Monday, 28 October 2019

Learning from my explanations and actions

Earlier this year, I had doubts that I wasn't articulating myself as well as I could, conversations both personally and professionally.  Plus, not having a lot of words in my vocabulary - a result of my earlier education.  I identified that the issue of articulation is probably because I don't understand certain topic(s) well.  If I can't understand something then I won't be able to explain well or at all - all primary school lesson stuff, but good to ask yourself often on how well you explain from time to time.  Preparation and head space are factors contributing to this, but, as always there is something to be learnt here.  So after a quick internet search I was led to 'The Feynman Technique'.  I reflected and researched on how I could explain things better.

Explaining to understand

If I can't explain it simply, it’s likely I don’t understand it well enough.  If I want to understand something well, explain it…  The process below will help me to identify areas where I need to further work on, both in personal and professional capacities.

1. Write the concept down (digital or paper)

  • Choose the concept I want to understand
  • Ask myself what is my point and ask others the right questions

2. Explain the concept using simple language – underline, work through examples

  • Teach it to someone, i.e. a child

3. Identify problem areas, then go back to the sources to review

  • Go back to studying it and re-learn the parts where I am lacking in knowledge
  • Before going into Step 4: frame my mind – how would I explain it to a child or adult? Remember, children always ask why…

4. Pinpoint any complicated terms and challenge yourself to simplify them

  • Simplify language
  • Confirm with people what I am saying makes sense.  Paraphrase during conversations
  • Think of topics I don’t understand and explain to myself first before speaking to others. Work on the parts that seem vague.  It all leads to explaining the same thing in different ways
  • In meeting and conversations, ask to meet afterwards to go through in more detail and in a more safer and personal environment

Maybe I need to look for trends and patterns in when I do good things certain things happen or when I do not good things, this happens etc.  This article 'Nuts and Bolts: Learning from Your Own Work' may be a good start.

A visual doer

I am a visual learner as well as a learn by doing.  I tend to visualise concepts and creativity before I can describe them.  As for experiential learning, take cooking for example.  I'm not gifted with the enthusiasm for it, plus I can't read a recipe and cook. ๐Ÿ˜œ  I need to watch someone do it or do it with.  I think that's why I am very keen to collaborate with others as it's joint/doing.  Moreover, as with teaching, presenting and public speaking, doing these makes me learn more as I have to explain to others as well as not looking an idiot.

In my work, I notice that I prefer stuff that is easy to digest and in an accessible writing style and format, i.e. Ann Gravells, Geoff Petty, Gilly Salmon, Michael Sankey etc.  Their analyses and processes they publish are in line with my views/thinking.  They really help me when trying to explain concepts and align my own thinking to them.  Some things to develop onwards:

  • Improve active listening - paraphrasing helps
  • Structuring my thoughts - Pyramid Principle, plus talking about stuff like I do throughout this blog
  • In staff development training sessions - ask more open questions:
    • What questions do you have?
    • Why and when would you use this?
    • How you would use it?
    • Can you remember how to do this?
    • What value does this bring?  Etc...

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Engage, Enhance, Empower: 3 steps to developing your learning technology practices

Delighted to have delivered another webinar for the Society of Education and Training Foundation's (SET) webinar series, broadcast on Thursday 24 October 2019 at 4pm.

"In this webinar Daniel Scott, Digital Learning Specialist, will show you how to move from passive to active use of digital tools. You will also hear more about the Enhance digital teaching platform, which offers free to use modules to help develop your teaching practice using technology.

Daniel will also talk you through three steps to developing your learning technology practices and explain more about his book ‘Learning Technology: A Handbook for FE Teachers and Assessors’, emphasising the importance of stepping outside of your comfort zone for digital teaching.

He will also share key practical activities to enhance your practice, mapped to the Education and Training Foundation’s Enhance modules, and show you can increase in your own confidence and competence to use learning technology with your learners.

Daniel Scott was winner of the Learning Technologist of the Year Award 2016 by the Association for Learning Technology and is the author of Learning Technology: A Handbook for FE Teachers and Assessors (#LTbookFE).

He is a Digital Practice Adviser at Nottingham Trent University, where he leads professional development opportunities for staff to engage and embed digital technology into their existing practices.

To summarise, I talked about:

  • Overview
    • Engage:  Introduce and discuss why the book was written, why it is helpful and is a much needed for the sector, whilst raising the importance of stepping outside of your comfort zone for digital teaching
    • Enhance:  Talking through some key activities and sections in the book along with how it is mapped to the Education and Training Foundation's (ETF) Digital Teaching Professional Framework (DTPF) and subsequent Enhance modules
    • Empower:  Ways you can share your practices and to inspire others
    • It’s not as easy as 3 steps, I’ll grant you that, most of us like alliterations
  • Engage
    • Why did I write it?
      • Read more about the rationale for the book
      • When I started my career as a learning technologist and in my teacher training, I wish I had a book like this to help me understand the purposes of digital technology in learning and teaching.  Its a complex topic, let's not kid ourselves.  Its not just a case of loading something up and running an activity through, it needs clear pedagogy running through it
      • Observed learning technology use with no pedagogical purpose.  I.e. polling for sake of interaction, a VLE used as a repository etc.  Staff genuinely wanted to use but sometimes lacked not knowing the value they’re adding.  That's where my role came in
      • There is no book like this in the market
      • However, there are many books out there that discuss and debate the role of digital technology in education and write for the already digital capable.  For some, learning technology is hard to engage in due to little digital skills or perhaps interest
    • Who is the book for?
      • In the title, but all relatable to Higher Education staff too
      • New to starting out and wanting to make most of digital technology
      • Companion to teacher education texts and studying towards a teaching qualification
      • If your familiar with Ann Gravells work, this book is in the style of hers - simplified and accessible
      • So if you're practical and need accessible and simplified information.  Then it's for you.  If you want to know what game-changing technologies are out there, then there are other publications for that
    • Why you might need it?
      • Recognising you need a learning technology book is not always clear, especially when you use lots of digital technology, learners seem to like using it etc.  Its not about how much you use, but the purpose it has, how it is designed to support learning and the impact it has on the learner and your role
      • It’s good to try/show off something new, but as I always say, what is most interesting is how it is used, the pedagogy that underpins it, that being clearly visible to both teacher and learner and having demonstrable impact on the learning experience.  What is the learning activity you are intending to do?  As that is what determines your choice of digital technology
      • The argument of pedagogy before digital technology – but appreciate that sometimes you need to see what the digital technology can do first, the possibilities, which this book encourages
      • Time will always be an issue and you can say that there’s no time to pick up a book on the topic as well as play with digital technology.   However, Initial Teacher Training material is in text form and now we have LTbookFE
      • Dip in and out, skip to certain sections.  The activities, models, principles, etc. They are there to be explored and applied.  Use alongside other teacher education books
    • Quotes
      • I feel it's usually around these two quotes.  Which affect the quality of the learning and teaching experience.  Reinforces the need to engage
      • These quotes don’t represent the extent of the book and by no means are they the only two issues.  But these are two prominent to kick-start motivation
      • EDIT: second quote looks to have been adapted from Steve Wheeler's quote (2013: n.p) "technology won’t replace teachers, but teachers who use technology will probably replace teachers who don’t"
  • Enhance
    • Book content at a glance
    • 'Flick through' video
    • Mapped to ETF DTPF
      • As the Enhance modules are hugely popular with supporting teaching staff apply digital technology into their practices.  I aligned my book to the DTPF framework, which links to subsequent Enhance modules – the book acts as a companion
      • Talked through some key areas that feature in the book
      • The crosses don’t imply that there is no content on that aspect of the DTPF framework, but indicates the emphasis of it where identified
      • A clearer view of how my 'Learning technology handbook' maps to the ETF's DTPF

  • Empower
    • You should start to feel more confident and competent in your chosen tools as a result of experimenting, more so in a safe environment
    • Talked through some suggestions mentioned in the book to help you extend your confidence and inspire others
  • Reviews
  • Resources
  • Questions

I recommend viewing my previous webinar Moving from passive to purposefully interactive to learn more about creating interactive eLearning materials and Mapping Learning Technology handbook to Level 4 Award in Teaching Online that demonstrates the theories, models and activities in the book.


Presentation recording:

Friday, 18 October 2019

I saw my first Great Whale!

I've never seen a Great Whale with my own eyes before and on 18 August 2019 it was a dream come true!  For those that don't know me, I am a massive animal and natural history lover and have a significant passion for }-wh^ale>.  They're mysterious and magnificent creatures and ones I have a strong spiritual connection to, which led me to getting an Orca tattoo on my leg to honour my passion for cetaceans.  And yes I know Orca is a dolphin not a whale but it's still a cetacean.  ๐Ÿ˜‰

Whilst holidaying in Madeira I collected a number of leaflets of local whale and dolphin trips, as well as being informed of the hotel (TUI) excursions.  I settled for Ventura Nature Emotions.  I've done many 'family boat trips' so I felt that this one was the best to get me closer to seeing whales.  This company is purely focused on searching for cetaceans and had a marine biologist on board that knew species and their behaviours.

Our skipper was told by the inland spotter that a whale was sighted, I felt a bit numb.  Out comes Bryde's whale, not one but two, a mother and a calf.  I know they are often sighted at this time of year, but it's not guaranteed, as wildlife tends to be.  I was hoping to see one during the trip and I got my dream come true.  Incredible experience that I’ll never forget.  On our trip we also saw spotted dolphins, a 50+ group and a smaller juvenile group, a couple of loggerhead sea turtles and a flying fish.

Excuse the expletives, I was just overwhelmed.  A tough task as I had to record and nurse a sea sick Gary.  Here's a short video of my first and long awaited experience of seeing a Great Whale!  Now I have the taste to see more in the wild...  As always, recordings don’t give the experience justice – the Bryde’s whales were closer than it looked.

Video thumbnail by Gary Purdy.

Tuesday, 15 October 2019

Mapping Learning Technology handbook to Level 4 Award in Teaching Online

In January 2019, I was invited by Paul Bacsich from Sero Consulting Ltd to review the approved new qualification Level 4 Award in Teaching Online, offered through ATHE – Awards for Training and Higher Education.  Additionally, Paul asked how the qualification units map into my book 'Learning Technology: A Handbook for FE Teachers and Assessors'.  As it was considered as a resource to support learners on the qualification.  As part of our conversations I said I would produce a mapping of my book's content to the qualification.  Below is the output of this.

Tuesday, 1 October 2019

ALT Annual Conference 2019

A collection of findings and thoughts throughout my first experience Association for Learning Technology (ALT) Annual Conference 2019...

After propelling (literally) my way up, I've arrived in my beloved historical city Edinburgh! Here for @A_L_T's Annual Conference. Excited and nervous, be kind to me! Presenting tomorrow at the place I'm pointing at on '...purposeful technology...' blah blah blah. Grub now.  Nerves are truly here. Anyway... If you see me at #altc whether I know you or not, do say hi! Faces to names and all that.

Note for self: some Tweets link to threads with further discussion.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Special thanks to Nottingham Trent University for allowing me to attend and present.