#EduTechScot Conference 2017

Conference panel for Digital Schools Awards

The Scottish Government’s STEM Education and Training strategy points to the important role STEM Education & Training has to play if we are to fully realise aspirations for all children and young people to have the skills and confidence needed to work, contribute and live in a technologically-advanced and digitally-inclusive society.

Aimed at teachers and education professionals, the delegate-focused event featured 9 interactive workshops and keynotes from some of the foremost international digital learning experts. I was delighted to present to delegates on the Digital Schools Awards Scotland. The conference offered an opportunity for leaders to reflect on what can be done to help Scotland address its attainment gap and how digital can be used as part of a STEM learning toolkit. EduTech 2017 is focused on results so the conference will be given national visibility through a full report featured in The Times Scotland.

For now, here are a few photographs of my session, and a link to the event Storify narrative.

Lee Dunn introducing colleagues from Dalry and Lundavra Primary Schools

BBC Radio Scotland

On Tuesday 21st March, 2017, I was invited to participate on The Kaye Adams Programme (BBC Radio Scotland) for an open discussion on online learning within our classrooms. The discussion was based around an innovative approach to distance learning from the Western Isles. You can access the Scotsman article here:

Plans for video link lessons to deal with teacher shortage

The radio recording is available visa BBC iPlayer (for 29 days) and my segment begins around 2 hours and 40 minutes into the show. You can access the original recording here.

A YouTube version of the sound file can be accessed here.

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Technology Education: Do we have a PR crisis?

It has been a long-standing commentary that resides with teachers around the country, that technology education suffers at the hands of science and mathematics. I have heard many jokes since I began my teaching career in 1997, as a student aged 18. Isn’t it sad, that twenty years later, we are no further forwards? Most would probably argue that we have actually slipped backwards, and there is sufficient evidence to suggest that they may be correct. We know that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) education is an international priority. Humanity is seeking to explore its potential through new, exciting and emerging technologies, yet it is more often than not, that the ‘T’ and the ‘E’ is missed out from STEM. Much of the focus sits on science and with initiatives such as the Scottish Attainment Challenge; it now also sits with Maths.

If you teach Technology Education and you’re reading this, my next statement will resonate deeply with you. The majority of people outwith our subject discipline do not understand what we do. There are many misconceptions that we simply chop up bits of wood, play with metal, draw pretty pictures and use computers to generate portfolios. They are, of course, correct in many respects, but this perception is superficial and does not penetrate the domain level knowledge that we transfer through multi and interdisciplinary learning experiences, nor does it fully interrogate the range of skills that permeate everything that we do.

Over the last 12 months, I have seen many instances where STEM has not been presented accurately. If the people mean science, why not just call it so? The attractive, political advantage of referring to STEM sounds grand, but it does not fool me. It should not fool you, either. Much of the education system (including the constituent parts within Government) need to get their act together. If I had my way, I would refer to it as TEMS, where Technology and Engineering becomes priority and Science takes a back seat for once. Or at least, there is real parity between them. It is even more frustrating when I go around the country; to see that primary teaching colleagues (I am careful here – not all are included in this category for many are excellent!) tell me that their Technologies curriculum is based on making a Powerpoint and using a digital device. That is not acceptable. Something is broken and all aspects of the education system need to consider fair and equitable representation of the national curriculum. We are, I suggest, doing our kids an injustice.

These issues are also apparent internationally. A valued colleague recently attended a presentation by Dr Mark Sanders of Virginia Tech, who was discussing a history of Technology Education in the United States. Mark is a proponent of Integrative STEM Education where the ‘T’ and ‘E’ form the central contexts for learning, in which pupils purposefully learn about relevant science and maths. Whilst my colleague found this interesting (taking his notes) one statement stuck with him, which he later shared with my students. Mark said that technology education in the US suffered from a serious lack of ability in effective PR. He went on to cite the Maker Movement as something that is attracting far more attention, federal funding and support. It is being spoken about as a new frontier, combining learning and making things is the new way forward. Since then, I have been far more aware of this type of discourse. In an article, read on the train on the way to campus, I read about the introduction of a maker space into the classroom and the piece began by effectively asking the following question (this next bit is paraphrased): ‘Can you imagine the possibilities we could get by combining DIY [Do It Yourself] with education?!!’. Another LinkinED in post said that STEM offered fantastic learning potential for pupils to actually make things.

Interestingly, some schools around the world have now adopted this title for their workshops and studios, for example the Makerspace in Robert Thirsk High School, Calgary. Check out the text below from their website. Sound familiar?

“Keith Christensen, CTS Learning Leader, and Scott Blenkhorne, Technology Learning Leader, have been working hard to create an inviting active learning space with an amazing variety of tools and equipment. Highlights include a plotter printer, 3D printer, laser cutter, vinyl cutter, a sewing machine, robotic kits, Arduino microcontrollers, and Raspberry Pi kits.”

I have discussed this at length with some of you and we believe that people are blissfully unaware of the fact that this already happens in schools. Politicians cite the importance of meeting the future skills required for emerging industries, yet our national courses are often omitted from further and higher education entry requirements and in some instances, completely misrepresented. It would seem then, that Dr Sanders is correct and that the growing PR crisis around our subject area also exists here in Scotland.

To conclude, I want to leave you with a few questions for your reflection.

  • Do you agree with my concerns?
  • Why is the maker movement receiving such attention, funding and support while Technology Education does not?
  • When the subjects/national qualifications were re-developed as part of Curriculum for Excellence, did we do this correctly?
  • What is problematic about the advertising slogan: ‘Design and Technology: The Maker Subject?’ What branding do you think we need to apply to our discipline? Do we need a brand?
  • How can we address this PR crisis? What actions need to be taken and by whom?

Thanks to my colleague, Dr Morrison-Love [University of Glasgow] for the usual, inspiring pep talk over coffee, that resulted in this post!

Next speaking event: Learning Through Technology

Learning Through Technology (6th June 2017)

Technology Innovation Centre (University of Strathclyde)

The Digital Learning and Teaching Strategy for Scotland was published in September 2016. The report outlines how important young people consider the use of digital technologies as a learning, revision and research tool. Equally important is the recognition that it will be the educators who are key to realising the government’s objectives in Education rather than the digital technologies themselves; unless we empower teachers and school staff and equip them with digital skills and confidence to use classroom technology, our children won’t be able to take advantage of the attainment opportunities technology brings.

Join me at Holyrood’s 6th annual Learning Through Technology event as we demonstrate how we can best embed digital technology into school education and assessment, increase the confidence of educators and improve access to technology across Scotland.

My session will run at the end of the conference and will be focused on social media in the classroom.

More details can be found here.

 

Annual Survey Of The Use Of Digital Technology / Glow

Education Scotland carries out an annual survey of school staff and pupils to find out more about their use of digital technology in general and Glow in particular. This has been run most years in the last decade and it provides useful information which influences what the programme team within Education Scotland do throughout the year to meet the needs of Scotland’s staff and pupils. They survey is anonymous and no personal data is sought.

Last year 1,009 staff and 1,238 pupils completed the survey, below you will see a summary of the responses received. You can access the survey here.

2016 Survey Highlights

  • Staff report a high level of confidence in their use of digital technology (82% quite or very confident)
  • 87% of staff use digital technology in the classroom at least 2 to 4 times a week
  • 76% of staff report that digital technology has had either a very significant or notable positive impact on learning and teaching in the classroom
  • 67% of staff respondents use Glow at least 2 to 4 times a week.
  • 10% of respondents have never used Glow.
  • Biggest barrier for use of digital technology is slow internet access at school (55%), other issues also given include lack of time and lack of IT resource
  • 75% of respondents who use Glow believe it has a positive impact on their learning and teaching
  • Staff are satisfied with the tools provided within Glow – RM Unify and Microsoft O365 provide the highest satisfaction, Glow Wikis the least.
  • 56% of staff use Glow for whole class teaching although 26% of respondents do not use Glow with pupils.
  • 90% of pupils are either quite or very confident in their use of digital technology
  • 91% of pupils use the internet whilst at school
  • 44% use Glow every week, 5% use it every day
  • 86% of pupils use digital technology to help with their work outside of school.

Education needs to move beyond tablet devices – a perspective on mixed reality #NDLW17

The education technology landscape has changed considerably over the last few years. Emerging devices and new approaches to learning are at the fore of new teaching pedagogy, with an increased focus on the use of digital technology in the classroom. The blended approach to teaching through virtual learning environments is accentuated by the increase in hardware availability and the exponential growth of holographic computing and software development. The social shaping of technology presents a paradox in many forms. It can be difficult to establish the purpose and use of technology beyond recreation and this is a challenge that we need to accept. A similar model exists within social media. We know that it can change the way that people live, work and play, but it is unclear if society is shaping this technology through demand and use or if the technology is actually transforming our human interaction. Humanity is very good at innovation and our only limit is our imagination. Yet, many people are unable to visualise education beyond the use of tablet devices, laptops and personal computers.

It may seem like substance of a science fiction movie, but holographic and immersive technologies are becoming more mainstream within society. In the past, education has been slow to react to technological innovation. It’s time to change that paradigm. The initial exploration and application of virtual reality may be within the computer gaming industry, but the potential to mix our physical and virtual world in the classroom is a game changer in the making. Major research development and investment from corporations such as Microsoft, Intel, HP and Pearson, all illustrate the seriousness of this new business. There are many challenges facing this technology and in its infancy, we still have some way to go before we fully immerse ourselves into a Star Trek holodeck. There has been some advancement though, and we are now beginning to recognise the real opportunities that these technologies can afford.

Sadly, the terminology is often misused. Many confuse the terms virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. Think on it as a continuum. It’s a straight line that exists from one point to the next. At one end, we have our physical world; the natural environment in which we normally interact. The other end is fully immersive and only exists virtually. Everything that you see and hear is an illusion, presented to you via augmented technology, such as a headset or worn device. It is actually the midpoint of our continuum, the part in the middle between the physical and virtual world, where we really want to play. The ability to mix our realities and to interact with virtual objects in our physical environment is an attractive prospect. Imagine a scenario where a single immersive classroom could be used to teach in a medical lab, an engineering workshop or even on a space station. A safe, secure and interchangeable environment that is pre-programmed to deliver learning within a given context. This has the potential to re-focus many theories of learning, whilst providing a platform to integrate artificial intelligence and constituents that can provide us with interactive commentary, participation and holographic tools for collaboration. Through shared experiences, anyone, anywhere in the world, would be able to learn together. The lines between synchronous and asynchronous learning would become blurred.

There are many examples around the world to illustrate such an application. Industry is already working in partnership with academia to develop this technology. Together, they are seeking to enhance and support mixed reality experiences for learners. In Australia and New Zealand, Hololens has already been deployed in three high schools. Pearson and Microsoft are currently working with the University of Canberra, exploring practical pedagogies and content within their Faculties of History, Mathematics, Chemistry and Health. In the UK, Trimble is working closely with the Construction Information Technology Lab at the University of Cambridge to explore ways of advancing the use of technology, empowering companies to be more innovative and efficient and this collaboration has resulted in new ways to bring mixed reality to the architecture, construction and engineering industry. Other applications exist in developmental projects with the Royal College of Surgeons and the Royal School of Military Engineering. It’s only a matter of time before others begin to explore the technology for themselves.

Hololens 1

Hololens offers an immersive experience via holographic computing. Image courtesy of Microsoft.

For now, the costs and lack of viable learning content means that widespread adoption is not realistic. Yet, the trends tell us that once these technologies are out there, society will drive innovation and determine their success. Hololens is not the only player in town, with new versions of Samsung’s Gear and the HTC Vive in the pipeline. School children are already using products aimed at the entry end of the market, with Google Cardboard providing augmentation for smartphones. Within the next eight years, in our classrooms, we will begin to see holographic and mixed reality devices become as common as tablet computers. It’s time to embrace them now, so that we can truly begin to explore the educational purpose and effective use of these emerging technologies.

Social Media in Education #NDLW17 #DigitalDifference

Originally published via Efficiency Exchange. Re-written for National Digital Learning Week 2017.

As a lecturer, I have the opportunity to explore many new technologies and new pedagogies. Through my work, I’m able to visit primary and secondary schools throughout the country. There is one obvious and inescapable truth; our children and young people do not use these online networks in the same way that the older generation does. I know that’s a bit of a stereotype, but it’s generally true. Let me give you an example.

Before the world wide web, we would seek information by visiting a library or by speaking with a knowledgeable other. Today, many of us would turn to a search engine, seeking knowledge through Google or Bing. In contrast, many young people prefer to seek information from streaming media and recorded broadcasts such as YouTube. My kids, aged 8 and 10 are no exception. They learned how to navigate and use Minecraft, Roblox and other games by watching streaming media and by communicating with people via these rich networks.

Taking a longer view, where the ancients would have stored their learning in great libraries around the world, they might be envious of the ease with which students share knowledge today.

And learners are not just consuming, they are also creating their own content, producing streaming media and sharing their thoughts, experiences and knowledge with like-minded individuals.

As our virtual interaction grows exponentially, education has been slow to respond. We need to find a renewed purpose for social media, where it can be used effectively through all stages of learning. Let me give you an example of how I’ve used social media in higher education.

My journey begins in 2012, when an enthusiastic student approached me. He sought out more online social interaction with his peers and with academic staff. Together, we started a student network for sharing ideas related to our studies. The idea grew and we soon found ourselves commended by the Higher Education Academy for staff and student partnership. I did not look back and I have been using various social networks for the last three or four years. I do not do this just because I think it’s a good idea, but because there is a growing evidence base to suggest that it can actually improve the student learning experience. In an academic world driven by KPIs, metrics and student satisfaction, every ounce of innovation is worth pursuing. More recently, I have been exploring social media channels Snapchat and Instagram.

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“Learning can reside in online nodes where social media are now the norm for knowledge exchange.”

It’s essential that we provide our students with the experience and tools to fully understand the digital footprint that they create

I’m a firm believer that knowledge can reside in online nodes and I take my thinking here from theories of connectivity. Downes’ An Introduction to Connective Knowledge (2005) suggests that emerging web-based technologies bring with them new access routes to information. Although connectivism (Siemens, 2005) as a learning theory has been debated in recent years (Forster, 2007 and Kerr, 2007) the concept of information residing in specific virtual domains is sound, and that the premise would suggest that these pockets can be described as nodes.

As such, I have now integrated the use of social media into many of my courses. This allows my students to engage in meaningful conversation outwith the classroom, and to make connections to other education professionals and organisations around the world. I’ll provide an example. I use Twitter throughout all my year one honours level courses. It’s integrated into the weekly assignments and the students are expected to engage in conversation related to the themes of the week. Likewise, they provide examples of online collaboration via social media within their summative assessments. Some opt out and that’s fine, as long as they can demonstrate other forms of online discussion. This, of course brings about many challenges, but feedback in general is supportive and positive.

“I really enjoyed the way the course ran. I liked having weekly tasks on Moodle [VLE] which could be completed then discussed with peers on social media. I also enjoyed being assessed in groups where we had our own choice on how to present our work. I learned so much from this course, met so many new people and now have different perspectives on education – my favourite course so far!”

Student X (Dunn, 2016)

There is an aside to encouraging the use of social media amongst students. I lecture on the professional use of electronic communications. We see all too often in the press, examples of where things go wrong for people in positions of public interest. It’s essential that we provide our students with the experience and tools to fully understand the digital footprint that they create, whilst protecting their professional identity.

It is not only necessary that we do this, but it in some instances it is expected by accrediting bodies. In the past, social media has been taboo and has been generally avoided. In reality, it’s better to approach their use in a structured and meaningful way, regardless of whether it’s to simply push out information or to build a community for learning.

I will be speaking about the use of social media in learning at the Holyrood Learning Through Technology event on 6th June, 2017.

References and citations from:

  • Dunn, L. (2016) Social media as a professional medium: an equilibrium of enthusiasm and protection for student teachers. Social Media for Learning in Higher Education 2015 Conference Proceedings, (doi:10.7190/SocMedHE/2015/2)
  • Dunn, L., Dickson, B., Trinder, J., Kerr, J., and Andrews, M. (2015) Analysis of Digital Media: Supporting University-Wide Online Learning via Moodle. Project Report. University of Glasgow, Glasgow.
  • Dunn, L. (2013) Using social media to enhance learning and teaching. In: Social Media 2013: 18th International Conference on Education and Technology, Hong Kong, China, 1-3 Aug 2013.

The Digital Everyday: Exploration or Alienation?

I’m writing to you on behalf of the Centre for Digital Culture at King’s College London to invite you to attend an international event on Saturday, May 6 called “The Digital Everyday: Exploration or Alienation?” I’ve reached out to you because your research area and academic focus resonates with the theme of our event, the abstract of which I’ve copied below:

The conference will explore digitally enabled transformations of Big Data, surveillance, wearable technology and more by looking at a number of domains affected by these shifts, for instance: of work and leisure, of friendship and love, of habits and routines. We will also explore a number of overarching dynamics and trends in the digital world that contribute to these transformations, including: processes of digital individualisation and aggregation; the elisions of spatial and temporal barriers; trends towards quantification and datafication; and the dialectic between control and alienation.

I’d be most grateful if you could also share this announcement among your colleagues, students, research units or departments who may find this event of interest. The Centre for Digital Culture has prepared a challenging, engaging, and interdisciplinary day of proceedings from scholars around the world, with generous reception to follow. Registration closed EOD May 4 but is open to the public, with concessions for students and senior citizens offered. Event details, ticket registration, and a full programme may be found here.

Shared on behalf of

Carleigh Morgan, U.S. Fulbright Scholar 2013-2014

PhD Candidate, King’s College London

Research Administrator, Centre for Digital Culture

Speaking at #EduTech17 #EduTechScot @futurescot_news

I will be presenting at EduTech 2017 this coming May, discussing the role of digital technologies in learning, with a specific focus on the Digital Schools Awards, accredited by Education Scotland and supported by HP, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Microsoft and Intel. This is a full-day conference on STEM learning through digital technology and how it can be harnessed by educators to equip themselves and children with the tools to succeed.

Aimed at teachers and education professionals, the delegate-focused event features 9 interactive workshops and keynotes from some of the foremost international digital learning experts. The intensive sessions will help teachers address key gaps in their knowledge, and provide useful advice on how to get the most out of digital for their own development and of learners. The conference will be an opportunity for leaders to reflect on what can be done to help Scotland address its attainment gap and how digital can be used as part of a STEM learning toolkit. You will also be able to network with fellow educators, exhibitors and sponsors during breaks between the packed agenda of seminars and plenary sessions. A bit like teachers, EduTech 2017 is focused on results so the conference will be given national visibility through a full report featured in The Times Scotland.

Join in the discussion online: #EduTechScot

Background:

The Scottish Government’s STEM Education and Training strategy points to the important role STEM Education & Training has to play if we are to fully realise aspirations for all children and young people to have the skills and confidence needed to work, contribute and live in a technologically-advanced and digitally-inclusive society.

Why attend:

With the continued integration of technology into the school curriculum, EduTech 2017 will, through a range of plenary sessions and workshops, explore and debate the developments surrounding the use of technology in the classroom, including:

  • how to improve the skills and confidence of teachers using digital tools;
  • latest developments in classroom resources and assessment tools;
  • how we widen access to technology, address the attainment gap and more effectively position digital   tools at the centre of the STEM curriculum, empowering learners and creating tomorrow’s leaders of change.

Who should attend:

  • Head Teachers and Deputy Head Teachers
  • Teachers and Curriculum Managers
  • School Business Managers
  • Heads of eLearning
  • School Heads of IT
  • Local Authority Education Managers
  • Further and Higher Education Representatives
  • Librarians
  • Union representatives

As a speaker, I am able to offer you a 20% discount on attendance. Please email me or DM me via Twitter @leeandrewdunn for details.

Book now to secure your place at EduTech 2017.