Monday, February 04, 2013

#applesummit London

Apple Education Leaders Summit

Apple Education Leaders Summit

I am really privileged to get to these gatherings . We are all learners in this space and in think the price of a pass is sharing what I learn

  1. iPads are lovely . I have one . Everyone at this event got one when they arrived for the day , loaded too with all kinds of wonderful educational apps.  It is a whole world made by apple from iPhone to iPad and presented by Appletv enabled monitors. 

     If you don't know the ESSA academy story you should have a look out for it , it is an inspirational story of how a school moved to an Internet enabled device for every learner and radically changed their performance and the ethos of the school. But equally you should have a look at the Islay High School story or lots of other places where learners now have access to devices and learning and delivery are changing.

     It was good to see Scotland's mobile pilots and the work of Cedars School featured in presentations. I've seen lots of inspirational things as ever . I'll add a wee list of apps that I have seen in action at the end of this post when I get some more time. The thing that struck me most is still with me at the end of the day 500+ educators were handed an ipad this morning fully internet enabled but there has been really very little collaborative learning or sharing around event . Well done apple for great event . Next time give everyone who attends a challenge or a question and get them all to have made a blog post or some other contribution to learning by the end of the day . Use of these tools has to be active not a passive consuming experience.
  2. Apple Education Leaders Summit London is there a hashtag for this event or is this unstructured learning ?
  3. Apple Leaders Summit ipad study from Hull Uni on Scottish schools ipad pilot gets plug uk/ifl/ipadresearchinschools.aspx
  4. #applesummit Interesting that every session has repeated content ... Apple TV + explain everything + Dropbox + Nearpod + iMovie Hmm.
  5. And to the apps and software used with apple devices - Drop Box to share things in cloud , Nearpod to share things between devices and onto data projector in classroom , Annotate.neu to give capture and record oral feedback on assessments , Explain Everything , Evernote and some other solutions used as eportfolios and more
    Apple launches too new Educational publications platform BBC News - Apple launches e-textbook tools with new iBooks ; showcased new education bookstore books from usual suspects

Saturday, January 19, 2013

E-Assessment Question , #InsideLearning and #GlowRoadshow

For learners,  and I am one, learning is a lifelong continuum . I still think though that those who deliver learning and the accreditation of learning still live in silos,  worse some of them have stopped learning.

At the E-Assessment Question, an excellent event in Leeds,  I presented to an audience where there was a confident inevitability that most things one way or another will be assessed on-line in the near future. In work based learning this will happen in next 3 years,  in College space I predict this will happen in the next five years in schools space mmm ? If it does not happen and it is not driven by schools then it will be driven by forces outside of the school system and directly to learners. You can see the big commercial interests circling.

Universities need to wake up too. They are still too inflexible. It is neither the most intelligent nor the strongest that survive but those most adaptable to change . Directors of Jessops , Blockbuster and HMV did not adapt.

In Scotland we are really lucky that we are able to push at all the boundaries associated with changing current modes of assessment. The drive in England back to paper and pencil and exam based assessment is as much to do with a false belief in some golden era of academic standards as it is to do with trying to discourage sharp practices from commercially driven awarding bodies along with a complete lack of trust in schools and school teachers. It really is a dreadful situation and I feel for many of those trying to innovate in this environment. I fear too that many of those who have been innovating in this space will simply give up trying to operate in the fragmented English schools system.

When I use that "assessed" word I mean the means of gathering evidence and the means to gain accreditation will be on-line and not that everything will be assessed by on-line multiple choice questions.  Which is common misconception about e-assessment.

But we have much to do too in Scotland - some of the comments from the panel at Inside Learning were just depressing . It would be awful to believe that schools start preparing learners for external examinations from 1st year of secondary school . It is awful too that some folks with experience of the system can't , don't or won't see that what is chosen to be assessed is often simply a reflection of what they choose to make important.  I think too conversations about what is important is still too top down. I hope my children get asked what they want to learn today - to pinch an old advertising slogan. I know the assessment and accreditation system can cope with this and I am sure that schools and teachers can too. To the student teachers who were along on the night one of the best things you can do for your professional development is to become a marker or assessor for SQA,  having an understanding of the system will help you change it.
And sign up for a relevant massive open on-line course to see how things are changing.

I am writing this on a Saturday morning where 120 teachers from around Glasgow and the surrounding areas have turned up to take part in a Glow Road Show  in their own time . I know they are really up for change and I hope they know that they really can change things.

There are big opportunities to change thinking in the assessment space and there are huge affordances that technology will bring to learners and this means different ways of assessing and accrediting folk at a national level. I am really hopeful that this is going to start happening with the new awards at National 4 .

I hope folks in school sector learn about how things are delivered , assessed and accredited in the College and work based sectors it will give them more confidence to change things

I am massively optimistic for learners and learning . Change,  it is a coming .

Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year Reflections and Predictions

thanks to  littleperson1832 for image

Last year's predictions were among others that  that "flipped classroom" would become the bullshit bingo word of the year Well I think it came to pass .

I heard it used by number of  touring educational gurus , senior educational managers and academics usually from the lectern or from the stage during  keynotes where no effort was really made to engage the audience. It would be good to get  a greater sense of a flipped classroom at some of the big keynote events like BETT in England or SLF in Scotland. There is still too an attitude that change and innovation comes from above and not from within organisations. Gurus should be setting audiences challenges not coming along with their own stock answers ..I think this was apparent this year in the political domain too across the UK but enough said on that.

It was the year too of the tablet - and they are marvellous and miraculous devices for consuming things . I think they are still challenged when it comes to creating and producing things.

So what to look forward too

1. I think Mozilla Badges and the impact of smaller chunks of assessment. particularly in the computing and coding areas will really support both staff development and learners. It works well in areas like webdesign as the infrastructure is there to support learners.  Have a look at the Mozilla Webmaker tools and badges

We are well positioned to support these in schools , colleges and work-based learning. Our policy in terms of accreditation of prior learning is well developed. I am hoping this helps speed up the adoption of initiatives like this across Scottish education and beyond.  I look forward to pushing this on with Sunny Lee and Doug Belshaw  (Check out Doug's badges on his blog)

2. Is a MOOC a Massive Open On-line Course or a Massively Optimistic Over-Hyped Course ? - Time will tell.   I believe that where the providers of MOOCS make their content open rather use  these as marketing windows or discounted ways to gain accreditation then they will become game changers - as folks will use the content in other useful ways. If the content was open then learners could really see what was involved in a particular course before signing up to it . School teachers could use chunks of learning for their own development and  use these with their students. School students could engage with open material directly. In many workplaces they will  become part of continuous professional development.

I like the optimism and the sense of discovery that surround these programmes.

It is easy to forget that learning is all about a sense of optimism and discovery - it is what spurs learning on.

It also needs to be valued and nurtured - whether it is  happening in a nursery class or with adult and community learners. However humble the learning - the sense of discovery is magical.

3. Open Content is the way ahead . It has been great to share the journey of JORUM over the last 10 years ( If it's inception is taken as the early discussions at the JISC Joint Committee for the Information Environment ) We have a real opportunity to push this on in Scotland through Scotland's Colleges Resource and I hope through the future iteration of GLOW. Ubiquitous and available learning is an important part of the Scottish learning tradition and we need to embrace OER. 

But we do need more policy drivers in this space and I hope through working with the Association for Learning Technology in Scotland we can get these. It would be great if this was the year that the Scottish Government , The Scottish Funding Council and all the educational agencies in Scotland , including my own  could make a commitment to Open Educational Resources. This would support College Regionalisation  break down the local authority silos in schools and almost above all encourage Higher Education to stop pontificating on what happens in schools ,  colleges and work-based learning and encourage them to contribute by sharing  more learning materials.

4. Will Higher Education in Scotland start working with rest of the education system ?  I have high hopes that this might be the year. We've done the right thing in giving HE some more resource over last few years and they occupy a position envied by many in rest of UK . If they opened up a bit more Universities could really support learning across Scotland and beyond. I think a special mention to Edinburgh University for leading charge on joining Coursera but these on-line courses don't come with open educational resources.

Hope that is enough food for thought and may you have a happy and prosperous 2013 when it arrives.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Gun Law - Better to Shoot with Words

I don't often use my blog to tell stories. I hope one day my gun mad six year old son reads this. 
At the moment he is with the Arizona gun lobby who wish to arm teachers discretely and at a discount so they can fight back when their schools are attacked.
Ideally, he would like the six year olds to have guns too.

In around 1990 I spent my first holiday in Washington DC.  I had a great trip but while I was there two 14 year old boys shot each other in a school changing room. It was all over the local media but such a frequent occurrence it was not picked up by the national media. It was a school in a poor predominantly black area where gun crime and gang fighting was endemic, apparently. The media focus was on the school janitors and their lax use of the school metal detectors which had allowed the two boys to bring hand guns into the school. The school district and the janitors looked like they were going to be sued for negligence.

All this was very alien to me. .and I'd been teaching for five years in Glasgow.

It happened that evening I was meeting some distant relatives who were the offspring of my grandfather's wee sister who moved over to the states from Ibrox at the end of WW1. They were a really nice, socially aware, academic couple, proud of their Scottish heritage, who had done well and were running impressive chunks of the Smithsonian. In lots of ways they seemed the same as me, further on in their careers but battling away in that middling educational way to make the world a better place.

Half way through a highly enjoyable meal I asked why no-one in the media had really queried why it was illegal but easy for fourteen year olds to access firearms.

Politely, the gulf in our two cultures suddenly opened up.

Guns were important for protection. I came from a more peaceful part of the world and did not appreciate this. I struggled when I was told that they had a lot of guns and the  licences for them. Indeed, as we sat in the smart diner on the Potomac I was told that they had a piece in her pocket book to deter muggers and at home in a posh suburb of Washington they had among their arsenal an assault rifle which was needed, as it could shoot through the engine block of a truck. The assault rifle was protection against domestic ram raiding which had recently reached epidemic proportions.

The conversation moved on. 
As I moved unarmed back to my digs in Georgetown along the streets that seemed a bit meaner I thought these really nice folk were under siege . The ready availability of guns which they prized as a symbol of their freedom did not seem to give them or their children the liberty they sought.

I hope following this weekend's events it gets harder to access firearms in the USA and no more six year olds need to die.

Monday, December 03, 2012

Inventing the Future of Learning

Sit down and take time to look at this if you are a parent , teacher , policy maker or have an interest in Education - this maps out the short term future of learning very well and the immediate challenges that the system faces. Video comes from project site

Friday, November 16, 2012

ALT-Scotland SIG Update for ALT Newsletter

I think more folks who are interested in Educational Technology in Scotland should become members of the Association for Learning Technology - with thanks to Linda Creanor who composed recent newsletter below

Here is what we are  up to at the moment ...

The ALT-Scotland SIG was officially launched at ALT-C in September 2012 where there was a good attendance and much enthusiasm at the inaugural meeting.  ALT-Scotland is a national SIG for practitioners and researchers in learning technology who are based in Scotland and it provides a forum to –
·         further the aims of ALT in Scotland
·         promote the technology agenda in all sectors of Scottish education
·         encourage sharing of expertise, resources and best practice in learning technology within the context of Scottish education
·         influence relevant policy and strategy
·         develop constructive relationships with related organisations and committees
The original ALT-Scotland group had been established in 2009 to support ALT institutional representatives and Scotland-based committee members, however at a meeting on the 14th June 2012, it was agreed that we should seek to formalise the group by proposing it as a national SIG. This would allow the group to expand its membership to ALT members throughout Scotland and become a more inclusive and influential forum with greater potential to influence the strategic direction of learning technology in Scottish education.  The SIG application was approved by the Membership Services Committee in early September 2012.
The first meeting of the ALT-Scotland steering committee took place at GCU on the 11th October and we agreed a series of actions to move things forward.  As well as a JISC mail list for members, we will host a face-to- face meeting in June each year to which we will invite representatives of the Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Qualifications Authority and key Scottish Government contacts to discuss priority issues for learning technology.  In addition, we intend to present occasional webinars for members over the year and are already contacting potential speakers.
We will also gather information on OER use and strategy across the Scottish education sectors and submit a short report to the Scottish Government to inform policy and practice. Through this, we hope to encourage a Scottish response to the UNESCO OER declaration published earlier this year.
If you are a Scottish-based ALT Individual,  Associate or Organisational member and would like to get involved, you can join the ALT-Scotland JISC mail list by following the link on the ALT-Scotland SIG web page at   To find out more or to make suggestions on areas of interest we might address, please contact any of the SIG officers listed below.

Prof Linda Creanor, GCU, (Co-Chair)
Joe Wilson, SQA, (Co-Chair)
Celeste McLaughlin, JISC RSC Scotland,
Lorna Campbell, JISC CETIS, Strathclyde University,
Dr Lesley Diack, Robert Gordon University,
Martin Hawksey, JISC CETIS, Strathclyde University,

Monday, November 05, 2012

#ETNA Scottish JISC Regional Support Centre ICT Training Needs Analysis Survey 2012

In 2001 I worked to create the first ever Training Needs Analysis for the Scottish Further Education Sector - we used this to drive up skills across the sector.
The survey now happens about every  three years and tracks the ability of teachers , admin support ,  learner support staff and senior managers to use technology effectively in the delivery of services - it is worth a look - it shows you skills that are expected from all levels of staff in the FE sector when it comes to using ICT to deliver their services including those needed by senior managers for strategic planning.

I think it is a great model both for measuring progress,  devising training to fill the skills gaps and just raising general awareness of the ICT skillset that staff need at all levels in education. 

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

#Pedagoo #TMSLF12 #slfFringe New Ventures

I am really lucky as working in new ventures means looking at and sometimes doing  new things,  that  challenge the organisation and my colleagues, in a good way .

Like lots of organisations we spend quite a lot of time looking at future trends . A couple of months  ago I pulled this together from a range of sources to move on  our own organisational debate abou the changes that are happening in global education.

We are always looking for better and more effective ways to support learner journeys.

I used bits of this in my sessions at  #tmslf12  and #slfringe  . The predictions here are sourced mainly from work being done in HE sector Horizons Report  , but also from work by  OU , BBC , LearnDirect in UK and Ofcom.

In one session I was asked why blogging and wikis were not included in current year's trends .
Blogging has been about now for more than  ten years and editable webpages for a similar period.

We need to think about how we make the most of what is in front of us as well as what we have already.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

#GCSE and General Standards Debate

I doubt the GCSE debate will end well for anyone. But in amongst all the debate around the dumbing down of assessments or in some accounts of  the amazing performances by teachers contributing to raised grades and finally the acknowledgement that years of market driven offerings may have contributed to inflationary conditions.We are forgetting about those who do the graft and need the grades to progress into further education or employment.

 In all of this it is too easy to lose sight of the learner and the learning that is taking place and we are doing learners a dis-service in not recognising that more effort goes into studying for formal qualification now than probably at any other time.ever across the UK.

Learning has already changed for learners . No not in the classroom where most useful things are  blocked but in informal learning.

There is now enormously rich  learning content if you know where to find it. I think young people are now more motivated than ever to learn . I'll not provide links as  , as motivated learners you will quickly find these learning resources. . But if you wanted help and lots of practice with any of the following you would get it quickly on the web - you could enrol on a free course or join an informal peer support network too

Teaching an American novel
Solving quadratic equations
Studying chemical reaction
Learning a language

The posh kid may once have had access to a tutor or " Coles " notes or some other additional support ,  now those with access to the Internet can get almost infinite information on most topics.. But not just information they can get tailored learning support , practice and feedback.

This  must this be impacting on grades. . If you want to learn how to do something or get access to documentary evidence better than your modern studies or history class offer,  then YouTube is a great place to start..

What we should be thinking about is how we harness these resources and how we close any digital divide.
We should be thinking too,  as we are in Scotland, of  how to combine the best bits of flexible internal continuous assessment with appropriate amounts of external assessment.

We should be looking beyond the exam hall at what comes next to support individual learner journeys.

#EATP European Association of Test Providers Conference September 2012

Once a year the commercial testing industry gathers in Europe.

If there was an underlying theme of the conference it was one of challenging and changing market conditions for the big global test providers. The market is still dominated by Pearson Vue and Prometric.  In Europe in the domain of national standards testing CITO powers many of the OECD initiatives.

The market for on-line testing is still growing exponentially, but is becoming more sophisticated, moving from traditional multiple choice items delivered in on-line in proctored environments towards more agile and mobile forms of assessment.  The market leaders are being challenged by new technologies and by new entrants who can now quickly build the same global reach..

A quote from one of of the speakers I think highlights dilemma

“ Test publishers are struggling to find and maintain investment in new ways of testing. The old regulatory model used to be “shut up, sit down and take the test” . The new models mean that learners and employers are looking for more just in time testing  and knowledge building approaches that include more authentic forms of assessment and more sophisticated assessments"

It was good to see under the bonnet of a few testing systems and good too to hear about developments across Europe and this year there was some good input from Australia .

Some of the underlying themes have not changed since last time I spoke at this conference.

Great to see Gavin Cooney and Learnosity winning business down under..

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

#Glasgow2014 Commonwealth Games Scotland 2014

Following the Olympics excitement is really building about Glasgow 2014.  There is already a real buzz about the City of Glasgow  as the new building projects reach completion.

There are already opportunities to register for


Monday, June 18, 2012

Brave - Visit Scotland Ad Looking Good

Looking forward to seeing the movie Visit Scotland Website looks good
Gosh only need a rainy day over Scottish summer as an excuse to go to the movies and that will never happen ;-)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Closed Minds in an Open World

thanks to Gabriel Vivas for image under Creative Commons Licence 

I enjoyed chatting with members of the Association of Learning Technology at Glasgow Caledonian University on Thursday morning. It was great to speak to  lots of like minds. It is great that the Funding Council is committed to open  - but we need more folks to know this - it should be reflected in institutional policies . It should stretch into schools and FE and other government agencies, who should be leading by example.

A clear policy steer was made in 2004 . It is quite hard to find policy in action though !

 I included my own as an example of one that is trying to open up but could do with more of a  policy steer.

What would a more open world look like ...

1. To get institutions and teachers to throw off the shackles and get sharing - ideally using creative commons or other suitable open licences ( publishing only to an institutional VLE or even to the closed part of national intranet like GLOW is not open)

2. Non Departmental Public Bodies and other public agencies should understand open publishing too and be using the appropriate licensing. I'll stick here with learning content here but similar cases should be made for open data etc

3. In vocational space and probably school space too we should be doing much more reaching out to Commonwealth of Learning and initiatives like the American Community College Open Text Book initiatives. The Khan Academy and some other big charitable initiatives are really just the tip of much bigger iceberg of teachers and learners making and sharing content.

4. In UK we need to make more use of JISC and other institutional OER . There are real staff development needs in schools and FE for example in areas like computing and genetics to identify just two areas. But in lots of cases great teaching resources are open and available in the system but awareness is low . Education Scotland and others should be looking for evidence of a range of these materials being used across education.

5. In a UK context perhaps  Do you know about JORUM and better what is your publishing record to JORUM ? . Where is the Scottish or UK schools equivalent of JORUM ?

I am hoping that ALT can help all of us by pulling together a draft Scottish response to the next  UNESCO Declaration on OER which will appear after 20th of June 2012.

Open is part of the culture of Scottish Education but we need to get more folks to understand how to get there.

It is great too to have agencies like ALT who have been punching above their weight in this space for a long time. Great too that JISC have always committed themselves to the open space.

I suppose I better declare an interest  I've been on executive of ALT , I am currently on their publications committee and I still sit on advisory committee of JORUM - but I think that is just an indication that I am doing my bit .

Monday, May 21, 2012

Three Developments That Are Transforming Online Learning

Really aimed at my colleagues in the Scottish Further Education sector .
But for the forward thinking just as relevant for a schools audience.

Sir John Daniel, headed the Open University between 1990 and 2001, and knows a lot about large-scale distance learning.

Thanks to Seb Schmoller for flagging this up.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

#Cam12 Innovation and Impact Open Educational Resources

I was privileged to attend the cloisters of Queens College for Cambridge 2012 which combined OER12 and the OCW Consortium’s Global Conference. The conference theme,"Innovation and Impact" was around openly collaborating to enhance education. The event brought together academics, professionals, students and policy makers interested in advancing the impact of OpenCourseWare and Open Educational Resources on education globally.

It was interesting to see two or three articles picking up themes from this conference in the press over the weekend. 

Here are a few bullets that I hope capture the event and the ideas flowing around it. All the presentations from the conference will appear here.
  • Indonesia - are building an open educational architecture for life long learning to support their 40 million students They have already digitized 5,000 senior secondary text books these are available freely for everyone to download. The next Global Open Courseware Consortium will be held in Bali Indonesia . Open Education is only way that Indonesia can meet the needs of its learners. 
  • UNESCO will hold a world forum in Paris in June with the aim of refreshing the Open Declaration. The Draft declaration has been sent to every government for comment. If you have time to take in one presentation from the proceedings watch this one from Sir John Daniel 
  • The American Community Colleges have made remarkable progress in 18 months in building and developing their own open-course books . These resources are available to everyone under Creative Commons Licences and the print versions will save learners collectively millions of dollars, pounds, yen:  insert relevant currency. The programme is gathering momentum
  • As learning content becomes free the  focus moves to what institutions can add to learning in terms of teaching , learning and social connectivity. The next generation curriculum will reflect competencies scaffolded on problem solving activities with the underpinning knowledge being open and free. 
  • The volume of content that is going to arrive as open content and or through creative commons licences will impact on learning at every level all around the world 
  • Institutions and countries need to position themselves to make the most of this shift to open content and collaboration . This willl have an impact on the biggest to the smallest institution.
My take homes are to take the  UNESCO Draft declaration back to my own non departmental public body and see what else we can do to support the agenda. I will carry the message back too to our government and related agencies. 

Education has the power to transform lives but too often access is restricted.  Among those excluded are those who lack the right qualifications, who cannot pay the fees or who are unable to accommodate a fixed schedule.  The Open Education movement seeks to remove barriers to education by freely sharing educational resources and adopting open educational practices.  
By publishing resources with Creative Commons licences[1], rights owners and authors are explicitly encouraging use and adaptation by both educators and learners.  By seeking out Open Educational Resources in preference to copyrighted materials teachers and lecturers are helping more learners to benefit from them.
National organisations such as the Higher Education Academy[2] and the Joint Information Systems Committee[3] in the UK and international agencies such as UNESCO[4] have recognised the importance of Open Education.  This Statement of Commitment is intended for individuals to publically pledge their support for Open Education.  It has been drawn up by the newly formed Open Education SIG which aims to support, develop, sustain and influence policy in Open Education.

I think this all sits well with Scotland's educational traditions around particularly the democratisation of the intellect . Great too to see Association of Learning Technology taking this issue on.

Education is about to become a lot less cloistered.

Monday, April 09, 2012

#GG2012 Going Global 2012 London

I was invited to participate in the British Council's Going Conference in London 13-15th March 2012 to present on the topic of Open Educational Resources or more specifically ways of attempting to overcome the barriers to their adoption.

I was interviewed as part of the proceedings and this edited version was kindly shared by the organisers.
I did a plug for   which has been cut from this  version -

My workshop materials are free to anyone who needs them under Creative Commons Licence,

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

#naace 2012

I attended NAACE conference with one thing to do, to find out how organised naace were in offering an alternative ICT curriculum for English schools. If you have been following announcements then you should know that from September 2012 the  ICT curriculum in English schools has been suspended at the moment for two years.  There is now no obligation to follow national curriculum.

    There had been much talk of new curriculums , of wikification , of stakeholder engagement of lots of things really and there  does seem to be lots of things going on. NAACE once were really the association for local authority ICT Advisors now attendees span a broader church of primary and secondary teachers  So what were the messages ?

  1.    Ofstead are relaxed that there will be lot of ways to drive up standards.
  2.   In theory individual  schools could  now make their own standards in this space
  3.   This is about national curriculum redesign not about qualifications design but what may emerge are new awards 
  4.   Some schools have already made big changes to their curriculum  they will be showcased .
  5.   Dfe giving Naace control of ICT mark and self review framework now official was previously BECTA  
  6.   Awarding bodies and industry subject associations arr encouraged  to develop creative solutions  Some arriving already  examples of innovative programmes  Computing at school Behind the Screen Apps for Good AQA and edexcel new gcse proposals in computer science  
  7.  You need to follow your own curriculum but flavours also arriving from NAACE , BCS , e-skills  , cas , you choose 
 Overall the focus is on programming and creating and the academically challenging bits  Computer science should be in everyone's minds.  But digital literacy and using ICT across the curriculum is still important.

 Is this the deregulation or the  derailing of national curriculum jury is out.

 I think NAACE should do more to take ownership of curriculum in this space while they have this opportunity I hope they do more to promoted their level 1 , 2 and 3 Curriculum. I think folks will get a bit confused about new GCSE that will appear in between now and September,

 Big shout out to Derek Robertson and John Johnston who picked up awards for conolarium and for growing teach meet community respectively.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Social Media Policy

Well done Australia always heralded as a forward looking confident society. This is a great piece for any employer in the private or public sector.

Interesting to note this particular presentation is for state legal services folk. Scottish Court services take note.

Lots of good practice highlighted nicely

I'll pass on to team that looks after SQA's social software policy. A useful clip for lots of organisations.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Big History

Winging its way out to Directors of Education and Headteachers tomorrow a superb opportunity for three schools and the science and social science departments ...and more
We have been invited as a Nation to participate in the pilot roll out of the Big History Project
Funded by Bill Gates directly through Bill Gates Catlyst Three. This is a superb opportunity to be part of a cutting edge,  project based learning,  global project - that fits very well with a Curriculum for Excellence

The SQA and The BIg History Project  invite applications to be part of The Big History Project and join pilot schools in Australia and USA
  • We are looking for three secondary schools in close proximity to each other - this is stipulation from the Big History Project.
  • Funding is available for two teachers from each school to attend the programme induction in Seatlle, USA between 22-25th March 2012.
  • These teachers will be a Science Teacher and a Social Subjects Teacher ( the curriculum leaders).
  • Participating schools need to deliver the Big History programme as a pilot from September 2012 to a 2nd or 3rd Year cohort  and provide feedback where appropriate.  
  • Participating schools will also be expected to carry out a curriculum mapping exercise for the Big History Project materials to the experiences and outcomes of CfE.

You can find out more about the Big History Project here
You can hear a message from David Christian to Scottish Schools here

Pilot schools will gain experience of working with global partners on a new and innovative multidisciplinary curriculum.

To apply for this opportunity - we need  an Education Authority’s nomination of three suitable schools.  The project will meet the travel and subsistence costs associated with the programme but will not provide cover costs for the  induction programme.

Applications will be screened by panel drawn from SQA, Education Scotland and The Big History Project.

Applications should consist of one side A4  with  a simple statement  from each of three nominated schools on Why the Big History project appeals to them.  

Attached to the application we need  a name and short resume of  the Science and Social Science Teacher nominated to take part in induction programme.from each of the three schools. Given the tight timescale on this nominees need to hold a full British Passport.

Applications close on Monday 5th of March - successful applicants will be contacted to make travel arrangements on 7th of March .

Applications should be emailed to
A special thanks due to @olliebray and @islayian for spotting this opportunity and making the introductions that made this happen

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog

Sometimes while sitting in meetings talking once again about the revolution due to sweep our out moded education system to one side  I forget that I've spent more than  25 years using different kinds of technology in the classroom and the  workplace.

In all that time I still haven't got away from using a  keyboard as my main input tool - I was trying to get all of my students to wordprocess their essays in 1986.  You can't imagine how challenging that was.

There were folks then and there still  are those  who staunchly challenge the  notion that most folk should be able to use a keyboard  to compose simple messages for blogging , emailing ,etc and for doing a  lot more too.

You would not survive long in most workplaces without having some rudimentary skills.

The thing that still annoys me is that a lot of these superior voices around things like basic ICT skills do their postings from well designed and formatted  blogs or worse from professional media and not in handwritten notes. I'd wager too that their once pristine copperplate is rustier  than it has ever been. My handwriting is now awful and reserved for birthday cards and personal greetings - even for most things work I fall back on an electronic signature.

I was therefore  delighted last week to hear that my daughter who is in primary four is getting some basic keyboard skills and is keen to key her stories into the word processor.

To illustrate and admittedly probably greatly handicapped by my indigenous Glaswegian accent I had a go at using the Dragon  speech to text app to save me keying in all of this  - I  like the fantasy of the cats bit.

Sometimes chicken is noting because I still haven't got the keyboard still force is going to keep challenging the notion that most folks should be given to use one to compose suddenly suitable union except you and I survived Lord knows what places without having some rudimentary skills is that still annoys me is all of the superior voices I don't think that basic ICT skills do the postings were designed for McDonald's and handwritten and I waited to it once Christine is rustier than ever was my own ratings of fantasy of the cats get someone

I guess someone will pick up on me for promoting dull things like the use of word processing , spreadsheets , databases and presentation software but it is a basic skill .

It would be great if any responses by those in the anti-keyboarding lobby were added below, without the use of a keyboard ;-)

Thursday, February 02, 2012

How the World is Changing

What a great way to get your fingers dirty without getting your fingers dirty - -We do really need folks who can draw and design without templates. Worth a look though ! Drawing Tools on Tablet Devices are so cool