MirandaNet Newsletter No 18. 4th December, 2016
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Wishing You All A Merry Christmas
Source:  Lindsay Attaway, CC BY

This will be the last newsletter of the year, we will be back after the holidays on the 18th of January 2017 and it only remains for us all to wish you a Joyful Christmas and a happy and peaceful New Year

Dear MirandaNetters, 

Another full newsletter that I hope you will enjoy.

We are getting a lot of compliments about the visuals that Theo Kuechel provides as well as positive feedback about the usefulness of the content. As you can see members continue to be busy writing books and blogs as well as publishing articles to the website.

The website gets 72,000 readers a year who read up to 10 pages which shows that your publications are really appreciated internationally. So are your profiles as experts in digital technologies. If you are a MirandaNet member have you updated your profile recently?

But great as it is to have an active online community I do love to see members face to face as often as possible. We have several dates in mind for face-to-face meetings although the details are not yet fully fixed. Please pencil them into your diary however and I will keep you up to speed.

Firstly we are  trying to arrange a seminar on research into Augmented Reality in London when there will be a chance to experience this phenomenon. This is likely to be Friday 20th January.

We will be on the Naace stand at Bett17 in East London and on Thursday 26th January 2017 there will be a MirandaNet Supper after the show. Details to follow but please let me know in advance if you would like to join us.

On Thursday May 4th 2017 at the National Liberal Club in London, MirandaNet will be working with ITTE on the second Global Summit on Teacher Education which will be followed by tea at the House of Lords. Many of our international colleagues will be joining us as well. I'm booking hotels now so if you want some suggestions for somewhere to stay please get in touch.

Following that is the ITTE/MirandaNet conference in Hull, the City of Culture 2017. This will take place on Wednesday 21st June. The conference will be embedded within the week-long Erasmus project conference: "Mobilising and Transforming Teacher Education Pedagogies" 19-23rd June 2017. See the MTTEP programme here. Further details about the ITTE conference will be circulated in due course. We are keeping the costs as low as possible. 

Christina (


Computing Curriculum
In his blog post for MirandaNet Terry Freedman has highlighted the history of why the UK Information and Communication Technology curriculum was disapplied two years before the Computing Curriculum was ready. He writes, "Unfortunately, the downplaying of the importance of digital literacy and the old ICT skills by many people (despite their presence in the new curriculum) has led to an overemphasis on “coding” (which in itself is an oversimplification of computer programming).  It has also meant that the supply of suitably qualified teachers is far exceeded by the demand. The Computing at School (CAS) organisation was set up to address the need for professional development and qualified teachers. As a grassroots organisation in which colleagues exchange ideas and resources, and in which courses and support are offered through local “hubs”, it has been a great success. However, it has failed to reach its target in terms of “Master Teachers of computing." You can read all of Terry's post here

MirandaNet Fellowship Award - Graham Miller 
MirandaNet member Graham Miller has been awarded a MirandaNet Fellowship for his article about the topic of his MSc "Are Tablet Computers the Way to Improve Learning Outcomes?" We know this is an important topic. Too often have we heard that devices bought enthusiastically at the beginning end up not being used well, or not at all.  Graham's study lists a series of factors that should be taken into account but he also says that the magic ingredient is the commitment of  the leaders and the whole staff.  Graham's paper will be published shortly on the MirandaNet website.

There has been some very interesting discussion this month on the MirandaLink mailing list about the affordances of using Minecraft in the classroom. Christina drew attention to a criticism of the use of Minecraft in the curriculum by 'Behaviour Czar' Tom Bennett. Responses were quickly forthcoming and here is a varied selection of quotes: 

Minecraft can be viewed as a game and it can also be used as a modelling and video construction tool. It can also be viewed as a networked resource. All these aspects have different affordances. With due care these can indeed be aligned with what the student is learning to augment and add to interest. (Leon Cych)

The questions Tom asks are sensible (“Is this something we should be doing?”) and highly defensible, if taken at face value. We are all constantly asking similar, I hope. (Dominic Morrish)

I suggest that we create an open letter to Government requesting that whilst Tom Bennett may know about behaviour he knows NOTHING about 21st Century learning and that government should put together a taskforce of people who fully understand 21st century learning from grass roots. (Professor Steve Molyneux)

... they (i.e. pupils) used Minecraft to model the Heritage Centre / Museum / Coal mines etc. They are now working on mapping the underground workings across the area showing how tunnels were connected, the rock strata and the coal seams at different levels.  Fantastic tourist resource as a result and the amount of Maths, History, Geography, Sociology and language skills (both Welsh and English) the children acquired was phenomenal. (Jen Hughes)

It really is getting wearisome the way the selective use of cognitive psychology is being used yet more selectively to make uninformed judgements about pedagogy.(Keith Turvey)

Back to contents list


Education Conferences: Terry Freedman
Cover, Education Conferences
It is difficult for teachers to get the funding and the time for attending education conferences. Often they are tiring when you are there and disappointing if you did not cover as much ground as you had hoped. If you have ever had those feelings you must read Terry Freedman’s new book, Education Conferences.  For those starting out this book will be invaluable if you want to get the most out of this kind of professional development activity. Terry also mentions ways in which useful information can be found without putting time and money into conference and how to choose which ones will be the most rewarding.

For the newbie in the education conference world, Terry covers key subjects like how to justify going to a conference to your school; how to make the most of your visit; questions for the suppliers and how to look beyond the hype. He includes ideas for questions for speakers as well as notes if you are presenting. And if you have liked a product and want to bring it into school he gives some tips for presenting your case when you return.  But as well as the big topics Terry’s book is full of common sense reminders like collect information not paper, take a USB stick, don’t forget your business cards and buy a bottle of water outside the conference hall where it will often be cheaper.

This is such a comprehensive book that, as an inveterate conference delegate and speaker myself, I found plenty to think about.There are more than 350 tips and ideas in this book at just 2.99. Get someone to buy it for a stocking filler for Xmas as you will definitely need to read it before BETT17 which is January 25th – 29th at Excel in East London. You can get the book here.

Thinking Critically Through Digital Media

Cover, Thinking Critically Through Digital MediaEducation in critical thinking has never been more needed after the lack of mature discussion from either side in the UK EU referendum and the US presidential election (as well as forthcoming elections in France and Austria). If we do not improve on this state of affairs by educating our children to debate effectively then perhaps democracy itself is at stake. So three cheers for MirandaNet member Nik Peachey's new book, Thinking Critically through Social Media - an established subject in a contemporary context.

This book is a practical attempt to help teachers, particularly English teachers, to understand and develop the skills students need in order to become digitally literate, critical members of society whilst at the same time developing their ability to use language effectively. Bringing Digital Literacy into the mix picks up on an area that has  been neglected since the introduction of the Computing curriculum. What would be valuable for all teachers is to read the contemporary definition of critical thinking at the beginning of this book

Peachey advises teachers to use the other chapters as it fits best into their schemes of work. They can read the definitions of the topic and then supplement their lesson with some or all of the lesson plans. 

The book also provides a good example of how self publishing is now established as a means of professional communication and is well worth the £6.99 cost. Get it at:

Primary Computing and Digital Technologies (7th ed) Keith Turvey John Potter et al)
Cover, Primary Computing and Digital technologiesThe 7th edition of Primary Computing and Digital Technologies numbers two of our expert members amongst the list of authors: Keith Turvey and John Potter. If you need a compendium of the knowledge, understanding and practice that is well established this book will serve you well. The updating has been well executed in terms of teaching and learning in digital technologies, the change from the Information and Communications Technology (ICT)  to the Computing Curriculum and issues for teachers in their professional role like safety and legal and ethical matters. Teacher educators as well as primary teachers will find the reflective tasks, the summary of the key points and the references and further reading invaluable in terms of professional learning up to Masters level.

This is not a book that covers the implications of new technologies for learning such as augmented reality but the investment cost is such in these straitened times that few schools will be integrating these newer technologies into their teaching and learning any time soon. Get the book here.

All reviews Christina Preston

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:

 3D Cinema
Audience wearing 3D glasses in a 1951 film screening for the festival of britain
Audience wearing special glasses watch a 3D "stereoscopic film" at the Telekinema on the South Bank in London during the Festival of Britain 1951. Source Wikimedia/ National Archive; Open Government Licence

With a discernable 3D/Gaming thread running through this month's newsletter, this fascinating image from the National Archive serves to remind us that 3D films have been around  since 1915.  They became very popular in the 50s  establishing a niche market often in sci-fi and similar genres but there was an upsurge during the 2000s culminating with Avatar in 2010.

Tech Literacy

There has been no shortage of reports on technological and digital literacy over the past year. Adding to the literature BT and IPSOS/MORI have published an executive summary of their forthcoming report looking at tech literacy in Primary education. This summary includes a number of infographics such as the one above highlighting aspects of their findings. The full report will be available shortly. You can download a pdf of the summary here.

Innovating Pedagogy

Representation of the educational project ‘Moscow Through the Engineer’s Eyes’

The new report Innovating Pedagogy 2016: Exploring new forms of teaching, learning and assessment, to guide educators and policy makers from The Open University highlights ten trends that may impact education over the next decade. These include Design Thinking, Productive Failure, Formative Analytics and Translanguaging. The report also presents evidence to inform decisions about which pedagogies to adopt. The pedagogies range from ones already being tested in classrooms, such as learning through video games, to ideas for the future, like adapting blockchain technology for trading educational reputation.  This year, the report has been written in collaboration with the Learning Sciences Lab, National Institute of Education, Singapore. The report is available here.

The ten trends are:
  1. Learning through social media: using social media to offer long-term learning opportunities
  2. Productive failure: drawing on experience to gain deeper understanding
  3. Teachback: Learning by explaining what we have been taught
  4. Design thinking: applying design methods in order to solve problems
  5. Learning from the crowd: using the public as a source of knowledge and opinion
  6. Learning through video games: making learning fun, interactive and stimulating
  7. Formative analytics: developing analytics that help learners to reflect and improve
  8. Learning to the future: preparing students for work and life in an unpredictable future
  9. Translanguaging: enriching learning through the use of multiple languages
  10. Blockchain for learning: storing, validating and trading educational reputation 
For further information, contact:

The Changing Landscape of Radio
Vintage portable transistor radio
The British Library draws our attention to a new report  that looks at the future of UK radio content. It finds that unlike music, newspapers or television radio is the most stable of the mainstream media.  Listening habits are also relatively familiar :
  • "Alongside the car, the home – and in particular the kitchen – remains the place where British people listen most to the radio. This helps explain why breakfast shows tend to have the biggest audiences and budgets
One reason given is:
  • "The medium of radio is about emotional connection. People like radio for its companionship and for the connection it provides with the wider world. For these reasons the availability of music streaming services has not and will not kill off radio."
The report also looks at different ways radio is content is accessed such as smaller chunks of content, catch up and greater personalisation through DAB. The full report can be downloaded here 

Chernobyl Sarcophagus moved into place 
Unique engineering feat concluded as Chernobyl arch has reached resting place
Unique engineering feat concluded as Chernobyl arch reaches final resting place

Thirty years after the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl engineers have finally encased the most dangerous area of the site, protecting it from climate exposure, by moving an arch-shaped steel canopy over 200 metres to cover the temporary structure which was assembled just after the accident in 1986.

This time lapse gives an insight into the scale of one of the world’s most ambitious engineering projects. The project was undertaken by a French consortium and internationally funded. More pictures and technical details here (Wikipedia).

Art History A Level saved 
Pearson have issued a statement confirming that they will  be offering a n Art History A level "We're pleased to be able to secure the future of A levels in History of Art and Statistics, subject to final accreditation by Ofqual."  This is good news for all teachers, students and artists. Source: Guardian

Damp Squib (aka National Teaching Service)
With only 54 of a predicted cohort of 1500 signed up, the DfE has been forced to abandon its much proposed National Teaching Service. Source: TES

bett awards logo

Not long now until  Bett 2017, and the shortlist for the Bett Awards 2017 has just been been announced. As in previous years Christina will be one of the judges. Covering 19 entry categories the judges will have their work cut out. Once again it is good to see a category for Free Digital Content/Open Educational Resources. You can study the full list of finalist here.

The Bett Awards ceremony on 25th January will be held at a new venue for 2017 - Tobacco Dock in London - and you can book a table here

Back to contents list

Some items from around the web which may be of interest to MirandaNetters. 

Post Truth? 
A good illustration of this term which is now being thrown about the internet at random is this article on the Giant Squid of New Zealand. It seems despite the campaigns for digital literacy folks just seize upon and share the most ridiculous 'news'. This is the sort of article that may be helpful for teachers who are teaching digital literacy.

Orwellian Social Control in China
China is introducing a system of social credit for its citizens based government data regarding their economic and social status including online postings, consumer behaviour and judicial records. These will be used to decide on their eligibility for services such as health and schools. No possibility of corruption or fraud in this 'glorious' recreation of Black Mirror? One wonders if any of our public bodies  andorganisations or are keeping an eye on this to help us all become Good Citizens? Sources: various.

And finally ....
Animated gif  - father Christmas and children under a  Christmastree  Animated gif. Father Chgristmas brings gifs into bedroom, child asleep
A couple of animated GIFs made from some Christmas themed Victorian stereographs found in the Library of Congress. Thanks to the Public Domain Review. Careful with that sherry Eugene!
  • Bett 2017: 25th - 28th January, EXCEL London
  • OER17: The Politics of Open: 5th-6th April, 2017, London
  • NAACE: National Education Technology Conference: 28th-29th March, 2017, Leicester
  • Global Summit on Teacher Education: National LIberal Club. 4th May 2017
  • Northern Rocks: Reclaiming Pedagogy: June 17th 2017, Leeds
  • Mobilising and Transforming Teacher Education Pedagogies (MTTEP): Hull, 19-23 June 2017
  • ITTE/MirandaNet Conference: 21st June 2017, Hull (part of MTTEP Conference)

    See the MirandaNet Calendar for more forthcoming events.  If you are organising, or know of any forthcoming events you think would be of interest to MirandaNet members please let us know.
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