Micro-Credentials – New Way to Passion Learn

Micro-Credentials – New Way to Passion Learn

It’s been heads down, tails up over at Eduro Learning as we put the finishing touches on our new Micro-Credential Pathways and launching it with some free PDF downloads for you!

So what are micro-credentials I hear you say? Our first PDF in the launch tells you all about them and why they are the future of Professional Development (you can still get the PDF free here too). But basically micro-credentials are a new professional development model where we take the best teaching practices we use with students and apply them to professional development opportunities for educators.

We have put together 3 Micro-credential Pathways so far (and we’re working on another 2!).  If you’re just starting out in a technology-rich classroom, or you’re going 1:1 or are close to a 1:1 environment then you may be interested in our The 1:1 Teacher micro-credential. If you’re like me and really passionate about connecting your classroom both locally (inside in the class) and globally, then take a closer look at The Connected Teacher micro-credential.  This micro-credential has all the things I wish I’d had at my fingertips when I was starting to create a window into our classroom and connecting my students with the outside world.  All of the courses in this micro-credential would have been so helpful! (ok, I may be a little biased about this particular micro-credential as I’m one of the mentors for the Premium Package and Lissa is the mentor for the Academy Package and she’s awesome sauce too!)   And if you’re a coach, or just starting out as a coach or even thinking seriously about taking on a coaching role then you absolutely must check out The Coach.  Available soon will be a Supporting Your Parents for Coaches/Admin/Teachers micro-credential – this will help anyone needing help and/or support to put together a programme in their school that helps support the parenting community in the technology-rich environment their children are living and learning in.

So there they are ….. a little introduction to the first of our Micro-credentials. We’re still launching and giving away freebies – so like our Facebook page so you can get a notification of when we go live (it’s usually around 9am Perth time on a Friday), or subscribe to our blog posts and get the freebie download links.  Be quick though – they aren’t going to be free for much longer! We do ask for your email each time, not to spam you but to see what people are interested in so that we keep making useful things for you!

 

Learning to LattéArt

Learning to LattéArt

I’ve been watching (studying) the amazing and generous barista Dritan Alsela and his equally helpful assistant Mariette (?) via their videos (originally FBLive Events) to learn how to latté art. It’s been fun (aka hilarious) posting my efforts on instagram to celebrate my failures but also track my learning progress over time. It’s turned into a bit of a game with my friends helping #guessmylattéart (that’s where the hilarious part comes in).

As I reflect on my learning so far, I wanted to share the advantages of learning in this way for me. Thanks to today’s technology access, this way of learning is becoming more and more popular and we’re finding that kids are spending a lot of their own time learning to do something they’re interested in and enjoying the sense of accomplishment when done.  As an educator, I love the idea of harnessing this in our classrooms through exploring Genius Hour, a take on Google’s 20% time or even just an afternoon (every 10 or so days) of elective learning! These are the advantages I’ve discovered for myself:

1. Just in time learning
Perfect to fit into my day when I can. Life gets incredibly busy but more and more I believe it’s important to dedicate time to one’s own learning whenever or however we can.

2. Interest and motivation
I chose to spend time learning lattéart because I wanted to learn it. I had an interest and thanks to YouTube, I was able to find some very good tutorials that helped keep me interested and motivated to learn more.

3. Customisable
Pause, play, repeat – the best features of video. I can do this as much as I need to. Learning needs to be customisable. What works for you might not work for me. What takes me a short amount of time, might take you longer. Video makes learning customisable in so many different ways – we need to harness this more in the classroom.

4. Visual and audial combination
I can see what to do. I can hear the instructions. Excellent combination plus I can also see, hear and DO at the same time.  I’m much more likely to enjoy success with all three.

5. Access to an expert
Rather than try to watch a barista at work down at my local coffee shop (and annoy them while they are busy) – I have access to a super-friendly and generous expert who is taking the time to share their skills with me.

6. Importance of sharing the learning
For accountability, motivation, and encouragement, I use my social media channels (instagram and facebook) to share my progress with friends. This makes me smile and reminds me just how creative and imaginative my friends are! It also motivates me to try harder and reminds me it’s ok, and part of the learning process, to fail. By sharing I show that I’m still learning and that I’m not afraid to try something new.

So what are you learning to do?  I’d love to hear/see what it is – please leave me a comment below.

Who knows, I may encourage someone else to give it a go too! If you are keen to learn LattéArt – here’s my LattéArt YouTube Playlist:

Today’s Key Learning from the Barista Tutorial I watched today

  • Clean my portafilter with a brush
  • Tamp once and turn
  • Extract the coffee before doing the milk
  • Perfect temp: 60-65° for the milk (Don’t need to swirl the milk pitcher to warm it) The milk must be right otherwise you can’t lattéart.
  • Use two jugs – tip off half the milk into another jug
  • Bang the jug to get out the bubbles
  • Hold cup on an angle
  • The angle of the pitcher is parallel to the angle of the cup
  • Pour high first in small tight circles – prepare the surface – never touch the sides of the cup, swirl in the centre – don’t break the surface
  • Then go down closer with the spout and draw on the surface

Last but not least, I have to share Dritan’s valuable advice (and take note for myself)

Don’t want too much too fast – start with and master the heart! Then progress to the rosetta, then try the tulip.

So it’s back to the heart I go …… but I’m feeling confident, armed with more knowledge and excited to try again! (Stay tuned to #guessmylattéart on instagram!)

Understanding the Connected Classroom

Understanding the Connected Classroom

What is a Connected Classroom?

A connected classroom is a learning environment that is open to the outside world. It’s where students are engaged in real-life authentic learning starting in their own classroom and extends to reach other global learners.

Why should our classrooms be connected?

When we think about redefining learning (especially if we’re using SAMR as a lens to ensure that the use of technology is not just for technology’s sake) then we must think about what can our students do that wasn’t possible before without the technology.  Connecting with others outside the wall of the classroom or providing a window into the classroom is something that’s not possible without technology.  The increased scope of learning, the harnessing of an authentic audience and the ability to share and get feedback on student work were the driving reasons behind my reasons for having a connected classroom.

In Grade 3, my students were studying Rocks & Minerals for Science. We were able to skype an expert (a student’s grandfather who just happened to be a Geologist).  I cannot describe the fascination, the attention and the learning that was facilitated by having a conversation with an actual geologist who showed us his tools, shared what it was like to be a geologist and also showed us some of his most memorable finds!

How can we connect our classrooms?

There are many ways we can connect our classrooms. Here’s three easy ways to create an environment that is open to the outside world and engages students in real-life authentic learning that can extend to reach other global learners.

Video Conferencing

Use skype, google hangouts or facetime to connect, share and learn from others outside the walls of the classroom. There’s a variety of different reasons or times of the year to connect with others globally.

Ideas to try

Sam the Kiwi (Class Mascot) Adventurer Extraordinaire!

  • Celebrations
    • Science Week
    • Coding Challenge
    • Christmas Tradition comparisons
  • Expert Encounters
    • Guest expert
    • Author Study
    • Mystery Skype for geography/cultural purposes
  • Shared Units of Study
    • Weather study/comparison
    • Seasons
    • Environmental studies
  • Authentic Collaboration Projects

Sometimes timezones can hamper global connections. Tools like VoiceThread can help. We were able to connect and share some Christmas Traditions with a class in Tasmania this way.

Blogging

Blogs can be a “window into your class” – an authentic, relevant way to connect to others beyond the four walls of the classroom. To help get started, check out 10 tips for Connecting Students Through Blogging.
Blogs can be used to

  • Share learning
  • Have an Authentic Audience
  • Get Peer Feedback
  • build ePortfolios
  • Communicate with Parents
Ideas to try
  • Start with a class blog and build content together
  • Use blogs as ePortfolios to show learning over time
  • Connect between school and home

Use Social Media

Social media tools can be used to

  • share learning
  • participate in global conversations
  • ask questions / get answers
  • connect with experts, authors, other cultures
  • back channel
  • expose students to different perspectives
Ideas to try
  • share learning visually with a class instagram account
  • create a class twitter account to globally connect with others
  • start a class facebook page to connect/share with parents

Tips for Success

  • It takes time to grow connections but it really is worth the effort
  • Be willing to take risks (be prepared to fail)
  • Be adaptable & flexible and have a sense of humour!
  • If you’re just starting out, start small – skype in an expert/guest speaker or your friend’s class from another school in your area, district or perhaps another country
  • Check out Getting Started with Mystery Skype or Authors who Skype with Classes for Free

Ways to Involve Students More

Use roles during video conferencing

  • photographer (responsible for taking photographs during the call)
  • documentor (responsible for writing down the memorable parts of the call)
  • videographer (responsible for video recording the event)
  • Skype Tips (including a list of potential roles for students)

Have a Class Blog

  • Student Writer of the Week (responsible for writing a summary post or a daily post for the class)
  • Blog Photographer (responsible for documenting learning each day)
  • Commenting on a class blog post could be a writing homework option
  • Blogger of the Week – use when each student has their own blog

Use a Class Social Media Account

  • The whole class helps write a summary of the day’s learning in 140 characters for twitter OR
  • A small group of writers during writing time collaborate for 10-15m on a class daily tweet
  • Social Media update – to help provide a window into the classroom, a student writes a morning and an afternoon twitter, instagram, facebook update each day
  • Instagram Photographer of the day – has to post 4-5 images of learning to the class instagram account
  • Facebook Post writer – writes a learning post/summary of the day’s learning am/pm (also uses the class photographer’s images)

Depending on how old your students are, you may wish to have the posts/updates have teacher approval before they are published. With younger students, updates could be orally told to an adult or written out on paper and approved by the teacher first.

Questions? Comments? What are your thoughts? Have I missed anything?  Would you like to share your ideas?  I’d love to hear from you – please leave a comment!

Over at Eduro Learning we’re excited about launching our brand new Micro-credentials range. To celebrate we have  a PDF freebie to give away.  This week’s PDF is a visual poster 3 Simple Ways to Create a Connected Classroom.  You will need to give us your email (even if you’ve given it to us before). Don’t worry we promise  won’t spam you crazy – it’s just so we know what products our audience is enjoying/finding useful so we can tailor future ones!

 

All images my own or purchased via Adobe Stock unless otherwise stated
Are They Really Learning Playing Games Online?

Are They Really Learning Playing Games Online?

CC0 Public Domain

You may or may not have heard of some online games like Minecraft, Scratch, FIFA, GTA, Call of Duty, Battlefield, Pokemon Go and other popular online games. There’s two questions I get asked all the time.

  1. Is it bad for my child to game?
  2. What limits do you place on gaming?

First of all, let me just say not all games are equal. Some games are just fun and total time-wasters! And yes, some games are graphically violent and mean. But, some games can be meaningful and purposeful and especially valuable for our kids because they explain concepts and help kids learn, are powerful and pervasive, but most of all they are engaging!

I’m the parent of an avid gamer (aka my 15 year old son) so as you can imagine, there’s a lot of online gaming that happens in our house. Through open and honest conversations with my son and through my own research as an educator, there’s a few conclusions I’ve reached about gaming.

Is my child learning while playing games online?

The short answer is yes. The long answer needs to keep in mind what I said earlier, not all games are equal. Games that encourage problem-solving skills, communication and collaboration skills and reading/writing skills are ones that are meaningful and purposeful.  When we think about Reading and writing skills –  it’s no longer just the traditional skills of reading and writing.

Various research from Learning Designer Jason Engerman (Ph.D) to Tech Entrepreneur and Edtech Pioneer Idit Harel (Ph.D) shows that online games (or gaming) can

  • increase spatial knowledge
  • improve aptitude for math and science
  • improve physical dexterity with keyboards and touch-screens
  • provide opportunities to learn through failure
  • encourage risk-taking in a positive goal-oriented way
  • encourage grit and perseverance
  • value exploration & discovery
  • help develop critical thinking and computational fluency
  • provide opportunities to learn to collaborate & work together to accomplish a task

It’s also worth mentioning that Idit Harel believes playing and making games is fundamental to teaching and learning in a digital world – that through software engineering and coding we can help our kids become critical thinkers and computationally fluent. When thinking about these points, I was reminded of a time that I stopped outside my son’s bedroom door to listen to the conversation he was having with his friends online about their FIFA game and to watch what was happening on the screen. I was surprised by the level of collaboration and communication happening during the game (which is a huge favourite of theirs). This particular game did not result in a win but rather than give up, they deconstructed the game (not that they knew this was what they were essentially doing), strategized their strengths, assigned particular moves and worked together even harder to attain the goal of winning the match. (I really wish I had recorded the conversation!)

Jason Engerman’s dissertation research Call of Duty for Adolescent Boys revealed that learning outcomes may include communication skills, strategic thinking, identity formation and leadership development through teamwork. It’s a worthwhile read if you’re interested. Whilst my son does play Call of Duty every now and then, we have had many open and honest conversations about the graphic nature of this particular game. As a parent, I informed myself (through observation, google and questions) about the content and purpose of the game and decided that it was acceptable for my son. Call of Duty was definitely not appropriate for him at 10, but at 14, I felt that he was mature enough to understand the graphic nature and to recognise the difference between fantasy and reality.  You know your own kids, and you also have your own family values so ultimately you can decide what games are appropriate or not for your children.

Advice from a “Gamer” Parent (aka me)

From my own experiences as the parent of a teenage boy “gamer”, here’s my top tips

  • Strive for Balance.  We used to have a time-limit for Ben’s gaming but now that he’s older we know that he has an active life both online and offline. As parents, it’s also our job to guard against addictive behaviours in any of our life’s activities.
  • Value the gaming that our kids are involved in.  In this TEDTalk video, Ali Carr-Chellman highlights that valuing their gaming activities amounts to respecting them and their culture.  Jane McGonigal believes that gaming can make the world a better place and that competitive, violent fantasy games contribute to the development of strong future leaders and citizens.
  • Invest the time to sit down, watch AND play the game with your child(ren).  A bonus part of this week’s free PDF is a link to a 20 minute video conversation with my amazing friend Tara and her equally amazing daughter Sojo – an avid minecrafter!  This is a must-watch especially when Tara shares her thoughts and advice on being a parent of a “10 year-old gamer” and what she learned when she did this exact thing.
  • Have regular, open and honest conversations with your child(ren). We always say it, and we’re saying it again. This is our key piece of advice for all parents. These conversations will help you to understand what is so appealing about certain games, what your child is learning and how, and will also help you to decide if a game is appropriate or not for your child.

This week at Eduro Learning we’re wrapping up our Parenting in the Digital Age series launch with another freebie PDF – Parent’s Guide to Minecraft (get it here!). This PDF contains a handy quick start guide to Minecraft, some things to be aware of AND some tips, strategies and conversation starters you can have with your children.  You could easily substitute minecraft for any other online game, so the tips, strategies and conversation starters will be just as helpful, no matter what the game.

Staying Safe Online: Helping Your Child Build Good Digital Habits

Staying Safe Online: Helping Your Child Build Good Digital Habits

I know we say it all the time, but it is true.  Having open, honest (and regular) conversations with your kids is THE best way to help them build good digital habits when it comes to staying safe online.  Technology in today’s world allows for 24/7 access anytime, anywhere so we need to make sure our children have some good, but basic digital habits to not only keep themselves, but others, safe online.

Next week is  Wk 3 of Eduro Learning’s official Parenting in the Digital Age Series Launch and this week I’m sharing the good digital habits I think are really important for myself and my children to have in their life skills toolbox.

Always Be S.M.A.R.T

  • Safe – Giving out personal information like our address, phone number, date of birth or passwords without having parental/guardian permission first is not smart.
  • Meet – Meeting someone you only know from online is not smart, and you should never agree to do it without parent/guardian’s permission.
  • Accept – Clicking on messages, emails, texts, pictures etc from people we don’t know or trust is not smart. It can open us up to problems like viruses and unwanted/nasty messages.
  • Reliable – We need to understand that not everything out there is true, or reliable – checking information before you believe it is now a vital skill. It helps to talk about what we’re reading/finding online with an adult.
  • Tell – Our children need to know that they can tell us, or another trusted adult when something happens online that makes us feel uncomfortable or unsafe. 

Always THINK B4 U POST, CHAT or UPLOAD

  • T – is it True?
  • H – is it Helpful?
  • I – is it Inspiring?
  • N – is it Necessary?
  • K – is it Kind?

And if it’s not, then don’t post it, chat it or upload it!

Always Be A Good Digital Citizen

Not just sometimes, not just some days, not just online but offline too! This is the foundation of being safe, kind, and smart. How we behave online is no different to how we behave offline. How we treat others online is no different to the expectation of how to treat others face to face.  If you wouldn’t want your grandma to see it, then don’t share it with the rest of the world.  This is the best habit your child(ren) could ever have.  

 

Regular, honest and open conversations with our kids are so important. Habits aren’t made overnight and mistakes are going to happen. Having those difficult conversations that as parents we sometimes don’t like to do, must be had. Talking openly and honestly about our worries and our expectations really does help. Having something like a Family Media Agreement – which believe it or not starts with a conversation – can help too. And if you’re not sure how to start or what should be in a family media agreement, then this week’s PDF freebie: Conversation Starters + Family Media Agreements is the perfect resource for you! You’ll need to give us your email address, but I promise that we will NOT spam you or sell your email to anyone else and you can unsubscribe even after you download the freebie!  Be quick though – it won’t be free for long!

What do you think?  Are these digital habits good ones?  Are there some more that we can add to this list? I’d love to hear your thoughts and what habits you think we can help our children (or students) build to help them stay safe online. Teacher friends, if parents are asking for ways to help keep their children safe online please feel free to share and/or add your thoughts in the comments too.

Oh and one more thing ….. our last freebie PDF: Ten Top Tips for Managing Screen Time is still available too! (You’ll need to give us your email again – but it won’t mean you’ll get double the emails from us, promise!)

Images used are either purchased or own images unless otherwise stated.