134 posts categorized "Communication Tools"

May 31, 2013

Making music with one instrument: your mind

My Flemish pal Kris Hoet has been at it again with his collaborators at Duval Guillaume, producing this incredible clip about a team of music lovers, musicians and DJs who, despite having physical challenges, are able to create music manipulating a programme with only their brainwaves. The goal of Smirnoff, the advertiser? To show that there is the power to create in every one of us.

October 29, 2012

Rosendale Book: How we learn what we learn

RosendalePrimarySchool
One of the schools my firm NoTosh is lucky enough to work with every week is Rosendale Primary School, in south London, UK. Its teachers, its students and its leadership team are a treat for Tom, who spends every week with them, and for Peter and me when we're lucky enough to come in as reinforcements. For nearly two years, we've worked alongside teachers and leaders there to develop thinking and strategy, as well as some damned good practice, around formative assessment, 70% negotiated timetables and design thinking in the curriculum, which now permeates their work from Reception through to the final year of school. Neil Hopkin and Kate Atkins, the Executive Head and Depute Head respectively, with their staff have developed a truly Tots to Teens strategy for their students. And they talk about it all the time on their own learning log.

To share with parents and the wider world how they do what they do and why they do it, Neil and Kate have authored a great online and paper edition book, outling How We Learn What We Learn. It's a gem, and a year-by-year manual on how to inspire creativity and excellence in learning.

October 10, 2012

Raise Your Hand For Girls! The new brown eye, blue eye from Belgium

Just released on YouTube is a new campaign from Belgian agency Duval Guillaume, where they changed the operation of schools for a day. Boys went to school to learn. Girls went to school to clean out the toilets and undertake other menial tasks.

It feels to me like a modern-day, marketers version of the Brown Eyes, Blue Eyes experiment from Jane Elliot in the early 1970s. She undertook an experiment in arbitrary discrimination between "underclass" brown eyed people and the upper class blue eyed people. She did it against the fallout of Martin Luther King's assassination. We need something fresh like this today to make sure that we don't tolerate the tolerated, that all girls get to school, wherever they are in the world. Our fallout is last week's shooting of 14 year old Malala Yousafzai in Pakistan, shot because she believes girls should go to school.

Next week I'll be in Antwerp to hang out with Kris Hoet, the Director of Digital at the agency who came up with the idea. I wonder what questions educators might have about how we might harness the power of digital and the savvyness of great marketers to improve learning outcomes for more children?

June 25, 2012

Googleable or Not Googleable?

Googleable not Googleable
When we're working with schools on our Design Thinking School programme, one of the easiest ways to explain what we're looking for in the way a project is set, is whether the statement or questions being asked can be Googled easily: is this a Googleable or Not Googleable topic?

Every topic, every bit of learning has content that can be Googled, and we don't want teachers wasting precious enquiry time lecturing that content. We want students, instead, to be using class time to collaborate and debate around the questions that are Not Googleable, the rich higher order thinking to which neither the textbook nor the teacher know the answers.

One of our schools in Brisbane, Star of the Sea Cleveland, took my "Googleable" / "Not Googleable" to a very literal end, when they pinned up two headings and got students to post-it each and every question in the class, categorising those which could be searched quickly (the lower order questions) and those which they should dwell on in class time.

This is the kind of meaty discussion that we want in class, and making it explicit in this way means that we cut to the higher order thinking so much quicker.

Read more from our Brisbane school, and how the rest of this particular lesson worked out, on our shared blog.

June 19, 2012

#NeverSeconds: Students can change the world - when we get out of the way

When I was at school, I wrote an article in the student newspaper (the Pupils' View) about how fresh, healthy food was disproportionately overpriced compared to the "yellow food" on offer in the school canteen. The result was that the Catering Director for the Local Authority actually left her job. And I got into a fair bit of trouble.

This all happened in Dunoon Grammar School, part of the Local Authority Argyll and Bute who, with similar sense of grievance and bullying last week attempted to silence one nine-year-old Martha Payne with a brutal, long-winded press release and ban of Martha's online activities.

Martha First Meal
Since the end of the Easter holidays, Martha has been writing a daily food blog about her school lunches, with the support of her dad, as a self-initiated writing project. It also set out in the noble aim to fund the building of kitchens for less fortunate children in Malawi, through the Mary's Meals charity.

Her first posts revealed the tiny portions (hence the name of her blog: NeverSeconds) and, yes, the rather yellow fried nature of her food. But things improved within barely weeks, and most meals were absolutely fine (a summary average of the scores she gave to each meal results in something over 7.5 - not bad for mass-produced school meals, but with room for improvement, a point which was very much Martha's).

Where Martha forgot her camera, she took to drawing her meal. She scored not just out of ten, but also on a health rating, how many mouthfuls it took to get through and, disturbingly, how many pieces of hair were found in it (I've yet to spot the post where there is some hair; again, a good sign).

Within weeks, her notoriety was such that school kids from elsewhere around the world were sharing their meals for Martha to publish on her blog on their behalf. 

TV chefs Jamie Oliver and Nick Nairn championed her and invited Martha over to learn how to cook herself.

Nick Nairn

Vitally, her food portions became bigger, so that a "growing girl" like her had half a chance.

So far, so good, so much a passionate kid with a passion for food, and a good way with words. And a nine-year-old changing her school's approach to food. 

Until last week:

This morning in maths I got taken out of class by my head teacher and taken to her office. I was told that I could not take any more photos of my school dinners because of a headline in a newspaper today. 

I only write my blog not newspapers and I am sad I am no longer allowed to take photos. I will miss sharing and rating my school dinners and I’ll miss seeing the dinners you send me too. I don’t think I will be able to finish raising enough money for a kitchen for Mary’s Meals either. 

Argyll and Bute, the school district rather than the otherwise very supportive school itself, issued a damning edict, preventing Martha from taking any more photos, writing any more blog posts about her lunches. Dinner ladies were, said the illiterate press release (we serve "deserts" to our children, really?), "afraid for their jobs". It was, according to one legal journalist, "one of the most piss-poor justifications of a ban of anything from any public authority".

Martha Payne legal tweet

Celeb chef Jamie Oliver, known globally for his crusade against poor school food, waded in to get people to lend their support with a simple retweet of his "Stay strong, Martha".

Martha Payne Jamie Oliver Tweet

Mary's Meals, for whom Martha's blog had raised £2000 by Thursday night, the day of the ban, issued a statement outlining the consequences of the ban on her efforts to build kitchens in schools in Malawi, a country with whom Scotland has a long-standing official partnership.

Martha's "Goodbye" post earned over 2000 comments and Twitter's #neverseconds tag went into meltdown. #NeverSeconds, the girl Martha Payne and, excruciatingly, Argyll and Bute council all hit the top trending terms in the UK. Her blog, having reached 2m hits in just over a month already, now saw its blog counter unable to keep up as she broke through 3m in one day.

And I was livid for her. How dare councils, and this council in particular, once more attempt to bully those in its learning community. I sent a quick tweet to the Education Minister, who is also the member of the Scottish Parliament for the area, requesting he do something in what had already been established a ridiculous and illegal abuse of power. He tweet back that he agreed, having requested the Head of the Council to lift the ban immediately.

Martha Payne Mike Russell to EM

Within 20 minutes the Head of the Council was on the radio, announcing a change of tack.

Argyll and Bute finally managed a new statement, the politicians showing more sense than their feckless faceless bureaucrats and lifting the ban.

As a result of the debacle, Argyll and Bute has gained a global reputation for awful PR, a tortoise-like reaction time on Twitter and, potentially, an interesting place to go on holiday. Was it all a tourism ploy? Given the repeated mess they get themselves into, they're almost certainly not not that clever.

But, on a positive note, Martha's long-term goal of raising £7000 for a new kitchen in a Malawi school was rather superseded: she was at nearly £50,000 ($100,000) at the weekend just past, now at £100,000 ($200,000) with more rushing in every day

She has also created the beginnings of, hopefully, lasting change: she will head up a council summit on school meals and work with them longer term on improving the quality of food for every child in the district. Happily, she's back to blogging it all once more with the support of her school and, reluctantly or not, her Local Authority. She has now had her first kitchen in Malawi named in her honour.

_60982494_lirangwepupils

Martha shows every facet of great learning: real world change, making the environment around her better, sharing her thinking with the world, having a conscious for the world beyond her immediate horizons, and robustness in the face of incredible media and social media pressure. She is another 'Caine', with a supportive parent and facilitating adults around her. She'll go far.

Donate to Martha's campaign through her blog: http://neverseconds.blogspot.co.uk/

January 23, 2012

Why does innovation in education take so long? Field, Habitus, Identity - that's why

6749271149_68472a5766_b
I spend my life convincing educators to do things differently. Of late, we've taken the policy at NoTosh of not working with a district or school unless the Principal, the Head Honcho, the Boss is in the room participating. Why? Because the Field, Habitus and Identity developed by all the teachers in the room will provide the eventual block to any change happening.

Pierre Bourdieu's view of the world, set up nicely to help you see why you always need to have a whole-school approach to innovation, is nicely summed up in this research paper pdf, in a succinct three pages.

The Field is where what we're informed by research as being good learning and teaching is thrown out in the hubbub and busy-ness of the school day: "Forget what they tell you about teaching at Uni - this is where you'll find out how to really teach." To get over this, the whole field needs to experience the changes being proposed to remove the pressure of the field to descend to lowest common denominator.

The lowest common denominator in the field? Every time? Yes - because the Habitus of the people in the field is formed from the strong experiences of learning at school, the thirteen years compulsory schooling that shapes our inner understanding of what a successfully run classroom or school looks like. When we enter the classroom again, in our twenties, thirties or forties, it is this strong visual (and odoursome) memory that kicks back in, and we revert to the way we were taught. This is why it's important to always know what your happiest and least happy memories were at school, and work out ways to emulate the former and change the latter.

Finally, the Identity of a teacher is formed from this collective mix of historical habitus and current day field - individual responsibility for development within the collective responsibility for change as a whole school is the only way to adapt for the long-haul.

Thanks to Derek Robertson for the push over to Bourdieu this morning, while I toiled with change at the EU workshop on harnessing digital games for inclusion and empowerment of the disengaged, pictured above.

January 04, 2012

Collaboration 3: Overcollaboration

Too many cooks
One of seven posts about collaboration and why it nearly always fails to deliver results, inspired by Morten T Hansen's Collaboration.

The quality of the teacher is the number one factor in the improvement of an education system, collaboration is the key factor in improving the quality of that teacher.

Collaboration helps increase academic success, yet most collaboration doesn't work. Here is one of Morten T. Hansen's six key reasons for collaboration failures:
 

Overcollaboration

BP fell into the trap of having the emergence of far more networks and subgroups than were strictly necessary to get a result. There was a period where there was “always a good reason for meeting”.

Through social media, particularly in education, it can feel that there are just too many places to go, too many hashtags to follow, too many LinkedIn Groups and Nings to join in order to get some strong, actionable learning out of them.

The result of this over-collaboration can often be disastrous for the student publishing their work or seeking someone to collaborate with - "it's just another student blog", "it's just another wiki of debatable quality" might be the thoughts running through the minds of teachers and students elsewhere when the initial callout for peer support and comments goes out.

Even if comments are made, are they genuinely helpful in the way that structured, framed formative assessment can be within the walls of a classroom, or are they perfunctory "well dones", a digital kiss on the cheek before moving onto the next request?

Photo from B Prosser

October 30, 2011

Tweeting for Teachers: Improving CPD through social media [Pearson & NoTosh report]

Tweeting for Teachers

It's six months since Tom Barrett came on board with me on Ship NoTosh, and in that time we've done a hugely varied amount of work, much of it under wraps due to the nature of our clients, and some of it high profile.

In the latter camp, we were delighted last week to launch Tweeting for Teachers, a report (that covers a lot more than Twitter) showing policymakers and school leaders some simple recommendations that will help more teachers than ever uncover the potential for turbo-boosting their own professional development through the use of social media and offline unconference events, such as TeachMeet and its younger cousin EdCamp. From the NoTosh blog:

Tweeting for Teachers – key recommendations

School leaders should:

  1. learn about and engage with the social platforms that their teachers, parents and pupils are using every day;
  2. use a social media tool as part of their communications with the school community;
  3. validate and support their staff in using social media tools for ongoing professional development;
  4. turn online activity into offline actions, in order to harness the benefits of face to-face interaction alongside those of online interaction;
  5. implement robust systems for evaluating the impact of CPD on teacher effectiveness and student outcomes.

National and local policymakers should:

  1. publish guidelines and support for teachers and leaders to help them use social media in schools;
  2. consider how they will begin to unfilter social media sites for use in schools;
  3. recognise and celebrate self-directed professional learning by teachers using online tools, and the role of social media in this learning;
  4. create a common online space where the whole education community can find each other;
  5. ensure that all Initial Teacher Training courses demonstrate a strong focus on the use of social media tools for ongoing professional development.

NoTosh undertook a significant piece of working in bringing together case studies of teachers and heads who are effectively using social media to take control of their own professional development, and making these accessible through film as well as integration to the report.

The report is one seeking feedback for constant improvement – starting with the 500 tweets during the one hour launch event – and films will continue to be shot and uploaded to the report over the next weeks and months.

 

We also undertook case studies of how businesses are using social media for professional development, and what education could learn from this. Finally, we developed recommendations for how teachers, heads and policymakers could further exploit the potential of social media to help teachers develop in a cost-effective way.

  

There are plenty more videos that I may well find the time to go through on the blog, but you can dive in yourself over on Vimeo now and come back over the next few weeks as more education and business video case studies are added. You can read the report on the Pearson Centre for Policy and Learning site, and read more about our role in building it on the NoTosh blog.

May 10, 2011

We made history: lessons for learning from co-directing a Scottish election landslide campaign

Election SNP edublogs

"The best new media team in UK political campaigning history."

It was with immense pride in what we had achieved as a country, and the part I had played as part of a genial team, that I heard these words from Angus Robertson MP, the Director of the 2011 Campaign for the Scottish National Party (SNP), as we celebrated a Scottish Parliament election win with a majority that, in the theory behind the design of the Scottish Parliamentary system, was never meant to be possible.

NoTosh SNP election campaign coverage I've written in greater detail about the strategy behind our winning campaign, and linked to much of the press coverage on this in the last few days, over on the NoTosh website. But there are lessons from this political campaign for those of us trying to build better learning communities. At the core of the online campaign was, after all, community building, and we did it in short term, with next to no budget, to great effect.

No-one in the UK - or Europe - has come close to what a small HQ team, a couple of external team members (NoTosh friend Ian Dommett, myself and a team of crack creatives), and legions of volunteers and activists achieved over the past 100 days. The newspapers, the Party's leaders and tens of thousands of commenters on our Facebook pages and blogs have put it quite simply, using five words: "We won. We made history". A map of new constituencies in the Scottish Parliament 2011-16When I started work on the campaign's digital strategy and tactics, with 100 days to go to polling day, all polls indicated that the Labour party were set to win: at one point we were 15 points behind challengers, the Labour party.

Hope did, indeed, beat fear. We redrew the political map of Scotland and, by engaging every demographic out there, helped make concrete the fact that the SNP really is Scotland's National Party.

We helped shift the public viewpoint from one where, six weeks ago, the party languished some 10-15 points behind Labour, to one where it finished with an outright majority of 69 seats in the 129 seat Parliament, a majority of Scots wanting a Scottish government working for Scotland in the form of the SNP.

The press have covered our campaign strategy, particularly the digital part I was lucky enough to co-direct with the inhouse head Kirk J Torrance. You can read about this in detail over on the NoTosh website. It's worth pointing out in that article the reference to the design thinking approach we took to generate, prototype and move forward over 100 ideas of digital and offline media engagement, an approach that resembles enquiry-based learning techniques and which generates significantly more workable, responsive ideas than drawing up papers, annual plans or working in isolation in a leadership team suite of offices.

There are a few points about this project which I feel have pertinence in so many domains, not just political campaigning, lessons which could be extracted to the world of learning, school leadership and building better learning communities:

  1. Online activism is not PR: it actually creates change in the real world (including that most critical of offline actions in an election: vote for us), rather than just creating the perception that something is changing in the real world.

    Most school websites are PR. Good school Facebook pages are relentlessly appearing on parents' and pupils' own feeds, at all times of the day and night, creating offline actions that are desirable (do your homework, here's some help, this parents' evening looks interesting - I might head along for it).

  2. Positivity and optimism are underestimated, underused, under-believed-in
    All those who live in the land of "Yes But" do not belong in successful teams. Believing your goal is possible frees the mind to work out how you're going to get there, and prevents wasted hours debating "if" things are happening, and frees up space to ask "should" things happen.

  3. Talented, passionate teams and a clear simple message are the can't-do-without ingredients for success
    I have rarely worked with such a bunch of hyper talented, yet quietly spoken, unassuming, modest and generous people as the team at SNP HQ. That passion and talent, together with that very Scottish attitude and "let's work together" ethos, is what created the Scottish successes of the renaissance and industrial revolution, and will see us through the development of our next revolution in being at the centre of the Green Economy Reindustrialisation of Scotland. It certainly had a top place in achieving success on quite this scale.

    Clear messages on the learning vision for a school are, in my experience, a rare beast. School leaders could do a lot worse than employ some of these election campaign tactics in creating, honing and sharing their clear vision of learning with the school community at large. It's not good enough to say "We're all about learning". Are you about "Engaging youngsters and creating smiles every day"? Or are you about "The best examination results you can get". The former will almost certainly lead to the latter, but placing examination results as your core message will leave people in no doubt as to their decision-making process when faced with the choice of going down the avenue of an interesting, deep, rich discussion, or thumping on with content that has been pre-set, pre-planned.

  4. Having the best leadership secures you success Peter Murrell, the Chief Executive of the SNP, holds all the qualities I've just described. He's quiet, hard to gauge at first even, but is the smartest mind in political campaign management in the UK, quite possibly in Europe. He is, without a doubt and with no offence to the amazing people I work with every day, the most dynamic, alert and decisive Chief Executive with whom I've ever had the pleasure to work.

    He, Angus Robertson and, of course, the leaders of the party in Scotland itself (notably those with whom I was able to work most closely: Alex Salmond, Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney), gave us permission to go with what our guts, and our data, told us felt right to do. "If you ever need anything" was the most common phrase I heard which, as an external consultant, is a gift. Thank you to the leadership team for their confidence, their trust and their support in helping Kirk, the team and me get our ideas out into bits, bytes and relationships.

For me, this particular gig is now over. But there will be other elections, other campaigns. None of the lessons we've got here are anything that a half decent consultant with some life experience and an overdraft couldn't find out from their local book store and some choice reads on the web. That is why I have no issues sharing these elements of what some might call the "secret sauce".

The secret of any sauce is, of course, in the subtle turns of the ladle that the entire kitchen staff put in over a service and that service, my friends, I've been very lucky to be part of for a history-making 100 days.

April 30, 2011

New South Wales, Australia, opens Facebook to teachers

Sydney Opera House

And Twitter. And Flickr...

I'm often asked how one goes about changing culture to the point where draconian rules on filtering social networking sites might be lifted for use in the classroom or even in the office space. The ever-innovative New South Wales have just legislated to allow teachers to access social networking sites, through a mix of consultation and bottom-up involvement, and top-down legislation to make those discussions effective.

Involving community and professional groups as well as experts in learning and technology is a vital part of making guidelines that stand the test of time. This is the same approach we adopted with vigour six years ago in East Lothian when we kicked off the wiki-based consultation on our own social media guidelines.

The benefits are clear:

"A Department of Education spokeswoman said the change would help improve communication between schools and their communities.

"It would also give staff a ''greater understanding of technology being used by students''.

"A spokesman for the Minister for Education, Adrian Piccoli, said the change would also help teachers combat cyber bullying.
...

"With careful use, social media should be embraced as ''part of the 21st century and something students and teachers need to be aware of'''.

"The immediate past president of the NSW Secondary Principals' Council, Jim McAlpine, who was involved in discussions with government about the digital education revolution and social networking, welcomed the development.

''I am strongly supportive of teachers having access to social networking so they can use worthwhile educational sites such as Facebook and particularly YouTube,'' he said. ''Teachers will be able to teach their students about digital citizenship so that students will be responsible users themselves of social networking sites at home.''

Read more. Pic from David Lea

About Ewan

Ewan McIntosh is the founder of NoTosh, the no-nonsense company that makes accessible the creative process required to innovate: to find meaningful problems and solve them.

Ewan wrote How To Come Up With Great Ideas and Actually Make Them Happen, a manual that does what is says for education leaders, innovators and people who want to be both.

What does Ewan do?

Module Masterclass

School leaders and innovators struggle to make the most of educators' and students' potential. My team at NoTosh cut the time and cost of making significant change in physical spaces, digital and curricular innovation programmes. We work long term to help make that change last, even as educators come and go.

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