Taking Control of Your Professional Development

Taking Control Of Your Professional Development

I love professional development. But I don’t like professional development that is imposed on me that really has no relevance to what I’m doing or it’s something that I already know. When I first started teaching, professional development was face to face, and usually not something I chose to do. Fortunately, I worked at a pretty progressive school and much of the professional development was helping us raise the bar and narrow the gap.Read More

Does Animation Enhance Learning

Does Animation Enhance Learning?

Is animation more than just an engagement tool, and can it enhance learning? In my first podcast, Can Instructional Videos Make Your Smarter? I looked at whether we can design videos to be more cognitively efficient. In this episode I look at some of the research around animation, and whether it can be used to enhance learning.Read More

Free CPD Courses Available Now

Free Bite-Sized CPD Courses Available Now

That’s right. We offer FREE Continuous Professional Development (CPD) Courses! Where are they, you may ask? They are all living in the new Community that we created in October – Video Supercharged Learning!Read More

Online Makematic Community

We’re Building An Online Makematic Community

So we’ve decided to build a Community! A community of educators and education professionals who are interested in improving their use of multimedia in the classroom. We have a lot of expertise in this area and we want to share that expertise with you!Read More

5 Online Teaching Tips to Kickstart Your New School Year

5 Online Teaching Tips to Kickstart Your New School Year

Teaching and learning online doesn’t have to look like this

Another year of teaching online? It’s ok, we’ve got you covered!

2020-21 was perhaps the most challenging school year for many teachers around the world, with intermittent switching between lessons online and offline lessons. As the new school year embarks on us and the new variants causing further complications, teaching online will yet again feature heavily in 2021-22. If you are feeling anxious about the uncertainty already, check out this Q&A page from the WHO to get some clarity. Since there are just a few days (if you are lucky) left before the new school year starts, why not upskill yourself with a few tips and tricks that will make the transition to online teaching a little smoother?Read More

reflective practice illustration of desktop computer

Reflective Practice in Online Learning

Did you know that reflective practice or metacognition has shown promise for improving learning in online learning outcomes? The good news is, however, is that it’s a teachable skill (e.g., Moely et al., 1995; Schraw, 1998).Read More

How To Communicate Effectively Online

4 Tips on How to Communicate Effectively Online

If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s our innate ability to adapt during trying circumstances. The transition from an established, work setting such as school to your own home, does however impact numerous qualities that we have grown accustomed to; such as Communication.Read More

Image showing a young student learning and engaging in online classes

How To Increase Student Learning & Engagement When Learning Goes Online

Motivating and engaging learners can be challenging in any learning environment. But understanding self-determination theory will give you a structure for helping you do this. Self Determination Theory represents a broad framework for the study of human motivation. It suggests that when people are motivated to grow and change, they become self-determined.Read More

Illustration of online learning in 2021

EdTech News – January 2021

2021 has started off with homeschooling in the UK. A webinar I attended earlier this week on Lessons Learned from Covid-19, made it clear the correct term is online learning and not remote learning as there is nothing remote about it. It certainly brings us closer together in that virtual way, but it also opens up new opportunities, such as amazing guest lectures from people who would have otherwise never traveled to give a lecture. You can watch Educate’s webinar here.Read More

Animated drawing of wifi symbol, books and laptop to show different methods of teaching

The Acceleration Of Online Teaching And Learning

The whole notion of online teaching and professional development is not an old one. In fact, I was surprised to learn that its history begins way back in 1981 when the Western Behavioural Sciences Inst in La Jolla, CA, started running distance education for business executives via computer conferencing. Since then, many multinational businesses have grown within the space and traditional businesses have metamorphosised through a move to online learning. 

Kids are turning up aged 5 at school now with a digital-savvy to rival the best. Teachers have access to whiteboards, laptops, internet connections, online resources from publishers, brands, non-profits, digital content, VLEs and it all works swimmingly. Right? Well judging by what I have seen of my son’s first one year and one month of primary school, there’s still room for improvement.  

When faced with a complete lockdown and need to provide proper online teaching, the local education system, appeared to creak at the seams. Maybe it is because it doesn’t seem as though there has been a concerted effort to couple the introduction of new technology in schools, with the introduction of blended learning methodology in teacher training. This would overall raise the bar in state education and without this approach, digital learning and digital content become ancillary to the ‘analogue’ classroom experience.

My first interaction with online digital learning was around 15 years ago in the professional space when a member of my team excitedly showed me Lynda.com, now of course Linked In Learning. Lynda was the gateway to the world of online learning for me – many of the experiments and projects we were attempting to do at that time as an early digital publishing team, were beyond our combined knowledge and capability, and being on tight budgets invariably we would learn software packages or web design techniques via the easy-to-use searchable interface that Lynda provided. I didn’t look back.

Since then, there has been a massive increase in the amount of both office and classroom hardware and software being produced and sold all around the world along with all manner of different attendant courses on how to make everything work.  

In the classroom, the ubiquitous classroom whiteboard is supplemented with voting pads, laptops, iPads, and a whole host of other technology hardware and software products and services. As this has grown, the amount of video content has grown targeting teachers and giving them tips on how to use it.

This year the COVID crisis has highlighted both the need for increased interaction with online resources in any form of education for both teachers and learners.  Our own recently launched TOM – Teaching Online Masterclass is a free online professional development resource for teachers making the leap into remote teaching and learning. Teachers, who hold a crucial role within the education eco-system, are being rapidly upskilled in the methodology of teaching both in the classroom and online using a blend of different learning experiences. This is key to creating the community they create in the classroom, in the online space – a definite challenge. If they don’t, they risk being left out in the rain. Their pupils will become alienated and the process will become soggy and tired.

We have learned from my son’s school that at the flick of a switch, his year one teacher can take the classroom experience and re-create it online with individual 1:1 teacher Zoom time factored in for each and every child online too.  We now have a timetable for home-learning should the school be closed, and if it’s needed will give him 1:1 teacher Zoom time every two days – something which in its own right is no mean feat. 

Teaching and learning are going through an enforced change right now.  With little or no notice, thousands of schools up and down the country are having to adapt and change to home-schooling supported by the teacher online.  Whilst the last lockdown was pretty much a write-off educationally from the perspective of every fellow parent that I’ve spoken to, there seems to have been a huge technology uptick in our local school since. Systems have been geared up to make sure that everything can be run as if it were in the school, and a questionnaire sent before the term even started has made sure that every child has access to the technology needed in a home-schooling environment, if just via a smartphone.  

We are hoping that school stays open, but if not, then this time round, teachers and their pupils have better support.  Let us hope it will be a more fun and educational time.

Teaching Online Masterclass logo with logos from Adobe, ClickView, iCivics, Makematic and Participate

Launch Of Professional Development Videos To Help Educators Adapt To Online Teaching

We’re pleased to announce that Teaching Online Masterclass (TOM) a free course for educators to help adapt to online teaching is now available to view at tom.makematic.com

TOM is a free online professional development resource for teachers making the leap into remote teaching and learning. With a focus on pedagogy over technology, it’s a catalogue of bite-sized videos produced in partnership with Adobe, ClickView, iCivics and Participate. TOM contains 50+ professional development videos from K-12 online teaching experts about online pedagogy, designing online classes and curriculum, building communities of practice and digital well-being.

“TOM is a series that has been created with K-12 educators in mind. It focuses on online pedagogy over technology and really takes into account what the research tells us works in this space. The contributors were carefully chosen because of their expertise in the K-12 education space, as practitioners or professionals who really know what it takes to be a super online educator. More than ever educators are crying out for resources such as this, and that’s why it’s such an exciting project to be involved in.” Tara Walsh, Makematic’s Director of Engagement and Innovation, said.

“We work with tens of thousands of incredible teachers who are facing so much uncertainty in their work. That makes it extra important for one thing to remain certain – that teachers are talented professionals who know what effective instruction looks like. With the right guidance, there’s no reason they can’t transfer that effective instruction to online spaces. TOM is that guidance. It meets teachers where they are and provides targeted and convenient coaching to elevate their online practice.” said iCivics’ Chief Education Officer, Emma Humphries.

TOM is now available to watch for free at tom.makematic.com.

TOM is also available at Adobe Education Exchange. Sign up to earn an Adobe digital badge and 4 hours of accredited professional learning.

Image of teachers and students in the classroom learning

What Does It Mean To Support Students With Learning Disabilities?

Lately, I’ve been doing a fair bit of work with my school leaders to help our staff be better positioned to teach and support our Students with Learning Needs (SWLN). It’s not to say that our staff are not doing anything – they are. It’s also not to say that they don’t know what they are doing – on the most part, they do. But I’ve come to the realization that there is, a lack of understanding in knowing the ‘why’ behind their supports, (aside from the obvious why that is).

Why do we modify, adjust or accommodate the learning needs of students?

The obvious answer lies in our legal obligations. The Australian Disability Discrimination Act (Government, 2020) and Disability Standards for Education (DEAT, 2018) relate to ensuring that

(1) a person is not treated unfairly because of their disability and

(2) that a student with a disability can learn and participate in education on the same basis as their peers.

Within our classroom and our teaching practice, it is up to us to ensure that a SWLN is able to learn and is not made to feel different because of their struggles. I mean you wouldn’t ask a student with a broken leg to run 100 metre race, would you?

And it’s the words – modify, adjust and accommodate – that I’ve come to realise that staff struggle to understand. By unpacking the differences between modification, adjustment and accommodation I’ve seen a real change in classroom practice.

Let’s unpack this further

Modification. In education terms, modification means that changes in academic expectations need to be made. That the student is working at a level below their peers, and as such, we need to modify the curriculum expectations to enable them to achieve and feel success. A student with an Intellectual Disability or a Developmental Language Delay requires modifications. They are cognitively behind their age appropriate peers so cannot be expected to complete the exact same output as their peers. Teachers need to modify their level of work so that it is more cognitively appropriate. Students who require modification may also benefit from accommodations and adjustments, depending on the subject and their challenges.

Accommodations and adjustments can be discussed in the same manner. This is where teachers need to make decisions that either accommodate the disability or the learning is adjusted because of the disability.

  • When we accommodate, we use our knowledge of the learning challenges for the student and use this for their outcomes.
  •  Yet, when we make adjustments, we are changing the way we expect an output from a student because of their challenge.

Take Dyslexia for example – it is a Specific Learning Disorder generally related to reading and writing. We can’t ask a student with a reading disability to sit and read a passage of text aloud to the class, or even to themselves, without some sort of accommodation or adjustment. To accommodate the dyslexia, a teacher would avoid asking this student to read aloud. To make an adjustment for dyslexia would be to allow the student to use assistive technology that reads aloud to them as they follow along.

How to know which is appropriate?

This is where your knowledge of your student in your class is paramount. When planning your lesson or assessment task, teachers need to take the time to consider the following question for each SWLN.

  • Is the student capable with a couple of tweaks or will it not be enough to just tweak?

If the student is still not going to be able to achieve with adjustments, then modifications might also need to be made.

Always ensure you have consulted with both the student and their family to ensure they are

(1) aware that changes to their curriculum need to be made and

(2) to give the student a voice in their learning – that they have been consulted and agree to what you’re planning for them.

I always tell my parents that they have a PhD in their child, and this goes a long way to helping us at school to know how best to support their learning journey.

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