MirandaNet Newsletter No 21, 26th March 2017
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cherry blossomMirandaNet colours echoed in 'Cherry Blossom': Source; NoFrills CC BY NC

On April 4th and armed with ideas from MirandaNet Fellowship members I will be going to see Bridie Tooher, the Head of EdTech Policy and Data Strategy at Department for Education. It is a good sign that this appointment has been made and even more that we have a meeting after a long period when academics have been under unwarranted attack by the UK government as ' experts'.

In this meeting I will be representing MirandaNet, Sarah Younie will represent MESH and Helen Boulton, ITTE. We have a shared agenda to promote the value of professional organisations in the field of edtech and we will be talking about the challenges facing teachers in making the most of edtech:
  • A lack of opportunities for teachers to exchange knowledge; Access to the knowledge base of the profession;
  • The reduction of university places for beginning teachers and the shortage of University-based  Initial Teacher training (ITT);
  • A lack of CPD in edtech;
  • A lack of research into edtech;
  • A shortage of funds for schools to upgrade their digital infrastructure which is ageing and changing;
  • A growing shortage of computing teachers;
  • Lack of professional contact with DFE.

The landscape has not been welcoming to professional organisations in edtech since the Coalition government in the UK took over in 2010. Sadly, for example, the much respected and long-established Naace is having to close their trading arm.

It seems a good time to present to the DfE how professional organisations can offer some cost-effective solutions to the challenges we all face, for example through participation in our  e-communities of practice and our digital publishing. We will be explaining the value to the profession of MirandaNet as a practice based research network with links to CPD funded by companies. MESH too is developing a knowledge mobilisation resource for teachers and academics and among other activities ITTE publishes a respected peer-reviewed journal.  

In order to make sure that the DFE gains from our experience and influence we will be suggesting that we re-establish contact with the DFE so that we can inform our members adequately about policy directions and also express our members views about policy and strategy.

We will be inviting Bridie Tooher to speak at our Global Summit on May 4th in London and hope to see many of you there. Details on Mirandanet

Sarah and I have written at length on these issues in two articles. One published in the Times Education Supplement is about professional organisations in general. The other one in the Education Executive is about the growing challenge to find teachers for the new Computing Curriculum.  

The articles are also published on the MirandaNet blog as:

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The Edtech landscape in the UK  
Sarah Younie and myself will be talking at the DFE about the topics of our recently published articles in the Education Executive (Edexec) and in the Times Education Supplement (TES) about the current landscape in English schools in terms of innovation. The EdExec article is titled 'A curriculum faux pas' where we describe the results of the government scrapping the ICT curriculum at GCSE and A level in 2010 before they introduced the new Computing curriculum in 2014. Despite putting  £millions into training teachers there is an increasing shortfall in supply because the government had not realised that the new curriculum has limited appeal for teachers unless they have at least two years of a computer science degree.

In our second article in the TES we talk about our experience of working with teachers who are taking Masters courses in innovation. Headlined 'Don't lose the essence of what it is to teach' we quote teachers who are reporting a loss of joy in the job in a system  that values bureaucracy over people. We say it is no wonder that there is a retention crisis.  We suggest as one solution that teachers join appropriate communities of practice to gain professional support, if they have the time of course! You can find a full and updated list at the end of the blog post here.

An edtech innovation needs 3 years to impact on teaching and learning
MirandaNet researchers have been saying since 2004 in our NOF CPD Programme TTA evaluation that teachers need time to embed  innovation into the curriculum because they first need to learn themselves how to use a new digital tool, then they need to develop the use and finally to consolidate. Since then we have made the same point in our Becta study (Pachler, Preston, Cuthell,  Allen and Torres, 2011) The ICT CPD Landscape in England 

The situation for funding professional development seems to have worsened since then. MirandaNet offers practice-based support through companies like Gaia who pay for the first year. But however effective the project results school leaders do not have the the money to pay for more. 

In this case study by Tracey Ramage, her school was having problems staffing the new Computing curriculum. Indeed, applications for computer science teacher training are down by nearly 60 per cent (a situation reported here). Tracey is a MirandaNet Senior Fellow and will now become a MirandaNet Ambassador.

So MirandaNet and Gaia helped Tracey set up a Digital Media course focusing on the musical Blood Brothers that was very popular at the time. This led to a high level of demand when the pupils chose their GCSE options. But with no continued support in the second year from Gaia and MirandaNet, the teachers have struggled to deliver the option. Here is the case study.

Christina Preston

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ESA (European Space Agency) makes all its images and video open access
Cloud free England Wales satellite image
Credit: Envisat,ESA: CC BY 

In February the European Space Agency announced an Open Access policy for images and data under a Creative Commons BY-SA license. ESA has made various moves toward making data and images more open in the past, but this announcement represents a major milestone for the organization’s commitment to openness.

All visual media and data such as this cloud free image of England and Wales from Envisat, is of extremely high quality and more content will be added  on a regular basis as it becomes available. Browse some examples here.

Chartered College of Teachers  

Dame Alison Peacock

Dame Alison Peacock  speaking at inaugural conference in Sheffield : Source CCOT

MirandaNet is a partner organisation of the Chartered College of Teaching (MirandaNet is listed here). The full cost of membership is £39 annually but Members of the MirandaNet Fellowship who have a current teaching contract and who hold a degree are being offered a £10 discount for a Founding Membership of the Chartered College of Teaching. To qualify for your discount select 'MirandaNet' from the list of partner organisations when you register for membership. (Note that Professional Affiliates do not qualify for a discount.) 
The discount is available until 6 April 2017.

Recession hurting organisations as well as schools, as policy failures bite

Naace conferences collage
Naace conferences 2001/2  Credit: T Kuechel CC BY

Austerity is hitting school budgets again and it’s also playing havoc with organisations that support schools. Naace, the UK professional membership organisation for those involved with learning and technology, is in the throes of a financial crisis and as we reported last month Naace have sadly had to cancel their annual conference.  

Naace is undertaking urgent measures to cut costs and transform itself online using its own volunteers (rather than full-time officers), and the digital technologies it helps schools with. "The ICT crunch is here," says Merlin John reporting on the challenges for Naace the professional organisation that has been part of our landscape for 30 years. As one of our MirandaNet members, Bob Harrison says, "There is no question that the expertise and support provided by Naace is still very much needed by schools," (as illustrated in our featured video below

Consultant and Naace member Bob Harrison commented:  "It’s sad to see an organisation originally formed from local authority advisers which tried really hard to adapt and evolve to a changing ICT policy and technological landscape encounter such difficulties. However, schools continue to need independent advice and support about the potential of technology to enhance learning — who will provide that apart from Naace?"

The Educate Project

Educate project IDThe EDUCATE project is a 3 year ERDF funded initiative. EDUCATE will set up a physical and virtual working space where EdTech SMEs and researcher entrepreneurs will work together with research and business experts. All participants will be trained, supported and resourced. The focus of activity for the EdTech SMEs will be to help them to use research evidence to inform the design of their products and services. They will also learn how to set up an effective evaluation trial to demonstrate the value of their product or service. The focus for research entrepreneurs will be on helping them to develop the business skills and acumen to commercialise their research idea. SMEs and researchers will be mentored to work with teachers and parents (their customers) to evaluate their product’s educational value and stimulate the demand. In this way, EDUCATE will translate research into new and better Educational Products, and will stimulate demand for new and improved products. This will increase the sector’s economic growth and London’s competitiveness. EDUCATE will also facilitate knowledge exchange between Higher Education and SMEs. It will engage SMEs in the R&D process and stimulate their investment in these activities in the future.  

You can find out about the details of the project from its website and we are pleased to announce that the applications for the EDUCATE project are now welcome.
Behaviour In Schools

The issue of poor behaviour in schools is addressed in a newly published independent report from the DFE. The report includes qualitative case studies, and suggest  new quantitative and qualitative data should be gathered to provide a yardstick that can inform OFSTED and the profession.

The report's author, writer and teacher Tom Bennett, stated on the BBC that behaviour has not been taken seriously enough in the past and official data underestimates the extent of the problem in schools.  Bennett emphasises the need for a collective culture and responsibility in this area. Download the report here.

2nd Global Teacher Education Summit
4th May
, National Liberal Club and the House of Lords  

Inside House of Lords
Credit: Wikimedia
This second Summit is focused on improving teacher retention and teacher quality efficiency. Very relevant to the Teaching Excellent  Framework in universities  and performance indicators in schools. We still have a few spaces left for speakers at this event about teaching quality. You can sign up here. Please get in touch with Christina if you want to know more.
Naace 3rd Millenium Learning Awards
Broad Heath Primary School: 3rd Millennium Learning Award video
Broad Heath Primary School: 3rd Millennium Learning Award video
With reference to our Mirandanet Update item on Naace, (above) we thought we would share some of the excellent outcomes that occur when Naace works with schools, in this case towards the Third Millennium Learning Awards.

Jumping the Shark?
BBC News reports that a Lords debate argued that pupils need 'internet lessons' to thrive online. However educators on social media have commented that this is too little, too late, whilst others mention that digital literacy should be/is a prominent part of the computing curriculum. It also seem that their Lordships may not be aware of the work done by many individuals and organisations working in the field. For example the online safety work of Simon Finch, the Digital Literacies work of  Dr. Doug Belshaw or indeed the organisational work of Naace and MirandaNet.

Unqualified Teachers
The TES states clearly that... "there are no longer any laws dictating that UK state school teachers need formal qualifications." Is a first class subject degree or a fast track into teaching really a substitute for a teaching degree,or a grounding in educational theory and practice? This is worrying for many in education and one wonders how many parents are aware of these changes that have crept up on the profession 

National Education Union
NUT (National Union of Teachers) and the ATL (Association of Teachers and Lecturers) have merged to form what some commentators have called a 'Superunion'.  SchoolsWeek have provided a quick guide  and easy guide covering to all you need to know at a glance about the new National Education Union. 

Free school paid £600k to third tier football club
Again, from SchoolsWeek, we learn that Bolton Wanderers Free School have been paying £600k in rent and utilities to the club, which incidentally is nearly 200 million pounds in debt. In these times of austerity with cuts to school budgets it seems a very suspect use  of 'Taxpayers Money.'

Google Classroom for Gmail accounts

Google Classroom is now available to anyone with a GMail account ( At the moment you can  join any class and you can apply to run your own classes. This will be useful to independents, lifelong learners, homeschoolers and others working in education outside schools.

Learning Myths Quiz

Do you think highlighter pens help people learn? Hopefully not, however this little quiz from NPR makes a refreshing change from the usual multiple-choice quizzes that abound on social media. All the answers are backs up with links to the appropriate research.

Rijksmuseum Awards 2017 finalists

Each year the Rijksmuseum runs a competition to encourage the public to use public domain art in its Rijksstudio collection to create new works and designs. This years entries include butter dishes, condom wrappers, delft painted contact lenses and 'interesting' hats based on plant forms. Don't forget to vote for your favourite. 

Fake Sentiment

Whilst some of the sentiments on these memes may be laudable, passing them off as 'genuine' distorts our concept of reality and sets off a chain reaction. In times of crises this could have undesired effects.
If you're really not convinced it's 'fake' just check out the London Transport  'logo' in the picture - or better still, why not try it out  yourself.

Original Academic Papers
Finally, if you're interested in reading papers such as The Discourse of Meaninglessness: Nationalism, Baudrillardist simulacra and preconstructivist desituationism, Hans G. Hamburger, Department of Ontology, University of Illinois; then check out the the Postmodernist Generator.
See the MirandaNet Calendar for forthcoming events.  If you are organising, or know of any events you think would be of interest to MirandaNet members please let us know.

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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