Reflections on New Years resolutions after 1 month

OK so its now almost a month since I decide upon and shared my new years resolutions.  You can read my resolution here.    So far I think I am doing quite well however I purposely set my targets in such as way that success could be quantifiably measured.   So how have I actually done so far:

1: To blog at least twice per month:   So far for January I have managed 4 posts and during Feb my plan is to be involved in 29 days of writing.   As such I may actually exceed my target of 24 postings even before the end of the 2nd month of the year assuming I manage 29 posts across Feb.   Even if I do manage 29 posts the challenge will then be to continue blogging in the knowledge that I have already achieved the yearly goal.

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2.   1.9 tweets per day over the year: In January so far I have managed 200 tweets so this is significantly above the target of around 60 per month. I think buffer has been particularly useful in doing this as it has allowed me to set up my tweets for a couple of days ahead whenever I find myself with a little spare time (and that doesn’t happen that often).   I also think my increased engagement in twitter chats such as #satchat, #sltchat and #mltchat, to name but a few, has helped here.

3. achieve Google Certified Educator Level 2 status: Still haven’t progressed this one yet however there is plenty of time. Just need to get the appropriate practice with GAfE in, then book the exam.

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4: read at least 1 book per month:  Am currently on my 4th book for the month although 2 books had been partly read before I picked them up again in Jan.   Am enjoying getting the reading in and hope to manage 1.5 to 2 books per month.

5. To use tools such as Evernote and Buffer to allow me to work smarter: Buffer in particular is being of excellent use. Haven’t really made much use of Evernote lately however am making increasing use of the calendar in MS outlook to manage my time and meetings. Working Smarter will continue to be something I need to re-examine.

6. To get involved in twitter chats: Have had regular input in particular into #sltchat. Am also getting involved in #mltchat, with both chats being on my outlook calendar so I get reminders. I see further chats being added as the weeks progress.

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7. To get involved in events and conferences: Have been loving #appsharelive and am looking forward to the next one in Feb. Went along to BETT however I didn’t find it that useful. I think I will need to plan the BETT event better should I decide to go to it.     So far in Jan I have also missed a couple of other events mainly due to personal commitments.   I would hope that I will be able to find the time for future events which may arise.

8. To experiment with video and YouTube: Haven’t managed to progress this yet however there is plenty of the year remaining so am ok at this point with the lack of progress here.

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In addition to the 8 points I shared I have also subsequently identified an additional target which relates to fitness.   Sadly fitness is not something which I am particularly good at focussing.   I would say that it is a personal weakness for me.    Thankfully I managed to identify a simple and easy way to build on my fitness level without the need for me to attempt to change my daily routine too significantly.   Basically I am now logging my steps using my phone each day.    I am then trying to build of my daily number of steps and in doing so build on my fitness.   I hope that I may even get the point that a short jog is not out of the question.    The fact that I have identified a process I can actually engage in, in relation to fitness, is a positive step [ LOL! ] as far as I am concerned.   I consider it especially successful given the fact it is a personal weakness which I have previously been able to make little progress on.

Overall I would say it has been a good January for me in terms of my resolutions.    I now need to build on this and have an even better February.

 

 

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Some thoughts on thinking

We often look at concepts and ideas as either being positive or negative in nature.    The fact is however that things are not that simple or that black and white.   The complexity of ideas was drawn into focus as I read the term “desirable difficulty” in the book, “How we learn”, which I am currently reading.   How could something “difficult”, a negative term, be considered “desirable”?

During the course of my day I was working on an analysis of different tablet computers options for use in my school.    As part of the process I was listing the benefits and the drawbacks of different devices such as the iPad, MS Surface, etc.    One point I listed was that of the standardization of the iPad which I considered a positive.    At the same time the customization and user personalization of the MS surface was a positive.   As I looked again I identified the strength of the iPad as a weakness of the MS surface and the strength of the MS Surface as a weakness of the iPad.   The strength of standardization within the iPad was actually also a weakness in the lack of customization or personalization it allowed for in the same device.    An the strength in the MS Surface turned out equally to be its weakness.   In both cases each feature was both a strength and a weakness.    To make use of the strength in an iPad I had to acknowledge and tolerate the weakness.   The same being true for the MS Surface.

Another term I have heard recently, which I myself am fond of, is the term “disruptive innovation”.   Again we have a positive in “innovation” but a negative in “disruption”.     Yet when we talk of disruptive innovation we are referring to an overall positive.

“A disruptive innovation is an innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leaders and alliances. The term was defined and phenomenon analyzed by Clayton M. Christensen beginning in 1995”.

As we initially explore the new innovation it causes disruption which is likely to be viewed as a negative feature of the innovation.  I would suggestion that during this phase the change is not likely to be seen as an innovation and more as just a change and possibly an unwanted change.   Someime after the initial change when people reflect they will see the benefits, at which point the change will come to be considered as an innovation and the disruption as a necessary step in the progression towards an end.

Any idea cannot be seen as purely positive or negative.   It is better viewed as having some positive features and some negative features, with individuals seeking to identify both.   Also the resulting perceptions regarding positive and negative features cannot necessarily be viewed as static as changes in perception may occur over time.    The idea “is” positive, would therefore be better phrased as the “idea currently is perceived to be more positive than negative”.

The question is how the above might impact on education.    How often do you give thought to the views, beliefs and ideas you hold to be true?

 

Reflections on BETT 2016

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On Thursday 21st I visited the BETT exhibition after 8 years away.   During those 8 years I attended the GESS.GEF and BETT/BFE Middle East events which I was none too impressed with.    As such my visit to BETT 2016 was always going to involve a comparison with my experiences in the Middle East.   Due to poor planning the visit to BETT was only a short one surrounded with hours sat in traffic driving too and from London.   As I arrived home I was ready to write my usual blog about how I the exhibition offered little and how I was disappointed by what was on show.   As it happened I didn’t write my blog at that time, nor did I write in the days following the exhibition, mainly I suspect, due to my lack of enthusiasm for the event itself.

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Then I read a piece by @teachertoolkit (you can read the full piece here) and I reflected on my experience and on my perception of the BETT UK exhibition plus on previous experiences out in the Middle East.    Although I had seen little to impress me with the event I had only spent a short period of hours there.    Maybe to get the full of the experience I would need to spend longer in future.    My perception of the number of people in attendance was that the UK event was significantly busier than the Middle East event and I hadn’t even visited on the first day of the exhibition.    Maybe this was the reason the UAE event had failed to inspire, because of the lack of people in attendance and the resulting lack of opportunities to meet fellow educators, to network and to discuss ideas and experiences.    In the Middle East the people I got to spend with most time were the sales people and obviously their priority is sales as opposed to sharing ideas and best practice.   Had I spent longer at the UK BETT exhibition maybe I would have had the opportunity to engage with more people, share more ideas and overall get more from the event.    I have often remarked that on training events it is the networking, the discussions over coffee, which yield the greatest benefits, yet I did not allow myself any actual time to do this at BETT.

I think, if I am going to give BETT another go next year, I will need to ensure I give myself plenty of time to make the most of the event.   I will also need to plan my time better to ensure I get to see the vendors which I need to see but also allow for opportunities to network and have informal discussions.   Another thing I will need to do is attend TeachMeet BETT as it sounds like an excellent CPD opportunity.

Here’s to BETT 2017!!

 

 

BETT 2016…..Some Pre-Event thoughts

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The BETT conference is now only two days away.  Now I won’t actually be going on day 1 however I do plan to be visiting with some colleagues on Thursday.    I haven’t attended the BETT conference in over 8 years having been out of the UK for that period of time although I have attended similar events in the UAE including BETT and BFE, before they were discontinued, and then GESS and GEF following that.

As I prepare to visit BETT I would like to summarize some of my predictions and hopes for the event.

Interactive display technology including the humble Interactive Whiteboard is likely to still occupy a significant number of the vendor stands on display.   I am unhappy with this given that IWB technology is now around 25year old however equally I can understand why this might be the case:  IWB technology is interactive plus can be demonstrated without any real preparation and where visitors are not required to have any pre-requisite skills, experience or learning.   In a class this lack of need for pre-requisite skills is useful at the start of the year when students are new however students don’t remain new for very long.

I expect to see a number of content vendors on show selling interactive content designed for various subjects.   Again this is not something I am particularly fond off mainly due to the wealth of free content available on the internet plus the ease with which content can either be created or adjusted by teachers as needed.

I have noticed an increasing number of learning platforms, especially cloud hosted systems, making appearance.   I would suspect this trend will continue at BETT.

I expect to see most vendors offering solutions which are incremental improvements on what they previously have offered.    I accept that this incremental approach may result in improvements although I question the magnitude of the improvements.    I doubt we could consider the improvements to be innovative and it is something innovative I am seeking.   I also question whether rather than seeking to be slightly better we should be seeking to do something different, something creative and to bring about disruptive innovation.

My hope is to see some vendors with something truly creative and original.   I know of one vendor who will be in attendance who will be demonstrating something which at least partially fits my criteria.   They will be demonstrating giant dice like devices which students can sit on but also which students can interact with as part of the lesson, passing and throwing around, answering questions by orientating the dice in various ways.  Student interactions with the devices can then be communicated back to a teacher device via Bluetooth allowing for assessment of learning to take place.    As such learning becomes both a physical and mental activity while providing teachers with data as to student learning.

I observed another example of what I consider innovative at an event in the UAE.   It was a School Management System styled like a social media site with the system making predictions as to what information and users may be useful much in the same way Amazon or similar shopping site predict what other items we may wish to consider buying.   The system also made use of a very visual user interface.   Sadly since the demo I have been unable to locate this solution so either it never went beyond demo stage or it went out of business at some point.     Although the fact it doesn’t exist now is hardly a great selling point, I think the underlying idea had lots of merit and was in a number of ways, innovative.

I hope that BETT will include a number of creative and new solutions for use in learning and that my visit to BETT on Thursday fulfills my expectations!   Only time will tell!!

 

 

New years resolutions a week on!

newYearsResolution

2016 represents a new year and as such I have created and shared my new years resolutions (you can view these here).    I have started this year with a focus on “doing the right thing” and therefore have dropped my previous approach of keeping a to-do list.  I found that no matter how hard I worked and how many items I crossed off the list, my to-do list always had more items on it.   In addition I also caught myself adding items to my to-do list which I had already completed just so that I can score them off; the act of adding these already completed items being a total waste of time other than providing a false sense of satisfaction.  Instead this has been replaced by a weekly list of what I hope to achieve in a week.  This list is not a specific list of tasks but more a limited list of areas which I wish to address.   I have tried my best to limit this list to a maximum of 5 work areas per week.

I also have an Urgent vs Important board in my office however I have done little with this so far given prior to Christmas I managed to pretty much fill the board to the point that the urgent and important axis were no longer visible.    At this point it ceased to be of much use for me so at the moment sits as it was prior to the holidays.  This will need to be revisited in the coming weeks.

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Within my weekly focus list I have also added my PLN commitments with regards blogging, reading and contributing to twitter.   So far I would say I have done reasonably well on this with my current book, “The Silo Effect” currently lying half completed after only a week which by my standards is quite impressive.   In addition I have been reasonably involved on Twitter making use of Buffer where possible for more general contributions in addition to engaging in chats such as #sltchat or events like #appsharelive.   I hope that I am able to continue with this pattern.

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The one area which I would see as in need of action is the physical side of things in that I haven’t engaged or planned to engage in any physical activity which I am conscious has always been an personal area for development.    My hope would be that I can plan to address this starting in the coming weeks, however I should note that after 7 years in the Middle East, outdoor activities in a UK winter are proving to be less than enticing.

If you contributed and shared your resolutions how has your first week gone?