was really honest (not that I am NOT usually honest…) I do not really like the phrase 21C LEARNingat all!

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I guess, in my heart-of-hearts, I have always believed:

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and…

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…in EDUcation!

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This is probably because – again, in my heart of hearts, I recognise…and believe:

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Like most sensible TEACHers, I know:

…and, that it is the QUESTIONS we ask in the classroom…that make the difference – in addition to how often we hang this sign outside our door:

…and, no, I do not care what “discipline” we all work within…

I do not like going to conferences packed full with digital cheerleaderscheerleaders that “beat up” on TEACHers for not using the latest “app”…or, worse to my mind, decide to read a blog and tell the world that this

…is what a 21C TEACHer “looks like”!

Nor do I enjoy people going on…and onand on…about TECHnology replacing TEACHers.

…but, then again, I get that it may be easier to “replace” some TEACHers than others…if we do not wake up and smell the ink from the 3D printer (and Guy Claxton’s books)!

Yes, the hardware…the software…the webware are HERE – we gotta get used to them…we gotta get using them (do you really want to see a doctor that is not using an iPad- these days)!

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I think the problem isand the Sith inside me is talking again…a lot of the time it’s about the questions we choose to ask:

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…asking the “wrong” questions (more often than not) leads to the “wrong” decisions – and many of the challenges we face in EDUcation. For example, not asking the right questions can lead to problems with the “balance” of LEARNing and TEACHing we do:

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…without even getting to TECHnology!

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After allnot all TEACHers are created “equally”:

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TECHnology can (and does)…complicate these things:

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You see…it’s those bloody “questions” again:

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Maybe, just maybe…if we did some:

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…and asked some other questions (not just about “NEW” stuff) – questions like:

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Then, maybe…just maybe…we might start to get some:

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…to go with our:

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…for our:

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NOW…I am really starting to “hate” that “21C” phrase…

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What will Apple come up with next?

In Classroom Teaching, Technology on 15/08/2012 at 6:04 pm

This one is for Chiew Pang (aka – @aClilToClimb) – he set me a challenge!

 

It is said Apple have a new “logo” – to help market iBooks Author:

 

I wonder how long it will be before we see this one:

Thunks…reflections?

Becoming a 21C Teacher…ADAPTation or (r)EVOlution?

In Classroom Teaching, Curriculum, Technology on 06/05/2012 at 12:01 pm

Those of you that know me (at least in the virtual world), will have realised I have been on a bit of “mission” with regards some of the ideas related to 21st Century LEARNing and TEACHing…of late!

I’ve been…

  • posting some images on my Facebook page…
  • sharing some of the great 21C resources on Pinterest
  • trying to pull together a “library” with a few of the best books and titles…
  • publishing some of my presentations and workshops on Slideshare…
  • doing a whole pile of posts on the little ole blog…

 

I’ve also been sharing a few of my favourite sites about allthings21C:

and,

  • More recent attempts to add a bit more “meat” to these ideas by individual educators themselves…

…and all on twitter, too!

Not too shabby for an “oldie”, a “digital immigrant”dare I say ita “Gen X dinosaur”! But, you know what – just shows that technology is not rocket science…

 

Why is this? Why have I been doing all this?

Well, it seems that – even though we are 12 years into the 21st Century – we are still having trouble getting our heads around what it all means to us as TEACHers and, perhaps more importantly, to our students and classrooms.

Now, this is nobody’s fault – but there are a lot of “voices” out there.

 

We have IT gurus and companies screaming at us that technology is both the engine and the fuel of the 21st Century…

…and if we “fall behind”, well…our TEACHing heads will be on the chopping block!

 

Then, we have the “voices” in government and the Academy:

Initially, some these ideas sound around-about “right” (some of them) – until we realise that most of them are little more than “wordbites”, see that many of these proposals have little to do with educational “thunking”…and recognise that most academics in our publish-or-perish colleges and universities do not really “walk” the talk they talks!

 

To be honest, I’ve actually got a lot of great ideas on what 21C skills are important (and “what matters” with the whole 21C movement) by listening more to “human resource experts”:

…and the voices of “employers”:

 

However, as is usually the case with major educational decision-making – it is the voices of TEACHers and LEARNers that, shall we say, are not “elicited” as much as they could be

I mean, after all, why should we bother to listen to those folks that live and breathe the classroom on a 24/7 basis…when we have corporate vendors, bankers, politicians, publishers and academicswith all the “answers”!

 

Anyways, I offer this set of resources to TEACHers who might want to LEARN a bit more about allthings21C – let’s share, grow and get off the planet quicker…after all, very few decision-makers are that interested in what we might think…

…but, we can get on and do it with our LEARNers…as we always have!

21C TEACHERS – their skills, literacies and fluencies…

In Classroom Teaching, Conferences, Technology on 09/03/2012 at 5:45 pm

A few days back, I did a post on the 21C Skills Movement and its impact on teachers…this was essentially a “warmer” for the upcoming conference at Maletepe University in İstanbul (April 14th).

Now, some you cynics out there might have thought that this was a “plug” for the conference and my own keynote!

You’d be righthey, I have already told you that I am not adverse to a bit of “shameless self-promotion – when it’s done right (if nothing else – I am honest)!

But, the other side of the coin is that I genuinely want to support the growth of the 21C Skills Movement – in Türkiye. And, as I said, this type of forum is perhaps the best place to do this.

 

The “movement”, if we can call it that, has not always had an easy ride:

Luckily, I do not extend “voting rights” to many journalists on my blog – democracy is sometimes over-rated (especially when journos jump all over the ballot box – all to eager to cast their educational vote)!

I’m sure there are many out there in Anatolia (and that other “country” across the water – called İstanbul) that have expressed the same sentiments as Jay. Many of these people (perhaps) also do this for reasons of “shameless self-promotion” (the “wrong” variety) or (more likely) because they are “scared” of the “technology-monster”.

 

Let’s be clear. 

The “21C Skills Movement” is not simply a TECHNOLOGY Movementit is:

 

…a CURRICULUM and ASSESSMENT Movement

 

…a LITERACY and FLUENCY Movement

 

…a LEARNing and TEACHing Movement

 

It is a movement about ways of LIVING, ways of WORKing and ways of THINKing – and, for educators and teachers, also about making a real difference to the lives of those children, teenagers and young (older ones, too) adults that we LEARN with.

And, how “making” that “difference” needs to evolve over time.

 

Advocates and supporters of the movement have made their purposes quite clear:

 

And, while it is true that our current, high-priority literacies and fluencies are being evolved (on steriods) by technology:

…we all know, in our heart of hearts, that they must be contextualised within and aligned with those quintessentially “human literacies” (we have had for centuries) to be “meaningful”:

And, how FLUENT we are in these!

 

This is because…

TEACHing is ONE of these very jobs…

Anways, enough of all this talk of 21C Skills, Curriculum, Assessment, LEARNing and TEACHing – this post is about “ME” and MY “shameless self promotion”!

…it’s a bit about the pre-conference PLN I wanted to co-create with you!

 

Remember, the last 21C post I did centered on a few questions I asked people to consider:

  • What skills do TEACHers (in Turkey) need as we continue our march into the 21st Century?
  • How many of these skills actually relate to how we deploy and use TECHNOLOGY?
  • How many of them relate to effective LEARNing and TEACHing?
  • What do TEACHers actually think themselves – and what do their LEARNers think?
  • How effectively is TEACHer (and LEARNer) LEARNing being promoted and supported (in Turkey)?
  • What else needs to change to make the 21st Century “wishlist” a reality?

We have had some pretty interesting contributions (CLICK to take a closer look) to date.

 

A lot of them discuss “teacher readiness” (and “willingness”) for the broader application of 21C Skills in our schools, colleges and universities – as well as some of the “fears” that many teachers (understandably) have about technology in general. Some of the comments focus on to how we, as teachers and educators, “see” the role technological “tools”. These comments suggest (IMHO) that more teachers in Turkey need to embrace and get comfortable with continuous change by simply making technology a bigger part of their lives and “daily practice”.

However, as I read through the comments I noticed a number of issues that touch on the wider challenges of  professional development (PD) in non-technological areas – and the critical role that these will play in any successful implementation of 21C Skills in our educational institutions.

 

As such, and as we have now wandered into the “orman” of LITERACIES and FLUENCIES – I thought a few more questions might be in order:

  • What exactly are the literacies and fluencies that we teachers and educators need to prioritise? Are they the same as those our learners need to develop? Are there any that specifically apply to the way we “do” business across education – as teachers?

Breaking that down a little  may help us:

  • What should we “keep” that we already have or do?
  • What do we have or do now that we don’t want to keep?
  • What do we need that we don’t already have or do?
  • What don’t we have or do that we don’t want?

That should keep us going for a while…

 

As ever, if you are interested in reading more  – here’s a little list of some resouces on allthings21Cskills:

Tony’s 21st CENTURY LEARNing Library

Hope to see some of you at the conference.

What EXACTLY are the “Skills” needed by 21st Century TEACHERS?

In Classroom Teaching, Conferences, Technology on 04/03/2012 at 3:04 pm

I have been heard to say that you can’t throw a rock into the blogosphere these days without hitting a post or article on the 21st Century “something-or-other”.

Love it or hate itthe notion of 21st Century Skills is one of those HOT topics these days – especially in Turkey.

 

I blog about this area far too frequently (my darling wife, Nazlı Hanim, just says I blog about “everything” too much), have a “big mouth” and live here – these are probably some of the reasons I have been invited to give a keynote at the upcoming Maltepe University Conference in April.

I didn’t have to think about it too much at all – this is the first time I have heard of a conference that specifically links the 21C concept to the “business” of what teachers need to “do” with what they know about LEARNing and TEACHing (with Turkish LEARNers).

The problem is that I still can’t help feeling that many in “educational circles” (or their advisors) do not link the 21C concept to real LEARNingchoosing instead to focus on what seems to be both the engine and the fuel of the 21st Century…..

Don’t get me wrong…I’m not some kind of EdTech luddite who wants to put a stop to the so-called “tablet and akıllı tahta dönemi” we are currently witnessing in Turkey. Turkey is my “adopted” home, I am a “milli enişte” and I am amazingly proud that I helped “create” one of Turkey’s first “digital natives” (and also one of the “toughest” and “most beautiful”, too – ask me about the “Türk kızı” who took down men twice her size on the Turkish TV version of Wipe-Out).

I am a “daddy”, too!

But, my “business” is LEARNing (as if you didn’t know) – not TECHNOlogy. And, I’m interested in how we actually “do” something with all the talk-we-are-talking these days – talk about the “new kids” on the “curriculum block”:

  • INDEPENDENT, CRITICAL and CREATIVE THINKING
  • PROBLEM-SOLVING and CREATIVITY
  • COMMUNICATION, COLLABORATION and SHARING
  • COGNITIVE and EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE
  • ETHICS, ACTION and ACCOUNTABILITY
  • LEADERSHIP, AGILITY and ENTREPRENEURIALISM
  • CURIOSITY, EXPERIMENTATION and RISK-TAKING
  • SELF-DISCIPLINE, RIGOUR and REFLECTION
…even:
  • IMAGINEERING (a wonderful “skill” that brings many of the above together)… 


We know here in Turkey (not that different to the rest of the world really) that we still have major challenges with:

  • ORAL and WRITTEN COMMUNICATION (the 3R’s in TURKISH) – of course!
  • ENGLISH LANGUAGE (the 3R’s in ELL)

But, the “TECH” (and the “new digital landscape”) still get many more column inches and pixels than student LEARNing.

 

Our raging debate, a debate that others in the US and Europe have picked up, centres on Turkey’s plans to purchase “15,000,000 tablets” over the next few years (as part of the Fatih Project) – and has international and domestic commentators “really talking”:

Actually, I’m not sure if we should be talking about the “tablets”we should be discussing the “skills” the tablets are supposed to be ushering into Turkish schools.

…and, the impact of these skills on TEACHers.

In an earlier post, I discussed how these 21st Century “realities” are creating a new set of roles for teachers:

However, discussion on how these “roles” translate into a new evolving set of teacher skills, literacies and fluencies has been limited – especially, in Turkey.

This is what I’ll be talking about in Istanbul – at the Maltepe University conference.

So, and in preparation for my keynote – I’d like to try and create a “pre-conference PLN” (and hopefully a post-conference version, too). I want to see what people think about the following questions:

  • What skills do TEACHers (in Turkey) need as we continue our march into the 21st Century?
  • How many of these skills actually relate to how we deploy and use TECHNOLOGY?
  • How many of them relate to effective LEARNing and TEACHing?
  • What do TEACHers actually think themselves – and what do their LEARNers think?
  • How effectively is TEACHer (and LEARNer) LEARNing being promoted and supported (in Turkey)?
  • What else needs to change to make the 21st Century “wishlist” a reality?

I’d love to see some fresh ideas and commentsand see you at the conference, if you can make it. 

 

If not (and you are a lover of “bedtime reading”) – here’s a little list of some resouces on allthings21Cskills:

Tony’s 21st CENTURY LEARNing Library


Why do we still have so many MISFIRES with classroom observation? (Part 04)

In Classroom Teaching, Quality & Institutional Effectiveness, Teacher Training on 27/02/2012 at 9:50 pm

 

Sound advice…from Jedi Master Covey, there.

Maybe, I should have thought about that before I started to re-vamp this “little mini-series”!

Actually, I’m having a lot of “fun” writing this up – those notes have been sitting on my desktop for far, far too long! And, besides…I have a few minutes to kill…

I did a quick calculation the other day and worked out that around 85,000,000 human beings (and my dog, Dexter) had “read” The 7 Habits (in one form or another)!

So, why-oh-why do so many people in education still think that the best way to kick off a classroom observation programme is with a ticky-box “checklist”and probably a checklist that has been “lifted” from somewhere?

But, I think we’ve all got that by now. Yes?

Other (far smarter) individuals (and institutions) begin by thinking through the various components of an observation cycleand usually come up with something like this:

To be sure, this type of observation cycle seems to work better than most. Lesson planning is a great way to get both observee and observer get on the “same page” – and a pre-conference helps both parties get clear on aims and goals, as well as deal with any potential “misunderstandings”. We all know that a solid form of data-collection is a good idea (and not only checklists) – as is a bit of time to go over that data and “work out” what it all might mean. The post-conference allows the observer and observee to “reflect” and share insights – and (hopefully) agree a plan of action!

Brilliant – let’s get to it!

Sounds like even our “best and brighest” might be setting themselves up for a bit of:

If such a cycle were introduced in the type of “top-down” manner we noted earlier, we’d probably soon see that we get hit with a wide range of  school stakeholders asking questions like:

  • Do we need all these components?
  • Can we “do” all these components in terms of logistics?
  • What are the “rules of the game” for all the components?
  • Can our observers “do” all these things? (BTW – who the hell are they?)
  • What exactly are we observing (quick – get that checklist out)?
  • What documentation to we need to support all the components?
  • Who are we observing – when, how often, why? 
  • What? A bloody lesson plan!
  • A pre-conference? A post-conference? Have you seen my schedule this semester!
  • Her? She’s only been teaching for 7 years – I’ve got 20 under me belt! 
  • What are we doing all this for, again?

And, you know what? They’d be right”…

Now, I’m sure if Jedi Master Covey was an educator-cum-administrator, he would have surfed the web to find more on the ABC’s of Classroom Observation (or come up with his own):

He’d also probably have asked himself some questions like this:

  • Why do you and your institution want a classroom observation process?
  • What do you want classroom observation to “do” – for student LEARNing, for teacher LEARNing and institutional LEARNing?
  • What do you need to do get teachers involved and invested in classroom observation (if they are not already)?
  • What needs to “change” to allow you to get to where you want to go – and how do you know this?

Or, perhaps, simply ask my favourite observation question:

It is this focus on aims, purpose and philosophy that is going to keep us on the straight and narrow – and cope with the pressures of the “real task” we have “actually” undertaken.

This focus on the first of our ABC’s also helps us with “communication” (and by that I meancommunicate, communicate, communicate) …and, by “communicate” I mean getting everyone informed, involved and inspired!

But, I think we’ve all got that by now, too. Yes?

What we really mean by “technology” here is “the nuts and bolts”what the actual classroom observation process “looks like”, what elements make it up, and how it all “works” as a whole.

This involves a bit more than deciding on a “mode” of observation:

  • SELF-OBSERVATION
  • PEER-OBSERVATION
  • SUPERVISOR-OBSERVATION
  • (even, God forbid!) STUDENT-OBSERVATION

…and, even whether to use “real” technology (audio, video – two-way mirrors) to help us out – regardless of the “mode” you select.

 

You guessed it – getting this “right” also requires spending a fair bit of time on some other “questions”:

  • What fit-for-purpose processes and steps do we need to develop?
  • What tools do we need to develop to support and evidence these processes?
  • What type of data do we want to collect from our processes and tools?
  • What do we want the data to tell us about our performance?
  • What type of planning and action do we want to see from the processes and steps?


Tony, we “hate” questions – give us some “answers”!

For example, a new principal at a school (or a new “teacher” for that matter – why the heck not) might just want to get a “feel” for her teachers – or get a better idea of how her teachers “run the business” of LEARNing and TEACHing at the chalkface. A more established HoD might have a huge pile of PD funds (don’t we all) and want some fresh ideas on the best way to spend it all on training initiatives for his teachers. A professional development team might want to come up with a new school-wide initiative to tackle some of the challenges that teachers have identified with their LEARNing and TEACHing strategies.

All of these people could choose to use classroom observation (among other things) to help them – but they would all probably develop slightly different technology to help them get there.

 

Our “new” principal, for example, might not have time to review lessons plans and hold pre-conferences – but she better make sure she “makes time” to chat to those she observes after the fact (see the PRINCIPLES below)…that’s just the “right” thing to do!

Obviously, the “technology” of a classroom observation programme is important – but, as with any form of technology, it must never become more important than the people who will use it. This is why (regardless of the technology we choose) any classroom observation programme needs to be grounded on a number of principles (in addition to FITNESS-FOR-PURPOSE):

  • RESPECT, PROFESSIONALISM, COMMUNCATION and CARE
  • FAIRNESS, TRANSPARENCY and CARE
  • FEEDBACK and CARE

This last one is critical – any observation process that does not “close the loop” and does not provide observees with some form of feedback simple does not meet the very first principle we listed above – RESPECT.

 

The technology of a classroom observation programme also covers the “criteria” that is used to collect and analyse data – and, most importantly give feedback.

In truth, it is this “technology step” of the ABC’s that is a bit more “concrete” (although, as we noted earlier, the purpose needs to be just as “explicit”) – this is probably the reason why so many people get hooked on “checklists” and “cycles”.

And, it is also true, that even when we try to avoid “weighing teachers” we always use some form of criteria to collect, interpret and evaluate what we “see” in classrooms.

 

Almost all teachers “weigh themselves” after every lesson they teach – they know:

 

…and frequently ask themselves:

 

 

The thing is that they do not always know what “criteria” they are using – apart from their “gut” and “years of experience”.

 

The real challenge is that there is a huge difference between a teacher asking herSELF  these “questions” and being TOLD the “answers” to them by anOTHER.

 

The principle of FAIRNESS, TRANSPARENCY and CARE basically “translates” (for any observer) as “make your expectations and criteria explicit – and TELL people”! This is because observation should never be a “game” of “guess what the observer wants”that’s just “mean”…that’s just not the educational Jedi way!

 

In an “ideal world”, every single institution would be focussed on a whole-school research project into what LEARNing and TEACHing mean to them – and place the results of this evolving “LEARNing conversation” at the heart of their decision-making.

In terms of classroom observation, this would involve a whole series of “really” powerful questions:

In addition, to a couple of other (less important) questionsNOT!

 

In an ideal world!

But, hey – till then, let’s just “tell” observees what we “expect” or, better still, let’s develop a set of “protocols” that outline the “rules of the observation game” in our Observation Handbook!

And, stick to them!!!