Is Your Child at the Centre of Their Education? – Part Three

In previous blogs, I’ve examined the birth of student-centred education.  John Dewey the father of all freethinkers in education influenced several generations of other similarly minded educationalists such as Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, and Maria Montessori. Check out the previous blogs: part 1 & part 2.Read More

Illustration of young girl sitting at her desk in front of a laptop with books and school supplies

10 Reasons Why Educational Videos Are Super Effective

Throughout history, educators have learned through no small feat that in order to connect learning with students, they must adapt their learning resources into what works with each new generation. For Gen Z and Alpha, online videos is the way to go. You probably already know that however, so let’s explain ten reasons why educational videos are super effective for students.

#1 – Engagement

Numerous academic studies have been released on how video increases motivation and deeper learning, while also being able to specifically impact students’ ability to facilitate discussions and identify problems.

Want to learn more about the science behind it? We deeply recommend reading Cynthia J. Blame’s ‘Effective educational videos’ from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

#2 – Accessibility

Let’s be honest, accessibility is still an over-looked subject even in 2020 but leaps and bounds are being made to make digital equipment & the virtual space it connects to far more accessibility to a wider range of people, particularly with disabilities.

From subtitling to audio description to transcripts, accessibility is finally becoming more mainstream and we at Makematic continue to discuss what steps we can make to do our part with our own content.

#3 – Portability

Print media is, unfortunately, becoming a thing of the past, especially for the new generations. If COVID-19 has taught us anything, is the need for trustworthy digital, learning resources that can be shared and used immediately around the newly-formed online classroom.

Unsure where to find video content for your students that will work on a wide range of devices? Why not check out our ever-increasing, educational video series on the Makematic VOD available on:

#4 – Ease of Production

You don’t need a PhD to make an effective, learning video, although it may certainly help! As long as you have access to a decent smartphone, you have all the tools at your fingertips to plan, produce and edit an educational video on a subject you love.

For kinesthetic learners, and students with learning disabilities e.g. Dyslexia. Video is a great tool alongside other resource mediums to help overcome barriers when trying to increase your student absorption of cognition & knowledge.

#5 – Replayability

Have you ever re-watched a film or television series and suddenly noticed new things that you didn’t pick up the first time you watched it?

A great benefit for video-based learning is how it allows anyone to pause, stop, rewind, and other timeline manipulation factors that can impact an individual’s learning experience. Unlike the traditional classroom or a group lecture, learning via video – you’d never have to miss something again, just as long as you can re-watch, you can always go back and re-absorb any missing info.

#6 – Visual Factor

Now, I love a good book from time to time, but even have to admit that video is only as good as the source material that inspires it. But that’s not to say the visual element of video is powerful and more appealing to learn from, particularly for my attention span.

Articles, journals, essays and more may feel more offputting to generations raised on television & online video. However, when you combine multiple sources of educational resources together with students, I truly believe you can get the best out of them.

#7 – Authenticity

Humans love to connect with fellow humans and if online video platforms such as YouTube & Twitch have taught us anything, it’s that having a human narration or even industry experts within your video adds a level of user connection that can be lost in translation through other forms of learning resources.

When we released our Teaching Online Masterclass (TOM) series, we had this in mind. The free-to-watch series contains numerous industry experts in the education industry. Why not check it out: https://tom.makematic.com/.

#8 – Collaboration

Successful learning is not just an individualistic experience. Having the ability to work with other people opens the conversation for feedback, ultimately providing students with inter-personal, social skills and the ability to take constructive criticism.

Video is a fun way for your students to create brainstorms and group learning experiences that can allow them to see easily their input to an educational topic while giving them that level of passion needed to connect to the subject matter in ways other mediums may struggle.

#9 – Contextual

Unlike relying on just reading literary materials, video provides strong visual cues. These help learners understand what’s happening, even when the language and prose is hard to follow.

Utilising infographics, source material and first-person accounts within your video help provide that much-needed cognitive downtime when learning and help keep the overall topic visually-stimulating.

#10 – Creativity

Video-based learning is a creative process, even when covering a specialist, STEM topic. It opens cognition to not just utilise the logistic side of your brain, but also your creative side too.

Creative thinking is fast-becoming one of the top employability skills for the future generation and by striving to incorporate video into your classroom, you allow the possibility for your students to begin to train themselves in these fundamental skills going forward.

We strive to inspire creativity through our videos, particularly for subjects that don’t get the reach they should. Just like our Untold Series where we delve into the fascinating history topics throughout the History of America.

Illustration of two people looking down on their smartphone device

Coming To A Device Near You Soon

This year we’ve all had to learn to do lots of things in different ways.  Central to my business life are conferences and exhibitions, an opportunity to get together with those who are like-minded, share our knowledge, learn from each other, show our best and get to know one and other better face-to-face.

This month I’ve attended two – Edutech Middle East and Frankfurt Book Fair.  Although covering different subject areas, the themes were similar.  In the case of Edutech, how are schools and learning systems changing because of the global pandemic and in the case of the Frankfurt Book Fair, how is the publishing industry changing in a brand new online world?  

In both instances, the switch in demand to digital services for education and content has been sudden and considerable.  This was backed up by major education publishers – on 5th October The Bookseller published an article where Pearson, Scholastic and Hodder all reported that digital sales were sky-rocketing as a result of the global pandemic.  In the Middle East, where oil-rich states spend lavish amounts on technology, content and infrastructure, AI has been the saviour helping to manage the massive amounts of data which are being generated by a full switch to a digital learning world.

It hasn’t been a case of having to start from scratch either.  There has been massive investment in the education sector in the creation of digital learning resources, the technology to deliver these and the infrastructure needed for learners to effectively learn in a purely digital world for around 20 years.  It wasn’t though until these had to be relied on 100%, that they were relied on 100%.  The pandemic has accelerated everything.  Those publishers whose digital infrastructure and content were strong, structured and ready to deliver has benefitted tremendously whereas those whose wasn’t have had a tough time.  

In the world of education in the Middle East, a parallel and similar story has played out to the same conclusion.  The technology has been in place for some time, but it was the pandemic which was the catalyst to make a full transition to the widespread use of that technology by teachers and students in their day-to-day lives.

The biggest changes I’ve had to face in my daily life this year is the huge increase in screen time and the complete lack of human interaction other than by a screen that I’m having right now.  I’m pretty larger than life and over the years have enjoyed participating in hundreds of physical conferences and exhibitions.  I enjoy getting together en masse with like-minded people from my industry or area of specific interest and discussing all the ins and outs of these, meeting new people and learning new facts and points of view.  Since March I’ve been out of my house for business on two occasions and now with everyone glued to their screens because conferences are back in full swing, I’ve learned that watching short video precis of conference presentations which some are producing, or having the video and sound on whilst sitting in the digital networking area, or whilst making comments/asking questions in the chat field to the panel, is allowing a different and unique sort of involvement.  

At both online conferences, I’ve been able to make new contacts and ask questions which were answered.  Whilst I’ve missed seeing people that I’ve known for many years, and I’ve missed the physical interaction which is lost in the 2D world of a presentational live stream or video, I’m finding different and interesting ways to manoeuvre my way through the proceedings of an online conference.  

All around us things have changed this year.  The feedback from learners I hear both from my own children and those presenting as case studies at conferences is that the educational world they’re in now is one that they recognize more than before.  I have noticed the considerable uptick in digital learning that my son’s school have offered this year – a full online learning platform with interactive video, games and puzzles helping him through the maze of really getting to grips with reading, writing arithmetic in year one at school.  We had our first year one parent/teacher meeting on Zoom!

My hope is that we will return soon a more normal way of living.  I hope to be able to visit in person conferences and exhibitions again that are relevant to my work and business sector.  

But for the time being, my trusty laptop and smartphone are doing the hard yards and bringing the world to me.

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.

Adults and students meeting online

The Good News Broadcast Winners

Over the last couple of months, we’ve been running a competition with SchoolRubric and Clickview called The Good News Competition.

We challenged 11 – 14 years around the world to create a video that reported on good news or inspirational stories.

We had entries from the United States, United Kingdom, Ireland, India and Australia.

The truth is, it was very hard to choose a winner. But we managed to nail it down to the following videos.

We recommend you have the volume up so you hear all of the great things they have to say!

First Prize – Beau Starkey

Beau from will be donating his $250 cash prize to Greenpeace, and receive a Clickview licence for his entire school, as well as a number of additional prizes from SchoolRubric and Makematic.

Second Prize – Andrejs Monako

Andrejs will be donating his $150 prize to Little Heartbeats.

Third Prize – Ruby Vennemeyer

Ruby will be donating her $50 prize to the Dyslexia Association .

We will definitely be organising competitions like these again in future, so watch this space!

Why Aren’t We Teaching Entrepreneurial Skills At School?

I could never have become an entrepreneur. I’ve never had the interest nor motivation. That said, I wonder if I’d been introduced to entrepreneurship in my youth would things have been different? More than ever though, young people of today need to have not just an entrepreneurial mindset but critically the confidence, to create their own paths.

The world they’re growing up in is vastly different from the one I grew up in. There aren’t jobs for life. According to one popular estimate, 65% of children entering primary school today will end up working in a job that doesn’t even exist. If young people are to succeed, they’ll need to have an entrepreneurial spirit as well as the ability to deliver on it.

The Entrepreneurial Generation

Post-millennials, young people born after 1995, are set to be an entrepreneurial generation. According to a recent Nielsen study, about 54% of post-millennials indicated they wanted to start their own company. What is driving this? For a generation who has grown up in uncertain times and a financial crisis, it’s unsurprising. It’s a pragmatic approach to security and a way of recession proofing their jobs.

Orientated towards salary and security, post-millennials seem hungry for money. They have high regard for money earners and are drawn to YouTubers and Instagram creators who are paid and sponsored. Many even have a business centred Instagram accounts. Pretty cool huh?

It’s Time For A Mindset Shift

So why aren’t we teaching entrepreneurial skills at school? For me, it comes back to how we view education, and how we measure success. Much of the focus in schools is now on league tables, which are made up of exam results to the detriment of broader skill sets. Inquiry-based approaches, developing resilience and key entrepreneurial or employability skills are deemed important, but not essential. This is despite the fact that employers are seeing these skills as increasingly more desirable than technical skills, and more people are choosing to be entrepreneurs.

Teachers understand that students need to be innovative and enterprising, but often feel that they are constrained by the demands of their already overflowing curriculum. That’s where working with industry and local entrepreneurs, and the explicit teaching of entrepreneurial or employability skills comes in.

Industry Engagement And Explicit Teaching

Industry and local entrepreneurs provide the context and experience, and the explicit teaching of skills lay the foundation. The explicit teaching of skills need not be an onerous task and has cross-curricular applications. Resources like our series the 4Cs can help educators teach key entrepreneurial or employability skills to their students. Providing young people active learning opportunities at school and in their local communities will further help them develop these skills. This is a generation of social entrepreneurs, after all, so let’s use what we know about them, and the things they care about to make their learning experiences meaningful.

Right across the world more and more young people are standing up and challenging the status quo. Handfuls of teenagers are coming together and starting a movement to tackle things like political uncertainty, climate change, gun laws and equality. We need to foster this spirit in all our young people and encourage them to get involved and take the opportunities available to them. Getting students to engage and act should be our war cry. It all starts with knowing they have the ability to make a change, encouraging their entrepreneurial spirit and giving them the confidence to take action.

Teaching Key 21st Century Skills In Every Classroom

Research by The Sutton Trust found that 94% of employers, 97% of teachers and 88% of young people regarded ‘life skills’ as being at least as important as academic grades to future success.  These life skills include what we commonly refer to as the 4Cs – communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.

Developing these key 21st-century skills is an ongoing process and mastery takes many years to achieve. Research has shown that two things can really help these skills – explicit teaching of these skills and extra-curricular activities. Whilst we can’t help with extra-curricular, we can help educators develop these skills to be explicitly teaching them in the classes.

That is why we worked with Participate to develop the series – The 4Cs. Part professional development part classroom resource, the series will help educators:

  1. Understand how to teach these skills in their classes on a daily basis, 
  2. Understand how these skills are used in the workplace
  3. Better prepare lessons to develop these skills with those they teach.

What’s Included?

Educator Professional Development

Series 1 – What are the 4Cs?

8 live-action videos with educators explaining what the 4Cs are and how to teach them in every classroom.

4 educator podcasts case studies where educators talk about how they have implemented the 4Cs into their everyday teaching practice.

Series 2 – In the workplace

4 live-action videos with people talking about what the 4Cs look like in the workplace.

Student Facing Resources

Series 3 and 4 can be used in so many ways. They can be used as whole class activities or as part of a blended or flipped learning experience. Whilst series 3 and 4 have been created as standalone resources, they can be used as a sequence.

Here’s an example:

You’ve decided that you want to develop your student’s creative thinking skills by introducing them to lateral thinking

You can engage your students with the skill by watching How To Be More Creative With Lateral Thinking from series 3. Following watching and discussing the contents of the video, as a class or on their own, students could develop this skill by completing any of the following activities from series 4:

Series 3 – How can …?

12 animated explainer videos that give the audience an understanding of how and why each of the skills can be developed by focusing on different sub-skills of each of the Cs.

Communication and CollaborationCritical Thinking and Creativity
Giving and Receiving Feedback
Understanding Body Language
Social Skills
Listening Skills
Creating clear messages
Email etiquette
Multiple Perspectives
Being Opening minded
Analysing arguments
Ideation
Divergent Thinking
Lateral Thinking
Series 4 – Activities

12 animations designed for individuals to develop skills on their own. These can be used in a classroom as a whole class, as part of a blended or flipped classroom methodology.

Communication and CollaborationCritical Thinking and Creativity
Improving concentration
Mic expressions
Are you a good listener?
Funnelling questings technique
Relaxation for public speaking
The subject line pitch
Questioning basic assumptions
Rebus puzzles
Recognising patterns
Brainstorming on your own
The alternative uses test
The elevator problem

Access the entire series here.

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