Take part in an education research survey

Professor Sarah Younie and her colleagues are undertaking research about, er, research. Do you find educational research useful in your teaching? What would make it more useful? Please take part in a brief survey that is looking into questions like these.

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Review of FotoJet

Fotojet is an online design application. Here's what I thought of it.

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It wasn’t me wot done it, Sir! The depressing state of Computing as a subject

Here in England, students are voting with their feet: the numbers studying Computing at higher levels are going down. I hate to say "We told you so" but....

It's not as if nobody warned 'them'.

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How to get the most out of ISTE17 (and other conferences)

Listen to my interview with Vicki Davis about how to get the most out of #iste17 and other conferences -- and grab my book for £0.99/$0.99 or equivalent (plus VAT if applicable) -- a third of its usual price.

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Today's ed tech to-do list

What's my day looking like so far? Main item on my to-do list: don't die from the heat. My most-looking forward to item? Writing the latest issue of my newsletter.

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Why and how to become a teacher researcher

The classroom is a great place to conduct some research. Picture by Jordan Dreyer

The classroom is a great place to conduct some research. Picture by Jordan Dreyer

In my opinion, every teacher should be a researcher, and I think that especially applies to teachers who have some degree of influence of what education technology is bought and used.

Why?

  • It's important to know what's going on in your field. Imagine going to a doctor who last updated his knowledge ten years ago, or even one year ago. 
  • If you hope to convince the powers-that-be to spend more money on technology, you have to be able to prove that it works, or at least that it's likely to work.
  • Research and reflection are good ways to improve one's teaching. The research part helps to avoid the 'echo chamber' situation in which you only know what's going on in your own school.

How?

  • Read the research. This is not always accessible, either because of a paywall or because the language is too abstruse and abstract to be acted on quickly. Solutions:
    • Check whether or not your status as an alumnus (assuming you have a degree) gives you access to academic journals online.
    • Sign up to my newsletter, Digital Education. I often summarise research and review academic books in that, and it's free.
    • Join the Association for IT in Education. Disclosure: I'm on their committee. You receive an academic journal called Technology & Pedagogy in Education, and that's worth a lot more than the subscription fee in my opinion.
  • Attend conferences. A very accessible one in terms of cost, location, and down-to-earthness is Research Ed.
  • Conduct research in your own classroom. You can do this even in a very quick and easy way:
    • Know what the problem is you're trying to solve with the technology.
    • Keep a note on what went well, what didn't go so well, and why.
    • Get the kids' feedback too. I think having kids evaluate the technology is a no-brainer: they're the ones who are going to be using the stuff! I was pleased that John Galloway advocated this in a discussion hosted by the Guardian Teacher Network recently too.
    • Read blogs. Some good ones to start with (apart from mine!) are:

Finally, do share your research and findings, whether from your own research or reading, with other people. If you haven't already done so, start a blog. Or share on Twitter or Facebook. 

You might like my article, Education Technology research, and how it's reported

In case you became sidetracked earlier, here's the sign-up form for my newsletter, Digital Education:

 

 

What I've been reading: Everyday Sexism

I’ve just read Everyday Sexism [Amazon affiliate link] by Laura Bates. Before I go any further, I suppose I ought to explain why. What does this subject matter have to do with teaching computing and ICT?

Well, I don't think there can be any doubt about the fact that a lot of girls are put off going into computing, whether as a course in school or in their career choices. So I wondered how far the kinds of issues girls face in school, especially in subjects like computing which are seen by too many people as a male preserve, are part of a wider picture.

In many respects this book is pretty depressing. It's bad enough that grown women have to put up with unwanted attention, but children?! 

I think girls and women would find the book useful, to help them realise that lots of others experience the same kind of thing. I think boys and men should read it too, to find out how it must feel to be on the receiving end of sexist comments.

One of the things that struck me was the complaint that male teachers say things like, "Come on, you don't want to be beaten by a girl do you?". I can see why girls would feel belittled by that sort of remark, even if it was intended as a lighthearted means of galvanising the boys into making a greater effort.

I remember doing the opposite: saying to the boys in my Computing class that I'd like them to be quiet and let the girls answer, as I'd rather listen to a well-thought out response than some half-baked comment shouted across the room. Was that unacceptable too, do you think? 

Most of the book might be described as 'relentless': wave after wave of intrusive and even threatening comments. For me, the best chapter is the last one, because it portrays women as strong and powerful rather than as almost powerless victims.

In this context you might like to read my article, Where are the girls in ICT and Computing?

The book reviewer's desk, by Terry Freedman. For more book reviews, sign up to Digital Education, where this review first appeared.

The book reviewer's desk, by Terry Freedman. For more book reviews, sign up to Digital Education, where this review first appeared.

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