MirandaNet Newsletter No 19. 15th January 2017
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Wishing You All A Happy and Peaceful New Year
Source:  J Aaron Farr , CC BY

  • Editorial
  • MirandaNet at BETT
  • Research
  • Featured Image
  • Book Reviews
  • Events
  • Featured Video
  • In the News
  • Around The Web
  • For Your Diary

We are very pleased to announce the second stage of our research for IRIS Connect.
Using video is becoming popular as a means of understanding our professional practice. One teacher in our study said the use of in-ear coaching prevented him from leaving teaching- he was better than he thought and he valued a trusted mentor. Other teachers in the study are saying that the use of of in-ear coaching has been  'transformational' in their practice. It is not often we researchers feel confident in using that work but the evidence is there. (Read the Stage 2 report here)

Lubna Malik who runs our Pakistan Chapter has provided another case study about the CPD work she is doing with teachers in the City Schools in Lahore. Her aim is to help teachers to find ways of encouraging young children to be active learners. We appreciate members' case studies like this as we can learn so much from each others practice.

The BETT 2017 exhibition in London is a theme in this month's newsletter. NETT is where we usually meet up with our international members.

I’ve been attending BETT for 30 years or more having seen it move from the Barbican to Olympia and now to Excel. In a fast changing world it is good to have a fixed annual event about innovation in learning. For me BETT is unmissable because of the certainty of meeting colleagues and discovering what is new. I’ve also been a BETT awards judge for about 20 years - a unique opportunity to review what is enduring and what is new and exciting.

Of course the emergence of a reliable Internet has changed so many education products from software to publishing. There are few companies working in education today that do not have a digital arm.

In this newsletter you will find the BETT news from MirandaNet Associates who are exhibiting as well as our MirandaNet Partners, BESA and NAACE.

One example is our MirandaNet Associate, Community Playthings, who supply nursery furniture. They will be at BETT for the first time this year showing that the design of the physical learning space is just as important as the design of the virtual learning space.

Our MirandaNet research report about their classroom furniture is here. I’ve also written a chapter on this topic with Allison and Richard Allen: "The impact on learning of social and information environments in both physical and virtual settings". If any members would like a draft, please email me.

Christina (

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Once again we are delighted to announce that our MirandaNet Associates will be exhibiting at the BETT show  2017. Here is a quick preview of what they will be sharing with us, and where to find them at the show.


The BrainPOP team invites educators of all types to visit us at BETT on stand C259 (by the BETT Arena). We'll be demonstrating a range of new features and tools including Make-A-Map (an innovative new concept mapping tool), exciting learning games that support playful assessment, and 'My BrainPOP', our integrated student and teacher dashboards.

See more on the BrainPOP blog.


Tablet Academy

demonstrating a tablet deviceVisit Tablet Academy and our numerous partners at stand B160 and join in our Hands On Learn Live sessions ranging from Minecraft Education Edition to Virtual Reality. Or explore and experience a range of robots in education in our Robot Playpen. Once inspired by these activities we have a range of partners and expertise on hand to answer any technical or curriculum based questions you may have. For more information visit or see us at Stand B160

Community Playthings

Boys with brick trainMost educators recognise that a balance is necessary between digital learning and hands-on practical experience. Equipment that is durable, modular and fosters curiosity and imagination supports science, technology, engineering, the arts and maths. If this is so, block play is at the foundation of technology. Imagination, curiosity and hands-on experimentation with scientific principles, can result in complicated engineering and "machinery developed from scientific knowledge." Take a look at this steam engine built out of Unit blocks by two five year old boys. It makes you wonder what they will be building in 20 years.  How do we raise our children today to be the inventors of the future? Come and see us BETT Stand C428.

Innovate My School

Innovate my School Logo Innovate My School is a community for discovering and sharing exciting new products and practices in the education sector. We are pleased to announce that, for the first time, we will be exhibiting at the BETT Show where we are keen to meet as many people as possible, and find out how they have been innovating their schools.
We will also be launching our new YouTube channel at BETT stand G80, where we will be filming teachers, school leaders and community ambassadors talking about their innovative ideas - big or small - as part of our 'Bitesize Innovations Series'. As with all of our content, we will be sharing it far and wide via our website, partners, social media and weekly newsletters. We will also be running free consultations with Michael Forshaw, our founder, who is keen to find out how Innovate My School can shine a spotlight on your ideas throughout 2017.  Get in touch to book your slot with Michael, or contact our team to share your best innovative ideas of the year.


Gaia Computing Framework coverGaia's lead educationalists will be demonstrating some of the innovative learning which is being co-developed with our customers: including 3D visual learning, video production, virtual and augmented reality. We will be meeting existing and new customers and conducting exhibition tours to introduce you to our trusted hardware and software partners.

Gaia will also  be launching the Gaia Primary Computing Framework  The Gaia Primary Computing Framework is a comprehensive document enabling schools to deliver an engaging and easy to navigate computing curriculum from Early Years through to Year 6.   Visit Gaia on Stand F260

MirandaNet discussion at BETT

This year MirandaNet is on the Naace stand, G135 where we hope colleagues will visit us.

On Wednesday 25th January Christina Preston will be on a panel 'Bridging the Digital Divide' at 5pm hosted by Terry Freedman, sponsored by  NewBay Media, Location: Learn Live Secondary Theatre, Hall N12 & N13

On Thursday 26th Professor Mirka Cernochova, Charles University, Prague will be joining Christina Preston and MirandaNet colleagues for a joint reception with Naace members at 1700 on Stand G135. This will be followed by a restaurant supper at 'Fish' in Borough Market, London Bridge, about 1900-1930 giving us time to travel.

On Friday 27th January we will also have a joint reception at 1700 on Naace stand G135 followed by supper at La Barrique for those who wish to join us at about 1800-1830. (It’s on the bridge leading to Custom House station.)

My mobile is 07801336048. Email or call me if you want to meet up with members during the show or for supper.



Naace logo

Wednesday 25th at 15.00: Helen Hackett (TBC) about Teaching for Mastery in Mathematics and how IT fits with that whole approach Primary

Wednesday 25 at 17:15: Bridging the Digital Divide: Panel: Christina Preston, Simon Finch and Steve Wheeler, Hosted by Terry Freedman, sponsored by Learn Live Secondary theatre, Hall N12 & N13

Thursday 26th at 15.00: John Galloway – Inclusive approaches to beginning with programming Thursday 26th at 15.45: Mark Chambers & Paul Scott – Naace Services to Schools, Friday 27th January, School Leaders Summit  11.45 – 12.15. Mark Chambers

Friday 27th at 13.30: Tim Bleazard – The Game Maker’s Toolkit – Independent, Personalised Programming Saturday 28th at 14.00: Martin Bailey  Bringing the Curriculum to Life More info about these sessions and others in the Primary 


e-Nursery Project: Using Technology in Early Years
Lubna Bashir Malik, MirandaNet Senior Fellow, Pakistan Chapter

Young children using tablets viewed from above

This project aimed at using a variety of technologies in early years (From Play Group – Class 2) as teaching and learning tools. The e- Nursery project is a comparative study between the learning in the traditional classrooms and the technology based environment in the early years setting. Furthermore, this initiative would help to bridge the gap between early years and the lower primary schools in terms of using technology across various subjects. The e-Nursery is considered as the progression of technology integration starting from Play Group. There are three phases of this project; Planning, Execution, Evaluation. There is a team of 5 members in the planning phase; whereas the head teachers and the teachers from schools are the part of the execution. All the stake holders; the project initiators, the school heads, parents, teachers and the students are involved in the evaluation phase.

All e-Nursery school heads and teachers are motivated to teach with technology integration and are convinced that it is an effective tool for teaching. Moreover, the parents highly appreciate the e-Nursery project considering it to be a positive step towards latest trends of learning. Students find it a great learning opportunity.

The learning and teaching patterns in the conventional and technology based classrooms are very different; in technology based classrooms, strangely, students take it very normal as things are happening in routine and sequence and they are only the users of technology. They do not have to think about that they are on the task of learning. Learning is smooth and well merged with the resource – technology. Most of the happenings are at the students end, yet not lots of hassle of efforts. In the conventional classroom, learning objectives are achieved, children develop the understanding; teachers put lots of efforts to aid learning, to enhance learning and to direct towards learning. The control seems in teachers’ hands to bring learning as a major event in the teaching process.

Lubna Bashir Malik, Mirandanet Senior Fellow
Pakistan Chapter

IRIS Connect

Iris Connect Loo
New research by MirandaNet finds live remote coaching to be “transformative”
“Human interaction is the key to professional learning.” Mike Fleetham, Expert Coach and Consultant, Thinking Classroom"

New research has built upon an initial MirandaNet study into the impact of the IRIS Connect video professional learning platform on teaching and learning.
This second phase of the research concentrates on the aspect of live remote coaching using video and an ‘in-ear’ piece. The research has found that:
  • Replicable and sustainable deep learning can be achieved by providing immediate contextualised feedback that can be instantly put into practice
  • Focus on classroom practice in real-time strengths the confidence and capability of teachers at any stage of their career
  • Pupils are cooperative in classrooms where in-ear coaching in used and are also more reflective about their own learning and behaviour

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 Image Credit: Jose Arturo Lopez Palacio, CC BY NC
Turkmenistan Tower
Not a set from from a sci-fi  film but a communications tower in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.  As the world shrinks, I imagine this is a place most of us will not yet have visited. Reading about and seeing some of the great pictures of Ashgabat, The City of White Marble in this online issue of the Atlantic may make us want to remedy that.

Building Leadership Development Programmes  
Nigel Paine
Publisher. Kogan Paige £29.99
EAN: 9780749476939

Building Leadership Development Programmes - book coverNigel was often praised for his leadership of the Scottish Council for Education Technology. He went on to excellence in management in the BBC and is now building on his active experience of leadership as a consultant.

Recent research has looked at school heads who parachute into a failing school, make great changes and leave after a couple of years. In three to five years the results can be lower than they were to start with. Nigel aims to help leaders to deliver lasting value with this practical guide featuring best practice from experts in the field. The book benefits from drawing on a wide range of global case studies going through change.  He emphasises ‘action learning’ as a key principle whereby colleagues learn from each other. It is an experiential mode of learning that goes back to John Dewey. The MirandaNet iCatalyst programme works on this principle although we put more emphasis on sharing evidence and call it ‘practice based research’. Basically it about the staff of an institution owning and controlling the change rather than having change thrust upon them.

The stories about leadership are compelling and the the book is well researched and accessible. Some topics are challenging. For example, leadership on the edge is about discomfort as a learning experience.  There is a also section about making online learning immersive using virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Participants report surprisingly high impact. MirandaNet members in education will also be interested in DIY leadership on a very low budget. I’d recommend this book to any professional wanting to understand what good leadership should look like before they enter the fray as well as in assessing potential impact in planning a leadership foray - and good luck! 
Buy on publisher's website here or on Amazon here. £26.99
Reviewer: Dr Christina Preston

Road School

Sue Cowley
Publisher: Crown House Publishing
ISBN: 9781785831140

Road School Cover"I want to go travelling"  and with that statement Sue convinces her her family to go embark on a six month road trip around Europe and across to China before the children start their secondary school lives 

Road School is a wonderful personalised road diary, where famous sights and places are encountered  and described through the eyes and experiences of the individual family members rather than the guide book. Many of Sue's humorous anecdotes and will be recognisable to anyone who has travelled any distance with children.

The book includes contains advice and guidance together with many useful tips for home-schooling on the road and in general. There are also some very useful tips on general  practicalities when travelling with kids for any length of time. Curricular guidance and experiential learning issues are woven in throughout the narrative.

The underlying educational philosophy that one learns through doing and experience is always present. Sue also explores subjective issues such as Cultural Literacy, something that seems to be sadly lacking in much of the UK theses days. 

This educational road trip is great antidote to much of the current turgid research and polarised debate about what is and isn't learning. It is rather timely because it offers a challenge to the current perceived wisdom of the politicians, councils and schools who argue that every day of missed schooling disadvantages a child by 'x' 'amount. These folk (who feel threatened enough to take the 'school holidays issue' to the Supreme Court) may see many of the shortcomings of the current system highlighted by Sue's alternative vision.

I have no hesitation recommending this book to all parents and teachers. It provides an alternative view and I'm sure it will broaden the mind.

 Available on here on Amazon
 Reviewer:  Theo Kuechel

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:


Weird Wired Web - Hack Day

Wierd  Wired World Hack Day BadgeThe internet of things  - what is it?  Devices that are connected to the internet and can report information or be controlled via the internet are part of the internet of things. From the heating system in your house to entire security systems in office blocks, our world is becoming more connected everyday.  This entire hack day is devoted to understanding how it works, and how to make web controlled devices! The day is strictly limited to 12 places.

Full details from Centre for Computing History  here 

Truth & Facts - Wikipedia
Wikipedia: #FactsMatter
The fact that information spreads quickly means that truth can spread quickly, and lies can spread quickly. 
As the 'post truth' and fake news, this video from the University of Edinburgh gives an insight into the communities that edit and contribute to Wikipedia ensuring that it rises above any vested interests' interpretation of truth or fact. Because of  it's intellectual independence Wikipedia is the place you go when you've got a moment to reflect and say, OK, I actually need to learn about this. 

Digital Literacy should be taught?
With a call from the Children's Commissioner for digital literacy lessons in school (report here pdf) - the following item might be a good inclusion in any such curriculum. Jenny Afia, a privacy law expert at Schillings has re-written the Instagram's Terms of Service. Instagram is used by more than half of 12-15 year olds in in the UK, (according to OfCom). Ita has been written in language suitable for young people and their parents. Hopefully there will be more such initiatives in the future.

Snow days
It's that time of year again when, if bad weather and especially snow hits, some schools will inevitably close. Sometimes closures can be controversial and inconvenient for parents as explained in the Grimsby Telegraph; Head teachers will always decide in the best interests and safety of the children.  Many variables have to be taken into account and each school will be different. One imagines these days that the Internet and mobile communications would be able to help in most cases.

PM pledges free mental health training for secondary school teachers
Schoolsweek reports that Theresa May has outlined plans which take a new approach to tackling mental health problems in children and young people and to see they  “get the help and support they need and deserve.” Justine Greening confirmed “this will be backed up by health and education watchdogs, the Care Quality Commission and Ofsted. How this will work remains to be seen.
Some items from around the web which may be of interest to MirandaNetters. 

Art History: Making the Absent Present

Girl with pearl ear ring
Dr Beth Harris and Steven Zucker PhD  write "Smarthistory’s  lively dialogic pedagogy combined with a rich variety of image views, reconstructions, google street views, diagrams, and essays has successfully replaced the traditional dependence on an art history text for many instructor"  

The Smarthistory model as described in this paper demonstrates how many subjects are much better served, and can be brought to life using online technological resources as an alternative to dry textbooks.


Family watching TV in living room 1959

There seems to be a never ending tirade of assertions in the media, further amplified, (by educators), on social media, especially Twitter about 'Screentime'.  They imply many youngsters "stare at screens" for 12 hours a day, and may inadvertently be "damaging their brains."  What they are more likely to be doing is reading, researching, editing photographs, playing/listening to music oh and perhaps playing some games. This excellent article signed by 81 scientists and academics calls out such nonsense and argues "Screen time guidelines need to be built on evidence, not hype"
Image credit  Paul Townsend CC BY ND

The difference between an iPhone and a Computer

Steve Jobs - iPhone mosaic
Whilst your iPhone may be one of the most valuable tools you possess; on the 10th anniversary of the iPhone this article from the Conversation outlines how it differs fundamentally, in what you can do with it, compared to a a PC.
Image credit  Charles Tsevis CC BY ND

New Website Curates Expertise 

Question  website screenshot
'Got a great question? We can find a genuine expert to answer it! Find out more by contacting Steve Turnbull @memneon for info about an exciting new knowledge platform together with tips on asking your question.'  Example Question
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