Tuesday, 29 April 2014

What is a DLC, & what does a DLC do?

I'm a 'Digital Literacy Coach', a 'pedagogical technologist' (Woo, 2012) would probably be a more accurate description; that is a pedagogical coach who specialises in digital technologies. We're a rare, but fast growing breed in any TELE (technology enhanced learning environment) where the tech in question is digital, ie screens, because let's face it, all teaching environments are enhanced by some kind of technology even if it's just paper and pen/cil.

I commonly find myself on the receiving end of a blank eyed, uncomprehending, incredulous, somewhat vacuous expression when I give an answer like this. Especially if the person in question is a student, or a parent. Something like.

A pedagociawhat? What on earth is a DLC?

You're a ... what?
"A what?" "so, ... what do you do?"

So, 4 years of research, and 1 Master's degree later, here it is. My answer.

Studies (McGarr & McDonagh, 2013) indicate that for many schools, the provision of even one person who has this kind of role is rare. Unfortunately, it is more common to vast commit amounts of expenditure on ICT, while skimping on financing the expertise that would enable teachers to make effective use of it. It would be better to purchase less equipment and instead utilise the released funds to employ skilled facilitators. Without this kind of investment, expensive hardware will almost most likely languish in cupboards (Nesta report, 2012).

So providing technical skills training to teachers in the use of technology is not enough (Ciampa & Gallagher, 2013) and teaching skills in isolation does little to help teachers develop knowledge about: how to use technology to teach content in differentiated ways according to students' learning needs (TPK); how technology can be used to support the learning of specific curriculum content (TCK); or how to help students meet particular curriculum content standards while using technologies appropriately (TPACK) in their learning (Harris et al 2009; Mishra & Koehler, 2006); this is where having a dedicated ‘coach’ is essential.

Teachers need professional development in the pedagogical application of skills to improve teaching and learning (Carlson and Gadio, 2002). One of the most effective ways to help teachers take advantage of, and integrate technology is to provide ‘situated’ professional development through the provision of dedicated technology facilitators. These are known by many titles, eg DLCs, ICT Coordinators, Tech Integrators; all of which place far too much emphasis on the digital-technological.

Perhaps the role is better described as that of a pedagogical coach, but one who has an affinity for technology. The emphasis being, first and foremost, on the pedagogical aspect of the role, the technology supports pedagogy - not the other way round. Perhaps, despite the multiplicity of syllables, a better description of this role could be that of a ‘Pedagogical Technologist’ (Woo, 2012). These are dedicated teachers who support individualised (Hixon & Buckenmeyer, 2009) authentic technology integration, mentoring, just-in-time support that addresses teachers' needs, individualised instruction, observation of technology integration in practice and self-directed learning (Jacobsen 2001; 2002). This approach goes beyond skill centred strategies (teaching the use of tools) and emphasises the importance of helping teachers develop and use technology to teach curriculum content using specific pedagogical approaches that support successful technology-enhanced teaching and learning (Mishra & Koehler, 2006).

Perhaps another question we should ask is, what happens if you NOT have a DLC? Fullan and Donnelly answer this question nicely:

"Study after study has concluded that the impact of digital technology has been stifled when there is no emphasis on the pedagogy of the application of technology as used in the classroom. this phenomenon has been recently documented by Steven Higgins et al. in a large meta–analytical study on digital learning. When teachers are not taught how to use an innovation, how to adapt to the model, and provided with on–going support, they revert to their traditional behaviours and practices. And, if professional development is stacked at initial launch, it risks neglecting the need for continuous reinforcement and upgrading." (p19)

So DLCs emphasise pedagogical application of technology. And how do DLCs do this? Well, they... 

Synthesise, problem solve, filter... 

Key to this role is synthesis. A DLC must consider the curricular goals, the talents and experiences of the team they are working with, the potential connections (support, reinforcement, or duplication) of related areas and skills, and how best to determine priorities. Tsai & Chai (2012) describe this problem solving capacity in terms of ‘design thinking’ where the ability to “re-organise or create learning materials and activities” and adapt these accordingly (ibid, p1058) is seen as necessary to overcome a ‘third-order’ barrier of a lack of ‘design thinking’.  The DLC also reviews recent practice and tries to anticipate how best to implement future projects. As they begin to develop new visions, communicate them to colleagues, and contemplate how to realise these innovations, they enter the realms of strategic leadership and creativity within the profession (Gardner, 2006). Synthesising the current state of technological knowledge, incorporating new findings, and delineating new dilemmas are critical to the work of any DLC who wishes to remain current and therefore relevant.

This role as filter is particularly important given the phenomenal proliferation of digital tools—on a literally daily basis, more tools with funky and not so funky names emerge into a market place already filled to overflowing with a veritable cornucopia of competitors. The DLC is all that stands between the teacher and a tsunami wave of digital applications, utilities and all sorts of 'Apps' boasting their pixelated promises to 'save you time' etc.  And neither can these just be ignored, as, not unlike the prospectors of old, sometimes lying in the sludge of similarity and 'revolutionary? not really' ... is the odd golden nugget of greatness. Yes, Apps like DoodleCast Pro, I'm looking at you. The DLC is the prospector who wades through the mediocre with filters of failure, seeking to route out all except the most worthy, which can then be brought back triumphantly and with considerable excitement to a, maybe not so interested team of teachers. Yet.

A ‘low power distance’ (Hofstede et al, 1991) is a crucial aspect of these roles, within a loose, decentralised hierarchy, where teachers are colleagues, not subordinates. A high degree of technological pedagogical knowledge (TPK) (Koehler & Mishra, 2009) is at the heart of this role—an understanding of how teaching and learning can change, when particular technologies [tools] are used effectively. This includes knowing the ‘pedagogical affordances and constraints’ of a range of technological tools as they relate to various disciplines with “developmentally appropriate pedagogical designs and strategies (ibid).”

Design (interventions)

Interventions significantly influenced by the need to use, "small wins to ignite joy, engagement and creativity at work (Amabile & Kramer, 2011).” Helping teachers making even small progress in meaningful work is a powerful stimulant to inspiring them to want to do more. If people are involved in meaningful work, and if they feel capable, and if they are helped to make even small progress, they become more motivated and ready for the next challenge (Fullan, 2013).

All interventions should incorporate three essential elements (Rodríguez et al, 2011) they should be first and foremost pedagogically centred, collaboratively designed, and expected to result in transference.

A focus on pedagogy has been shown to be effective in ‘freeing’ the practitioner from the myth that they need to be the ‘tech expert’ in the room, instead focusing on their classroom management skills, seeing technical “pitfalls as teachable moments” (Steve, 2011, p16). This pedagogic model requires the definition and design of tasks for teachers and students, supported by ICTs. The interventions are how the pedagogic model is adopted, leading towards the “autonomous implementation” (Rodríguez et al, 2011, p84).  They are composed of planned activities, such as training sessions for teachers, practical experiences, and classroom observations (Rodríguez et al, 2010). In addition to this, during the intervention, the DLC continually monitors and evaluates progress in order to assess the suitability and efficacy of implementation and to determine the extent to which the pedagogical model is actually being adopted (Wagner et al, 2005). This is expected to lead to arguably the purpose of the entire initiative - transference, teachers who have adopted these practices to the point where they are intrinsic and habitual, where the vast majority teachers effectively and faithfully “carry out the intervention” (Rodríguez 2008).


None of these attributes count for anything unless the ‘coach’ or ‘facilitator’ is a “pedagogical leader and champion” (McGarr & McDonagh, 2013)—a “charismatic individual who throws his or her weight behind an innovation, thus over-coming indifference or resistance... (Stuart et al, 2009, p734).” These champions are “the individuals who emerge to take creative ideas […] and bring them to life” who “actively and enthusiastically promote the innovation, building support, overcoming resistance, and ensuring that the innovation is implemented (Howell & Higgins, 1990, p40).” Confidence, persistence, energy and risk-taking are key characteristics (ibid). Champions can be distinguished from non-champions because they can communicate a clear vision, display enthusiasm, demonstrate commitment and involve others in supporting innovation (ibid). Champions are also an important part of the innovation process in an organisation (ibid; Rogers, 2003), and are “especially important in the implementation of new technology (p3).” Loucks & Zacchei (1983) describe these facilitators as “cheerleaders” (p29); building commitment early and maintaining it through constant encouragement; as ‘linkers’, bringing in outside expertise and ideas—linking resources and expertise; and trouble-shooters, helping teachers solve problems.

So that's it. That's what I do.

Thank you, and good night.

*Or Digital Literacy Coach, ICT Coordinator, Technology Coordinator, Technology Facilitator, Pedagogical Technologist ... there are more... 


Amabile T and Kramer S (2011). The progress principle: using small wins to ignite joy, engagement and creativity at work. Boston: Harvard business review press.

Carlson S and Gadio C T (2002). Teacher professional development in the use of technology. Technologies for Education, 118-132.

Ciampa K and Gallagher T L (2013). Professional learning to support elementary teachers’ use of the iPod Touch in the classroom, Professional Development in Education, DOI:10.1080/19415257.2012.749802

Fullan M (2013). Stratosphere: integrating technology, pedagogy, and change knowledge. Don Mills, Ont.: Pearson.

Fullan M & Donnelly K (2013). Alive in the swamp, assessing digital innovations in education. London: Nesta. Available online: www. nesta. org. uk/library/documents/Alive_in_the_Swamp. pdf.

Gardner H (2006). Five Minds For The Future. Harvard Business Press.

Harris J, Mishra P, and Koehler M. (2009). Teachers’ technological pedagogical content knowledge and learning activity types: Curriculum-based technology integration reframed. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 41(4), 393-416.

Hixon E and Buckenmeyer J (2009). Revisiting technology integration in schools: Implications for professional development. Computers in the Schools, 26(2), 130-146.

Hofstede G, Hofstede G J, and Minkov M (1991). Cultures and organizations. London: McGraw-Hill.

Jacobsen D M (2001). Building different bridges: technology integration, engaged student learning, and new approaches to professional development. Paper presented at the 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, 10 April, Seattle, WA.

Jacobsen D M (2002). Building different bridges two: a case study of transformative professional development for student learning with technology. Paper presented at the 83rd Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, 1 April, New Orleans, LA.

Koehler M J and Mishra P (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70.

Luckin R, Bligh B, Manches A, Ainsworth S, Crook C and Noss R (November 2012). Decoding Learning: The Proof, Promise and Potential of digital education. Online. Retrieved 18 November, 2012, from http://www.nesta.org.uk/library/documents/DecodingLearningReport.pdf 

McGarr O and McDonagh A (2013). Examining the role of the ICT coordinator in Irish post-primary schools, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, DOI:10.1080/1475939X.2012.755132

Mishra P and Koehler M J (2006). ‘Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge: A Framework for Teacher Knowledge’, Teachers College Record 108 (6) pp. 1017– 1054.

Rodríguez P, Nussbaum M, and Dombrovskaia L (2011). Evolutionary development: a model for the design, implementation, and evaluation of ICT for education programmes. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28(2), 81-98.

Steve V (2011). Young Canadians in a Wired World – Phase III: Teachers’ Perspectives (Ottawa: Media Awareness Network, 1)

Tsai C C, & Chai C S (2012). The “third”-order barrier for technology-integration instruction: Implications for teacher education. Building the ICT capacity of the next generation of teachers in Asia. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 28(6), 1057-1060. 

Wagner D A, Day B, James T, Kozma R B, Miller J and Unwin T (2005). Monitoring and Evaluation of ICT in Education Projects: A Handbook for Developing Countries. ICT and Education Series. infoDev/World Bank, Washington, DC. 

Woo D J (2012, May). No Lone Rangers: Pedagogical Technologists’ Mutualistic Relationships in Schools. In E-Learning in a changing landscape of emerging technologies and pedagogies.

The text of this webpage is available for modification and reuse under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License and the GNU Free Documentation License (unversioned, with no invariant sections, front-cover texts, or back-cover texts).

Monday, 21 April 2014

Visible Learning & Computers

I've just finished reading this mega meta-analysis, and condensed/extracted Hattie's thoughts as they relate specifically to what he describes as 'computer assisted instruction'.

For those of you who may be oblivious of this phenomenal study, Hattie's premise is that he's examined over 800 studies, and his book is an analysis of the analysis—a meta-analysis. John Hattie developed a way of ranking various influences in different meta-analyses according to their effect sizes. In “Visible Learning” he ranked those influences which are related to learning outcomes from very positive effects to very negative effects on student achievement. This resulted in a total of about 138 influences from positive to pointless to positively poisonous. This site provides a fantastic way to digest the lot in one graphic.

For various reasons, he likes an effect size of > d = 0.40, so that gives you a handy frame of reference.

In terms of his findings relating to computer assisted instruction, it has to be said (and I think he concedes this point in his book) that his references are not exactly recent, it was published in 2009, and based on his descriptions, I suspect many of the studies were predicated on extremely dubious TELEs (Technology Enhanced Learning Environments).

I've included his positive comments about calculators (most were critical) as I think they are equally applicable, if not more so, to spreadsheets. Oh, how I love a good spreadsheet.

P 146 Calculators 

"Ellington found that the effects were much higher when calculators were involved in the teaching process; for example, when used for composition problem solving, the effects were d = 0.72: "When compared with students who did not use calculators, students in treatment groups were able to solve more problems and make better decisions with regard to selecting methods for generating solutions"(Beddington, 2003, p 169)."


"Hembree and Dessart (1986) found that the pedagogical use of calculators improved students basic skills both in completing exercises and problem solving. Across all grades (and particularly above grade 5, when calculators become more prevalent) and across all ability levels, students using calculators lead to greater effects in students' basic skills in operations and particularly in problem-solving. The effect on problem-solving seem to relate to improved computation and lower cognitive workload demands. They also found that there was a better attitude towards mathematics and an especially higher self-concept of mathematics for those using calculators compare to those not using calculators. The suggestion was that this enhancement in attitude was probably because the use of calculators helped relieve students traditional dislike of problems expressed in words (by reducing the cognitive load of having to compute as well as problem solve)."


P 147

"Using manipulative materials and calculators helps to reduce students cognitive load and allows them to devote their attention to problem solving."


Computer assisted instruction

d = 0.37 

"An analysis of the meta analyses of computers in schools indicates that computers are used effectively (a) when there is a diversity of teaching strategies; (b) when there is a pre-training in the use of computers as a teaching and learning tools; (c) when there are multiple opportunities for learning (e.g. deliberative practice, increasing time on task); (d) when a student, not teacher, is in "control" of learning; (e) when peer learning is optimised; and (f) when feedback is optimised."

P 222 Supplement don't substitute

"Over the many meta-analyses, there was an advantage for computer work to be a supplement rather than a substitute or replacement for teaching instruction."

"One of the fascinating findings is that teachers are frequent use of computers—but more for their personal and administrative use; they find it more difficult to see how computers can be related to their particular conceptions of teaching (Cuban, 2001). When many of today's teachers with students in schools, computers were not as common, and many were taught in teachers' colleges by lecturers who were even more distanced from the use of computers in their teaching and learning. For too many teachers, teaching using computer resources is not part of their "grammar of schooling". Abrami et al (2006) noted that many teachers "are still on the threshold of understanding how to design courses to maximise the potential of technology" (p 32). Hence, there needs to be some pre-training in the use of computers and the teaching and learning tool but that used to be effective. [Pedagogical technologists essential, only I'd argue training teachers to design effectively would require pre, present, and post training!]

P 224 Skill drill

"Of particular interest is the effect of drill and practice – and despite the moans by many adults, students need much drill and practice. However, it does not need to be dull and boring, but can be, and indeed should be, engaging and informative. Drill is a euphemism for practice: repeated learning of the material until it is mastered – this is the key ingredient in mastery learning, many of the more effective methods outlined in this book, and of deliberative practice. It does not have to be deadly, and a key skill for many teachers is to make deliberative practice engaging and worthwhile. Luik (2007) classified 145 attributes of drills using computers into six categories: motivating the learner, learner control, presentation of information, characteristics of questions, characteristics of replying, and feedback. The key attributes that led to the highest effect included learner control, not losing sight of the learning goal, and the immediate announcement of correctness or otherwise of the answer to the drill.

Many computer games are basically invested with high levels of drill and practice and many students can be thrilled and motivated to engage in these often repetitive tasks to attain higher levels of skill and thus make more progress through the game. Computer games include much engaging drill and practice with increasing levels of challenge that usually is mastered by overlearning or undertaking high degrees of drill and practice. So often, the evidence has shown positive effects from using computers to engage in deliberative practice, particularly for those students struggling to first learn the concept. Meta-analyses have also frequently demonstrated that drill and practice routines by computer are more effective than traditional teaching (Burns and Bozeman, 1981). Perhaps teachers should pause and wonder why their traditional teaching is less effective than many computer drill and practice programs."

P 225 Word processing & writing

"A good example of the student being in control of his or her learning relates to the use of word processors. When using these packages, students tend to write much more than when asked to write on paper, and the quality of writing is enhanced, especially for the weak writers (Bangert–Drowns, 1993). This "more" is not more of low quality, as quality of writing and length was highly positively related. Students are more likely to make revisions, write more, and make fewer errors (Goldberg, Russell, & Cook, 2003; Schramm, 1991). Torgeson and Elbourne (2002) completed a meta analysis of studies conducted between 1992 and 2002 on computers and student writing, and found that, on average, students who use computers when learning to write were not only more engaged and motivated in the writing but produced work that was of greater length and higher quality than students learning to write on paper (d = equals 0.40)."

P 236 Value ... added

"The use of resources, such as adjunct aids and computers, can add value to learning. They add a diversity of teaching strategies, provide alternative opportunities to practice and learn, and increased the nature and amount of feedback to the learners and teachers. They do, however, require learning how to optimise their uses. It is also clear that, yet again, it is the differences in the teachers that make the difference in student learning."

Hattie J (2013). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. Routledge.

Friday, 18 April 2014

iPads for Learning (not just skill-drilling)

It will not have escaped the notice of many parents that iPads are quickly becoming a popular tool for enhancing teaching and learning, especially here at the Dover Campus, where iPads are now ubiquitous in the Infant School and Grade 2, with shared trolleys of iPads in Grades 3-5.

What is perhaps less obvious is the why, the how, and the what do we use them for?

As revolutionary as iPads are, they suffer from one particular affliction, they remain, in the minds of many, if not most of our students and parents, gaming devices, or 'skill drill' devices, where 'content is king'. Which has it's place, but it is important to understand that in our school, this is rarely if ever how they are used.

Concepts are Critical, not Content

It's pretty well established now that learning in the new millennium is no longer predicated on a model where we expect kids to fill their craniums with content, devoid of any authentic context within which to actually use that content. Instead educators across the globe are shifting to a focus on key "thinking tools"—key transdisciplinary tools (or cognitive skills), that encapsulate how creative minds think effectively across a range of domains.* These "tools," or habits of mind, comprise a framework for trans-disciplinary creativity and can serve as the basis for the kinds of curricula that are essential for the "conceptual age" (Gardner, 2007; Pink, 2005). Concept based teaching facilitates deeper learning,  that builds competencies that are structured around fundamental principles of a content area and their relationships rather than disparate, superficial facts or procedures (Pellegrino et al, 2013). While other types of learning may allow an individual to recall facts, concepts, or procedures, deeper learning allows the individual to transfer what was learned to solve new problems.

Is there an App for that? Who cares?

That sounds a bit harsh, but at it's essence is my awareness that any App that is content focused is likely to be fraught with all sorts of problems, like issues with language, appropriateness, complexity, not to mention the sheer amount of Apps you would need to juggle if you are going to try and locate an App for every possible area of curricular content.

No, in our school, they are not about content, or consumption, they are about conceptual learning, through creating, capturing and reflection. They are devices for capturing learning that is driven by overarching concepts, devices that allow us to permeate our classrooms with what we call:

Capture Culture

This means that as teachers we need to make sure we focus on ensuring that they are used as learning devices, as devices that capture learning; if there’s ONE thing that sums up what we're trying to establish it’s this - we are building a capture culture - that’s it, everywhere, all year long.

Capturing what they can do, can't do, could do, thought they could do but couldn't, couldn't do but now can, and so on.

So, as strange as this may seem, considering the plethora of Apps on the App Store, the Apps we really focus on are not the usual suspects, the 'skill and drill' 'educational' Apps, no, we focus on Apps for:
  • capturing
  • screencasting
  • annotating
  • image/video/audio creation

Depending on the age of the students, the Apps may focus discretely on one of these attributes, or as the students become more proficient, combinations of more than one, sometimes, particularly with our older students, all four.

This means that despite the wide range of Apps we have available on our school iPads (click here to see the entire collection), we actually focus, most of the time on a handful of Apps. Apps we call our...

Core Apps

8 Essential Apps for Capturing Learning

Less is More

There are several critical aspects to this strategy:

  • We can focus on developing expertise with a few tools, rather than feeling overwhelmed by hundreds
  • We can use these Apps 'iteratively' for formative assessment—using the same Apps over and over again, in different areas of the curriculum. 
  • We can reduce 'cognitive demand' for students, so that they can focus on pedagogy and curricular content than constantly learning how to use lots of new tech tools (Apps).
  • Where there is considerable 'cognitive demand' in learning a more complex App, the investment is worthwhile, as the students will eventually be able to use these core tools throughout the year, with little or no teacher support.

App Rationale

  1. Camera/Photos: take photos and screenshots, landscape/portrait, camera flip, edit the photo, enhance, video (only in landscape!), trim video, use legs to zoom (get close to the subject!) manage the library (ie, delete the rubbish!);
  2. Doodlecast: Screencasting for early years (record video as you draw and talk) respond to prompts, or draw and talk over an image you capture with the app; 
  3. Drawing Pad: drawing, painting, stickers, annotating over an image, different backgrounds (handwriting, maths), basic word processing - ideal for the introduction of keyboarding skills.
  4. Popplet - Mind mapping made easy, pinch, zoom, connect/disconnect, add images—ideal for tune-ins, and seeing understanding develop over the course of a unit of learning, by revisiting and revising at regular intervals.
  5. Shadow Puppet EDU: like Doodlecast, but less 'kiddy', this app allows kids to insert images from the camera roll, and also to use multiple slides, and point and/or draw.
  6. Explain Everything: Does everything all of the previous apps do, all in one app, albeit a more complex environment. The steeper learning curve pays off with the sheer amount of uses it has. It also allows typing, and annotating/recording over video.
  7. iMovie: A surprisingly simple way to stitch together images & video, straight from the camera roll, no import needed. Text and voice over can easily be added as well. Particularly powerful when combined with the other content exported from the other Core Apps.


Apps are introduced progressively, and cumulatively, consolidating use of all the Apps at each grade level, so that by Grade 2 all students are confident, competent, and most importantly independent users of all the Core Apps.

Contrary to popular myth even very young children benefit from the appropriate use of screens. So students start in K1 with the Camera App, just learning how to take photos, the Photos App to browse their efforts, and eventually creating simple screencasts with Doodlecast. By the end of the year the K1 students can also record static video (not moving the iPad, just concentrating on recording video while holding the iPad still).

In K2 the students broaden their repertoire to include Drawing pad, and Doodlecast Pro. In G1 they consolidate and develop their expertise in the first 6 Core Apps, ready to progress to the more 'advanced Apps' in G2.

Settings > General > Accessibility > Guided Access

Choose what you want to restrict, then triple click to activate.

Guided Access

There are going to be times, especially with very young learners that you might want to restrict their freedom on an iPad, like maybe locking the iPad so they can only work within one specific App. With a feature called Guided Access on iOS devices, that is literally as easy to activate as triple clicking the home button. Instructions on how to set that up here.

Next Steps...

So many Apps - but why?

Now we do have many other Apps, other than the Core Apps on the iPads, there are many reasons for this, but mainly because the Core Apps form the foundation for everyday use, much like the iPad version of pencils and paper, they can be used for almost anything, in any curricular area. But much like other traditional tools, the curriculum often presents very specific, unique opportunities for the use of Apps that are particularly suited to a particular curricular context, or a specific skill focus. To extend the analogy, these would be like inviting students to use paints, board games; rulers; manipulatives, and of course reading books—not relevant to everything, but still powerful when used in a focused, directed, pedagogically appropriate way, by a skilled teacher.

I have outlined a few of the main contenders that are not Core Apps, but are still magnificent when used in very specific contexts.

Puppet Pals/Toontastic
Sock Puppets
Google Drive
Book Creator
Comic Book and or Strip designer

Skitch (annotate over images)
iMotion (Stopmotion)

Organised around curricular focus:

Speak and listen:

AudioMemos, SonicPics

Read & Narrate:

We only include books that amplify of transform reading, not just replacing traditional books. This means we do not include eBooks (students are directed to good ole fashioned paper books instead) but books that include the option to read aloud to the students, read aloud certain 'tricky' words, and allow the students to record their own narration. There are a wide range of interactive books that are ideal, some suggestions include anything by a developer called QBooks (search for Kiwa Media) based in New Zealand, with titles such as Wonky Donkey, Milly Molly, Hairy McCleary etc.


Wurdle, Spell Blocks, SqueeblesSP, Wet Dry Try


Brain Tuner, Bugs & Numbers, Addicus HD, SqueeblesDV, Bugs & Buttons, Maths Drills, Numbers, Pick–a–Path, SqueeblesTT, SqueeblesAS, SqueeablesFR, EasyChart HD, Teaching Graphs

Control & Code

Daisy the Dino, Hopscotch, Tynker, Move the Turtle

Draw & Paint

Drawing Pad, Brushes, Skitch (image annotation, but funky), Draw n Show


Toontastic, PuppetPals HD, Sock Puppets


Educreations, Explain Everything, Doodlecast, Doodlecast pro, Popplet, Draw n Show


Comic book, Comic Life, Strip Design, iMotion, Keynote, GarageBand, Pages, Minecraft PE, Pic Collage for kids, Book Creator, iMovie

Grade 2 Organisation:

Google Drive
Web Albums
Safari (Google Site access)

Our Current iPad Setup


Pellegrino J W, & Hilton M L (Eds) (2013). Education for life and work: Developing transferable knowledge and skills in the 21st century. National Academies Press.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Less marking, more feedback

My mind was blown at the end of Term 2 during the Primary ICT Showcase. Seeing the range of talent on show within the Primary School was inspiring and something to be celebrated loudly.

We began the showcase with Demo Slams, the opportunity for ordinary teachers to display their extraordinary tech integration to their peers. Ben Henry, Grade 5, Dover was one of the slam recruits and he showed the crowd his awesome use of QuickTime Player to facilitate giving feedback about a piece of writing.

I’ll let Ben set the scene:

The children had been working on their Historical Fiction stories during Writing Workshop and it was the week before their final edit.  For their homework task, each ‘Writing Buddy’ was asked to read their partner’s story and to identify a couple of areas that they were impressed with, along with a suggestion for the final edit. The children had the option of drawing from my marking comments already in the Google Doc, but it was remarkable how accurate the buddies were at making a relevant suggestion that would improve the writing. The children communicated their suggestions for improvements and the elements they were impressed with using QuickTime player in the form of a screen recording. Since the children enjoyed making the screen recordings, and are equally (if not more) concerned with their partner’s comments as they are with mine, I will certainly be using this method in the future.

Here is an example of a student giving feedback to their writing partner.

Grade 5 'Peer 2 Peer' Feedback from UWC South East Asia on Vimeo.

Sean McHugh (DLC on the Dover Campus) has written about RAT and SAMMS in previous posts on this blog. What Ben demonstrated in his use of video feedback is in the transformative area of RAT; ‘technology as transformation’. Being able to give this level of useful feedback moves both the writer and the student giving feedback forward in their understanding of the concepts. The writer has demonstrated that they are able to listen to the lessons given in class about how to write this particular genre and process them to create a comprehensive piece of writing. The student giving feedback has to understand the genre well in order to give feedback to their partner and move their writing on. By allowing the chance for peer to peer feedback the skills being demonstrated and developed by both parties are immense.

The beauty of using technology to facilitate this process is listed in the SAMMS framework. The fact that Google docs can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection (Situational), allows for instant reworking of the piece (Mutability) and provides a space where two students and the teacher can collaborate on one document (Social).

It is also a brilliant example of Dylan Wiliam’s Assessment for Learning strategies.

Wiliam breaks down AfL into 5 key strategies

1. Clarifying learning intentions
2. Eliciting evidence
3. Feedback that moves learning forward
4. Students as learning resources for one another
5. Students as owners of their own learning (ownership - metacognition, motivation, interest, attribution, self-assessment)
(Wiliam & Thompson, 2007)

Ben’s use of feedback thoroughly demonstrated the third and fourth points in Wiliam’s list. The students receive feedback from their teacher and also from a peer to improve their writing. Before I saw this being used I would have guessed that the feedback being given from a writing partner would be a little shaky and inaccurate at best. After seeing this in practice the feedback being given is 90% accurate and very well articulated.

To anyone who would like to do less marking and give more feedback using screen casting come and speak to myself or Ben for more details.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The RAT, SAMr, Transformative Technology, & Occam's Razor

Digital technologies are all well and good, but if we're going to use these, can we at least make sure we are actually changing what is possible to achieve? For our students to learn?

Probably the single greatest challenge in my role is to encourage ICT use that does not make the mistake of just replacing or substituting pixels for pages. There are two frameworks, SAMR and RAT, I prefer RAT, but for some reason SAMR seems to get a lot more attention, which is crazy in my opinion, it's far too complex to be of any really practical use, and it's often misinterpreted.

Replace, Amplify, Transform*—that's it. 

SAMR is almost impossible to pronounce, in English anyway, and while it's simpler than most, it can be simpler, without, I believe, losing anything that is crucial. I don't need to wrestle with the distinction between Augmentation and Modification, seriously—is it that important? What I do see on a really bad day, is tech that is not just replacement, but worse; allow me to reiterate, people using computers in ways that are actually WORSE than not using tech at all—like the person who insists on printing out name labels for each kid, I mean, really? Just get a pen and a write the name on a sticker. I'll tell you what level of integration that is— Retrograde.

But don't take my word, take Michael Fullan's:

Many of the innovations, particularly those that provide online content and learning materials, use basic pedagogy – most often in the form of introducing concepts by video instruction and following up with a series of progression exercises and tests. Other digital innovations are simply tools that allow teachers to do the same age-old practices but in a digital format. Examples include blog entries instead of written journals and worksheets in online form. While these innovations may be an incremental improvement such that there is less cost, minor classroom efficiency and general modernisation, they do not, by themselves, change the pedagogical practice of the teachers or the schools. (Fullan M & Donnelly K, 2013, p25)

The RAT (or TAR if you prefer)

So, while I love and cherish SAM(r) I have new friend, its name is RAT (Hughes et al, 2006), and it is remarkably non existent on the 'Interweb'—I'm not sure why, but when I couldn't find any graphics to illustrate it for some upcoming PD I'm prepping I realised that I would have to ... *takes deep breath, yes it's hard to admit* make my own—so, here they are (CC free, just help yourself),  mash - mend - make your own, but please lets put some life back into the RAT framework, it was published in 2006, and from what I can see, it has been sleeping in obscurity ever since.

I'd describe what RAT means, except that, well, there's no need—that's the beauty of it, it's obvious (if you speak English).

R :: replacement | redundant | retrograde
A :: augmented | average | acceptable
T :: transformed | terrific | tremendous

Now all we need to do is wrestle with the holy grail of tech integration—defining the nature of transformative tech, I like these attempts, from the RAT paper:

Technology as Transformation

The Technology as Transformation Category involves technology use that transforms the instructional method, the students' learning processes, and/or the actual subject matter.

  1. The actual mental work is changed or expanded 
  2. The number of variables involved in the mental processes are expanded
  3. The tool changes the organisation in which it had been used 
  4. New players become involved with the tool's use (or expanded use of the tool). 
  5. New opportunities for different forms and types of learning through problem solving, unavailable in traditional approaches, are developed.

... it [transformative use of ICTs] improves the process of bringing thought into communicable expressions in such significant ways that, once the tool is understood and used regularly, the user feels wanting if it is not available because it has opened up new possibilities of thought and action without which one comes to feel at a disadvantage. It's become an indispensable instrument of mentality, and not merely a tool. (Pea, 1985, p 175)

… we will be best served by setting our imaginations free from seeing a computer as a machine that lacks the warmth and security of a book, seeing it instead as a technological alternative providing almost unlimited potential to operationalise the humanistic values that fuel our noblest conceptions... (Reinking, 1997, p 642)

The more important question (that the bucket load of people who blog about SAMR rarely seem to address in my experience) is how do you  move ICT use from one end to the other, from replacement to transformation (RAT), or from substitution, to redefinition (SAMR)?

There are few answers:
  1. Maybe you don't need to, sometimes good old-fashioned traditional tools are more effective than using a screen, hard for me to admit that it is true… Sometimes. But not as often as Technophobes would have you believe… but if all you are doing is replacing with technology then there really is no point.
  2. Maybe amplification (or augmentation/ modification in the SAMR model) is perfectly okay for the task at hand. Technology doesn't have to transform learning for it to be beneficial, I have often found that if we let the kids have the freedom, they can transform learning all by themselves. They can take amplified practice and transform it due to their greater confidence, or more effective use of technology, more effective than was maybe conceived by the teacher...
  3. Focus on what it is about ICTs that make them unique—called 'unique affordances' or 'features'. Avril Loveless* listed these back in 2002 as

    "provisionality, interactivity, capacity, range, speed and automatic functions which enable users to do things that could not be done as effectively, or at all, using other tools." (Loveless, 2002)

    I found that list to be a little ... long, ie hard to recall/use, and a little out of date, in terms of the development of social media, and the internet in the past 10 years; so I took the liberty of coming up with my own. Actually I came up with this before I came across the 'Loveless List' as I call it. Mine is a framework for amplifying/transforming ICT use, called SAMMS: Situated learning that makes the most of access to an abundance of online resources, to work in ways that are multimodal, mutable and socially networked. Here's a link:


And more here on my own blog if you want it:


Fullan M & Donnelly K (2013). Alive in the swamp, assessing digital innovations in education. London: Nesta. Available online: www. nesta. org. uk/library/documents/Alive_in_the_Swamp.pdf.

*Hughes J, Thomas R & Scharber C (2006). Assessing Technology Integration:
The RAT – Replacement, Amplification, and Transformation - Framework. http://techedges.org/r-a-t-model/ 

*Loveless A (2002) Literature Review in Creativity, New Technologies and Learning. FUTURELAB SERIES

Pea R D (1985). Beyond amplification: using the computer to reorganise mental functioning. Educational psychologist, 20 (4)167 – 182.

Reinking D (1997). Me and my hypertext :). A multiple digression analysis of technology and literacy (sic). The reading teacher, 50 (8), 626 – 643.