MirandaNet Newsletter No 26, December 10th, 2017
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Image Credit:  Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Dear MirandaNetters, 

Miranda has reinvented herself as MirandaNet 5.0 to embrace the future of education technology. We are referencing the fact that we must look beyond edtech as it is in the present and ask what sort of future we are aiming for. Certainly breakthroughs in the development of intelligent and good-looking robots need to be factored into our calculations as well as intimations of the ‘emotional net’.

The MirandaNet team, however, is still made up of super intelligent and good-looking humans for the time being. Professor Sarah Younie, our research director, and I are raising the MirandaNet profile with various organisations connected with policy and practice in edtech professional development like BCS, UCET and DFE. Theo Keuchel continues to bring his visual talents to the newsletter and comment on the multimedia aspects of teaching and learning with computers. David Longman, who did an excellent job as web editor in the past, is keeping critical eye on content and Rob Ellis has joined us as the new web editor with overall responsibility for the website. He is also reviving the offering from our World Ecitizens charity and, as an expert edtech advisor, he is writing blogs and providing resources for the membership. We have also established the MirandaNet Council of distinguished members who are willing to give us valuable advice on policy, projects and funding.

We have plenty to do because since Justine Greening has been in charge of Education in the UK we have found that ‘experts’ and ‘learned societies’ are back in fashion. I’ve been working on promoting the knowledge and experience of members of our three key professional organisations: MirandaNet, ITTE and Naace that focus on the three strands, Digital Literacy, Information Technology and Computing Science.Our members have the specialised knowledge and experience of education technology in initial and in-service teacher education as well as diverse school and classroom classroom settings. 

In particular, we need to reassure ICT teachers who were 'disapplied' in 2012 after the curriculum changed, that their knowledge, skills and aptitude are more valuable than ever. We are well-placed to help the curriculum deliver its intended effect to provide an education for the future. You’ll see a news item about our colleagues at Gaia Technologies, who are developing innovative professional development programmes to help non-specialist teachers to develop their skills.

We expect to be discussing these issues with you on our stand at BETT funded by Think-IT, and at the joint ITTE/MirandaNet conference at Winchester University June 7th – 9th  2018.

Watch this space! 

Have a Happy Christmas,
Professor Christina Preston
Note: Theo has found an interesting piece about developments in web names here

What does computing in the primary curriculum look like?
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Concerned that the challenge of introducing computer science was proving just a step too far for many of our primary school clients Gaia Technologies set about the task of creating a new publication – The Gaia Primary Computing Framework - which provides simple to use curriculum guidance, lesson activities and assessment tools for non-specialist teachers. However, we are not only committed to promoting the computing curriculum but also to delivering innovative professional development and student engagement through project-based learning. So, we are not only supporting the Framework implementation with two days of training and consultancy but have also added a set of innovative project-based learning activities designed for each year group in the junior years. These include web site development, Scratch coding, app production and stop motion animation.

In Summer of 2017 we trialled one of those projects at Ysgol Hiraddug in Denbighshire, North Wales. our studio professionals worked alongside teachers to deliver the Stop Animation Project. Using Gaia’s Primary Computing Framework, the project incorporated elements of:
  • Story and script writing
  • Story boarding
  • Set design
  • Filming
  • Editing
  • Presentation, marketing, reflection and evaluation
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Naturally, we made a video! What it shows is that if you stir in some understanding of digital competences and a focus on creativity using IT, computer science does not look in the least bit dry and technical. Which is why all of us at Gaia Technologies love working with technology in schools!
More information on the Gaia Primary Computing Framework.

ITTE Knowledge Mobilisation Strategy: Research Fellowship Programme  

ITTE is delighted to announce Phase 2 of the ITTE Knowledge Mobilisation Strategy.

For Phase 2 educators are invited to lead a small team in filling in the research gaps, to challenge and strengthen research in areas relevant to the Association.

This is relevant to: Schools Direct - Teaching Schools - Teachers - Teacher Educators - Researchers.

Funded Fellowships are available to develop collaborative and/or co-ordinated research networks on a topic of interest to you within the field of digital technologies in educational settings relevant to the work of ITTE. This approach to developing evidence is well established in medicine. See, for example, the Cochrane Collaboration Information on Phase 1 successful projects can be found at 

£1,000 Fellowship bursaries are available for teams interested in making a commitment to this area of knowledge in the long term.

Project Leads will be supported by ITTE to recruit a team of interested people. Further funding may also be available in the future to revisit and extend the project subject to an impact review about the value of the Fellowship for the ITTE community.

For the period of the award, the Project Lead/s will be able to use the title ITTE Research Fellow and team members will be able to use the title ITTE Educational Researcher.  The outcomes of the Fellowship within two years are expected to be: a research review to be submitted for publication as an academic article in the Association’s journal Teaching, Pedagogy and Education  a summary of the findings of the review written in a form usable by teachers and published as a MESHGuide. dissemination including a presentation at the ITTE annual conference, or alternative agreed by the ITTE National Executive Committee. The outcomes of this application round will be announced on the ITTE web site in January 2018. 

Eligibility: Applications are open to all but the project leader must be an ITTE member. 
To join ITTE, visit:

New Fellowship: Dalian Adofo
UK Primary & Secondary Teachers Responses to the new Computing Curriculum.
Congratulations to Dalian who is awarded a Senior Fellowship for his second study in which he has sent us report based on a survey designed primarily to identify how concerns about the new computing curriculum were being addressed by teachers across all the Key Stages - from primary to secondary.

Dalian provides us with some valuable detail about teachers’ responses to the challenges they face. He points out, and confirms, that he reservations that were expressed at the original consultation stage have turned out to be valid. Even though we are at a very early stage in the curriculum change, Dalian reminds us of the urgency to implement relevant solutions to meet these challenges. You can read more about teachers’ opinions in Dalian's study here.

Besa logo
Sarah Younie, John Galloway and Christina Preston are all judges of the BETT awards which is a great way to find out what is new and exciting. The Bett Awards finalists have now been announced. The winners will be announced at Bett 2018, on the evening of 24th January.

In addition to running the BETT awards BESA is busy organising business opportunities for UK businesses all over the world. In the past couple of months, they have been to Didac IndiaGESS Indonesia, Bett Latin America (and a trade mission around Mexico), as well as GET China and BETT Malaysia, where they also ran their Great British Classroom initiative. They will be organising a joint workshop at the ASE Conference, with our SciSIG members, on science practical.  Patrick Hayes, our Director, has written a blog for the Huffington Post on the need for funding and resources in schools.

BESA have been working hard on behalf of British industry:
In the past couple of months, we went to Didac India, GESS Indonesia, Bett Latin America (and did a trade mission around Mexico), as well as GET China and BETT Malaysia, where we also ran our Great British Classroom initiative.

The Bett Awards finalists have been announced. The winners will be announced at Bett 2018, on the evening of 24th January.

We will be organising a joint workshop at the ASE Conference, with our SciSIG members, on science practical.    

Cleo Fatoorehchi

European Schoolnet
Eu Schoolnet logo
The European SchoolNet celebrated its 20th anniversary this October.  A great achievement for an organisation that brings together 31 Ministries of Education, schools, universities, teachers, researchers and industry partners.

One of its most ambitious projects is to lead the Erasmus+  ITELab project designed to review and develop training on ITC within ITE and address the disconnect between ITE and ongoing professional learning.

IRIS Connect is proud to be one of the Industry Partners in this project that aims to bring together 60 Universities and grateful that MirandaNet will add its expertise as an Associate Partner.  If you would like to know more about the project, please follow this link.

Graham Newell 
Director of Education

Iris logo
Iris Connect
MirandaNet at BETT
We hope to see MirandaNet members at BETT this year. We are on stand B216 with Naace and ITTE sponsored by Think-IT. Many thanks to Stuart Abrahams as BETT are no longer giving contra stands to professional organisations. 

Of course, there are always costs involved in going to any conference or exhibition so we thought you might like to read the following article that tells you how to get the best from your investment.

Attending a Conference?

Conference Illustration
Image Credit: Pete Hindle  CC BY NC ND
4 critical questions to ask when attending education research conferences  
There is an argument going on amongst colleagues in Australia about how to judge the value for money of a conference.  Charlotte Pezaro a PhD candidate at the University of Queensland (UQ) makes some very good points in her blog:  There is nothing more disappointing than spending precious time, and worse, forking out hard earned money, on a dud conference.  And, I really dislike being sold a conference as one thing, only to find out (sometimes much later) the agenda was something else completely and I have been duped.  

So, as we are now in the thick of conference season I thought I’d put together a list of questions that might help you choose your conferences wisely (or at least think critically about while attending). If you are about to attend a conference you might like to take this list with you.  Here are her list of questions you should ask:
  1. Whose voices are privileged? (Whose voices are missing?)  
  2. What is being sold as ‘what works’? (Who does it ‘work’ for? Who is selling it?)  
  3. What narratives are being used to promote the conference or its other messages?
  4. Who’s paying, and what are they paying for?  
Read more here 

Light-hearted questions to ask when choosing a conference  
Tom Worthington's response, on conference criteria, is worth reading as well  
  1. Is it is cheap or in a nice spot? As an adjunct, I have to pay for conferences myself, so it either has to be cheap, or somewhere I want to visit.  
  2. Will my paper be published by a respected publisher? There is no point in going to a conference if I don’t get a paper published out of it. 
  3. Are there practitioners? A conference full of researchers is of little interest. I want some results I can apply. Most of the education research papers are about something which has already been tried and is in use (“We had twenty students use a mobile phone for learning and it worked!”) or tried and failed (“We used Second Life!”).  
  4. Is there a exhibition? Trade exhibitions are useful and fun. An alternative to an exhibition is a separate industry conference nearby.  
  5. Are there students? Students add vitality to a conference.  
  6. Are there other people I can visit? Are there organizations I can visit along the way and perhaps give a presentation?  
  7. Are there other conferences on the way? The annoyance of having to change aircraft when traveling can be turned into a benefit if there is another conference I can attend at the stopover.  

Style Guide for Nativity Scenes
According to Netmums the traditional Christmas Nativity Play is being diluted by modern interpretations and the introduction of 'contemporary' characters.

 Source British :Library (Public Domain)
However, as highlighted by the British Library, style guides are nothing new. This style guide for painting the Nativity dates from 1732, and lays down the following rules;
  • Paint the birthplace of Christ as a cave or hollowed rock, not a half-ruined house with broken beams supported by two worm-eaten posts.  
  • Do not paint the Christ child naked (which reflects badly on the Virgin’s childcare), but in swaddling clothes.
  • It is absurd to show a midwife in attendance, as we know the Virgin had no helper.
  • It is ridiculous to show Joseph as an old man leaning on a stick....He should be well dressed, not scruffy in clothes and hair. But nor should he be too young and fashionable.
Why not explore some Nativity scenes from the History of Art, and check out which conform to, or break these rules?

Mobile learning in schools: key issues, opportunities and ideas for practice
Wishart, J., 2017. Routledge
Reviewed by David Longman

Mobile learning bookHere is a useful and relevant overview of the use of mobile technologies in teaching and learning, or ‘mlearning’ as it is sometimes known. As the title suggests it aims at practitioners working in schools but it also has a more specific audience in mind: practitioners who work in teacher development and teacher education. There is thus a great deal here for practitioner-researchers and practitioner-developers who are thinking about exploring mlearning through investigation or project. Living up to its subtitle the book steers us to think about key educational issues in relation to mlearning and through illustrations from case studies, research projects, and reports the reader will find pointers to opportunities for further exploration.

There is much to value in this book not least because it can enable more informed discussion among practitioners and curriculum developers, a discussion built around some key ideas and opportunities
Read David's full review here

Debates in Computing and ICT Education
Edited by Sarah Younie, Pete Bradshaw
Published by Routledge: 
Available here 
Reviewed by Christina Preston

Computing & ICT book coverDebates in ICT and Computing Education explores the major issues teachers encounter in their daily professional lives. The book encourages critical reflection and aims to stimulate both novice and experienced teachers to think more deeply about their practice, and link research and evidence to what they have observed in schools. The overall aim is to enable teachers to reach informed judgements and argue their point of view with deeper theoretical knowledge and understanding.

This debates book is a companion to the Routledge series, Learning to Teach with Information and Communications Technology (ICT ) books that have been edited by our MirandaNet members, Marilyn Leask and Sarah Younie. New revised editions of this series have been published frequently over the last twenty years as the ICT landscape changes. Indeed, computing science has now been added to the mix to pick up the changes made in 2012. The arguments present key themes that are important for our understanding of education futures.

Whereas writing fiction is usually the creative task of one author, a factual book like this requires a different approach. To cover the full range of what is happening in classrooms at this point in time could not, arguably, be written by one professional. But belonging to a professional community seems to matter as well. MirandaNet members make up two thirds of the chapter authors, often working together on tackling established and contemporary issues. For example, Leon Cych, Lawrence Williams and Sarah Younie submitted Using Web 2.0 technologies to enhance teaching and learning subject matter that they had previously presented to a MirandaNet audience and refined. Another example is Towards tomorrow’s successful digital citizens: providing the critical opportunities to change mindsets. This chapter by myself, Moira Savage, Malcolm Payton and Antony Barnett, pulls together MirandaNet and ITTE’s members views on the topic shared in a MirandaMod event where we aim to create new knowledge by collating together the strands of our colleagues unique expertise.

The reason for looking at the authorship of the debates in this way is to celebrate the role of professional organisations in nurturing members’ writing abilities, providing opportunities to publish and often raising members’ confidence in their publishing potential. We have generally all meet in conference and in the general activities of a professional organisation over many years. This is not the same kind of knowledge that is delivered by the conference circuit gurus who charge high fees to dominate a platform about their latest theories: they are often loners who arrive only to speak and leave without making contact with the delegates. This kind of edited book reflects a different approach to sharing knowledge fellowships over many years and encouraging helpful critique that makes the collaborative knowledge inside the covers worth more than gold. You can read more about this book here

£60 million 'needed to train teachers in GCSE in Computer Science
With more than half of England's secondary schools not offering GCSE computer science in 2015-16, and many teachers lacking confidence to teach the subject and low numbers of female pupils opting to take the subject; the TES reports that a "ten-fold increase in funding for computing is needed to put the subject on a par with physics and maths." This is flagged by the Royal Society report "After the Reboot: Computing education in UK schools"

'Teachers will lead the move back to textbooks'
NIck Gibb  made this recent statement during a discussion panel at Policy Exchange,  the centre-right think tank. Perhaps even more controversially he added "the profession is taking control of the educational thinking that used to be the preserve of education professors." Of course text books are appropriate in some areas of the curriculum, but there are also many good resources including OERs available online, and many professional teachers educators will have a very different opinion from Mr Gibb. Source TES

There have been a quite a few recent reports, covering various aspects of education, research and digital competence, that should be of interest to MirandaNetters. 

European Framework for the Digital Competence of Educators
EU framework reportAs the teaching professions face rapidly changing demands, educators require an increasingly broad and more sophisticated set of competences than before. In particular the ubiquity of digital devices and the duty to help students become digitally competent requires educators to develop their own digital competence.

The framework is directed towards educators at all levels of education, from early childhood to higher and adult education, including general and vocational training, special needs education, and non-formal learning contexts.

Children and Parents: Media Use and Attitudes (Ofcom)
Ofcom ReportThe Ofcom report examines children’s media literacy. It provides detailed evidence on media use, attitudes and understanding among children and young people aged 5-15, as well as detailed information about the media access and use of young children aged 3-4.  One of the encouraging findings is that  many children are now The vast majority of 12-15s who follow news on social media are  now questioning the content they see. Almost nine in ten (86%) say they would make at least one practical attempt to check whether a social media news story is true or false. 

Ofsted: Bold Beginnings
Ofsted Early yearsThe Ofsted report "Bold Beginnings', on Reception classes in schools, claims that a third of all five-year-olds are being, failed by their reception.

The report has already drawn a great deal of criticism on EduTwitter from Early Years teachers who argue that Ofsted does not understand the purpose of reception.  They are also confused when Ofsted have rated "90% of primaries and 100% of nursery schools good or outstanding" Secondary practitioners were more supportive of the report. Controversial points made include; synthetic phonics should be core in the reception year pupils  taught correct pencil grip and how to sit correctly at a table!

Some comments include;
  • " of children writing, lots of adult directed activity, children seated in 6 out of 9 images, no sign of free play"
  • "Or sing. Or dance. Or paint. Or sit by a pond saying what you can see. Or plan how to build a tower out of blocks that doesn’t fall down."
  • "Ofsted have badly miscalculated with its reception report.It needed to work with the formidable early years lobby not confront them with a set of recommendations that could have been written by supposed EY "expert" Nick Gibb. Ofsted's EY credibility has been dealt a major blow."
  • "This report totally misses the point of good early years practice and play based learning which is vital for our youngest children. The proposed changes reflect ideological dogma rather than being based on solid early years research and practice."

Authenticity on the Web
@icttalk is the blog of Rob Ellis our Web Editor. In his most recent post, Rob looks at and discusses authenticity on the web. He writes: "
"Today in the Internet age we are wrestling not only with what constitutes truth but whether there are multiple realities in a connected world depending on culture and background. This is compounded by having a never seen before source of information, the web, and no history of strategies for being able to verify its accuracy."

Schools need more resources and funding
Patrick Hayes, BESA Director, has written an insightful blog for the Huffington Post on the need for funding and resources in schools.

Chris Shelton
This year, the World Conference on Computers in Education (WCCE 17) was held in Dublin, 3rd - 6th July 2017. The conference theme was “Tomorrow’s Learning: Involving Everyone” 200 presenters from across the world shared their work and the keynote sessions were varied: Francesco Avvisati from OECD (with a recorded contribution from Andreas Schleicher) opened the conference and spoke about the 2015 report “Students, Computers and Learning”  

The second keynote was Valerie Shute from Florida State University. She spoke about the role of “stealth assessment” in game based learning.The way that this was used to promote learning through the “Physics playground” game was effective and I enjoyed playing the demo version of the game.  

Lord David Puttnam spoke in his role as the “Digital Champion” for Ireland and made some thought-provoking use of archive film and television footage. I was particularly struck by a video from the BBC archive that shows teenagers in 1984 sharing their views on technology.  You can read the rest of Chris Shelton’s report here.

ISC Digital Strategy Conference
Professor Preston attended Independent Schools Council on Thursday 30th November at Microsoft HQ, Reading.  Aimed at Heads, Bursars, Educators & ICT Directors, the focus of the day had three main elements to: establish where schools are;
  • provide a digital strategy that impacts on policy,
  • pedagogy and technology in the learning environment; 
  • launch four Action Research projects.
Our associate, Stuart Abrahams, Think-IT, had been invited to speak about procurement that he made into a lively exchange between himself and his audience. The presentation slides are available here

Around the world in 80 days -or rather - 30 minutes
Miles Berry, Roehampton University, a longstanding MirandaNet member, provided us with an informative tour of programmes in five countries:
  • Captivate in Finland
  • Unplug in NewZealand
  • Play in the USA
  • Learn in South Korea
  • Compete in Singapore
You can find the keynote slides here

Next steps for Education Technology in England
Professor Younie and I attended the Westminster Forum on November 28th about procurement. We had consulted several MirandaNet members for reflections about this topic that were presented by Sarah
  • Stuart Abrahams and Neil Watkins – THINK IT    
  • Bernard Dady – GAIA 
  • Rob Ellis – MirandaNet
  • Colleagues from ITTE, DMU, IEF, EFC, Naace
From this consultation we were able to identify the major challenges for schools and edtech suppliers and to indicate some tentative solutions. Presentation slide are available here.
Polish Christmas Ad
Czego szukasz w Święta? | English for beginners
English for beginners
In the spirit of MirandaNet as an international community of professional educators, we think all MirandaNetters, wherever on the planet they live, will enjoy and identify with this Christmas advert from Poland.

ITTE/MirandaNet Conference 2018 ITTE-MirandaNet Conference,
Winchester University Raising aspirations for digital education 7th-8th June 2018 What are the digital skills that teachers and pupils need and how can we support all learners to achieve their potential? How can we improve computing education, broadening how we prepare children to become digital citizens and make fulfilling use of digital tools throughout their lives? The conference welcomes teachers, teacher educators, advisors and researchers to share and develop professional knowledge and skills through presentations and workshops with leading practitioners and researchers. CPD certificates will be awarded to all participants.
A call for Submissions will be circulated in January
Bringing together researchers, practitioners and policy makers interested in Technology Enhanced Learning
Margaret J. Cox (Co-Founder of Edusummits)

Edusummit dinner

Margaret Cox, one of our distinguished members has been attending Edusummit since the Paris event in 2007. I was there as well and the value was that this was a collaborative reports writing activity with experts developing new ideas.

Margaret reports on the developments since Paris when there have been 4 subsequent summits in Paris (2011), Washington (2013), Bangkok (2015) and recently in Borovets, Bulgaria in September 2017. Several ITTE members have been regular contributors to these Edusummits and other members might be interested in contributing to the next one to be held in Quebec in September 2019. Meanwhile many of the working group papers will be of interest to ITTE members such as the Ebook produced by Edusummit2015 entitled Technology Advanced Quality Learning For All with articles from all nine working groups including “Advancing mobile learning in formal and informal settings”; “Professional development for policy makers, school leaders and teachers”; "Addressing gaps and promoting educational equity”; “Assessment as, for and of Learning” and "Advancing understanding of the roles of CS/Informatics in the curriculum” led by ITTE members Dr. Mary Webb and Prof. Margaret Cox. 
Discover more about the achievements of this group.

No Laptops in the Lecture Hall
laptops in lecture

image credit:Brett Jordan; CC BY
In response to a recent item in the NYT  that a lecturer has banned student laptops in the lectures; author, blogger, and business executive, Seth Godin has responded on Medium, that the ideal solution might be to ban the lecture from the classroom.

The first ever text message was 25 years ago!
old mobile texting

image credit: isla_yelo/Flickr CC BY-ND 2.
As highlighted in this in ABC news  article, there has been a great deal of moral panic about how texts would affect society, especially the ability of young people to read and write. However, research seems to suggest that there is little evidence that texting was tied to grammatical decline, but that text may actually lead to more creative expression and use of language.

A Pictorial History of Santa Claus

"Contrary to what many believe, Santa Claus as we know him today – sleigh riding, gift-giving, rotund and white bearded with his distinctive red suit trimmed with white fur – was not the creation of the Coca Cola Company."  Here, the Public Domain Review has curated a wonderful set of images of Santa, some of which are decidedly 'creepy'. The Public Domain Review is a great source of high quality, historic, copyright free images.
  • BETT18,  Stand B216, 24-27 January, Excel, London,  
  • Education Show. 15-27 March 2018:. NEC, Birmingham
  • OER18.  18-19 April, Bristol
  • ITTE-MirandaNet Conference. Winchester University June 7th – 9th  2018
  • ICET World Assembly, July 9-11, 2018, Laredo, Texas, USA.
  • IFIP TC3 Conference. 'Empowering Learners for Life in the Digital Age'. 25-28 June 2018. Linz, Austria. Submission deadline 21st January 2018
  • IFIP TC9 Conference: This Changes Everything. 19-21 Sept 2018.  Poznan, Poland. Submission deadline 15th January 2018
  • 11-13 Sep 2018: Bera Annual Conference 2018. Northumbria University, Newcastle. Submission deadline 31st January 2018

We are always keen to review books, videos, blogs or podcasts by members. Let us know if you have anything in progress. We would also like to extend our panel of reviewers. Please get in touch with me if you would like to be a reviewer:

Our previous book reviews are here:

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