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Feeling wanted ...

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Thunderbird 5 the Space Station featuring John Tracy

Early days but a few teaching fails online talking to a blank wall of distracted teens is slowly emerging into something that will engage them - even if they want to be off camera and mostly silent. My eclectic mix is a challenge. I don't get to know a group of students, even a particular cohort or subject specialism. 

Four simple lessons learnt:

> it matters to be a 'subject matter expert' as you can talk, discuss and provide an inventive and relevant response to meet the needs or interests of the students or group at the time.

> channelled enthusiasm goes a long way, not gushing, nor over-confident, but the person at the helm with a sense of the direction to take.

> a video conference (as only the BBC will call it) i.e. Zoom (even if you're on Google Meet) can be as EdTech as it needs to be. The camera, microphone and Chat are enough to take a class and enough for most people if it is there first time. There is no need to throw in extras like slow 'death by PowerPoint', or faster 'death by PowerPoint' by making it interactive with the likes of PearDeck or Nearpod. A Google Form Quiz will do.

> where analogue meets digital. Hold something up to the camera. Prof Sir Hew Strachan couldn't be doing with 'present now' screens so during his gripping talk on the First World War he simply held up the covers of two or three books. I've taken to using a mini whiteboard while I am asking students to draw a Venn Diagram or Mind Map on whatever comes to hand. When they are done they hold it up to the screen - it works! Some go digital and use their phone or tablet, others get artistic with coloured pencils while others just doodle a thing on the back of an envelope. I can screenshot what they show me (I should have a recording of the class anyway) and for better resolution they can upload, share or email me their efforts. 


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This week

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Views around the South Downs during a January 2021 hoar frost

This week could run to 73 pages of A4 with screenshots. It is a Google Doc I keep. Actually, that's just for the four days Tuesday to Friday. 

Teachers will be 'live' with students teaching online next week. All are on a quick learning curve both technically and culturally. The cultural shift is nudging towards greater communication, networking and collaboration. Teachers need to stop being soloists and work as an ensemble - or as they do at the OU in an orchestra with the conductor the Chair who lead the unit craetion, not the tutor 'delivery' any part of the unit syncrhonously and being the 'face' of a course for a particular intake. 

We are exposed and challenged as teachers and students and so learning a lot. More than ever before it matters to take notes! I feel at times like the last person on the planet to take notes with ink on paper, as well as digitally in mindmaps, or like this, supported with audio and video recordings. I don't go back through it all, but I do go back through much of it. I will even have some of it transcribed electronically so that I can verify what was said, by whom and get the wording right. 

It leaves a lot undone. A hoar frost the other day and I took loads of photos on an extensive walk around the edges of Lewes onto the South Downs. I've not posted a single one, though I have at lost gone through them. 

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Time out to reflect

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Wednesday, 9 Dec 2020, 21:21

Kolb's Reflective Cycle

By Izhaki - In OmniGraffle, CC BY 3.0, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40793898 

I am three formal 90 minute online classes in with two more to go. It is the same topic, but a different group of students each time. I made a slight overhaul in the hour before today's session.

I am yet to watch back any of the Meet recordings.  

The following passed through the entire cycle: 

I had a clip of Oxford Uni academic taking us through hsi ideas of 'Visitors and Residents' online. Rather than him, I ran through it myself to the webcam with a whiteboard. Old school, but I hoped would give me a chance of explaining it in my words. Is it relevant that students are this self-aware?

JV on camera using a mini white board to talk about the idea of 'Visitors and Residents' online

A haircut is due and there is reason why older people wear shirts with a collar or a roll top smile

Ditto 'Netiquette' as an icebreaker, something they should all have been drilled on and understand, yet the feedback in the Chat from 22 students was low - four at most caring to give me a sentence. Many more would respond to a closed question with 'Y' or 'N'. I tried Q&A the other day and had no questions at all. I rather thinking typing is an issue - noit least if they are on a phone, but because they are certainly not able to touchtype - only touch thumb.

I guess therefore I am going through this process. I know what can be fixed swiftly and do so. Indeed, while a video was playing, by way of demonstration I made some of the slides 'accessible' simply by increasing the font size, putting in a pastel shade background and right justifying the text.

The element where we looked for words to describe enhancements or augmentation to reinvention was dropped. I had begun with a Business School diagram introducing SMAR (which I have not used at all). I then struggled to find the words myself so certinaly couldn't provide a simple, clear activity for them to do for three minutes. Instead I quickly created the following and then moved on to the 'Lessons for today'.

Steps to enhance a slide presentation: accessible, add audio and video, make it a screencast, go interactive.

I also dropped flicking through some pages from DK online showing the historic development of the gun from flintlock to plastic submachine gun. Interesting in its own right, but not the right comparison for the above stages. 

JV presenting in MEET and introducing Ten Tips on slides for TED lectures

The Gun > https://pubhtml5.com/cqlx/ftcx 

Ten tips on out to use slides by David Epstein of TED lectures

I brought in a TED lecture from from David Epstein on how athletes have improved over the last 85 years. Interesting in its own right, but was to show the interplay between a presenter and their slides > https://bit.ly/3m2iNc1

Five ways to simple video for the classActivity Three I want to replace with my own video so from the outset the message is for students rather than me saying that they should hear 'student' every time the presenter says 'Teacher'. Also to diminish the negativity on some slide presentation types than might be overly reliant on the slides and the handouts rather than students taking notes. Taking notes is a totally foreign concept, not even students who may benefit from recording audio or video so they have something to play back. I nabbed this LINK > https://youtu.be/GuA8fPCHu9c from Open Learn's Take Your Teaching Online'. 

I should test my theory of 'learning at the speed of desire' > motivation is all. If they are motivated they could Google my intentions and get their own top tips on presenting, using slides, video and screencast technology.

Last session like today having gone through all the buttons on the Screencastify minidashboard dropdown I once again inadvertently hit the Webcame record.

Screejcastify dropdown dashboard

Let's hope I don't do this for the next two sessions. I'll put a note to self in the slides.

My feelings? Good. The first session felt like a dress rehearsal, the second like a technical rehearsal. It can only improve. Getting engagement and evidence of learning from the students is another matter entirely.

Soon after viewing the above I headed into town for a haircut. 


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Too busy to blog! Yelps

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Is this a good sign? My sympathy goes out to all teachers - I take classes (in theory) one day a week. This week I have stepped in to offer 'Isolation' cover for five classes. Putting together a 90 minute online class that follows lessons I've picked up in 10 weeks of PGCE takes a while - though the training allows me to get it done more quickly as I have a better feel for what will work.

But where is the work on live classes taught remotely to draw on for best practice? Maybe I'll author one.

OERs and resources available 'out there' is one thing - shoehorning them into your sessions is another. I know from the corporate training years that 'bespoke' was always best if you could afford it. Everything else screams 'compromise'.

I need to reversion somethign aimed at graduates and something else aimed at teachers. Playing a segment of these videos is easy enough, doing something myself and citing the sources is another. I still have to script it and record it.

At least I have recordings of these classes. When I have the energy and brain space I can reflect on each and the collection. And with three more days, and three more classes I will take the opportunity now to make changes.

The class is on digital communications - basically how to do better than PowerPoint or Slides. 

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The man with the plastic mask : Fibreglass Jacket Demo

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JV masked up to video a demonstration of using resin to create a fibreglass jacket

This blog auhot masked up to video a demonstration of using resin to create a fibreglass jacket.

It's been a frenetic and insightful day being able to double up with a class observation for my PGCE while videoing a demo of how to create a 'fibreglass jacket' with resin for Stageprops and efx at Northbrook MET. 

Google them for their website and Instagram where all their goodness and greatness is on display. 

My task, once requiring a team of at least four, was to video and publish. The team of three would have been camera, sound, lights and a producer/director. But that was three decades ago making video demonstrations for the health & safety team at BNFL Sellafield! Where the full suits worn once the site was active resembled the above.

Several lifetimes ago.

Then it was into a Meet to discuss and share outcomes from Wonkhe@Home conference and what this tells us about how to develop and support a vibrant 'Student Voice' during and post-Covid. The world of learning is a-changing.

Onwards.

With frustration my intentions and wish to attend tonight's PGCE class in person I have needed to come home and be online. With brilliant tutors you come to relish being in their presence. The difference between the online and face to face experience could not be more stark: in many situations the learning context, the feeling that you are part of a collective experience, and seeing the tutor and others so that you can 'read' their face and body language all counts for something. So much of this naturalistic impact is lost when you go online, at least with current systems.

What is needed is quality 360 for image and sound so that you can feel you are there. And in the room to be a laptop open on a trolley (I'e been told a partner of a law firm has been meeting staff like this) or more Sci-fi in approach, an iPad glued to a panel ... or at least the back of the chairs where we may have otherwise sat.

Some institutions, the banks and top law firms and ad agencies are no doubt doing this already > not in undercapitalised FE colleges though.


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From family quiz to global quiz

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 19 Nov 2020, 08:01

School Quiz

During the first lockdown the family quiz became the thing. Six location, six family hubs, my sister with her hubby, my wife and I, her kids from California and Newcastle, my own kids from London, and nephew also from London.

Eight months on and at the same time, on the same night I've got two organisations pushing a global quiz, the above from my old school (I attended unwillingly for three years and go out after O' Levels) while the Western Front Association has gone from branch, to national to an international Zoom offering too. Here we have tested the water with webinars first too New Zealand and Australia, and most recently from New Zealand and coming soon from Canada.

What has the world come to? Not so much the Global Village, as the Global Sofa - or wherever the shared space might be. 

I'm attending a face to face PGCE class so won't be able to to this. Had I been at home I may well have had to screens open and followed the class while answering the quiz - like a simultaneous exhibition of chess.

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Whatever it is ... the Open University did if first!

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Contrary to their PR blurb Duke University, Michigan were not the first in the world to aim to put, or to put all their HE courses online: the Open University got there 16 years earlier. We too often forget this in the UK as universities such as Coventry (with OU staff running the team) doing the same.

And now everyone doing it. 

Taking up a course with the OU in early 2001, the MA in Open and Distance Learning (MAODL) I got a cardboard box containing some text books and DVDs. We went online for a threaded noticeboard thingey.

Picking up the MA in Open and Distance Education (MAODE) a decade later and going on to graduate in 2013 everything was online: a variation (not much changed) of this blog cum noticeboard platform, Cloudworks, a version of Meet or Zoom technically a decade ahead of its time, though sometimes like dragging yourself through brambles in a Guernsey jumper.

We had Cloudworks, others no offer Padlet, Jamboard and Trello. 

Having an idea for something is never good enough; having the resources, team skills and even power or energy to make it happens is what counts.

And then which platform comes to rule over them all?

Gilly Salmon's five stages of e-tivities still applies, perhaps more so. Students (and colleagues) need quite a bit of 'onboarding' to feel confident enough with and familiar enough with a new platform in order to be able to contribute. Some get left behind, some run with it to the point of taking over.

The trick is to return to the platform over and over again. Help people use it, master it and enjoy it. Leave no one behind.

For me a new platform needs a mentor or coach, a voice I can trust to talk me through step by step showing me how this new platform applies to me. I then need to go over this repeatedly, take baby steps, make mistakes, take constructive feedback, and then make my contribution a weekly, if not a daily habit.

Another platform is never the answer. Having colleagues and students each wishing to show off and use the latest 'thing' they have found does not work either. There has to be common ground.

I feel a platform as simple as this OU blog is common ground. It does what is required. Even though I have WordPress blogs, I far prefer to post here. It is simple. It is immediate. I don't need to be pushing it on social media. I can be private to me, limited to those logged-in or shared to the world. 


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Class Observations III (Teaching Online)

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A dire online session where participants were supposed to have completed some homework beforehand. Out of 7 attendees one had done so, 2 said they had looked at it and of the other 4 a further 2 said they weren’t sure the course was for them and left.
The lesson from this > don’t give homework before a course has even started. Not even as a teambuilder. Maybe get people to fill in a profile at most.

Good practice online is to have two people. If you have the luxury. The second person works as a ‘two hander’, or helps with sign ins in the background if people are meant to have access to an App or platform, they can also filter and offer up questions that may come up in the Chat rather than having the speaker distracted.

Alternatively, set the ground rules early so that people don’t have expectations of anything in the Chat being dealt with until the end. John Sowash of the Google Academy is great at this. 
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So much to say, so little time to say it!

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I am keeping a regular work journal. As I work in Learning Tech for an FE/HE College these are busy and educational times indeed!

I am online via Google Chat all day, with at least one, sometimes several Meets in a day. These include sessions with tutors/staff and students, typically on how to make the most of Google Meet or just digital literacy. I gave a team session on Screencastify last week and attend a weekly all staff session which has between 98 and 143 attending - so far.

Use of interactive platform ThingLink has become integral to our forthcoming online Open Day. There are now 360 degree images, many linked into 'tours' or with additional interactive elements, running for all five sites and a number of departments.

As the Digital Editor of an educational charity we have seen our followers double across social media, we use Facebook and Twitter. We have responded with seminars and quizzes by Zoom, more podcasts and videos and a monthly newsletter going out every week.

Local politics too has seen our first Full Town Council, alongside a weekly informal town council meeting - also on Zoom.

The swimming and sailing clubs are less active. Sailing on our inshore lake started again - but no rescue boats out. Swimming is down to land training and a lot of cycling.



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