MirandaNet Newsletter, No 28  February 25, 2018 
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MirandaNet colours even make it to the Winter Olympics: Image Credit; Andy Miah. CC BY NC  (cropped)
Welcome to the MirandaNet Newsletter

What do we know about e-mentoring?

I’ve been thinking about the changes we have seen over the years in the role of the e-mentor in online learning.

Effective pedagogy was a casualty of the first American platforms like Blackboard. As they were very influential across the world, they set the agenda for teaching that was merely information transmission: no social areas and discussion areas, and no sense of membership of a community of practice. This kind of platform is a useful repository for papers and resources in digital form and, of course, reading and rote learning can be useful in skills training, and it is easy to test the results. In essence the e-mentors need very little training to oversee this kind of learning and testing.

But successful online learning requires more of the e-mentors and, just as we complain that globally the cost of CPD for face to face teacher educators, advisors and company providers are rarely in the funding package, so is the funding for professional development for e-mentors not considered. Perhaps this is because there is not yet enough knowledge amongst those who set up programmes about the complexity of a good e-mentors role as well as the exceptional people skills they need. Real success depends on their skills.

MirandaNet training for e-mentors assumes that the students may need to be encouraged to solve problems, negotiate and develop thinking skills in a social context. We have developed a number of techniques for promoting these processes online that make the most of collaboration:
  • making comparisons in teaching techniques between physical and virtual learning spaces (Preston, C., Allen, A. and Allen, R. 2017); 
  • developing the use of Twitter walls, Padlet and collaborative digital concept mapping in developing analysis of information (Cuthell and C. Preston 2009: Cuthell and Preston, C. 2012);
  • creating a form of remote unconferencing, called a MirandaMod, a techniques that can be used by students to make comment on each others contribution when they are not in the same physical space;
  • establishing the term, ‘Braided Learning’ to describe the combination of these techniques in so that students can build new knowledge together based on what they have each learnt individually (Haythornthwaite 2007: Preston 2007 and 2008). 
We have already documented some of our knowledge about e-mentoring as a community (Preston and Younie 2014). Now Sarah Younie is editing a book for Routledge on the topic, and Alison Hramiak and I are collecting data for a chapter about student and tutors’ responses to online learning with the support of Cengage. We hope to gain more insights into what is a very new and complex area of learning - but with great opportunities for adult learners. We are keen to interview anyone who has experience as an e-mentor. Do get in touch if you want to be part of our study as this is such a new area.

Finally... Raising aspirations for digital education: save the dates 7/8th Jun
We will be holding our annual conference in Winchester University. This promises to be an exciting mix of debates, presentations and policy not miss it. Please sign up to do a presentation and/or join the debates. The costs will be £130 for early birds before 4th May and £150 afterwards. £20 for the conference dinner and £48.50 overnight. These prices are not profit making. More here.

Professor Christina Preston
Founder MirandaNet

You will find the references here:
For more about the MirandaNet approach to CPD, please have a read  of my blog.

BETT 2018 Report

Those of us from MirandaNet 5.0, ITTE and Naace were sorry to find that as professional organisations we were not offered contra stand space or speaking opportunities  for the first time in 30 years. We hope our annual conference 7/8th June will provide a place where professionals can continue to exchange ideas especially research results and findings.  

However for those who are interested in the technology there was plenty to see. Here are some observations from Terry Freedman for those who were not able to get to BETT18.

What evidence is there that edtech works?
Nesta have published an interesting blog by Lucy Header and Amy Solder about what companies are doing to evaluate their products:

“Every year at BETT I play a little game: I go up to stalls at random and ask how they know whether their product actually makes a difference to what or how well children learn. In the past, I have been met with blank stares or told that ‘children just love our product’.
This year was different. I was impressed by how many companies could talk about how existing research had informed the design of their product and how they had been taking baseline measures and looking for changes after children had used their product. Some even talked about plans for more rigorous research.
Helped by initiatives like EDUCATE and a more savvy, cash-strapped customer, evidence in edtech is getting some traction. It may not be quite mainstream yet, other visitors to BETT were not impressed by the evidence on offer, but from what I saw, things are definitely changing (or maybe I have just learned to avoid the robots). 

Effective evidence based teaching strategies can fail.
A new report has been published by the Education Endowment Foundation offers four strategies to schools to ensure that effective evidence based teaching strategies do not fail:

  • Explore
  • Prepare
  • Deliver
  • Sustain 

You can read this helpful advice here

BETT Video
educationgovuk have published a YouTube playlist of BETT related videos on their channel. Speakers include @Abdulchohan @ianfordham @fergmoane @ShirelandCA @CatScutt @domnorrish @JamesLeonard1 @TheNorthSch @priyalakhani @ThisIsCentury.

Delegation from Versailles

image credit:  Ander Elexpuru CC BY ND

During BETT week Helen Caldwell, Helen Boulton and Christina Preston were invited to talk about the UK experience of edtech professional development in the UK at the Tower Hotel on the Thames  in London. Our seminar room looked out over Tower Bridge where we were staying courtesy of the delegation of teachers and advisers from France.

We were asked to answer three questions:
  • UK context and policy regarding Teacher training and CPD (other international examples welcome) including recent developments and trends was tackled by Helen Boulton
  • Approaches to integration of ICT (as a tool and also as a subject) in Teacher Training and CPD, impact, best practices, lesson learned: the topic of Helen Caldwell’s talk 
  • Impact of ICT integration on trainers of trainers and teachers training and CPD institutions  covered by Christina Preston. Here the research into NOF training was still relevant! (
The audience was lively and we all enjoyed the exchange which was largely in Franglaise!
References were also supplied by Professor Sarah Younie who is also an expert in edtech CPD models.
Our full presentations can be found here as well as the French translation provided by Irene Daumur.
You will find our full presentations as well as the French versions here.
A new computing centre

Andrew Csizmadia, Christina Preston and Sarah Younie represented MirandaNet 5.0 and ITTE and Naace at a DFE meeting about the tenders for the £100 million they plan to spend on Computing. We welcomed this expenditure and made suggestions about research that the DfE might like to consider when they let the contracts. 

Schools Week explained that the government's intention is to train 8,000 extra computer science teachers at a new £100 million National Centre for Computing. The chancellor will set out his vision for a “hi-tech Britain”, and acknowledge the need to train more teachers in computer science.

This shortage of computing teachers was officially recognised in January when the role was added to the “shortage occupation list” by the Migration Advisory Committee, which lifted restrictions on hiring specialists in the subject from outside the EU. You can read more here.
New MirandaNet Fellow

image credit: Elizabeth Prata; CC BY NC

We like to provide a publication route for those on their learning journey who are undergraduates as well as Masters and Doctoral students. 

In this context, Simon Poole, Chester University, has been awarded his Fellowship for an extract taken from his  Ed.D entitled, Rancière and the demise of the book. 

The study draws  as inspiration and data upon a question posed by Preston (2014) on mirandalink: ‘Is the demise of the book imminent?’, and the debate held by members of MirandaNet over a couple of days in response to the question.

Simon explains that his book is “concerned with the future of the physical book, and everything we know and perhaps hold dear about it as an object. As something treasured, stored, loved and remembered. 
The paper that deals with the books hypothetically anachronistic existence within the digital world of technology. Through the identification and exploration of the benefits and drawbacks of Rancière’s theoretical approaches, their relevance to social issues will be highlighted through a folkloristic perspective. Given this relevance, Rancière’s ideas are applied to the field of educational theory and practice, and an interpretation of ‘the demise of the book’ is offered”.

A Beautiful Mindset

This month we're excited to announce the arrival of A Beautiful Mindset, the fifth episode in our IRIS Connect Film Club series. It explores the world of a growth mindset and uses the power of video to take teachers on a journey of teaching and learning discovery. Film Club is a ready-made video professional learning programme, born out of our project with the EEF, which helps teachers to develop self-regulating and independent learners in classrooms. There are now five free episodes focused on dialogue, questioning, pupil oracy, feedback and growth mindset. Find out more

Stuart Abrahams, ThinkIT, who funded our stand at BETT18, explains their free service to schools.
“ThinkIT is the one-stop-shop for all a school’s IT needs. As a DfE compliant procurement framework specialising in IT solutions for education. We can save you time and money by guaranteeing best value, whilst alleviating the need to tender or get 3 quotes"

Every school  needs technology that engages, supports and inspires.  Our job is to help you work out the products, solutions and services you need, then deliver them through our DfE compliant procurement framework. With almost 100 of the best suppliers we save you time and money.  Think IT – Intelligent Procurement"
With the end of the financial year rapidly approaching, Think IT can help with intelligent procurement by guaranteeing best value whilst saving the need for 3 quotes on all IT related products and services. 
Email Stuart for more information:
SAM Learning

Another free service from one of our associates.

SAM Learning specialise in targeted intervention solutions for secondary schools. Matt Stringer, Managing Director  will visit all UK SAM Learning secondary school subscribers. 

As well as personally thanking the school for their continued support and engagement with SAM Learning Matt offers to invest significant time in understanding each school's key challenges in regards to intervention.

As a result of his analysis he will take prompt action to align the way SAM Learning is utilised in the school against the identified priorities to ensure optimum return on investment.  In addition, Matt will be working with every school to develop individual and personalised engagement strategies for both teachers and students as well as providing tablets, certificates, badges and much more.  This will also be funded by SAM Learning.  
To find out more about this exciting initiative and fresh approach in the education sector please contact Matt Stringer at SAM Learning on 0207 025 0621. 
 Building 32
Image Credit:  Thomas Hawk; CC BY
Building 32 designed by prize-winning architect Frank Gehry, for MIT and its Artificial Intelligence Lab, and also known as Ray and Maria Stata Center is a unique departure from the norms of modernist architecture. With its angles, lines and disturbing orientations the building has been likened to the German Expressionism architecture of the 1920s. 

Book Reviews
Technology Enhanced Learning and Teaching: What the Research Says
Enhanced Learning... coverSeveral MirandaNet 5.0, ITTE and Naace members are authors for the first in a series of What the Research Says books edited by Professor Rose Luckin. David Longman has reviewed the book for us and we plan to have a book launch and debate at our annual conference in June 7/8th at Winchester University.

David begins his review with comments about the approach of the book...
I opted to review this book with some enthusiasm, alerted by pre-publication advertising, drawn by the editor’s reputation (especially on the topic of AI in Education), and finally the blurb on Amazon where the book describes itself as an “...accessible introduction to learning and teaching with technology for teachers and other educational professionals, regardless of their experience with using technology for education.” That sold it to me, a well explained and accessible catch-up for the busy educator covering some recent thinking by specialist academics about educational technology. I fit right into the intended audience!

From the Preface we learn that the editor and authors are colleagues in a community-of-practice with the title “What the research says” and the chapters are a selection from research conducted in that context (though the time period is not clear). This book is anticipated to be the first of a series of books aiming to provide accessible research summaries. It is ongoing work, the fruits of academic conversations and communications.

Read the full review here.
RiskITWeek, IT in the Classroom, A Risk Worth Taking...
Reviewed by; Mr Abderrahmane Benjeddi (Ben)
ISBN-13: 978-1973594604: 
RiskITWeek CoverRiskITWeek is a philosophy, a calculated risk and a tool that virtually guarantees a ‘win’ for schools, their pupils and teachers!  Is it easy? – It just requires commitment to effective CPD from school leaders.
This book “RiskITWeek – IT in the Classroom A Risk Worth Taking” provides the necessary knowledge, advice and strategy to make a success of risk-taking, discovery and innovation without fear.
Abderrahmane Benjeddi, Ben to his friends,  offers this book as a guide to the strategy.  He explains he has written it with a joyfully light touch and can be read cover to cover or by dipping in and out of the sections of most interest.  Seasoned with helpful, robust, education research, Ben says his book is full sage advice born out of experience and real-school practical suggestions.  Not to be missed are Chapters 5 and 6 about implementing and embedding ICT in the classroom – these chapters are full of good examples of ICT across all kinds of curriculum areas!
Ben explained: 
"When I first became aware of RiskITWeek, the idea immediately got my attention - I knew so many teachers who were apprehensive of using technology in their subject - frightened that they would look foolish in front of pupils who had grown up with computers or frankly, scared the tools would stop working.
Even now that there is so much focus on the new UK Computing curriculum, many teachers receive training on coding but not in the wider aspects and skills of using education technology.  RiskItWeek is a pragmatic idea based on simply providing professional and technical support to teachers without negative criticism. What makes this 'doable' and transferable to any school is the strategy - where teachers take a risk and use new technology or innovate with technology in a culture of support where people learn from each other and celebrate the process made visible.  
I wish RiskITWeek had been invented when I was ICT Coordinator!  Don’t wait – this little book is a life-changing opportunity for the whole school community."

You can purchase the book on Amazon.
Recent Reports

People Power and Technology Doteveryone Digital Attitudes Report 2018                                          
This new research from Doteveryone looks beyond internet usage and explores how the British public thinks and feels about the internet technologies shaping our world and changing our lives. It is based on a nationally representative survey of 2,000 people online and 500 by phone, backed by in-depth conversations in focus groups, which are quoted in this report. Download Report (pdf)

Drawing The Future

This report represents the results of a collaboration between the charity Education and Employers, TES, UCL Institute of Education (IOE), the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development Education and Skills(OECD). Education and Employers careers charity.  Download Report (pdf)

Google removes View Button from Image Search
The value of Google Image Search is being questioned after, in response to pressure from Getty, Google removed the Image View Button from their Image search tool. There is some further interesting commentary and discussion on John Johnston's Blog.

Latin is the subject Britons think is least important 
A new YouGov survey asked the public to rate the importance of18 different subjects.
It’s no surprise that English and Maths, come out top. (96%) Close behind are computing and science which 95% and 94% respectively. Latin comes bottom of the class.

Posters as an Academic Form
Making posters in class is often dismissed as a low level activity, or 'time filler'  with no real educational value.  This may be true if there is no context or learning objective. This post by Martin Robinson @trivium outlines how posters can be a valuable part of the curriculum if allied with design  and research.

Research body is 'unhelpful or even dangerous'
The TES report on some recent comments from Professor Mel Ainscow, of the Greater Manchester education and employability board, regarding the DFE backed EEF (Education Endowment Foundation). 
He is cited as saying;
"Actually, what works in one place won’t work in others. I’m not against that kind of research, and it can be useful. But where, as is currently the case, it’s being seen as providing the answers, I think it’s unhelpful. Even worse, it’s dangerous.”
Professor Ainscow suggest that RCTs  are not always appropriate  - what works in one school does not work in another, and that teachers should be free to use their professional judgment to determine what works best in their own schools or communities.

You are not alone
Instravel - A Photogenic Mass Tourism Experience
common subjects and memes in travel photos

This video shows the common themes and subjects everyone  everyone snaps in travel photos. All the images assembled in the video were captured from from Instagram posts. How many of your own pictures fall  into these categories.  
An interesting example of remixing/sampling other work - personally (ed) would consider this fair use?

Back to contents

FOR YOUR DIARYEducation Show. 15-27 March 2018:. NEC, Birmingham

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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