MirandaNet Newsletter No 22, May 14th, 2017
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Supercomputer in Church,By A A Historic setting for a supercomputer: Courtesy of Barcelona Supercomputing Center -

Christina Preston: Issues in Edtech  
Sarah Younie and I published two articles in the Times Education Supplement and Education Executive summarising the impact of politics in EdTech since 2010 and suggesting that the best way for professionals to overcome the challenges is to work in collaboration in our organisations. ITTE was started in the 1980s, MirandaNet in the early 1990s and MESHGuides in 2008. As communities of practice we are all longer lasting than political parties and their policy fashions.

However, the political changes in EdTech in schools when the UK Coalition government took over in 2010 had an impact on our profession. Until that time members of MirandaNet along with members of ITTE had published research for Becta, the government agency and were responsible for other sources of information like the Teachers' Resource Bank. But in the first week of the new regime all the government agency websites were taken down on the grounds that the upkeep was too expensive: it was like burning the books without the smell - millions of pounds worth of research funded by the tax payers that was no longer available. This is why we are working so hard with ITTE, MESHGuides and other organisations to ensure that the information we assemble this time is held independently and internationally so that the work of academics, often funded by Government, can never be destroyed again by the next regime. 

By the way MirandaNet Fellows have reassembled the Becta research here

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Profile... Margaret Cox

Professor Margaret CoxNearly everyone in our EdTech world will have heard Professor Margaret Cox asking detailed and pointed questions in our professional debates at conferences. She is an admirable professional who works to make our communities effective. She has been a MirandaNet Senior Fellow in MirandaNet for more than 25 years, has been also awarded the Naace Lifetime achievement award.  

Margaret is the President of the National Council of University Professors, a Professorial Fellow  - University of Melbourne and now leads the HapTEL team at King's College London Dental Institute and Department of Education & Professional Studies at Guy's, King's College and St Thomas's Hospitals. As if this is not enough she has an OBE for her services to amateur singing in her spare time. A whirlwind of activity she is much to be admired..

Kerry Mulhair

Kerry Mulhair receives a MirandaNet Fellowship for sharing her study of the use of e-readers to support boys who are reluctant readers; 'Reading is my passion': Exploring the use of e-readers as an intervention strategy for boys who are struggling to read.

You will see that the impact on boys was significant in this short, small-scale pilot and we think it is worth sharing. There was not a clear impact on the Salford reading scores at this stage but we decided that teachers undertaking small pilots in their classrooms cannot expect reliable quantitative measures of impact. However, this should not prevent them from undertaking practice-based research. Although enthusiasm is not quantifiable or expressed in scores it was pleasing for the teacher and the researcher to observe that this pilot had made a difference to the boys’ willingness to overcome the reading challenges they faced when they used an e-reader. The fact that they enjoyed the multimodal experience of pictures and sound in understanding a book indicated that this method of transmission accorded with their wider experience of story in the digital age. 

You can read Kerry's report on the MirandaNet website


In early May Professor Marilyn Leask, Sarah Younie and myself led the second UNESCO Global Summit which was designed to bring together a range of international organisations to pool their knowledge and develop new publication methods so that the profession has access to research evidence in a form that appeals to busy teachers. The 'marginal gains' strategy that was developed in the first Summit was one key focus of the second meeting. This second Summit focused on bringing together knowledge about strategies, tools and processes which could support a self-improving profession, teacher retention and quality. In our view we can only succeed in maintaining professional standards by bringing together educators, policy makers, professional associations and stakeholders to work actively to share knowledge and critique processes, strategies and tools, supported by 'translational research' models for education, which address these global education challenges.

Elizabeth Moore said, "It was a fantastic event with plenty of incredible insights from professionals. "It was a genuine pleasure to be there." Terry Freedman who was also at the Summit has written an article about classroom-based research, mentioning ITTE, MirandaNet, the recent Summit and the next conference  which is in Hull. Plenty to learn here. 

A Summit report will be coming out soon and a BERA  sponsored follow up conference is being held on 21/22 June at the University of Worcester. The contact is Dr Pinky Jain, co-convenor of the BERA International Comparative Education SIG

The Third Summit is booked for May 8th 2018. Please put this in your diary.
Open Air School
Open air school classroom, Bristol, 1930s

Image Credit. Paul Townsend CC BY SA
Courtesy of local Bristol historian Paul Townsend,this picture gives an insight into the Open Air schools build in the 1930's to combat the rise of TB. The schools were built on the assumption that fresh air, good ventilation and exposure to the outside contributed to improved health. There seems to little accessible evidence of the success or outcomes of these institutions. Whilst this classroom layout and learning look idyllic, it does raise more questions  than it answers; is this a staged or natural image? What was it like in bad weather? What became of these children?

Hardwired to Learn
Professor Christina Preston writes a post on edtech and attainment on the Education Executive website;

Since the introduction of computers in schools debates around education technology have persisted – from the introduction of modems to interactive whiteboards to tablets. Yet the central question remains: does technology enhance education and lead to student attainment?

I asked this question in the MirandaNet debating forum where global experts in innovation from all areas of education contributed. Three prevailing strands emerged: the potential benefits to learning, how technology has impacted teaching and the limitations of technology in education. “If schools do not embrace these advances they are not preparing young people for a world where these technologies will be pervasive.”

At the heart of this debate are the learners themselves. “Children are hardwired to learn under all sorts of circumstances and technology is particularly useful through its multimedia support for learning,” says Jocelyn Wishart, senior education lecturer at the University of Bristol.  “You have to start with how people learn. Technology is an excellent tool for empowering people.” Indeed, with the increasing focus on digital skills it makes sense that young people are encouraged to work with technology. In the words of independent consultant, Chris Yapp, “If schools do not embrace these advances they are not preparing young people for a world where these technologies will be pervasive.”  

Read Christina's full post about how EdTech specialists are more concentrated on changing the learning experience with EdTech rather than  focussing on EdTech itself.

New G+ Communities, Open Content and Visual Literacy
Screenshot - open content and visuality community badges

MirandaNet Fellow, Theo Kueche, has set up two new communities  on Google + the  Open Content ShowCase features some of the most exciting, interesting and useful 'open content' on the Web. The second community Visuality looks in depth at Visual Literacy and Visual Culture.

Terry Freedman Newsletter: Inspection
Terry writes; In this article I've written some notes for Heads of Department. These are just my thoughts, so the usual kind of disclaimer applies, ie it's not intended to be advice as such, just some things to think about.

Subscribe to Terry's newsletter here.

Review: John Galloway
Negotiating Neoliberalism” ed. Tim Rudd and Ivor F. Goodson (SensePublishers 2017)

Cover - Negotiating LiberalismYou could take this to be a rather gloomy book, one that lays bare the dominance of Neoliberalism as the hegemonic political, economic and social philosophy of our age, and its penetration into all aspects of our lives. The influence of Neoliberalism has been growing in the UK since the 1970s and accelerated by the ‘austerity’ agenda: rolling back the state, increasing the role of markets, privatising public services, increasing personal choice. In education, amongst other things,  we see it in the promotion of academies and free schools, establishments outside of the structure of the local authority, designed to create surplus pupil places and thus stimulate a market place of schools.

This is an unashamedly polemic book whose perspective can help all of us, regardless of our own position, to reflect on, re-examine, and understand education systems globally, and our opportunities to influence their future.

Read John's full review on the MirandaNet website
Available here or Amazon £69. Hardcover. £39 Paperback

Multiple Reviews
Digital Media, Culture and Education: Theorising Third-Space Literacies By John Potter and Julian McDougall  (Palgrave Macmillan)
 £66.99  or £63.64 (kindle) Amazon or  £62.99,  £52.99 (e-book) Springer

Cover Digital Media, Cultutre and Education“This book is for all those who realize we face new and complex problems in education today, that staying in our academic silos and engaging in business as usual will no longer do and that digital technology can free teachers to be designers, curators, and aggregators, bringing astonishing resources to learners of all ages and in all places. It is a magnificent piece of work and a breath of fresh air.”
(James Paul Gee, Mary Lou Fulton Presidential Professor of Literacy Studies, Regents’ Professor, Arizona State University, USA)

 “Brings to life the lived experience and creativity of young people and makes visible their meaning making practices. It surfaces ideas in ways that are theoretically and methodologically ground-breaking … a refreshing, hopeful, and above all, challenging book, that enables, develops and supports new thinking in media education and literacy studies.  Accessibly written, this is a welcome addition to the field, which speaks to the cultural context of civic engagement for young people in and out of school, or ‘not-school’. Now, more than ever these voices are needed as resistance is a key part of survival for young people whose modes of participation need to be strengthened and supported in a challenging world. Dynamic literacies are the way forward – and this book articulates and maps out a pathway through to action.”
(Kate Pahl, Professor of Literacies in Education, University of Sheffield, UK)  

“This book makes a valuable contribution to the fields it inhabits, not least by refusing reductive and easy polarities such as culture and technology, school and not-school, digital literacy and media literacy. Instead, Potter and McDougall set up a dialogue between fields of research, concepts of literacy, and domains of practice, a cooperative rather than adversarial model. They elaborate their central ideas of third-space learning, dynamic literacies, porous expertise and digital curation with a rich array of researched examples, showing the importance of collaborative learning in practice. This will be an essential read for lecturers, students and practitioners hoping to understand the landscape of literacy and learning in the 21st century.”
(Andrew Burn, Professor of English, Media and Drama, University College London, UK)

 “Potter and McDougall provide a beautifully balanced overview of the field with clear ways forward for reconceptualizing literacies and developing new pedagogies. The book synthesizes key works in the field and includes a range of case studies that illuminate important and novel concepts. I fully expect the notion of third space literacies to be a constant point of reference in years to come.”
(Rebekah Willett, Assistant Professor at the University of Madison-Wisconsin, USA)
We used to live in caves...
Video poster frame - Cassini near Saturn
NASA at Saturn: Cassini's Grand Finale
For those of us who grew up in the 50s and 60s, perhaps inspired by Dan Dare, we could only dream that close up pictures of a visit to Saturn be possible one day. Later generations, followers of Star Trek, Dr Who, Star Wars, may have a better understanding of what might be possible. NASA's animated video (based on real images of Cassini's journey) tells the remarkable story of this mission of exploration and discovery and exceeds previous expectations. You can catch up with all the latest free to use images and videos from NASA here.
Sometimes we come across tweets that cut through the simplistic nonsense , especially with regard to technology,  Here are a few linked examples...


Google Earth 
Google Earth Poster image

Google Earth has undergone one of its most significant version updates. In common with many other serious applications (Adobe Photoshop et al) it is now wholly browser-based.

At the moment the new Google Earth  is only available for Android and Chrome. Whether schools are using Chrome or Android in order to benefit from this upgrade is another matter.

Using the latest satellite imagery one can 'fly' around the globe - search for places of interest and explore them using a highly intuitive version of Street View. Google Earth also presents further details about places with information cards (which access, and link to, Wikipedia data.). 

Screenshot - Autodraw examples

Google has now released AutoDraw, an AI application which converts ones scribbles into a selection of recognisable forms, to choose from. In addition to its automatic drawing function, the application comes with some basic tools including; freehand drawing, shapes, colours, fills and importantly, a duplicate function. If you want to know where the clip art originates, here are some examples of the work created by Google artists, you can submit your own from the artist page.

You cannot encrypt your face
'What's my line?' Panel games with masked panel
image credit; Classic Film, CC BY
With privacy and freedom becoming an increasingly important aspect of our lives, this article in the Atlantic argues that democracy might be impossible in a world where no one can remain anonymous due to facial recognition algorithms. An interesting example of the employment of mass facial recognition at the 2017 European Champions League final in Cardiff,

Macintosh Software Library
Screenshot Macpaint
If you are a vintage computing nerd, you may be interested in the functioning, emulated, versions of historic Macintosh software in the Macintosh Software Library at the iIternet Archive. It includes many of the old favourites including as MacWrite, MacPaint and games. Hours of late 20th century fun!
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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