Monday, March 21, 2016

Teach Meet Tech 2: Popping Filter Bubbles

In 1961 Edward Lorenz made a tiny change to a weather simulation and forever changed the world .... or at least the way we understand it. Lorenz created one of the most evocative notions ever to leap from the lab into popular culture: “The Butterfly Effect".

Lorenz helped trigger one of the most significant conceptual shifts in science - from understanding based predominately on a "simple", atomic, independent, predictive and deterministic view of the world towards understanding based on a complex, networked, interdependent and adaptive view.

Much of the formal education system is a legacy of rational analytical reductionism and the  "simple", atomic, independent, predictive and deterministic view of the world. Most education events reflect this atomism and split into many separate (even conflicting) sectors and levels that rarely mix. Rarely does a network manager mix in an event with students, someone in the school sector mix with those in the university sector or for the topics of flipped learning be on the same agenda as network resilience or art.

The atomic view creates a form of educational fission that is good for the purposes of educational management and measurement but creates filter bubbles with all the conditions for memetic "in-breading" that reinforces the status quo.

The aim of Teach Meet Tech is to embrace and pioneer a more contemporary complex, networked, interdependent and adaptive view of the world and of education.

Teach Meet Tech seeks to pop the standard filter bubbles of education by networking as many of the different parts of education as possible - bringing together people from schools, community education, adult education, sixth form colleges, further education, higher education, non profits, enterprise - mixing students, teachers, IT people, education managers, the public and business people together.

Teach Meet Tech 2 gave us robots, rockstars, AI, apps, video apps, Google apps, CPD, future tech city, visual thinkery and education. It gave us technology tools, community connections, art and philosophy across all sectors of the education landscape.

Teach Meet Tech 2 was an inspireNshare education fusion event in association with Croydon CouncilCCS LibrariesToshiba and the LMN -  all of whome are involved in various ways with connecting people and connecting people with technology. Croydon Council and CCS Libraries are seeking to re-think and re-invent local public libraries for the future - exploring their role within society, the content and technologies they provide access to and the activities that take place within them. Toshiba have been supporting innovative education meetups for over a decade - including their education ambassadors and support for student eAmbassadors and over 120 teacher led TeachMeets with 10,000 teachers. The LMN will be familiar to most network managers in the education sector - they ran the London wide high-speed data backbone and connections which connected us to the Internet between 1997 and 2011. Today the LMN are networking people - providing training, professional development peer exchange programmes and promoting excellence in IT services for students and staff.

Teach Meet Tech 2 was held in Thornton Heath children's library - which is highly significant, symbolic and deliberate as public libraries are true life-long and community education spaces for everyone. A children's library is a space of learning enjoyment outside of school and the Thornton Heath children's library is stimulating, colourful, playful and flexible - a perfect venue for Teach Meet Tech.

Teach Meet Tech began with a welcome from Martin King who described education fission, the filter bubble problem and the importance of diversity for survival and evolution. He went on to explain "fusion" concept of the event and talked about the need for education in the 21st century to move from fission to fusion.

Martin Compton presented "30 Apps in 30 minutes" - a live Internet hands on whistle stop cornucopia of useful and easy to use tools for educators. There are so many free and ad supported tools available that match and outdo paid for tools - the key thing for Martin is that tools be capable of DIY and be very simple to use. Martin showed us tools for Presentation (eMaze, Google Slides, Blendspace), Instant Collaboration (Padlet, Piratepad, Pinterest), the huge collection of tools on (such as Randomiser, Timer and Fishbone), Mindmapping tools (Popplet, GoCongr, Instagrok), Quiz Tools (ZaptionQuizlet), Sli.doLyrics training, English Central, ESL Video), Digital storytelling tools (Youtube slideshow, Storybird, Makebeliefs, dFilm), Planning tools (Linoit,, Storyfy, Google Docs) and Audio tools (Vocaroo, Audioboom, Spreaker).

Nigel Dias talked about Croydon Tech City, Future Tech City and the need to connect young people with technology opportunities and technology startups. He spoke about future tech city education community projects that support adults and children with STEM skills, schools deliver tech curriculum, young adults explore tech careers, start-ups and scale-ups and to connect the technology business world with local students.

Bryan Mathers gave us “The bluffer’s guide to Visual Thinkery” where he talked about his businesses over the years and how in 2013 he started drawing and discovered "his element". Bryan presented a wonderfully refreshing collection of creative and artistic thoughts about education such as "why creativity is so important","teaching is not a delivery system it's an art form", "education is changing from centralised instruction to a broad network of creativity". Bryan spoke about "how dialogue liberates" in Paulo Freire's radical pedagogy. Bryan spoke about "capturing a visual thought" - starting with listening and asking questions, using visual metaphors, humour, contrast and just doing it.

Wendy Peskett presented "Innovating with Google apps" and spoke about migrating a large London College to Google. Ealing, Hammersmith & West London College started using Google Apps in 2007 and has pioneered many leading edge uses of the technology - using  Gdrive, Hangouts and Google plus extensively and officially switching all staff and students to Gmail in 2013. She described the college's continuing development of Google apps with curriculum areas, departments and projects. EHWLC has a group of six Google innovators to help develop and support collaboration, communities and innovation with Google apps. Wendy spoke about how useful Google features like G+ Communities and public calendars are in developing engagement, collaboration and sharing. 
Wendy spoke about the college's work with and the potential of Google Classroom. She described the use of Google Forms in flip teaching and tacking learning - especially now that forms can include videos. Wendy spoke about new projects such as Google Expeditions (Virtual field trips with Google cardboard VR) and increasing use of Google Chromebooks - with a planned very large scale (2,000 chromebook) implementation for the 2016 - 2017 academic year. Wendy finished with a selection of useful Google apps and Chrome extensions such as, read&write, Google Translate, Input Tools, Mightytext, and TubeBuddy.

James Kieft talked about "Assessment Through Use Of Video". James contrasted how  difficult it once was to record and show video in teaching with how easy it is today - everyone is carrying around little video recorders with their smartphones. James gave us a 
run through of his favourite sites and apps for using video for assessment and checking of learning today. He talked about Movenote - a Google Drive add on that lets you present documents (e.g. slides, PDFs, images etc) with audio or video - you can record a video showing documents with a cutout window of you talking. This can by the teacher giving feedback to students on their work by video (where the document is the students assignment). It can be used by the teacher to create flip learning content and can be used by the students to present assignments and develop their communications skills. James talked about - a Google Drive add which lets you upload a Youtube video link and add comments on a timeline - this is one of his favorite tools at the moment. Its a good way for a teacher to provide feedback to students who submit work as videos or by a teacher setting an assignment for students to make notes about key points in a video. James showed us Kaizena - a way to record audio comments on text documents - like an audio highlighter. Its a good way to give audio feedback to students on their written documents. He showed us Clipchoose a simple way to create polls with video - for example for students to choose which video shows the correct technique in a practical skill. James talked about Vialogues - where you can upload a video and have a text based discussion with questions and answers on the side. James notes that we don't have the time to create all the content we need and that there is a wealth of content already "out there" which we can curate, mix and re-provision existing content in interesting ways - tools like ZaptionEdpuzzlePlayposit that allow you to add interactive content to existing on-line videos. James finished by showing us Telegami - an iPad app that allows you to create an animated character that can speak with your voice or from text you enter. James finds this useful with language students - if they don't punctuate the text properly then what the animated character says can be difficult to understand.

Hannah Tyreman was unable to present on the day but recorded on the Free Education Project with me about "CPD Design For Learning". Hannah talked about the need to shift from systems thinking to design thinking in education, about the importance of social factors in teaching and learning and about the role of networking, connection, collaboration, reflection and technology. She talks about applying the same principles we use with student teaching and learning to staff development - collaborative work and projects with time and opportunities for purposeful practice, reflective learning and generally being more experimental. Hannah talks about the value of teach meets in bringing educators together to share ideas in person so that rather than it just being ideas alone people can collaborate, talk, reflect, network and have those valuable conversations that turn learning into something.

Miles Metcalf presented "Robots, Rockstars and a future for education” a thought provoking talk about political and big business interests in the education system. Miles talked the rise Massive On-line Open Courses (MOOCs) and what could be described as the monetisation, commodification and consumerisation of education where hand crafted lessons of local teachers has to compete with global business mass produced content. Miles also talked about what could be described as the Uberfication of education - where large businesses
platforms host and monetise content that local teacher supplied free content.

Martin King had the last presentation "Artificial Intelligence: The Graveyard Shift" - a talk about "Artificial Intelligence" in all its connotations and implications for education -  "Graveyard Shift" being symbolic as AI might be our final invention! Martin took us through some of the recent developments and uses of AI - from Eugene Goostman, Amelia and AlphaGo, through Toshiba's humanoid robots, driverless cars and automated installations like the Henn-na Hotel. He described the rapid advance of AI capability in recent years - in 2013 an AI system was tested with a standard IQ test and measured about the same as a four year old .... in 2015 an AI system passed a university entrance exam. He talked about the how the capabilities of AI together with labour cost savings put at least 5 million jobs at risk in the decades ahead. He spoke about how the education system is seemingly hypnotised by the education technology sector and walking "eyes wide shut" into an increasingly automated future of robot teachers and AI systems to give, as ALEKS puts it, "the advantages of one-on-one instruction, 24/7, from virtually any Web-based computer for a fraction of the cost of a human tutor."  He spoke about how the obsession with testing and measurement had caused the education system to focus on developing in our young people the very skills that are under threat from AI - "teaching future generations to be drivers in a driverless future." He finished "5 ways of understanding the Fourth Industrial Revolution" -  the warning and advice from the World Economic Forum to our education systems to "focus more on those qualities that make us uniquely human rather than machines - in particular traits such as empathy, inspiration, belonging, creativity and sensitivity. In this way we can reinforce and highlight essential sources of the value created by and within communities that is often completely overlooked in economic measurement – the act of caring for one another.” 

For more information about Teach Meet Tech London visit the event website at http:\\

For more information about inspireNshare visit

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Top social media ranking for inspireNshare co-founder Martin King

FE's top 50 social media users

inspireNshare  co-founder  Martin King has been named a top social media user in a national competition by Jisc, the not-for-profit digital solutions organisation for further, higher education and skills.

Martin was announced as one of the most influential professionals in further education (FE) and skills for using social media to enhance learning and teaching in their organisation.

Martin's Free Education and inspireNshare projects have been instrumental in promoting technology-enhanced learning on Twitter, YouTube and Google Plus. Martin is generous with his time and knowledge, promoting colleagues' experiences of using free technology on his YouTube channel to encourage others to take up on the best ideas in digital education."

Tom Mitchell, Jisc group social media manager, said: “We launched this initiative to capture and celebrate the countless examples of FE and skills professionals using social media to excellent effect, and to highlight their practice to inspire others.

“The wealth and quality of entries we received are evident of the myriad of ways that people in the sector are harnessing social media to deliver innovative learning experiences. Everyone in the top 50 should be commended for their work and I’d like to congratulation them all.”

To qualify for the list, entrants needed to show how they had used social media to:

  • Address a specific need or challenge
  • Have a positive impact at your institution or on the wider community
  • Overcome any barriers in learning, teaching or research
  • Create efficiencies such as costs, time savings or improved outputs
  • Implement best practice

The final line-up was then chosen by a panel of social media experts, including former principal education adviser and chair of the Government’s computing expert group, Bob Harrison, Times Educational Supplement’s award-winning FE editor, Stephen Exley, and James Clay and Sarah Knight from Jisc.

Martin King said “I’ve been involved with education all my life and have worked on both the academic side as a teacher and on the technical side as a network manager, systems manager and head of IT services.  My passion is working with innovation and developing the value of people.  My interest now is with inspiring and networking people - being recognised by JISC  as one of the most influential professionals in further education (FE) will I hope inspire others."


About Jisc

Jisc is the UK higher, further education and skills sectors’ not-for-profit organisation for digital services and solutions.

We operate:

  • shared digital infrastructure and services
  • negotiate sector-wide deals with IT vendors and commercial publishers and