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Someone recently asked me which educational podcasts I listen to. It got me thinking about the different podcasts and what makes them each unique. Although they all focus on education and so often incorporate some element of technology and pedagogy. What makes them each unique in my view is the voice in which they provide. By ‘voice’ I not only mean the perspective grasped, but also the means in which it is presented. I feel that the best way to represent these differences is through different forms of refreshments and the context created through each one.
 

RU Connected

I am not sure if it is my habit of listening to the podcast at school early in the morning or it is the style of conversation, but I always feel as if I am sitting at a cafe with +Jenny Ashby and +Lois Smethurst drinking a coffee and having a chat. Wandering from one subject to the next, each different episode seems to flow into one. What I like most is that it is a celebration of learning with an effervescent joy.
 

2 Regular Teachers

A little bit like RU Connected, +Rick Kayler-Thomson and +Adam Lavars podcast is a open discussion about education from the chalkface. It is an open and honest discussion of what is happening in and out of their classroom, as well as some musing about how things could be different. Whether this is due to the two duelling personalities or the common nature of the topics discussed, but listening feels like sitting at a bar and just having a few casual beers.
 

Teachers’ Education Review

Unlike the subjective approaches to education provided by RU Connected and 2 Regular Teachers, the +TER Podcast attempts to provide a more serious platform for the deeper discussion of anything and everything relating to education. Although +Cameron Malcher and +Corinne Campbell will share examples of their own experiences, it is often to dig deeper into a particular issue in the news. What is also a little different is that the podcast often provides a platform for experts to dig deeper into a wide range of topics impacting schools all over Australia. To me this is a more complex mix and I think that with its length, it is something that you dedicate a certain amount of time to. It is a serious drink.
 

Ed Tech Crew

I think that the +Ed Tech Crew Podcast is a bit of an enigma to explain. One week it will be casual chat between +Tony Richards and +Darrel Branson about tips and tricks collected via social media, another week there might be guest interviews, whilst other times they will open things up to a panel of people. In the end, I think that the podcast is best thought of as a night around at a mates sitting around drinking home brew where everyone is welcome. Although the process has been somewhat perfected overtime, you still never quite know what you are going to get each time you listen. There is no promise of anything in particular, just a few guys who love technology and education.
 
 
So these are some of the local educational podcasts I listen to, what about you? Are there any that I have missed that should be added to my playlist? If so, what is it about them that you like and keeps you listening. Feel free to share below.
 
NOTE: I must apologies for using the drinking analogies, however I couldn’t think of anything better to differentiate. 

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creative commons licensed (BY-NC-SA) flickr photo by DennisCallahan: http://flickr.com/photos/denniscallahan/9321465398
 
My school is currently developing a long term plan in regards to our goals in 21st century learning, as well as investment in devices and infrastructure. Some of the questions of concern that were raised were:
  • what ‘packages’ do schools offer their students, especially when they are further along the line in regards to BYO.
  • What is the change over time in regards to devices, particularly in schools which dictate the device parents must purchase.
  • Where are devices stored, especially during breaks.
In an effort to gage a wider perspective, I created a Google Form and sent it out to my PLN. It was pleasing to open up the survey and find 35 different responses.
 
The survey was made up of five multiple choice questions including: 
  1. What year levels do you have 1 to 1 devices and what are they?
  2. How are your devices funded?
  3. What is the time frame on your devices? How long have you banked on them lasting?
  4. Where are the devices stored during break times etc …
  5. What has been the biggest hurdle with your 1 to 1 program?
My thinking was to make the survey as easy and efficient as possible. Therefore, although +Richard Olsen rightly pointed out that the most important question is why do you use 1:1 in your school, I didn’t feel that it quite fitted with the scope of my survey. I was worried that such a question would be evasive and put people off.
 
Some of the observations that I made about the 1:1 devices in school from the survey is that iPad are more predominant in the early years and largely absent in the senior years. However, I feel that if there was an option for multiple devices that some of the Macbook/netbook schools probably allow students to bring a tablet as well. Another interesting observation was that even though they are no-one’s first choice, netbooks are still the most common device in use. I would assume out of economic necessity and belief that the Windows OS is still the most reliable to run in schools. Overall though, what stood out the most was the amount of schools that still lack any sort of 1:1 roll out.
 
On the flip side though, I did notice a few issues with this section. For example, there is no way of knowing whether each school is primary or secondary. Also, there is no way of knowing what other devices are being used or whether there were multiple devices in use.
 

 
Leased 9 26%
BYO Program 8 23%
Part Payment 3 9%
Other 15 43%
 
 
In relation to payment, it would seem that there is a move away from part payments and moving towards either leasing the devices (which can work out to be expensive) or a BYO scenario. I make the assumption that some of the ‘others’ are probably those schools which do not actually have a program.
3 Years 13 37%
4 Years 12 34%
5 Years 2 6%
Other 8 23%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
A big point of contention is how long devices are planned to last. It would seem that the most common timeline is three years. However, I think that it probably depends on the type of device. Cared for, netbooks and Macbooks could be argued to have a longer lifetime, particularly in regards to operating systems. One of the issues with iPads that +Corrie Barclay pointed out to me recently was that the operating system often outgrows the devices leaving schools with the dilemma of having to manually update, rather than utilise the range of tools out there which allow you to manage multiple devices. One responder summed up the situation by stating that roll over was in fact chosen by the parents. When they felt that it was time to update their child’s device, they did. I would imagine that this is probably where things maybe heading.
Trolley 7 18%
Tubs 3 8%
Lockers 14 36%
Other 15 38%
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
As with the payments question, I would presume that the fifteen ‘others’ are schools without devices, another fault with the survey. From the other results, it would seem that lockers are the most common place of storage. Here I am left to wonder though whether those 14 represent the secondary schools in the group. This question is a little hamstrung by the fact that there is nothing to discern between primary and secondary, nor was there an option for multiple answers.
 
 
 
I could not help myself but ask what people had found was their biggest hindrance. The ‘other’ in the pie chart is a bit of a misnomer for if you look at the responses, they often provide a mixture of issues. If you look through all the responses, the same as with the responses to my post ‘What Digital Revolution?‘, the two most common trends seem to be support in regards to planning and professional development, as well as staff actually utilising these devices. Strangely enough though, these two elements seem deeply inter-related.


In the end, I think that the reality is that 1:1 is a complicated topic and maybe such a survey cannot really grasp the full picture. However, it did highlight a few things that surprised me a little, such as the amount of schools without any sort of program. 


Two things that I am left wondering are, what is the place of school community in all of these decisions and where are people going next? +Darrel Branson made the point in Episode 243 of the +Ed Tech Crew about the importance of consulting with the community in regards to decisions and really selling it to them. This is something that is hard to measure on a wide scale and can probably only be done at a local level, for every community is going to be different. While, the second point I am left wondering is where is everyone going? Fine, there was a high percentage of schools that may not have 1:1 now, I am intrigued as to what those schools have in the pipe works and what this survey would produce in five years time. I guess the only answer is that we keep on searching for better solutions based on the learning needs of the local situation, because in today’s political climate, I don’t think it is going to get any easier.
I would love your thoughts about the issue. Maybe you have recently changed tact or have something to add that you feel I have missed. Feel free to comment below.

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A few weeks ago, I had the great opportunity to be a part of Google Hangout for +Ed Tech Crew Episode 238. The big question being addressed was: If you were only able to give one piece of advice to a new ICT Co-ordinator in a school, what advice would you give them. Although I have had a go at outlining my thoughts elsewhere, here are the gems offered by the wider team …
 
+Ashley Proud – Be relentless with whatever you do.
+Mick Prest – Make sure that you are connected to a wider community.
+Mel Cashen – Have both short and long term goals, don’t just think about right here, right now.
+Lois Smethurst – Narrow your field of focus to something that you believe is going to make a difference with.
+Darren Murphy – Go and listen to people, get teachers and leadership on board
+Aaron Davis – Create a team and develop a collaborative plan.
+Roland Gesthuizen – Coach the kind of learning that you want to be happening and be disruptive, facilitate the learning rather than mandate it.
+Tony Richards – Just have a go at doing something, this includes modelling the behaviours that you want people to have.
+Darrel Branson – Develop relationships in and out of the school.
What are your thoughts? Is there something that has been missed that you would add? Keep the conversation going either below or on Twitter.

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The other day I received an invite from +Darrel Branson to participate in an episode of the +Ed Tech Crew . The question up for discussion is: what advice would you give a new teacher just appointed as an ICT coordinator? I know that the medium is more about the meeting of the minds, I decided to clarify my own thoughts on the matter. I am sure that there are things that I may have missed, but here is my start to the discussion …
  • There is No ‘I’ in Team. The first thing that any co-ordinator in any position should do is to build a team. I am of the belief that one person has the power to bring about change, swapping one thing for another, it is through the power of a team that evolution occurs. Develop your team by engaging with those people who have some skills and expertise, find out who has some passion that you can utilise. This may not be a formal group that say meets at 8:00am every Thursday morning, rather it needs to be thought of as a group of people who you consult with, discuss key issues with, utilise to drive change forward. Ideally, this group should include representatives from all the key areas: parents, teachers, administration, technicians, even students. One of the most essential ingredients to all this is the ability to listen. There is no point at all having a heap of members in your team if you are not going to give them an authentic voice.
  • Times Spent in Reconnaissance is Time Well Spent. It is so important to develop a plan, both for yourself and the organisation as a whole. Define what you think that role encompasses. Find out what leadership expect from your you. Don’t just assume who will do what work and that everyone knows what is trying to be achieved. Your plan should not only include an overarching vision for role and the department, but some steps involved in turning this from an ideal into a reality.
  • There is No Such Things As Bad Publicity. Once you have a team with a clear vision, you need to share this with the rest of the school. A game plan is useless if the wider team is not privy to it and on-board. Whether it be sending out short emails. Asking for some time during staff meetings. Presenting to Year Level or KLA Teams. Maintaining a blog. Celebrating achievements, however small they may be. Stamping out myths and misconceptions by clarifying any confusion early. Use any means possible to spruik your message again and again and again. As the saying goes, “there is no such thing as bad publicity”. Just remember to use a bit of humour and creativity when doing it, the worst thing to do is to lose your audience before you’ve even started.
  • Spread the Load. The worst thing that you can do when trying to bring about change is feel that you have to do everything by yourself. Fine there is always someone who does a bit of bullocking work when it comes to setting things up, whether this be creating users for a new program or managing the installation of various applications. However, for these things to take action in class, you really need to get everyone on board. You can’t teach every student, if as a co-ordinator you get the opportunity to teach at all, so at some point you really need to focus on training the trainer. A part of this comes back to not only introducing new applications and tools, but also providing a clear justification why you have introduced it. In reality, your success and failure as a co-ordinator often has little to do with your ability to do something, rather it often comes down to your ability to convince others to join the cause.
  • Be a Problem Solver. Although you may have a plan about what you are trying to get done, about what vision you are trying to instil, unless you respond to the day-to-day requests you are not going to get anywhere. It is integral to make sure that you leave time and space for random requests. Being flexible not only allows you to identify various issues staff may be facing, but also encourages others to listen to you if you are willing to listen to them. In addition to this, it is often through the requests made by staff that you find out what the real issues are. This information usually has a flow on effect and helps when revising various plans and goals.
  • Your Association Needs You. Find out what your local ICT Association is and join up. This will often provide you not only with a list of possible professional development that you can be a part of, but also thoughts and ideas from other educators to help spur you on. The reality is that without members, associations are meaningless. Sadly, you often don’t realise how important they are until they are not there.
  • Connections, Connections, Connections. You will never have all the solutions, if you do, then you do not know all the problems. Whether in person at conferences or online through various social media forums, such as Twitter and Google+, actively develop your own PLN. If it is not a personal network, then find one that already exists and join up. Take +Mel Cashen‘s great initiative for example for all Victorian educators on Google+ – ‘Vic Educators‘. Having a wide range of connections in and out of school is so important. Not only for the spread of information and ideas, but just for perspective. One of the challenges though with being a part of any PLN is being seen to not only take, but also give back in return. If you wish others to answer your questions or share their ideas, you also need to be willing answer their questions and share a few ideas of your own.
  • Do as I Do, Not as I Say. Whether it be authentically engaging with different applications and devices, like Twitter or using an iPad, or simply developing a positive presence online, it is important to be a model user for others to follow. Don’t just be a leader, be a lead learner as +Joe Mazza would have it. Know what it means to be on the other side of things, be a learner first. A part of this is discovering new ideas that you do not know and embracing them, engaging with them, experiment with them.
I am sure that there is something that I have missed. Is there anything that you would add? Is there anything that you do not agree with? I would love your thoughts in the comments.

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