MirandaNet Newsletter, No 30, July 8th, 2018 
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watercolour: summer fruit, by Ding Fuhzi (Met Museum) PD
Summer Fruit  by Ding Fuhzi: Metropolitan Museum of Art, (Public Domain)
Welcome to the MirandaNet Newsletter

Dear MirandaNetters,
Thanks to all who made the Winchester forum such a success. We had more than sixty experts in edtech who attended: teacher educators, researchers, practitioners, other professional organisations and edtech developers. 

We have reported on some key moments in this newsletter. We were particularly pleased about the keynote given by Amelia Walker, Ofsted, in which she said that their own research had shown that too much concentration on inspecting some subjects like numeracy and literacy is resulting in schools thinking the other subjects are less important. 

We will be publishing a series of blogs and reports based on the expert opinion of our members at the Winchester Forum. The first one in this newsletter is about the ways in which research is reported, cleverly entitled, How research is reported: the devil is in the lack of detail.

A report is also being prepared for the autumn on the three key themes that we debated:  
  • Enhancing learning and teaching with technology. Which innovations appear to work?
  • Effective models of edtech Professional Development including online learning and e-mentoring
  • Advice on working in partnership with the edtech industry and professional organisations on policy and practice

In addition, we are working on an early submission about how edtech can help in teacher recruitment and retention which Jen Halmshaw, UK DfE edtech policy unit, admitted is now a core concern. 

The evaluations of the conference were very positive and some helpful suggestions were made for next time. So put our next events in your diary so you do not miss them: a workshop in Prague, March 5/6/7th 2019; another Winchester Edtech Forum, June 2019 and a Global Summit in London in association with UNESCO in September 2019. 
Meanwhile even if you missed the Winchester event you can still vote here for the best hat creation...they were very inventive this year.
Have a good summer break,
Professor Christina Preston, Founder MirandaNet

The followup to the conference is here
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 image Elliot Brown, CC BY

One highlight at the conference was a thoughtful keynote from Amelia Walker, Deputy Director, with responsibility for Ofsted's research and evaluation programme. What was striking was  that she suggested that currently inspections are unintentionally causing schools to restrict the curriculum only to what they think will be tested. She summarised her talk for our newsletter.
Last year we published a commentary from HMCI on our findings from our research on the curriculum in primary and secondary schools. We have continued to investigate this topic this year, and this is feeding into Ofsted’s thinking about how we will inspect from 2019 onwards. We have been talking about our research and thinking so that there can be an open dialogue, rather than waiting until everything has been worked through before sharing.
We started this work by creating some definitions and models to give structure to our research. One of the key shaping principles has been to think about curriculum in terms of intent, implementation and impact. While the future framework is still in development, the core educational principle stands that schools should be clear what they want pupils to learn, how they will teach this, and how they will know if it has been learnt. Our approach to curriculum has also been unpinned by the role that the National Curriculum plays in illustrating the expectations for what pupils should learn. Even when schools don’t follow the National Curriculum, their approach should be at least as ambitious. One of the issues we are interested in is how inspectors can assess performance in different subject areas, while preserving the important principle that Ofsted does not have a preferred curriculum. One of the things we will be reflecting on is what is distinctive about each subject discipline. Ofsted will never expect to see particular content in the curriculum. However, we can ensure that when we assess subjects we do so with a sufficient understanding to know what good looks like in that discipline, particularly those aspects that are unique to that subject.


Images; Elizabeth Hidson
Elizabeth Hidson’s career tracks the way in which professionals become Computing specialist. Having trained as an Information and Communication Technology ( ICT) teacher, Elizabeth, who is both a MirandaNet Scholar and ITTE committee member,  became an ICT Advanced Skills Teacher and Lead Practitioner. She then moved into whole-school leadership, focusing on educational technology during time of the Building Schools for the Future programme. Her interests developed into a doctoral study and she celebrated her graduation as Doctor of Education from Durham University recently. 

She gains her MirandaNet Fellowship for sharing her knowledge through her outstanding presentation at the Winchester Forum in June based on her thoughtful analysis of the 2014 change in England, from the ICT to Computing curriculum, which saw the introduction of Computer Science in schools. This work is worth careful study as it traces the challenges that schools currently face and offers some recommendations for initial teacher education and professional development. 

In her thesis she points out how this political change posed a challenge for in-service ICT teachers without Computer Science subject knowledge: teachers needed to develop both subject and pedagogical knowledge to make the transition from teaching ICT to teaching Computing. Elizabeth’s study explores teachers’ perceptions of the curriculum change and how they have responded in practical and pedagogical terms to planning lessons aligning with the new programmes of study. The study used semi-structured interview questions while teachers engaged in lesson-planning activities, captured mostly using desktop-sharing via internet telephony. A modified version of Shulman’s pedagogical reasoning framework and Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) facilitated analysis of teachers’ pedagogic practices in lesson planning. 

The study shows teachers’ concerns about the lack of clarity surrounding the curriculum change, and the lack of access to suitable professional development. The study also focuses on the dynamic nature of lesson planning. Knowledge deficits slowed down teachers’ lesson-planning processes, but the use of lesson materials created by others helped them to develop PCK. 

Recommendations have been made for Computing curriculum policies to recognise and promote Computing pedagogy, which should underpin initial teacher education in Computing, CPD for in-service teachers, and strategic development of the subject in the longer term.

Elizabeth’s thesis, entitled “Challenges to Pedagogical Content Knowledge in lesson planning during curriculum transition: a multiple case study of teachers of ICT and Computing in England” is available to read at the Durham University e-theses website and you can access her presentation here on the MirandaNet website.
The devil is in the lack of detail
Terry Freedman

Image; Mike Grauer Jr CC By 

At the Winchester Forum Terry gave a provocative talk about research reporting. He begins with a scenario familiar to us all. Here is how he begins.

You pick up your morning paper, and your heart sinks as you read a headline: 
“Schools waste millions of taxpayers’ money on shiny gadgets”.
The report goes on to say that the latest research, carried out by academics from [insert name of well-known university here], shows that buying education technology yields no discernible benefits in terms of learning, and that for the same money the average school could have employed a part-time teacher for a year.”

But sometimes the headline and the report don’t convey the truth, or at least the whole truth, at all. This is due to several factors, all of which are discussed in more detail in my introductory chapter of Technology Enhanced Learning: Research Themes edited by Rose Luckin in the first of the What the Research Says, by Rose Luckin (Ed). 

Read Terry's full piece here
The Technology, Pedagogy and Education Journal Taylor/Francis

In June 2018, the publishers wrote to ITTE whose members established and edit the TPE journal to relay the  2017 Impact Factors. TPE recorded a score of 1.580 which ranks it 95/238 in the Education & Educational Research category. They are very pleased that the journal now ranks with the top 100. All congratulations to Sarah Younie, the editor, and our MirandaNet and ITTE members who review the papers. Please let us know if you would like to be considered as a reviewer.  

Taylor/Francis  launched a new campaign this month on research metrics for academics, in time for the release of the updated impact factor results and SSCI index. Its aim is to demystify research metrics by offering straightforward explanation and guidance on the most commonly used metrics for researchers, journal editors and librarians. In this guide you’ll find top tips around metrics, a new video from the Scholarly Summit in Australia and many sources for guidance and support. They would like MirandaNet members who are academics to share the following link: 


Just2easy who sponsored our conference are aiming to reduce the summer slide in maths. Any School around the world qualifies for the chance to win money for the school and pupils too, by playing the J2blast maths game throughout the summer. 

Outset Teacher Education 

Neil Brading represents our new associate company, Outset Teacher Education and presented at the Winchester Forum. He has extensive experience as a teacher and in initial teacher education. Neil taught history for 24 years in the UK and Brazil before becoming the manager of the Oxon-Bucks Partnership in 2004. In this role he was responsible for graduate teacher programme and later SCITT and School Direct courses. 

During this time, he completed a Master of Arts in Education degree with Oxford Brookes University, focusing his dissertation on How can e-portfolios support teacher training on the graduate teacher programme? (The answer lies in designing a system which supports learning as well as monitoring and assessing progress.) His current work with Outset Teacher Education has developed from this. Outset Teacher Education provides an online portfolio and educational services to support ITE students and their providers and is in the process of developing other portfolio systems. Neil is also a lead tutor for the University of Buckingham, a trustee of NASBTT (National Association of School-Based Teacher Trainers) and a primary school governor

Computing, Women & the Ecology of Education The Demise of the Book is Imminent
Christina Preston 

In the early 1990s we were just becoming aware of Douglas Adams, the inventive writer of Science fiction and radio plays on the same topic. In fact, because of  his skill in imagining how technology could be, he was employed by Apple to foresee the future. The actual object in his famous title, the Hitch Hikers’ Guide was, in fact, a laptop before they were invented, connected to the internet that did not yet fully exist. How Douglas imagined the future so accurately we will never know but he was one of the first creative writer to prophesy the power of digital communication for good and ill.

How could we imagine in the 1990s that books would disappear, replaced by that plastic device he described: 'a green screen with white writing linked up to 3 skyscrapers full of information personifying something called the ‘Internet’! I

t was quite a coup because I had asked Douglas to lead in a debate, The demise of the book is imminent, at Sussex University. In his mews office in Kensington I discussed the topic with him putting forward the arguments I had rehearsed about the death of the book. The trouble is, he said, my publishers are not allowing me to write at all for anyone because my book is so overdue. But I would like to do the debate and I like your arguments. Can I use yours?

OK I said, knowing how popular he would be, even back then. You take my speech and I’ll write another one – it was a deal! He put my speech in his hip pocket of his jeans..... the rest of Christina's tale here on the MirandaNet Medium Blog

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Image: Christoph Scholz CC BY SA

The UK government is still asking for further written submissions about fake news addressing the following points:

What is 'fake news'? Where does biased but legitimate commentary shade into propaganda and lies?
What impact has fake news on public understanding of the world, and also on the public response to traditional journalism? If all views are equally valid, does objectivity and balance lose all value? 
Is there any difference in the way people of different ages, social backgrounds, genders etc use and respond to fake news? Have changes in the selling and placing of advertising encouraged the growth of fake news, for example by making it profitable to use fake news to attract more hits to websites, and thus more income from advertisers?

The European Union has some of the answers as they published on fake news in February 2018 when they found that there was wide support to fact-checking as one of the ways to combat fake news, although the consultation also helped to understand that its efficiency is limited and that it should be accompanied by other measures. The consultation also provides some interesting information on possible tools to empower journalists and end-users, including the use of new technologies such as artificial intelligence and block chain. As in the case of fact-checking, it appears that the efficiency of each tool largely depends on who uses it and for which purposes. 

Rob Ellis @icttalk has also written a post about ‘fake news’ on his blog that refers particularly to how we should deal with this topic with learners. He suggests there are two strands to digital literacy. ‘One is about the questions you ask search engines and the sort of results you might get from different keywords and the second is about how you validate the information once you get it.’

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Some more free stuff online
Continuing this series, here are two websites that will complement the coding side of computing. I’m not going to suggest Scratch, good as it is, except to say that it shouldn’t be the sole programming diet in primary school. Here are two, based on text languages, that could help bridge the divide between primary and secondary.

First up is a Python environment. For anyone who works in more than one school and has found that what they have practised at home doesn’t work on the school system or someone who has limited technical support this is ideal. provides an online environment where you can create code, run it and then save it to your computer to use later. Here’s a short program and its output
If you’re into Javascript, as I am for the opportunities it gives to show work in an HTML environment, perhaps while learning about the Internet then will help. It’s not a scheme, more of a robust supplement, but I learned from an 11 year old boy who wasn’t interested in making games with Scratch that some children can use this in a very efficient, self-directed way. He became more and more excited as he progressed through Code Monster, the environment for younger users, a marked contrast to his previous rather bored behaviour.

There are thousands of really good free sites out there and I plan to share some more in future newsletters.
Rob Ellis

dBack to contents

Image Credit:  T Joe Haupt; CC BY SA

Back in the sixties Hasbro launched the Think-A-Tron, a battery driven ‘computer’ that answered multiple choice questions from an inserted punch card. After some whirring wheels and flashing lights the answer is displayed on the screen. The question is; how much of our edtech has moved on from such concepts? 

Hasbro’s  marketing slogan was "The machine that thinks like a man" and you can see it in action here


Does artificial intelligence put teachers under threat?
Neil Selwyn discusses the role of artificial intelligence in teaching and learning,
The next twenty years will see teachers under increasing pressure to convincingly justify their existence. Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are already prompting calls for teaching to be automated, learner-driven and ‘teacher-proof’. While these technologies might still require non-specialised classroom facilitators and technicians, the role of the highly trained expert teacher is coming under increasing threat. There is a growing sense that “we don’t really need teachers in the same way anymore”.
Put bluntly, the entire premise of ‘the teaching profession’ faces an impending challenge. In a future where education can be reliably provided by machines, why continue to invest millions of dollars in training human experts to do the job? Given the likely trajectory of technological developments over the next few decades, is there anything that an expert teacher does that machines will never be able to do? As an education researcher and teacher, I would like to think that there is! 

Neil follows on with six aspects of expert human teaching which are getting overlooked in the current rush toward automating the classroom:

The Roehampton Annual Computing Education report 
This report aims to analyse the uptake of computing / computer science  (CS) qualifications at GCSE and A-level by looking at the schools offering the qualifications and the students sitting them in 2017. 

Although Increasing numbers of schools are offering computer, relatively few students choose to take the subject: at GCSE, only 11.9%, and at A level, just 2.7%. Girls are under represented and female provision varies widely between regions, and local authorities. Provision is also patchy with Grammar schools more likely to offer CS than Comprehensives or Independents.

The report also highlights the fact that removing ICT qualifications at GCSE and A level, is likely to result in fewer less diverse, students taking qualifications in computing overall. These worrying findings are not in anyone's interest. The report made  the Radio4 Today programme and was widely discussed on social media. Download  the full report here

A baseline without basis

This is a damning report into the the validity and utility of the proposed reception baseline assessment in England from BERA.  
“The authors – an expert panel convened by BERA – conclude that the government’s proposals, which will cost upward of £10 million, are flawed, unjustified, and wholly unfit for purpose. They would be detrimental to children, parents, teachers, and the wider education system in England”
Download the full report here  

Ban Mobile Phones in School?

Once again this perennial call raises its head, this time undoubtedly inspired by recent banning of mobile phones in French, schools. Whilst the media and certain sections of edu twitter seem to be having a more concerted push for this to become the default in English schools, Mike Cameron offers a much more pragmatic appraisal in a recent post.

History of Writing in Art
This an excellent illustrated post that discusses the representation and development of text and writing using examples drawn from art. It would make a great resource in any discussion on visual literacy.

The Case against Turnitin

“Students often find themselves uploading their content — their creative work — into the learning management system. Perhaps they retain a copy of the file on their computer; but with learning analytics and plagiarism detection software, they still often find themselves having their data scanned and monetized, often without their knowledge or consent. "Audrey Watters, “Education Technology’s Completely Over”

Some online platforms and spaces used by schools, colleges and universities have terms of service which allows them to access student work and acquire rights to, sell or use it for other purposes. This article suggests educators and students need to be aware of the implications of learning platforms as an element of digital literacy. 
Read more here (Image - Jisc CC By ND)

500px deletes over one million CC licenced images.

Photography image hosting site 500px has just deleted over 1 million users images from its database with apparently only 48 hrs warning. This is a shocking example of commercial vandalism and one hopes many phtographers will avoid using this 500px in the future. The company is also established a partnership with Getty who are notorious in this aspect - as one commenter termed them - the “image mafia” 

Fortunately, the Internet Archive has saved all terabytes of the images the first of which can be seen and downloaded here. Hopefully this will give the photographers some well deserved an welcome exposure. 

The Internet is ‘Saved’ (for now) 

Thanks must go to  all of the 750,000 people who signed the petition and also everyone who contacted their MEP to defeat these proposals. The EU commission's copyright directive Article 13 would have meant everything (all your content) you upload to the Internet would have had to pass through upload filters. Article 11 would have prevented anyone linking to even a simple headline, even the BBC.


The Rise and Fall of the Simpson

From its origins as a dark and satirical response to the American (and Western society) through the adventures of a dysfunctional family, this video explores and explains the meticulous planning and writing of the original shows with their multilayered content that made them an international success. However after many of the original writers left, the plots became absurd, gags flatlined, and the ratings started to fall and now they are at an all time low... it has become....just a shadow of its former self. This video essay includes some classic clips from the show combined with other examples of iconic cultural media demonstrates the social and cultural importance of this animated show.

If you want to recreate the original spirit of the Simpsons you can may want to have some fun with the online Bart Simpson Chalkboard Generator 

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  • 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
  • Bera Annual Conference 2018;  11-13 Sep 2018: Northumbria University, Newcastle. Submission deadline 31st January 2018
  • Practical Pedagogies; Cologne  1-2 November 
  • Czech Miranda conference 5/6/7th March 2019 (Information to follow).

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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