MirandaNet Newsletter No 24, September 17th, 2017
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Image Credit; Moorland Stream (end of August) Mark Waddington  CC BY

Summer Travels
How to deal with a Russian tank in Brno, Czech Republic

Despite all the virtues of social media and video conferencing I still think we all need face to face contact from time to time to keep a community vibrant. In the conference season, June and July, I caught up with many MirandaNet members both from the UK and abroad. The best part was sharing presentations in Dublin, in Brno and in Hull with Niki Davis, Sarah Younie and Bozena Mannova. Keeping up our contacts all over the world has enriched our knowledge and our practice.

Currently, Bozena and I are writing a book, to be edited by Sarah, about what we have achieved in the Anglo-Czech Alliance since 1994, called the Peach Velvet Revolution: democracy and totalitariansm through the lens of education futures. The first part is about our professional lives before we meet and the second part covers the achievements in our European Union funded projects that have facilitated collaborative learning between our colleagues across Europe. But now there is a third part, not so cheerful, that covers the impact of the disapplication of the Information and Communications Technology curriculum in the UK and the impact of Brexit. Any chance of happier Part Four? You will find more about our presentation in Brno in Conference News

Niki Davis who is now a Professor at Canterbury University in New Zealand has published a book synthesising all the knowledge she has gained over the years about change from an ecological perspective. MirandaNet has been one of the partners in developing the theoretical tool, the Arena, used for by-passing ‘the potentially misleading glitter of new technologies in order to move into the evolving ecologies that make up education and training locally and globally’. The book has just popped through my letter box so I will review it next month: Digital Technologies and change in Education: the Arena framework (see 'Conference News' below).

So what next? Edutech is our next event on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th October at Olympia. On the 7th Jon Audain will be talking about The creative spark and grind of technology in education and I will cover the results of the current research we are doing with our associates. I see that MirandaNet members, Stephen Heppell, Dougall McCormick, Malcom Payton, Neelam Palmer, Miles Berry, John Davitt and Terry Freeman are also speaking in the programme. You can sign up for free on the MirandaNet front page. Let me know if you want to meet up for supper on either day.

There will also be another Global Summit in London in the summer term on 4th July. From the 9th-11th July several of us will be organising the ICET conference in Texas in 2018. We will be there longer than the two days working with the local disadvantaged school community. We would love you to join us.

Professor Christina Preston
Founder MirandaNet
Our members have obviously done some deep thinking over the summer and we have a bumper crop of new Fellowship awards for some very informative blogs and articles, listed below.

I invited Ben Williamson (@BenPatrickWill) to write a blog for MirandaNet because I have been impressed by his grasp of how the Computing curriculum became so focused on Computer Science. David Longman (@davidjlongman), our web admin, has added a blog post in response. Jon Audain (@jonaudain), a Senior Lecturer at Winchester University, has written an amusing piece about how to mix the hard work with some fun. Rob Ellis, @icttalk, is an e-learning specialist with an interest in information literacy and digital story-telling. He has written about digital literacy on online safety in his article. Dalian Adofo, who has a teaching and research background has been looking at the computing curriculum in a primary school.

WCCE 2017
Again on the theme of collaboration, Christina Preston joined a symposium at WCCE 2017 led by Professor Niki Davis, now in New Zealand. We were talking about the work we have done over the years on continuing professional development in digital technologies. Effective leadership has long been acknowledged as a key enabler for embedding technology in teaching and learning. There has been a growing international interest in widening the range of stakeholders involved in education ecosystems to include school leaders, teachers, students, parents, and the wider community such as museums and industry. With digital technologies continuing to develop and a rich past of experiences and knowledge to draw upon, it is as important as ever to continue to develop knowledge and understanding of how to lead change in future-focused learning. You may remember the diagram that MirandaNet members worked with Niki on. Called the Arena it is about the ecology of the landscape that CPD operates in. This Arena can be translated into the conditions in most countries. 

Collaborative lifelong learning for teacher educators across cultural boundaries. In the shadow of Brexit, Sarah Younie, Bozena Mannova and Christina Preston talked about the European support for collaborative learning  at the ICET conference in Brno, Czech Republic. Since the 1990s MirandaNet members have been sharing their professional knowledge about the use of digital tools in their curricula with European funding. These exchanges has been undertaken through the MirandaNet Fellowship, a professional community of practice that was established in 1992 and the Czech Miranda, a chapter of the organisation that was founded in 1994. Through exchange visits, shared conferences, workshops, joint EU projects and collaborative reports and academic papers this Anglo-Czech alliance has built a bank of evidence about government policy on curriculum and the development of classroom practice in each country. What has been notable is the Czech movements from Computer Science towards digital literacy and citizenship whilst the English have moved in the opposite direction. During these 25 years, the authors have also shared a deeper knowledge about life under different political systems through this long-term relationship. We are writing a book about our experiences and will be asking MirandaNetter for their view of the future. The working title is: Peach Velvet Revolution: democracy and totalitarianism seen through the lens of education innovation. You can read more about our paper here. 

Moving from a Computing to a Digital Media curriculum
At the World Computing Education conference in Dublin we meet many MirandaNet international members as well as colleagues from the UK. This group meets every four years and provides important information about what is happening in our field on the world stage.  

Christina Preston’s presentation, Inspiring Tomorrow’s Leaders: moving from a Computing to a Digital Media curriculum was about the practice based research we have conducted with Bernard Dady, Gaia Technologies and Tracey Ramage, Ormiston Maritime Academy, about their cross curricula project exploring the value of Digital Media as they were finding it difficult to staff computing.

Pupils and staff were very positive about this move and three full classes made Digital Media their option in the next September. But sadly our research provides a cautionary tale about sustainability in UK schools when funding for CPD is being reduced at the same time as a new and overloaded curriculum is being introduced. There is little space and money for this kind of innovation. In beginning this kind of blue skies thinking it is clear that teachers need the support of a committed head teacher and senior team if effective CPD is to be a reality. If not it is the pupils who are the most disappointed in the end.

The presentation on this topic can be found on our Gaia practice-based research page

Image Credit Rijksmuseum (Public Domain)
It might be worth examining this illustration of a school classroom by John Burnet from around the first half of the 19th Century in the context of recent concern over the induction document and behaviour rules at Great Yarmouth Chartered Academy. This amusing depiction of familiar childish behaviour and mannerisms is well observed and reminds us children are children.

A New Approach for academic Publishing

Keith Turvey, University of Brighton, sent this link to his new paper, Collaboration and personalisation in teacher education: the case of blogging written with Mike Hayler Teaching and Teacher Education. The sentiments are very much in line with the MirandaNet iCatalyst programme in which collaboration is valued as a means of embedding professional learning, here is the abstract.
Through narrative analysis, we find the process of blogging noteworthy in lending itself to pre-service teachers' professional learning in at least two significant ways. Firstly, blogging can open the potential for collaboration through the discursive space that exists for student teachers as they negotiate the demands placed upon them from school-based and University-based elements of their course. Secondly, blogging appears compatible with a narrative conception of professional learning in which pre-service teachers work collaboratively towards improved synthesis and understanding of their past and present pedagogical experiences, conceptions and beliefs, personalising their passage into the profession. ©2017 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved. 

This link provides full access to download the paper for 50 days. Is this a new approach to publishing giving some free access?
EyeGaze and Special Needs

An article about the De Montfort University's EyeGaze research has recently been published in Special Education in which Sarah Younie, Rajvir Cheema and Christina Preston outlined their conclusions about Eye-tracking technology.

We find that Eyegaze is an an effective assessment tool to assess the understanding of pupils working at low P levels who have profound and multiple learning difficulties. The evidence provides about pupils’ demonstrable abilities to understand different concepts significantly altered the teachers views about what the pupils were seeing and processing, when looking at the computer screen. The  teachers discovered that Eyegaze has more impact when personalised activities, which are simpler, are used with the pupils instead of the standard learning activities and that pupils with severe learning difficulties respond better to uncluttered background images that avoid confusion and distraction. Although though the P levels of pupils did not change after their assessment with eye-tracking technology, the information gathered on what the pupils liked/disliked, what they were interested in, their cognitive understanding and what motivates them, was valuable in informing teachers’ practice and making their judgements more robust. Most importantly, in cases where previously only assumptions could be made regarding pupils cognitive abilities, eye-tracking technology provided data which could confirm the teachers’ judgements, as well providing additional information on pupils’ likes and dislikes, which could then help teachers to prepare more personalised learning activities in the future.

You can read more about our study that was funded by Leicester City Council here and also the EyeGaze Special Children magazine.

SAM Learning

MirandaNet Fellows are embarking on a new model for our iCatalyst practice based research professional development with SAM Learning. SAM have already engaged teachers in collecting data about the value of a series of interventions in the classroom. After that they can choose to work with a MirandaNet Fellow to turn that data into a case study and be awarded a Fellowship.

The process takes about six weeks following the process of guided data collection in the classroom. Here are the steps that a teacher will take as part of a team:
  • Receive template for research write-up
  • Spend half a day preparing a 2,000-word practice-based research paper
  • Spend half an hour meeting with a MirandaNet professional (via Skype) discussing research and receiving feedback
  • Submit draft version of research article
  • Receive suggestions and comments to refine final submission
Apart from being informative and enjoyable the project provides evidence to Ofsted that the school is research active. The resulting articles can be used by the school to inform policy and practice and for marketing purposes. Teachers can be accredited by MirandaNet, or by De Montfort for an extra fee.
We’d be pleased to hear from any schools who would like to give this a try.  Further information here

Associates' Research With Teachers
There is plenty of news about the practice based research MirandaNet Fellows are undertaking with teachers as co-researchers. It is a pleasure to award Fellowships to Steve Gillian, Ben Williams and Robyn Suthaylai for investigating the value of the Just2easy platform for primary schools. They each took a different approach: Steve focused on the value of blogging in developing digital literacy; Robyn talked about the creativity of the tools and the innovative ideas of her pupils; and Ben talks about the challenges of managing Computing and how a platform like Just2easy can be used by teachers who have limited professional development opportunities.

What's that font?

What Font Is is a useful tool for identifying a font used in an image. Just upload an image or screenshot of the font and the service will try to identify and/or offer a selection of font sets, both free and commercial to use as alternatives. 

Art Up Your Tab 

The Art Up Your Tab plug-in is an extension for Chrome and Firefox that shows a new Public Domain work of art or image from the Europeana collections database every time you open a new tab in your browser.  Click on the image for more info and to download the image.

Why you need to visit EduTech Show 2017 – Olympia, London 6-7 October.

In recent years, there has been a shift in how schools and teachers view, and access, their own professional development. Gone are the days when a Local Authority would host an abundance of courses on anything from raising attainment in Year 4 maths to batik! Nowadays, schools are more reliant on buying in expertise and training, and in the current climate this is becoming trickier, as budget constraints narrow choices and options.

In the world of educational computing, getting the right people in for a school’s particular needs can be a minefield, not just in terms of CPD but also in getting the right advice and guidance on which ‘kit’ to purchase. EduTech 2017 is a new exhibition designed around the needs of the teacher and with the aim of bringing together good quality suppliers with practical, meaningful professional development.

The event is designed to connect teachers with other teachers and to share best practice. To this end, the presenters at EduTech 2017 consist of a mixture of experienced and well known speakers, and classroom practitioners who are inspiring children every day in their schools and classrooms. Speaker sessions are divided in to seminars and master classes. Both are designed to give attendees some ‘take-aways’ to use back on the classroom, and teachers will gain some hands-on, practical experience – and a lot of fun - in the master classes.  So.... Do we need another Ed-Tech show? Yes – as long as it’s this one ;)

Register for your seminar session here.

Academics and ResearchED
Schools Week reports that education minister Nick Gibb has "has slammed academics refusing to engage with researchED, an international project that aims to make teachers research-literate." This may be understandable as many academics may question whether teachers have the time or skill to become researchers. One such, Professor John Hattie, director of the Melbourne Education Research Institute is concerned that the movement should not lead to teachers trying to conduct their own research.  “Researching is a particular skill,....Some of us took years to gain that skill..... Asking teachers to be researchers? They are not . There is also a great deal of scepticism about ResearchEd from many commentators because of its promotion of the specific (traditional) approach to pedagogy. Questioning the organisation often meets with a closed response rather than debate."

SATS to be scrapped for 7year Olds
The Guardian notes that the government has announced, as part of its overhaul of primary school assessment, the controversial tests at KS1 for 7 year olds will not be compulsory from 2023. Of course, at the moment that still means 6 cohorts will still have to take these test. So our current one year olds are the lucky ones!
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Radio with Pictures:
The Deleted animations of Terry Gilliam
Whether you're one of us oldies who to remember Monty Python, or if the TV series was before your time, this series of previously unseen animations celebrate the 40th anniversary theatrical re-release of ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’  In the video Terry Gilliam explains how he used cut outs (presumably copies) of  medieval manuscripts marginalia to create the animations. Today, many digitised examples of medieval manuscripts are in the public domain and accessible online. For example Open Marginalis offers a selection of digitized medieval manuscripts accessible under open use terms which aim for open collections for casual and scholarly use.

Edtech and Ethics
Would you let  your doctor treat you if he/she said ..."I’m a Glaxo Distinguished Doctor?" This post  in the New York Times examines some of the ethical issues when teachers are recruited by to 'promote' their technologies becoming teacher influencers on social media.

GDPR - what it might mean for education

"The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force on 25th May 2018, and (put simply) strengthens the rights of citizens over the data that their lives create." In an excellent blog post Eylan Ezekiel outlines what this might mean for education, and data collected in schools and colleges

Next Eclipse

If you missed the recent eclipse, this interactive online map  from Science News might help you plan to see the next one. It shows the paths of eclipses for the the next 20 years, more than a dozen total eclipses of the sun will take place around the world. In the map, the three lines of each path represent the northern, central and southern borders of the path of totality. 

The 'Hitashio Method' Unique Experiment in Early Years
Teacher, Blogger; Solomon Kingsnorth has written a detailed article on what what happened when a Japanese headteacher imported his Hitaisho teaching method to a rural Cornish primary school.   This include a 100% pass rate at KS2 SATS Reading Tests using only 2 learning objectives, and there are no iPads or computers in the school. You can read how Mr Yamazaki achieved this here. Note it is important to read to the end.

BESA announces updated member Code of Practice
The British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) today unveiled its updated Code of Practice, which offers assurance to schools that if they procure from its members, they are buying quality products and services they can trust. The new Code of Practice is the result of a year-long consultation with industry and schools to understand what assurances schools want when buying products and services. This Code of Practice is a mandatory membership commitment given by members to BESA, which represents over 300 of the UK’s world-leading education suppliers. Each member is expected, as a condition of membership, to meet the ethical standards provided for in the Code of Practice in that member’s relationship with the member’s customers. Only companies who sign up to the Code of Practice, updated to include issues such as safeguarding and data security, can use the BESA “tick” logo on their marketing materials and websites. Caroline Wright, Director General of BESA, said: “Schools have long looked for the BESA logo when deciding which companies to procure from, as it is a clear indication that they are providing quality products and services that they can trust ... The updated Code of Practice reflects BESA members’ desire to ensure they are always at the forefront of offering the highest quality of products and services to schools around the world, and providing a world-class customer experience.” The BESA Code of Practice offers schools assurance in five key areas: Quality and Standards, Transparency and Openness, Integrity, Safeguarding and Data Security and Discriminatory Conduct. It is available to view in full here.

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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