Archive for the “opinion” Category

This video presentation from Yong Zhao from the US is well worth taking the 20min to watch.  He makes the case for being careful about the interpretation we put on PISA and other results for judging the worth and value of education systems.

The video can't be embeded but is available HERE or HERE for the site with accompanying links

Do we really want to try and clone our system to be like that of China or Finland?  What are the elements of their systems that come along with their success at tests that are not so desirable?

Take the time to watch this ๐Ÿ™‚


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This blog post got me thinking about the things that have been the top for me in 2012?  What things were the most important?  What have been the 'big things' for the year?

With a particular, but not exclusive, focus on the professional here goes…

Top three things I have written about:

  • Evidence and Exemplars – here.  The ongoing challenge of showing progress and doing it efficiently and effectively.
  • Tablets as Forks – here.  Choosing the best tools for the job, that if they work well you don't even notice.
  • We Know What Works – here.  A lot of thinking and challenges for me out of this day!

Top three things I have learned about:

  • Website design and development – leading a project digitising a self review tool …. coming soon ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Google Docs and Apps
  • The complexity of good app design and development – working with the team at NHNZ and Runaway, their iOS development team.  Also how much time, skill and thought (and money!) goes into developing tv programmes.

Top three things I have done:

  • Visited Rarotonga (twice really – once over the Xmas break with the family, and once just Jane and I for a friends wedding)
  • Ben Harper concert in Wellington – he is astounding!  Nearly 4 hours on stage with 13 different guitars.  Been to a few concerts and this was certainly one of the very best for me!
  • Changed career direction (a bit).  NHNZ was (and is) a blast, and CORE is a great place to work!

Top three things I see as growing trends:

  • Obsession with accountability in education.  If it goes wrong there has to be someone to blame it would seem.  If it can't be counted it is not there (or at least not that important).
  • BYOD in NZ schools – a tide that can't be stopped now.  This along with ultra-fast broadband have the potential to transform our system, or to simply be 'more-crap-faster'.  We are at a bit of a tipping point I think.
  • Personalisation – smaller and more powerful devices in the hands of all in the school community mean that the dictums of the school are increasingly irrelevant (for example).  If it is filtered then turn your phone on and tether.  The push to personalise learning for all learners – students and teachers.  Social media as a way of collaborating and managing a way through the info-smog.

Top three things I have read:

Ask me tomorrow and this list will almost certainly be different!

  • Andre Agassi's autobiography – interesting the tension between passion, drive and pleasing others and their expectations.
  • Seth Godin's Blog – so many wee gems there.
  • Nancy Wake's biography by Peter Fitzsimons – a remarkable woman!

Top three things I have laughed at/about:

  • Duck Dynasty at a viewing at NHNZ – think a cross between West Coast choppers, Dukes of Hazzard and ZZ Top.  Astoundingly funny, particularly given it is quite heavily scripted 'reality' tv.  Heaps of YouTube clips.
  • Much to my families disgust – Big Bang Theory.
  • The crazily fun things you do with kids ….

Top three things I wish for in 2013:

  • Time with family and friends …. the old work-life thing ๐Ÿ™‚
  • Jane to have a great trip to Europe on her scholarship, and to get the writing on her PhD done she is planning ๐Ÿ™‚
  • For education to sort the things with 'N's' – Novapay, National Standards, Network Reviews ….fingers crossed with the N4L too.

So …. bring on the new year.  It's going to be a blast!!


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Ignore the numbers, the key thing is the trend in the graph:


Moores Law is alive and well

I was reading something (I now can't find again to reference…. grrrr!) the other day that was claiming that the new iPhone5 has the same computing grunt as you needed a MacPro desktop machine to achieve less than a decade ago.  And that this is the first time that this has happened …. come wihin the decade timeframe.

So the smartphone/device that kids have in their pockets in a year or so will be pretty stunning I am thinking.  BIG implications for the classroom.  Time to get with the programme or get left in the dust (or run over by the bus?)

The iPad mini that is due to drop in a couple of weeks if the rumours are true will be an interesting beast too I think.  I know our son did a lot of work at school on an iPod touch before they rolled out their BYOD programme.  Just the transactional find stuff, confirm stuff, sorts of things … but levering the connectivity.

Do you really need a 'computer' when you have all the power these devices have?  When you can now upload files from a menu structure in iOS6 (finally!!) it enables the effective use of things like learning management systems and the like from an iPad too.  What can you do on a laptop that you can't do on a tablet device?  Or should the question be what do you actually want or need to do …?  It seems like the tablet/smartphone is going to be the 'computer' of choice for an increasing number of people.



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This from Doug Johnson is gold!

The premise can be applied to any sort of inovation or proposed change too I would be thinking.  I would add though does it address a need of a specific group or a wider audience?  And is that need real or perceived?

The full post from Doug is worth a look too (as usual!).

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I LOVE this piece about the space tablets fill in the technology arena, especially when thinking about the classroom:


When I eat, I use the utensil that best serves my needs.

I do not ask silly questions, like whether a spoon is a liquid consumption device and a fork is a solids consumption device. I do not ask whether a knife does “real” work just because it does not, ordinarily, convey food to my mouth. I do not obsess on the exceptionally rare times when I may use my spoon as a fork, my fork as a knife or my knife as a fork. Instead, I simply use the right tool at the right time.

When I compute, I use the device that best serves my needs.

I do not ask silly questions, like whether a tablet is a consumption device. I do not ask whether a phone or a tablet does “real” work. I do not obsess on the exceptionally rare times when I may use my phone as a tablet, my tablet as a notebook or my notebook as a tablet. Instead, I simply use the right tool at the right time.

The more time I am spending around schools this year the more I am completely convinced about the importance of a MIX of technologies in the classroom.  Some tools are best for some things and some for others.  A laptop can be overkill, expensive and cumbersome for some tasks – think taking a photo of your artwork for a blog post or portfolio.  Just as a tablet is slow and cumbersome for other things that require straight out computing grunt.

But just like the cutlery analogy in this post each has their use – a knife, is not a fork, is not a spoon.  None of them pretend to be the other either.  And also you just choose the best for the job and quickly don't even notice the cutlery if you are eating a good meal!  Shouldn't our technology in schools be the same?

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Some things I have been reading/watching in the last few days:

Interesting from the Huffington Post in the US re Charter schools and National Testing.

Interesting vids on neuro-psychology and learning topics.

Snapshot of what one teacher is doing with e-learning in their classroom

Frazer Speirs wonders if we need to be using managed networks at all

TED according to 9year olds – wow!

Perils of standardisation – Seth Godin and Dan Pink reframe a school leaders thinking.

School leaders PLN's … I blog – read and write, Twitter is not for me

Accountability and responsibility for teachers.  reflections on Mark Treadwell

Some TED talks by teachers



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I posted a while ago about how the Android tablets certainly weren't iPads and that they didn't seem to cut it as an educational tool …. it is beginning to look as if they may be proving me wrong?

Darren Coxen posted this morning about his experiences with his brand new Nexus7 Tablet:

Setting it up is a dream: it takes minutes to configure and sign up to your Google account, and seconds to connect to the wireless. From opening to using took me less than 5 minutes: important if thinking about using these devices at an institutional level and therefore setting up hundreds. Much quicker than the iPad, that's for sure.

The user interface is very nice indeed; the Nexus moves between apps smoothly with no discernable lag. I tried out a much cheaper 7″ tablet a while back and have to say that the Nexus blows it out of the water. It is as smooth as the iPad, which is saying something. The display is not retina, but because of the size of screen looks as bright and sharp as the new iPad.

It has a few really nice touches that work intuitively and cleverly – swipe down for the Android version of notification centre (called the notification shade), swipe up for Google Cards, which are personalised to you (for example, when you're about to leave for work you can swipe up to see the traffic information for your journey home). Within the notification shade you can toggle screen rotate on and off – personally I think the Nexus works best for all but word processing in portrait mode.

And this is where I think the Nexus beats the iPad – it is so nice to hold. It fits far better into one hand than the iPad, leaving the other hand free to navigate. The page size on the internet is decent enough, and for things like email and books it is spot on. For students, I can genuinely say that the Nexus could well be a better device. And it fits into a decent sized pocket, which is more than you can say for the iPad.


There are other nice features, such as the face detect unlock (great for kids who are rubbish at remembering passcodes) and your play library on one page. It seems, on first look, to do everything you'd want a device for schools to do. And all for about a half of the price of the iPad.

…. and he concludes that he will be going for them for 2013.  This is a powerful conclusion from someone who has just finished a year with iPads on a trial.  It is worth reading the last few posts from Darren about the issues they have found and the rationale behind the change, particularly if you are looking to purchase tablets any time soon.

Now I just need to actually get my hands on one of these puppies myself ๐Ÿ™‚

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A powerful story about 'film club' in the UK.  The cultural importance of shared story.  The power of narative and importance of film.  WOW.

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