Becoming a Centre Manager - a Video Q&A with Maria Johnson

Becoming a Centre Manager - a Video Q&A with Maria Johnson

Maria Johnson, an experienced centre manager and President of the Early Childhood Council answers your questions about moving into ECE leadership in this last installment of our three part blog series discussing leadership in the Early Childhood sector.  

6 Job Seeking Tips for the End of the Year

6 Job Seeking Tips for the End of the Year

If you're a beginning teacher who hasn't yet found a role for the coming year, this time of year can be even more anxiety-inducing. However, it's possible to stay sane during December while hunting for jobs. Here are some tips to help you with your job hunt in the last few weeks before the summer holidays begin. 

Zoe Roles: My Journey to ECE Leadership

Zoe Roles photo.jpg

Last month, our ECE consultant Adwina Armstrong talked about the centre manager shortage in New Zealand in her blog post "Where have all the ECE leaders gone?" This post inspired much discussion about this issue in the ECE sector. 

In this blog post, the second of the series, Adwina wanted to highlight the experience of a teacher who had taken the step up to ECE leadership. 

Zoe Roles is currently the Dean of the Preschool at St Mark's Church School in Wellington. Here is her story. 

How many years of ECE leadership experience do you have? What encouraged you to take on your first leadership role?

I have been in several different leadership roles once about 10 years ago for about a year and then I went back to teaching for several years. This time I have been in my role for about two and a half years. When I started teaching I didn't see myself as a leader. I was someone that lacked confidence in myself and never saw myself capable of leading others let alone managing a Preschool and being on the senior management team of a Primary school. I was encouraged by people around me who saw things in me that I never saw in myself. They saw me as a passionate capable teacher that had a lot to offer. They believed in me when I didn't really believe in myself. 

For me it has been the people around me that have encouraged me to be a leader, one particular place I worked in encouraged me in so many different ways and gave me the chance to learn and grow. They never doubted me and were always there for me when I made mistakes or didn't know how to deal with situations. That place made me who I am today. I truly believe almost everyone has the ability to be a leader if they have supportive, reflective people along the way that help them to learn how to be a leader. 

What challenges did you experience and how did you overcome them?

I have had so many challenges along the way. Days where I looked at myself and wondered how I got myself into this position. How did people ever have faith that I could do it? Every single challenge I have faced whether big or small has had someone beside me helping me to treat it like a learning curve. "Okay, so I did this and I should have done this but next time I will know." We all make mistakes but if you are prepared to learn and grow from them you will always get better. 

I feel like I am on a journey where I am trying to tackle a massive flight of stairs. Some days I go up so many and then a day later I can be right back down the bottom again. It is such an exciting journey and as you climb higher you learn how to get closer to the top even faster. To overcome any challenges be honest, talk through your concerns, and more important than anything else understand it is a journey and you are always going to have those tough days. Have someone to be there for you to listen but also tell you what is really going on. I spend a lot of time trouble shooting with others. Treat challenges as a learning journey. It's not about failing or being right or wrong, it's about growing! 

What advice can you give to teachers who are thinking of stepping up?

Have faith in yourself. Learn from the people that have been great leaders to you. What made them great leaders? I truly believe if you are passionate, a great communicator and committed you can be a leader. The best leaders I have had listen to people, and they appreciate their community whether it be children, families or staff. 

Remember to celebrate all the successes you have and not focus on the negatives. I never ever saw myself doing what I do now. But what I do know is I love my job, I have learnt so much about myself it is incredible. If I think about how my staff see me it would be someone who always listens even when I may not want to hear, is never too busy to talk to people, doesn't know the answers but shows an enthusiasm towards what they do. 

The journey of leadership and going up and down those stairs is so exciting. If you have the chance to grab that opportunity take it even if you don't feel ready. You don't need to be ready you just need to be able to learn along the way! 


Job Find Advice for Beginning Teachers from Two School Principals

Applying for a teaching role is different to applying for a role in other sectors. While the basic principles remain the same, it's a unique process with its own rules and expectations. For a beginning teacher, this can be really hard to navigate. For this reason, we gave BTs the opportunity to talk to two experienced school principals in a webinar earlier this month, having previously run one in June. (You can check out our blog post on the first webinar here). This time around we had Sue Clement, a first time principal of a small inner-city Wellington school, and Arthur von Sturmer, a recently retired principal of a large suburban Wellington school. Sue and Arthur answered a wide range of questions, and we cover the highlights in this blog post. 

1. Your background and experiences can set you apart from the crowd

A key message from Sue and Arthur was that your "journey to teaching" is what makes you unique and can set you apart from the crowd. Sue's advice was to look at some of the thing you've done before your teaching qualification. In your cover letter, make explicit connections between what you've done and how this could be transferable to the classroom. For example, if you've been overseas, write about what you discovered or learned about yourself, and why it brought you back to teaching. Be reflective of your experiences, whether you were a stay-at-home parent, a swim coach, or have worked with a special needs child. 

Two years ago I made a shortlist out of a whole 90 teachers who’d applied for a job. [What it came down to was] ‘what else have they done in their lives?’
— Sue

2. Keep your CV simple... 

Both Sue and Arthur stressed that, while a CV is important, it's best to keep to the essentials. While both appreciated that many teachers put a lot of time and effort into making their CVs beautiful, both said that if you do a plain, traditionally formatted CV you are not at a disadvantage - teachers are not judged on how beautiful their CV is. An important thing to consider when formatting is whether an office manager can easily photocopy your CV for the panel. 

Arthur said that the essential things he looks for a CV are your contact details, work history, perhaps a statement from your referee, contact details for referees and contact details and not too much else, because other things can be addressed in your covering letter. 

3. ...because the cover letter is the clincher 

Sue and Arthur both emphasised that, for them, cover letters were the most important part of the application. What they want to know is what you're bringing to the role. Their key piece of advice is to address the job advertisement. 

I personally think putting energy into the covering letter rather than a fancy doodle CV is much more important. Making your letter for that specific job takes time and energy, and I think you do need to get the highlighters out, look at what they’re asking for and highlight key words - and that’s what you need to address in that covering letter.
— Sue

4. Invest your energy into roles you can actually win

If the job ad says beginning teachers are not suitable for the position, that's really what it means. It's likely the school doesn't have the capacity to nurture and support a BT. You'll just annoy the principal as well as waste your time, energy and resources by applying. 

5. Visit the school or make contact with the principal

It's really important, if you can, to visit the school prior to putting in your application - especially if there's an invitation. Principals often get information from these walks that they can't get in a paper application. If you do want to visit the school, Arthur stressed that you need to call and book a slot ahead of time. Don't expect more than 15 minutes or half an hour for a tour of the school though. Don't turn up the day applications are due and ask for a look around the school - in that case, you've left it too late!

If you're from out of town, Sue said most principals are happy to be contacted via email or phone if teacher have questions. Remember that principals may not have the time to answer your questions straight away. 

6. Be prepared at all times 

If you're going to visit the school, you need to do some research beforehand. Sue always makes a note of who visits, and anyone who has obviously not read the information pack or school website prior to visiting the school is out of the running. In this digital world, you need to read the latest ERO report, and read the school website - and make sure you read anything they forward you as part of the application pack. Use this to prepare some questions about the school beforehand. 

If someone’s going to walk around the school, they had better have some pretty pertinent questions. Nothing worse than walking around with someone and they’re asking inane questions.
— Arthur

7. Don't be scared of interviews... just be prepared. 

If you've got an interview as a beginning teacher, remember that this is a huge achievement in such a competitive market. 

The most important thing, again, is to research the school. Look at what's in the advertisement, the paperwork, and on the school website. Check out the newsletters because they'll give you a feel and flavour for the school. Get your family or flatmates to read the job ad and come up with some practice questions, as this this will help you come up with some examples and stories which you can use in the interview. 

If you've done your research, you can probably anticipate some of the questions you're going to get. Sue said that at her school, for example, there's an Asia-aware focus so there's going to be a question about that. It's also a very multicultural school, so there will definitely be questions about teaching to diversity and differentiated learning. Arthur said that you can expect to be asked about your curriculum strengths, and your professional development - what you've done, and the areas where you need to develop your skills. He also said it's okay to take your time, take a breath, ask them to repeat the question if necessary - it's not  a test! Don't be afraid to show your sense of humour. 

8. Referees can win or lose you a job - make it easy to contact them

Referees can do an amazing job selling you to a school, but it's really important that you make it as easy as possible for a school principal to contact them. 

There’s nothing more frustrating if you’re trying to get through 80 or 100 CVs and someone’s put ‘referees are available by contacting so and so’. You need to realise that there’s not a lot of time for people to deal with these things so the more you can do to help by speeding up the process the more that will help.
— Arthur

Put in the referee's email address, so that if the principal wants to email your referee for any reason they don't have to come back to you to get it. 

Another good thing to do is to get something in writing from your referee, for example, a quote from your final TE report or a brief paragraph your referee has specifically written for your CV. 

9. If you don't win a role, make a plan

It's a competitive market, so if you don't win a long term role at the end of the year, you're not alone. The key thing is make a plan for how you're going to be able to stay in the teaching game while supporting yourself financially next year. If you can do volunteer work, that is a fantastic option. Getting your name on relieving lists for schools in your area is also really important. Another option is to approach schools and see if you could do a 0.2 release role, so teaching at the school one day a week.

Previously I had an application that I shortlisted, someone who’d actually done two days’ voluntary work at two schools. She’d found paid work for the other three days, and she’d been able to live financially off that. And she was lucky that she was able to do that and still pay her rent. She chose two very different schools, a high decile school and a low decile school. Which was very clever because she covered both bases. She did that for two terms and then she won our role. So really she got the job because she went out and volunteered, and she founds some growth in that. And I thought, “wow”. So she was different from the other people who applied.
— Sue



Thoughts on the Future of EdTech: Claire Amos from Hobsonville Point Secondary School

Claire Amos.jpg

Claire is a Deputy Principal at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. She has been a Director of e-learning and has led and taught English for 16+ years, her roles ranging from facilitator of the ICTs in English community on English Online, Auckland Secondary English Facilitator to Head of English Faculty at Auckland Girls Grammar School. She has worked at a national level in assessment and curriculum in English. Claire also works with agencies such as NZTC, NZQA, PPTA, NetSafe and the MoE 21st Century Learning Reference Group with a focus on enabling future-focused change and supporting teachers and students in blended learning environments.

Claire is passionate about her family, education, design and tattoos, living by the mantra - “you can never be overdressed or overeducated”.

The only constant is change.
— Heraclitus

There are two things that strike me when thinking about the future of EdTech. Firstly it’s the fact that we are quite simply incapable of “knowing” what EdTech might look like in the future and even what we “imagine” seems to be limited by what we already do. For instance, when educators are asked to predict the future of EdTech it concerns me that they often appear to be simply predicting current best practice becoming more widespread. Not exactly aspirational. Secondly, there’s the fact that the EdTech itself is actually nowhere as interesting as the potential transformation of the wider pedagogical landscape that EdTech will make possible.

The future is unknowable but not unimaginable.
— Ludwig Lachman

If I were to be safe in my thoughts on the future of EdTech, I would focus on how EdTech will support the shift to more widespread student centred practice. Digitally rich pedagogy, critical thinking, and increasing levels of self direction will ensure we are developing learners who can “survive” in the knowledge age (the age we live in now). EdTech has the capacity (when readily available and used effectively) to move us from having 'caged' classrooms to increasingly 'free range learners'.

 

Free range learners who are:

  • Free to choose how they learn

  • Free to choose where they learn

  • Free to choose how they process their learning

  • Free to choose how they evidence their learning

  • Free to experience learning that is relevant and responsive to their needs not our limitations

Unlocking the power of new technologies for self-guided education is one of the 21st century superhighways that need to be paved.
— Sugata MItra

However if I were to be brave and be more brutally honest about what the future of EdTech might entail I would go further.

If the rate of change on the outside exceeds the rate of change on the inside, the end is near.
— Jack Welch

I believe that the future of EdTech will actually facilitate something even more exciting - the partial dissolution of what we have come to know as “school”. I suspect that if schools continue to struggle to evolve and to leverage the power of EdTech effectively and cannot change at a rate that mirrors the rate of change in wider society, we will begin to see a society that questions the relevance of such a formal and seemingly inflexible structure. In fact, it is possible that we could see the whole notion of school questioned and the relevance of formal education challenged as future generations refuse to accept the glacial pace of change and instead harness the powers of EdTech to form something akin to connected home-schooling community. You only need look at the global proliferation of democratic schools and rising profile of hackschooling to get a sense that this shift has already begun. And whilst democratic schools, for the most part, still base themselves in what we might recognise as a school, I do wonder if the ubiquity and autonomy that EdTech affords learners may change that as well.

The future of EdTech is one of disruption, democratization and for some, complete dissonance.

Before you dismiss this as little more than a pedagogical fantasy, I would suggest that you at least stop to consider the future of EdTech as something more than the status quo on steroids and I implore you recognise that what is really exciting is not the EdTech at all, but rather how EdTech might help to redefine what “an education” might look like in the not distant future.

You can check out Claire’s blog at: www.teachingandelearning.com

Or connect with her on Twitter: @claireamosnz


Where Have All the ECE Leaders Gone?

This is a guest blog post by Adwina Armstrong, Education Personnel's specialist ECE recruitment consultant. This is the first of a two part blog series discussing leadership in the Early Childhood sector. 

Many years ago when I was studying for my ECE qualification, the lecturer had asked us first year students, how many of us were interested in becoming a Centre Manager or owner. To my surprise, as well as the lecturer's, only two of us raised our hands. This became a long discussion and a very engaging topic. My fellow classmates felt that the continuous changes in policies and procedures were the main reasons on top of the never ending paper work. "We just want to be teachers" was the common consensus. I thought to myself, surely this would change as they gain more experience and realised the contribution they can make to the quality of children's learning and development. 

I felt this way on reflection of my own journey. I started my first ECE experience as an unqualified ECE teacher at a private centre. The only experience I had was raising my own two daughters who were both under five then. With mentoring and support from the manager and owners I quickly learned. Two years later, I was asked to join a large international school overseas to become part of their Preschool (two to six year olds) team. I was very excited and accepted this new challenge. I grew as a teacher and had more passion for bringing quality learning.

My manager moved on after a year and I was asked to step up. This frightened me because I was working at an international school where the teachers and children were from overseas and had high expectations. I took on yet another challenge. My manager, parents and colleagues gave me complete support and trust. I became the Preschool Vice Principal and coordinated six international preschools for seven years and have taken on other leadership roles.

Now, I am an Education Recruitment Consultant with ECE as one of my specialisations. I am saddened that the opinions my classmates voiced don't seem to have changed among ECE teachers. There is definitely a shortage of ECE leaders. I often hear of the frustrations centres across the country have in searching for a Centre Manager. They tell me that they have been looking for months. It has caused a disruption within the centre among children, whanau and teachers. One centre had to offer this position to a new graduate I was working with! The candidate declined. She felt that she needed more experience. 

The question now is how much experience do you need and what does it take to become a leader? Sadly, they don't teach you this at university. There aren't any classes offered on Leadership in ECE. This has been acknowledged by the New Zealand Teachers Council Te Pouherenga Kaiako o Aotearoa. Their published paper, Conceptualising Leadership in Early Childhood Education in Aotearoa New Zealand, focused on ECE leadership in our country and the risk the lack in leadership strategy has to quality teaching.

Maria Johnson, President of the Early Childhood Council and owner of four Little School centres, also recognises that there is a gap, especially since there are many new centres opening. Maria has kindly agreed to answer any questions teachers may have around ECE leadership, an opportunity which we'll let you know more about next month.

In my next blog, I'll be talking to current Centre Managers about how they got to where they are, what experience they had taking that first step, and what advice they have for future leaders.  

In the meantime, you are most welcome to contact me at adwina@edperson.co.nz or connect with me on LinkedIn or Twitter. I'd love to hear from you. 

 

Check out the second blog in this series here

Thoughts on the Future of EdTech: Anthony Cabraal from Chalkle°

Anthony Cabraal is the Chief Experience Officer at Chalkle. He believes firmly that improving education and the culture around learning and teaching is the most important lever to pull to create systemic positive change in our world. Chalkle is a Wellington based social enterprise empowering educational providers and teachers to create more active learning opportunities in our world. Chalkle.com is a platform for facilitating face to face, group classes and courses.

The ‘Ed’ in ‘EdTech’

Yes, we’re a business; yes, we’re a software/technology driven business, but fundamentally, we are an organisation designed to create a positive impact on education. For us technology is an enabler, the medium, and a tool; technology is not the answer, but technology is part of the solution.

This influx of new possibilities and game-changing potential is coming to education as fast as you can say “great market opportunity”. And sure, perhaps soon we will live in a world of digitized, connected libraries, interactive textbooks, free online tutorial resources across every imaginable discipline, fully immersive virtual reality classrooms hosting 1000s of students simultaneously, personalised learning aids, disruptive platforms for academic research, the list will go on, and on, and on.

The change is here, the change will keep coming, so where will this educational technology take us in the next 5 years? How is this technology going to add value to the fundamentals of the educational experience?  How does it help teachers connect with learners to deliver better learning experiences? How does it meaningfully create positive impact on the culture around teaching and learning?

A sharing economy that empowers more teachers

We started Chalkle with a very simple, powerful question “How do we connect those who want to teach, with those who want to learn?”

By providing easy to use administration software that allows teachers to organise and promote their classes, take bookings, payments, manage RSVPs etc, we are building a network of educators from across the community and NGO sector, from the existing educational specialists and independent teachers to small businesses and right through to large enterprises.

Because all the classes are published in the same place,  the software platform helps with the marketing. We make it as easy as possible for learners to find the classes and courses they want to do.

In the scheme of things, this is relatively simple technology. Software alone cannot change education. At chalkle, we’re committed to creating the support structures to better serve the needs of learners and teachers - technology is only part of the solution.

We’re greatly inspired by the ‘collaborative consumption’ sharing economy. Millions of people all over the world are using software platforms to enable the sharing of their spare rooms, their cars, their wardrobes and their tool-sheds. This technology helps them earn money, feel valued and, most importantly, is reframing their idea of how these markets traditionally worked.

We are driven by the opportunity to bring the mechanics of the sharing economy to the most powerful things we have as individuals and as a society: our skills and talents, and our ability to teach and learn.

Online technology is changing the game, yet bringing people together in the real world remains a hugely powerful thing. We’ve had learners who have shown up for one-off worm farming on a Sunday morning and committed to an entire season of weekend Permaculture. We know people love to connect with each other and learn in different ways and different formats. We are exploring how software and support can facilitate putting the power of this choice and wider potential directly into the hands of the teaching and learning community.

The real role of technology in our work is to create the cultural infrastructure of the emerging, connected world.

A culture of learning

Technology as cultural infrastructure is already playing a huge role in our lives, even imagining a world without the infrastructure provided by Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn is difficult now.

Technology holds the responsibility to steward culture and nowhere is this more important than in the education space, around teaching and learning. We have named this challenge, and this inspiration, ‘The Learning Renaissance’.

Far too many people are leaving the high school and university systems, both as learners and teachers, disillusioned, disconnected and worst of all, in their minds ‘done’ with learning. Core to our motivations as founders to work in the space where technology, business and education come together, is to confront this challenge.

From where we are standing our greatest (and most important) input will be to contribute to building culture around teaching and learning. Learning is an innate part of our humanity, we are collectively bound by our limitations around what we can learn and teach each other. This grand process does not end when you get your certificate or your student card expires.

So, where will the EdTech wave take us? As it was 20,000 years ago, 10,000 years ago, 5,000 years ago, and as it is now, the role of technology in education remains to enable and empower teachers to connect and share skills with hungry learners in better, more effective ways.

"We grow in the direction of the questions we ask." is a quote written on the wall in the chalkle office, and with the future of education now powered by technology, the way in which we grow, will be determined not by technology, but by the questions we pose for technology to solve.

We know just one positive experience of learning can open a new relationship with the much bigger, much more powerful idea of continuous active learning. By creating more opportunities, wider opportunities, better opportunities for face-to-face Active Learning, we will live to see a world where learning is something we do our whole lives, and where everyone has something they can teach.

Join the renassiance at chalkle.com

Thoughts on the Future of EdTech: Matt Kennedy from Twingl

Matt Kennedy is the “Flight Captain” at Twingl, a New Zealand based company building tools that help people learn from each other. Their first product, Trailblazer, turns students’ online research into a browsable map. Trailblazer’s school pilot programme is well underway; if you’re interested in joining in on the journey they’d love to hear from you.

Predicting the future is no easy business. In fact, attempts to do so are often amusing. So when asked to imagine where the education technology (EdTech) space might be in five years, we might save some face by leaning on the classic:

The future is already here—it’s just not very evenly distributed.
— William Gibson

In other words, let us look at what the most progressive schools are doing, right now, then extrapolate from there.

But before we go any further I had better clarify what I mean by “progressive schools”. To me these are schools that focus on equipping students with “21st Century skills”. They create curriculums and learning environments that put the development of these skills at their core.

Student-directed learning

One of the things that differentiates progressive schools from the rest is the prevalence of inquiry-based learning. Here students are given freedom to study topics that interest them. And it’s happening across subjects. It’s not something that’s left for a couple of English and History standards. EdTech, specifically internet-capable devices and access to Google, have had a massive impact by enabling this style of learning.

In the past, inquiry-based modules might have involved some textbooks, photocopied handouts, and a few sessions at the library. While at the library a student, Sarah, might find a book on lions, then use the index to find the specific section that she was after. While reading, a question pops into her mind: “I wonder what other ‘big cats’ there are in the world?”. It dawns on Sarah that to answer this question, she’ll need to break her flow, find another book, then go through the whole process again. The friction crushes the spark of curiosity.

For students in “bring your own device” (BYOD) or 1:1 (one device per student) environments, the world’s knowledge is but a few keystrokes away. In today’s paradigm Sarah—device in tow—might be on a webpage about lions when that same curiosity bug strikes. This time, she can open a new tab in her web browser, type in a few keywords, and fall down an intriguing rabbit hole. It’s these slight digressions that keep students engaged in moving forward with their research. (Coincidentally, I’m a part of a team that’s building a browser extension that embraces this idea).

Mainly play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those. That is the way to learn the most, that when you are doing something with such enjoyment that you don’t notice that the time passes. I am sometimes so wrapped up in my work that I forget about the noon meal.
— Albert Einstein

So, where to next? Teachers in these environments are already adapting to their new role as guides, rather than lecturers. But for our teachers to become better guides, they need a clear idea of where their students’ are struggling so that they can provide personalised feedback.

Process-based assessment

When teachers needed such data in the past, they would set assessments for their students. These work both ways. They provide learners with feedback on how they are progressing, and they provide teachers with the data they need to improve their own practises. Often though, assessments mean a test, exam, or report to submit at the end of a unit. 

I believe that over the next five years EdTech will enable new types of assessment—in addition to tests and essays. Students are using devices thought their learning process: from brainstorming and research, through to publishing. And as we know, technology has a knack for generating data. Buckets of the stuff. So with the right tools and analysis, I believe that formative assessment will occur, passively, while students learn. 

When students are fully immersed in their learning, the last thing they are thinking about is recording all the steps they took to get there. For the most part this process goes unrecorded, making reflection difficult. With the right technology this process will be recorded automatically. Learners will have the data they need to know how to learn more effectively next time. Teachers will have the data they need to be better guides. Khan Academy’s reports are the first taster of this.

Personalised curriculums

As students embrace this natural way of learning and teachers become more comfortable facilitating it, it follows that schools will begin blurring the lines between subjects. Some of the most progressive schools are already well on this path.

I believe that over the next five years EdTech will assist this transition by developing a new generation of course management tools. Such technology will enable personalised curriculums for each student—something best illustrated through an example: 

Sarah is a passionate animal lover. In a learning environment that worked for her, she’d tick all the traditional subjects’ boxes while she studied her passion: animals. Sarah would tick the “Science” box by learning about the distinction between ‘big cats’ and other mammals. The “Social Studies” box would be checked as she learns about different cultures’ relationship with lions. The “Mathematics” box would be ticked as she learns that measuring the population of lions requires some concept of statistics. “English”? Perhaps in the interpretation of poetry inspired by the African savanna; or the static image she produces to create awareness about the issues facing the wild lion population.

Pulling off such an immersive curriculum is no small undertaking. Just consider coordinating the teaching of one topic—lions, in this case—across different teachers’ areas of expertise. Now imagine doing the same exercise two hundred times for the other students in Sarah’s year group, then again for the four other year groups in the school. From this perspective, Blackboard or Moodle are woefully insufficient.

The realisation of the “e-portfolio”

As we continue blurring the lines between subjects, our students are going to need a new set of tools to help them reconcile it all. I believe that this will be the e-portfolio’s moment of glory. However I look at many of today’s interpretations of this concept and I’m less than enthused. I see the digital equivalent of manilla folders, sitting on students’ bookcases. It’s hard to see these as “living” bodies of work. 

I am certainly excited by the thinking behind them. These are intended to be common records that will help our life-long learners connect new information with what they already know. They are places where learners will reflect on their accumulated knowledge throughout their life.

We shape our tools and thereafter our tools shape us.
— John Culkin

My final prediction is that over the next five years we see e-portfolios that resemble pantries of ingredients, rather than finished cakes. A focus of EdTech companies, such as ourselves, will be on making this a reality.

In summary

So, where will the EdTech space be in five years?

  1. EdTech will provide teachers with more insight as to how their students are learning.
  2. EdTech will enable immersive, student-directed programmes of study.
  3. EdTech will help students create portfolios of learning, portfolios that they’ll actually return to in years to come.

The groundwork this sector continues to lay over the next five years, will spark an education renaissance in the following five years.

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be a technologist in education.

Thoughts on the Future of EdTech: Craig Kemp

Cross-posted from www.mrkempnz.com

My name is Craig Kemp. I am a globally connected and enthusiastic tech driven educator from New Zealand. I am a Twitter addict (follow me @mrkempnz) and passionate about showcasing student voice to improve learning. I am a blogger (http://mrkempreflects.blogspot.com) and co-creator/moderator of #whatisschool chats, giving educators an open, online space to express unbiased responses to questions about schooling and education (join the conversation every Thursday 7pm EDT (Friday 9am AEST, 12pm NZT) on Twitter by using the hashtag #whatisschool). My current role is Head of ICT and Learning Innovation at Avondale Grammar School in Singapore, an international school for expatriate children, running the Australian Curriculum. Today, I have been asked to give my opinions about the future of Educational Technology based on the current trends in Education.

The future of Edtech is always an exciting one. Every day we see new developments, so to think ahead 5 years and predict what will be happening is challenging.

Current trends in educational technology include:

BYOD - Bring Your Own Device, is now commonplace in many schools. Schools are giving students more freedom about selecting their own device to support their learning in an environment (that is almost entirely web based). Early studies show that students who use their own device for learning have increased productivity and engagement. Schools need to select a strategy that best suits the needs of their community. BYOD is becoming increasingly popular as the cost of devices becomes more affordable. I have been involved in several 1:1 device programs and while the device type is important, what has helped with the success is the support provided for staff, students and parents.

Social Media as a Teaching and Learning tool - Both for staff and students - the world is literally at our fingertips - why not utilise it to connect and collaborate. With Twitter being taken over by educators sharing, connecting and collaborating it is an amazing network to be involved in. Twitter is becoming a popular environment for teacher controlled class accounts where students connect and collaborate with other students and experts in a 'live' chat style, engaging environment. Learning literally never stops and can happen anywhere and anytime! Check out this example of my class using Twitter to support their learning: http://mrkempreflects.blogspot.sg/2014/05/using-twitter-in-classroom-my-firsthand.html

iPads / tablets - the notion of portable devices that support learning anywhere at any time continues to be a trend and continues to be highly successful in all educational learning environments. Tablet devices (such as iPads) are now more affordable and are easily adaptable to the anywhere, anytime learning environments that many schools are now promoting. The thousands of education apps that are released every week pay tribute to the trend that is portable devices. Think of a problem, there is an app for it, think of a learning opportunity, there is an app for that too!

Use of video to create global connections - the idea of being a globally connected educator and providing students with the opportunity to learn from experts through Skype or Google Hangouts is exciting and now a reality. Many schools are now connecting with experts and other classrooms all over the world in a collaborative and engaging manner. With the introduction of engaging programs like Mystery Skype, the world is your Oyster when it comes to learning opportunities. The teacher no longer has to be the expert in everything in the classroom.

The Flipped Classroom - the pedagogical model where a typical classroom session is reversed. Short videos are created and viewed by students at home before the class session and in class time is devoted to exercises, projects or discussions.

So if this is happening now, where to in the future?

My predictions for the next 5 years in Edtech:

Wearable Devices - the art of being able to learn anywhere at anytime will also include any 'how' and wearable devices will give students and educators more opportunities to be connected learners.

Connectivity for all - it still frustrates me that many schools are not connected with reliable Internet connectivity and is restricted from using programs that encourage collaboration like Twitter, Skype and Google Hangouts. The next 5 years will see a change in attitudes here.

Online Learning - the current trend of the 'flipped classroom' will continue and become the norm. So many learning opportunities are now found online, and within 5 years any learning experience will be able to be found online in an interactive and engaging environment. The art of being a social creature, however, could be a skill that will diminish (hopefully not).

Although some of my thoughts are a mere dream, most are already becoming a reality (if not a reality in many classrooms) and by the distributive nature of Education, I expect many trends to spread across the world like wildfire as they are proven successful and more research comes out about how they have improved student learning.

Please connect with me and engage on my blog and via Twitter.

I look forward to collaborating and connecting soon. 

 

“Where We’re Going, We Don’t Need Roads” – Thoughts on the Future of EdTech

The effective use of technology (or EdTech) is an increasingly important part of 21st century learning and pedagogy. With the potential for groundbreaking change continually just around the corner, the question of where EdTech is heading is a pertinent one.

Screen-Shot-2014-05-07-at-3.56.35-pm.png

As part of Connected Educator Month we are running a blog series focused on EdTech's future in education. For this blog series, we worked to find New Zealand’s thought leaders and innovators in the EdTech space. We looked for people who have really made a difference. We then asked them for their unique perspective on current trends, major developments and where they think EdTech will head in the next 5 years.

The contributors include school leaders, e-Learning experts, EdTech startup founders, and leaders in the flourishing global online community of teachers. Throughout October each of these innovators will be given the opportunity to share their vision of the future. 

If you'd like to be notified of each release of a new post in the series - click here: http://eepurl.com/Y6pGb 

If you want to check out other events that are part of Connected Educators Month then click here: http://connectededucator.org.nz/global-cem-calendar/ 

Get ready for our first guest blog post from Craig Kemp, tech teacher extraordinaire on Friday