My NAACE piece on implementing video-enhanced observation

I was pleased to contribute a short piece highlighting advice to schools about implementing video-enhanced observation. It’s such a valuable tool for dialogue and professional development at all career stages, but one of the key issues is that schools need to be able to facilitate this as part of practice.

The two main areas of importance are in a) ensuring that video used in schools is built into the policy fabric of the school so that the rights of all stakeholders are ensured and b) developing a CPD model that encourages this form of development.

The piece can be read via my University of Sunderland staff profile

NCCE #ResearchBytes

Very pleased to have contributed to the current #ResearchBytes newsletter from the National Centre for Computing Education

Developing computing pedagogy post-2014: a doctoral study
Dr Elizabeth Hidson, Senior Lecturer in Education,
University of Sunderland, UK
As a former ICT teacher who stepped out of school to study for a doctorate in 2014, the ICT to Computing curriculum change was an obvious area of research for me. ICT teachers already in post were now teaching computing, and the expectation was that they were finding pragmatic ways to work within the new curriculum.
I undertook some in-depth case study research into how teachers across England researched and planned their lessons. Most of these planning sessions were observed via desktop-sharing in Skype, making it possible to watch and listen while a teacher located and modified resources, discussed their approaches, or grappled with subject knowledge deficits while teaching themselves a new programming technique before introducing it to their students. Lesson planning like this would normally have remained largely hidden, but the study highlighted it conceptually and methodologically as a promising area for future research. One example of this could be researching new approaches to developing programming pedagogy to track the development of pupils’ computational thinking.

I found that participating teachers demonstrated a range of practical and useful approaches to planning Computing lessons under the new PoS, and the approaches were much more focused around collaboration and communities of practice than anticipated. The way that participant teachers worked to locate, use, and modify teaching resources led me to the conclusion that the resources themselves had real potential for the sharing of pedagogical approaches. Developing teaching resources and sharing them is a way to share good practice, but it is also a way to use and share the theoretical approaches that underpin planning.

I used Shulman’s (1986, 1987) frameworks of pedagogical reasoning and Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) in order to have a language with which to describe the pedagogical practices I observed as teachers planned lessons. One of the long-standing critiques of ICT as a subject has been that it was under-theorised and overly skills-driven. As the new Computing curriculum continues to be embedded in England, being able to ascribe shared meaning to what practitioners say and do is important, especially as some of their practices, such as lesson planning, are carried out in isolation. Subject knowledge exchange is needed, but so is pedagogical knowledge — not just what to teach, but how and why, as well as what the best teaching methods are.

Using the language of pedagogy to discuss, plan, and share resources and approaches is important for making classroom practitioners integral to building collective understanding of the professional knowledge and skills needed to shape the subject as it develops.

Next steps:Choose an activity or lesson that you are confident with and share it with a peer: discuss with them how you teach the concepts and why you do it that way. A great place to do that is your local CAS community, or online via #caschat.Read Elizabeth’s full thesis.

Back to School with EdTech

A post I wrote for the ITTE Blog this month (August 2018)

It’s that time of year when students and teachers prepare to go back to school and start a new academic year. EduTwitter and Facebook groups are full of teachers preparing to start the new academic year with good intentions, new stationery, new classroom displays and new approaches for the coming year.

The DfE announced recently that education secretary Damian Hinds had challenged “the tech industry to launch an education revolution for schools, colleges and universities to develop innovative teaching and slash workload. Teaching practices and assessment were offered as key opportunities for the tech sector to create a step change. “Virtual trips through the Amazon” were held up as state-of-the art. And yet, I wonder, what are the implications of this search for the next new thing?

Image: CC0 Creative Commons.

Looking back over the years of investment in educational technologies, I recall several technologies that offered new ways to improve teaching and learning, assessment and engagement. Ten or so years ago I recall spending some whole-school ICT budget on voting handsets. A class set that could be calibrated so that individual students could respond to starters, quizzes and discussion prompts built into presentation software, which could then be displayed on an interactive whiteboard and used by a skilful teacher to probe understanding, address misconceptions and scaffold learning. This was surely good teaching supported by educational technology, whether ten years ago or this year.

I recently encountered a similar approach using a mobile phone app during a learning technology demonstration at a university. It reminded me of the class set of handsets and I wondered what had become of it. The whole set, in its carrying bag, is probably in the back of a cupboard somewhere, having not seen the light of day for many a year. But why?

Image: CC0 Creative Commons.  

The answer cannot be a surprise. Technology doubles every two years (Moore’s Law, anyone?). Nothing stays the same in technology, or in education. Curricula rarely stay the same for two years in a row. Once a technology is purchased it is on a countdown to obsolescence and the time and energy that it takes a teacher to develop teaching materials specific to the technology means that it becomes a luxury rather than a necessity. Increasing demands on teacher time mean that the shiny new technology becomes a dusty dinosaur rather quickly.

Perhaps the answer lies, then, in reframing the question, or refocusing the expectation. Good technology, used skilfully by teachers can enhance teaching, learning and assessment. Of that I have no doubt. I also believe that pedagogy should drive technology and not the other way around. What is needed is a step change in education policy that will allow schools and teachers to spend some time investigating the technologies that are needed to support good teaching; time to engage with research, to be confident that the investment is going to be worthy of the effort and lead to the required step change, for the benefit of the students and their learning.

It’s time for a reality check, not just virtual reality.

ITTE Conference 2016

I’ve been preparing a Pecha Kucha presentation for the ITTE conference in London on 02 July. I’m very much looking forward to a day of interesting talks, speed networking and workshops. Not so much looking forward to getting up in time to catch the 5am train, but hey ho.

I’ve been practicing my timings for the Pecha Kucha and have put it on YouTube.