Google+ Teachnology

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Summarising learner agency, an empirical approach

This video is a summary of the work I have done around learner agency this year as part of my +CORE Education Limited eFellowship.  It has been an amazing year and I have had several opportunities to talk about my research, I recently returned from the #PENZ inspired leaders conference where I presented on the research panel, it was rewarding to know there were other people who were interested in what I was doing as this was a topic I chose through seeing a gap in what was known about how we could change education in traditional settings to fit a more agentic approach - there is plenty written, tweeted and blogged about around what is happening in new innovative institutions (which is great) but it can get disheartening for people who teach in schools that are not so dynamic and set up for modern learning practices.

This whole process has been amazingly valuable for my students and myself, hopefully it can also be constructive for others in similar situations as well.

At this stage I'd really like to thank +John Fenaughty+Louise Taylor and the #Efellows14 for their support and encouragement through the whole process.

Here are the links to the documents that are mentioned in the video, please use and modify as needed.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Learner Agency part II: descending into the abyss....

In this second instalment of the adventure Han Solo, Chewie, Luke and the droids have escaped Tatowiine and are embarking on a mission to Aldaraan to rescue Princess Leia….to keep in with the monomyth plot we are now entering the road of trials, where things will test us and many challenges await.  To read the first part of the adventure have a look at this post.

This is how my brain works when I’m mapping out what has happened this year….Illustration: Andrew DeGraff 

This enquiry has been a cyclical process, and at this stage as a class we have been successful in co-constructing agency, investigating metacognition, and exploring how we learn as a class - but as on

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

E-learning, agency and the UDL

These are some of the thoughts floating around in my head on the flight home, a roaring cold southerly pushing the tiny plane and my big ideas back up to Gisborne…...The past e-fellows experience in Wellington has been a challenge, however - at this point in time I don’t feel as mentally or physically drained as on previous e-fellow trips,  we had plenty of time to synthesise our inquiry’s at the amazing beach front house we called home for 3 days.  

In this trip I grappled with what true agency meant, and rolled between the notions of freedom of thought, choice and direction and the underlying aspects of effectiveness, efficiency and academic rigour - and how agency has a part to play in all of these - and is true agency ever obtainable, or is it as elusive as the green flash at that moment where the sun sinks into the ocean beside Kapiti island?
This all melded together into a timely reinforcement of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and how that can relate to everything we should be doing in education right now.  Let me explain further……

John and Anne-Louise waiting for the green flash behind Kapiti

The tug of war that has existed in my enquiry was highlighted in one of the schools we visited that had essentially applied what I was looking into across the local scale of my classroom on a school

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Culturally responsive e-learning pedagogy

Māori pedagogical frameworks & relationship with technology tools

This post is an excerpt from a project I have been working on lately, if you'd like to have a browse through the full resource have a look at this site.  The overall findings confirm that the approach to inclusive and culturally responsive pedagogy starts with relationships, and getting to know the learners - this is applicable in all teaching and learning situations and not uniquely with Māori ākonga - eLearning can be used in a way to collaborate with community and connect learners to their past, present and future places in society.

While there is no specific pedagogical model to support eLearning and no pedagogical model specifically for Māori it is possible to interweave many of the unique components of both to support successful outcomes (figure 1.1). A large amount of research has been completed to identify the unique components of kaupapa Māori for successful learning and eLearning. This post identifies some of the main elements of kaupapa Māori for learning and eLearning.

Figure 1.1. Designing eLearning for Māori in the digital age. Adapted from Mishra & Koehler (2006)

Importance of cultural identity in eLearning

Firstly it is important to be clear about the current understandings around different approaches to

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A call to adventure: Learner Agency in the traditional school

In my CORE Education e-fellowship this year I have been investigating learner agency, this blog post summarises the first steps I took during term one on my ongoing journey to enlightenment (I’m still not there yet).  I have employed an action research method for the investigation, and to help unfold the narrative of my experiences I’m going to use Joseph Campbell's traditional 'monomyth' outline as it fits well with the developments and cycles in this research process; this blog post is the introduction, the first part of the story where everyone is just milling about and life is carrying on as normal, but then something disrupts the status quo and there is no turning back.   To contextualise the media reference further, it is a bit like when Luke Skywalker is on Tatooine staying with uncle Owen and aunt Beru wishing he was somewhere else, he find’s a message in R2-D2 with Old Ben (Obi-Wan Kenobi) and before he knows it he is jumping on the Millennium falcon with Han Solo to rescue princess Leia - Luke’s decision to follow Ben was the call to adventure!

(Lucasfilm Ltd, 2014)

Anyway, back to agency in a galaxy a little closer to home…..

The concept of learner agency has been part of ‘bigger picture’ thinking in education for quite some time, but has blossomed recently through many blogs, forums and video sites - for an excellent

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Gamification of human anatomy

Poke-a-muscle and whack-a-bone are two really fun web apps that refresh understanding of human anatomy.  I'm using them today in my lesson and getting the boys to screen grab their best score and post it to our Google+ community to encourage some healthy competition between the students.  I finished the lesson off with a collaborative problem solving activity that I found on the TES website which asks the students to match up statements about functions of the skeleton!

Easily manage student sites and e-portfolios with siteMaestro

This is another excellent tool that has been created by New Visions Cloud Lab, and +Andrew Stillman in particular.  I read about this in the GEG NZ group and was perfect timing as I was just about to launch into using Google sites as a way for my Tu Tane students to record their journey towards becoming a good man.

I wanted each student to have their own site to use, and for me to be able to check on the sites and any edits or additions from a central location - siteMaestro allows you to do this and it isn't that tricky to set up, all you need is a site that you'd like the students to use, and a list of their email addresses!  It's so easy I made a video of it below.  The link to the site to install the Add-on is here.

Overall I think it is a brilliant management tool when allowing students the power of using collaborative sites in their own learning journey.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Google+ Hangouts; Connecting and collaborating with NZ students

Last year I was inspired by +Sonya Van Schaijik to organise a TeachmeetNZ event with other physical education teachers in NZ, and managed to connect with +Libby Schumacher-Knight +Aaron Mead and +Julia breen through a Google+ hangout.  The idea was to share some ideas around how we were going to integrate e-learning into our PE teaching the following year, it was a great learning experience and we managed to stream the event live at the Physical Education NZ conference in Auckland, which made it even more worthwhile!  During the 'hangout' we presented our ideas, one of my ideas was to use Google+ communities to allow students to connect and support each other on a platform they were familiar with, as well as using it as a tool to teach digital citizenship and digital literacies - I wrote briefly about the outline of the community on a previous blog post.

Part of Google+ is the' hangout' function, this is a video conferencing/messaging tool like Skype and FaceTime, but it allows up to 15 multiple participants, as well as other apps and plugins to enhance the collaborative aspect (although with one hangout we did as a class the drawing tool was slightly misused

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

E-fellow in Christchurch

                                                       Leaving Poverty Bay

It has been a couple of weeks since I returned from the second 2014 e-fellow experience of the year.  Christchurch was our destination, a place I’ve not visited for 15 years since I toured around the country in a 1981 Mitsubishi Mirage with surfboards on the roof, a tent in the back and not a care in the world.  Plenty has changed since then and I was astonished by the level of disruption, hardship and destruction still felt by the earthquakes back in 2010 and 2011.  However I was really amazed by the level of good old kiwi ingenuity and positive outlook that allowed the residents of Christchurch to continue on and rebuild their city.  Learning communities like the GCSN have really supported the rebuild in the educational sector by connecting schools and promoting shared resources and good practice.  

During the trip I spent plenty of time thinking about my inquiry - enabling learner agency in traditional

Thursday, May 1, 2014

T/A/P into Google Apps

I have been thinking about a way to successfully introduce, and integrate Google Apps for Education (GAFE) in schools since I first started using it in about 2008. It seemed as if there were some aspects that people found difficult to grasp, but were essential to understand in order to know how to use the tools to their full potential. Below you will see what i have come up with (there will be discussions over which area's different aspects lie in, and I welcome comments and suggestions - this could be a good discussion starter with staff?).

T/A/P (Technical/Administrative/Pedagogical) into Google Apps model (click on the image and it will take you to the live document)

This model is intended to be a flexible, interactive, one page visual document that is easy for staff to digest, without getting bogged down with too much pedagogical theory and lingo.  It aims to be personalised, authentic and collaborative - with the emphasis on the individual teacher and the

Using Google+ Communities with learners

I have started using Google+ communities this year to extend what is done in the classroom and to connect learners in a way that works for them.  I have attempted to develop a learning community in my senior classes as I can see the benefits through their interactions already, McLoughlin & Lee write that by using online communities "rich possibilities for students to create and share ideas, connect, and participate in broader learning communities that are not confined to the spaces in which formal teaching and learning activities take place." (2008 p.15)  As a school we use Google Apps for Education (GAFE) and one of the benefits of using this cloud based platform is that it is ubiquitous in that it can be used on any device, and anywhere - the social learning aspect of it 'google+' has a very interactive mobile interface which allows users to receive notifications and post updates from phones and mobile devices, as well as sharing photo's video and giving '+1's' which are similar to the facebook 'like'.  This is working really well and we have used the space to co-collaborate on what we think student agency looks like, as well as sharing ideas and pictures from practical student led PE sessions.

As I teach teenage boys I think as learners they are not too confident in voicing their opinions verbally and would rather write it down sometimes, however there is still the social aspect and face to face contact which allows them to share in other ways as well.  There for I think one of the most important considerations is the medium in which the message is shared - can the participants actively construct and feedback on content that is relevant and applicable in their lives - with the case of teenagers it is more likely to be successful if it is a mobile application.

The video goes into more depth;

McLoughlin, C., & Lee, M. (2008). The Three P’s of Pedagogy for the Networked Society: Personalization, Participation, and Productivity. … Journal of Teaching & Learning in …, 20(1), 10–27. Retrieved from

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

How-to-guide: Upload documents to Google drive

When you start using drive more frequently you will get used to the functionality of the tools with regards to collaboration and sharing.  It will be likely that you will need to start uploading more of your documents to the drive so they are available to you from any device and any location.  As a department we used to use our staff drive based at school to host all of our curriculum documents, but it was difficult to access when not in school, and there were multiple copies of several documents due to older versions and different people editing them.  We now use Google drive to store our curriculum documents and it allows everyone to access them from anywhere as well as collaborate on plans and resources.  This video will guide you through the processes to move your documents to the cloud!  One thing I didn't mention in the video is the fact that some formatting is occasionally lost when converting a word document to Google drive - In my experience tables can look a bit odd, but it's not too hard to clean them up once in the drive.