Coding and STEAM Workshops in Australia, 2016

Australia coding and STEAM

You wouldn’t put someone in front of a piano and say, ‘Figure out how to play it’. The same can be said about coding in schools.

Following the endorsement of the new Australian Technologies Curriculum, the Queensland Government made coding and robotics compulsory in schools from Prep to Year 10. Its reasonable to expect that it won’t be long before each Australian state will ensure that schools are embedding coding and robotics in the curriculum – which is clearly a very good thing.

But what does this mean for schools, institutions and teachers who are expected to deliver this new curriculum? Whilst Scratch, Code.org and similar packages give students and teachers an entry point, teaching “General Purpose Computer Languages” to students is an altogether different matter.

And its a similar story for the broader push towards STEM/STEAM. Whilst schools are equipped to teach each STEAM subject area, making learning gains from the integrated STEAM approach requires careful thought, planning, development and investment.

To help schools respond, CLWB will be delivering Coding and STEAM (Science Technology Entrepreneurship Arts and Maths) workshops in Australia in February – March 2016.

In October 2015, we ran STEM workshops in Melbourne and Brisbane, and at the Cognitive Acceleration conference in Queensland. We received a clear message at these workshops – “please help us implement the Digital Technologies curriculum – particularly coding – in our schools”. So, we’ll be coming back to Australia in February and March 2016 to run a series of workshops focusing on teaching coding and STEAM.

The CLWB “You Can Teach Coding” workshop will directly teach teachers how to teach coding. The CLWB “Practical Steps to STEAM” workshop will build on our recent STEM workshops and provide opportunities to plan STEAM, and participate in hands-on learning activities.

Option 1: “You Can Teach Coding” @ School

One-day In-School Bespoke Workshop

This is a full-day, in-school bespoke coding workshop for a group of up to 10 teachers paired with up to 10 students. This workshop will not only teach teachers how to code, but also how to teach coding. Participants will be taken from assumed no-knowledge to being confident in teaching with a “General Purpose Programming Language” by the end of the day. The workshop can be used to train student “Digital Leaders” and build a coding culture across the school. Teachers will be given a CLWB Computer Science kit and post-workshop Skype distance support as part of the workshop package.

Option 2: “Practical steps to STEAM” @ School

One-day In-School Bespoke Workshop

This is a full day bespoke workshop focused on creating a STEAM curriculum at your school. In the morning, participants will be lead through Science, Technologies, Arts and Maths subject content. This will be followed by a planning activity aimed at getting maximum learning gains from the STEAM approach, and integrating technology and entrepreneurship into the curriculum. The afternoon session focuses on a practical, hands-on STEAM activity, enabling participants to acquire new skills in Electronics, Programming, Designing and practical ‘Digital Making’. Teachers will be given a CLWB STEAM Kit and post-workshop Skype distance support as part of the workshop package.

Option 3: “You Can Teach Coding” Professional Development 

One-day Teaching Coding workshop

Meet and work with teachers from other schools at this full-day workshop, which will not only teach you to code, but also how to teach coding. Participants will be taken from assumed no-knowledge to being confident in teaching with a “General Purpose Programming Language” by the end of the day. Participants will receive a CLWB Computer Science Kit and 1 post-workshop Skype support, as part of the workshop package.

Option 4: Practical steps to STEAM Professional Development

One-day STEAM workshop

Meet and work with teachers from other schools at this workshop, which builds on the STEM workshop that we ran in Brisbane and Melbourne in October. The workshop will focus on creating a STEAM curriculum within your school. In the morning, teachers will be lead through Science, Technologies, Arts and Maths subject content. This will be followed by a planning activity aimed at getting maximum learning gains from the STEAM approach, and integrating technology and entrepreneurship into the curriculum. The afternoon session focuses on a practical, hands-on STEAM activity, enabling participants to acquire new skills in Electronics, Programming, Designing and practical ‘Digital Making’. Participants will receive a CLWB STEAM Kit and post-workshop Skype support as part of the workshop package.

If you or your school is interested in any of these options please use this form to let us know.

Note: You might be interested in having both Options 1 and 2 in your school over 2 days or you might be interested in sending teachers to workshops covering Options 3 and/or 4 in your area. You may also like to consider having a bespoke workshop in your school and invite other schools in your area to send teachers. Use the “Comments” box to let us know what options you would like.

Australian Technologies Curriculum – STEM Workshops

Australian Technologies Curriculum

Following the recent approval of the Australian Technologies Curriculum, CLWB with Intuyu Consulting and Cognitive Architecture ran a series of STEM workshops in Victoria and Queensland.

Based on the recent Leadership at the Speed of Thought program, Mike Lloyd gave a worldwide view of how technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and ‘Internet of Things’ are disrupting the world of work, opening up new opportunities and threats, and the implications of these developments for education.

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Participants were then guided through a mapping of the new Australian Curriculum to STEM activities, and shown where technologies and new pedagogies can make the most learning impact.

Following this, teams created one-year STEM plans for their schools.

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A key component in STEM is multi-disciplinary projects, so teachers finished the workshop by designing, building and programming a Wearable solution using a CLWB Wearable kit. This gave them the opportunity to develop new skills and understanding – e.g. Programming, Design, Making and the science behind conductive thread.

We were delighted to bring an edited version of the workshop to the Cognitive Accelaration Conference, Australia –

Cog Accel

Mike would like to thank Adrian and Rachel at Intuyu; Tim Smith from Cognitive Architecture; Mt Alvernia College, Brisbane and Genazzano College, Melbourne, and all the participants at the workshops.

Internet of Learning-Things

Mass access to the Internet is a mere 20 years old and during this time Web Services have completely revolutionised how we interact – so how will the Internet transform us over the next 20 years?

This article explains how technologies can be architected to allow learning to flourish in the emerging world of the Internet of Things.

Beyond the “Internet of People”

In 2008, the number of things connected to the Internet exceeded the number of people on Earth – but that is still less than 1% of all the physical things in the world today. Cisco’s Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) predicts some 25 billion devices will be connected by 2015, and 50 billion by 2020, whilst IDC estimates machine-to-machine communication to grow to 41% of Internet communication by 2020.

IoT represents a major shift in how IT is being used. The personal computer and the ‘Internet of People’ defined the previous IT era. The Internet of Things will be defined by embedded and ubiquitous technologies such as 3d printing, advanced sensing and energy management.

A powerful illustration of this new world comes from wearable clothing, Tshirt OS from Cutecircuit –

Another is the rapid development and spread of 3d printing –

IoT is surging ahead in areas such as manufacturing, medicine and transportation, but what about education? ‘Smart Cities’ initiatives get plenty of attention, but what about Smart Schooling? What about an ‘Internet of Learning-Things’?

To help answer this question, eight schools in the UK will take part in a $1.2m scheme to find out how “Internet of Things” can enhance learning in science, technology, and geography. Students and teachers will be taught to measure and share data – using new Internet of Things technology – in ways that help make learning fun, link directly to the curriculum, and ultimately inform the design of the next generation of schools.

Whilst new-build schools in developed countries routinely use advanced energy and security management IoT technologies, a more fundamental shift is beginning to happen. There is a clear movement towards a Do It Yourself (DIY) approach to technology in the classroom. A great example of this is the such as the Bigshot digital camera kit – http://www.bigshotcamera.com

A key part of this DIY trend is the increasing use of single-board miniature computers, particularly Arduino and Raspberry Pi. Arduino is a purely embedded system, while Raspberry Pi has both embedded and PC functionalities. Both are designed to teach computer science and electronics, and are optimized for managing control technology – i.e. the world of sensors, motors, displays etc (Things).

Floor Turtle and other technologies from the Constructivist movement have been around even longer. However, Arduino and Raspberry Pi have accelerated the Constructivist approach. To get results from these systems, users have to really understand how technology works, and once children understand the basics, their imaginations and creativity are unleashed. In an age when some ‘children think that cheese grows on plants’ one wonders where they think their consumer electronics come from, so its wonderful to see children becoming increasingly connected to the real world of how things work.

Slide3
Arduino – the worlds’ most popular learning tool for electronics

Arduino and Rasberry Pi are surrounded by an extensive and complex ecosystem of devices and code, and one of the most noticeable devices is Makey Makey. Coming from the same stable that gave us Lego Mindstorms and Scratch, MaKey MaKey is a circuit-board with crocodile clips and wires which allow users to turn practically any object into a key from a computer keyboard. For example, a banana could be used for the letter ‘A’, some plastercine for the letter ‘B’, and a coin for the letter ‘C’. Using this simple principal, a staircase can be turned into a piano, or graphite pencil marks on paper could be used as a game controller.

Neither the Arduino or Raspberry Pi are anywhere near as prolific as PCs or Tablets, and they sell at a tiny fraction of the volume of the consumer and business devices that find their way into Education – tens of thousands a month as opposed to millions. However, unlike consumer and business PCs and Tablets, Arduino and Raspberry Pi have been designed specifically for education – so do they point the way forward?

The cost of a complete class set of Raspberry Pis (around $35 each) with Internet browsing, productivity tools, peripherals, sensors and devices would cost about ½ that of the equivalent class set of Tablets or PCs. However, the big drawback with Raspberry Pi is that they require patience and high levels of technical competency for their setup and operation – users need to become familiar with Linux and command-line prompts. At present the support ecosystem for Raspberry Pi is less than optimally organized for mass proliferation.

To get a better look at what the Internet of Things can mean for Education, we need to look beyond the ‘DIY’ world and think about a complete architecture for “Internet of Learning-Things”.

Towards an “Internet of Learning-Things”

Needs should drive the design of an Internet of Learning-Things – not the other way round. As with all questions about technology, the first question we need to ask is ‘why’? What new scenarios should an ‘Internet of Learning-Things’ deliver? Here’s some examples:

Technology literacy.

In the next 20 years machines will take increasing amounts of decisions. In a world where so much can be sensed or observed, security and privacy take on new meanings and relevance. In a world where systems will be managed increasingly remotely, technocrats will control much more of the world we live in. Its critical, therefore, that children get to understand how this completely new world works, and learn how to build and control it. To achieve this understanding, children need to have the opportunity to build systems that combine computer science with electronics and product design.

Science, Technology and Geography.

The use of sensors, data-logging and basic electronics has long been a part of the UK National curriculum, but with a proliferation of low-cost sensors, devices, drones and kits, its reasonable to expect to see an increase in the increasing use and sophistication in the application of these technologies across the world.

For example, the Parrot AR.Drone2.0 enables students to survey an area using a mobile phone. HD video is shot and stored on a USB memory stick, or relayed directly back to the phone. In one package, Science (e.g. physics of flight); Technology (e.g. OS, networking, control); and Geography (e.g. surveys, observations) can be delivered, in a way that is completely engaging for children of all ages.

The key development in this space is the opportunity for children to learn how to code with Scratch, Python and .NET Gadgeteer offering progressive learning pathway. Scratch even has a way to control the GPIO on Raspberry Pi, enabling students to control a range of devices easily.

Internet of Learning-Things - beginnings
Scratch offers an easy entry into the world of programming

Ubiquitous and context-aware learning.

With devices able to talk more easily with other devices, augmented reality should spill out from museums turning everyday features in the environment into learning objects. For example, point your phone at a building and see what was there of historical significance in the past; point it at a plant or animal and get key scientific facts; use a phone to control a drone and receive live images of your local neighborhood. Kiosks offer another platform for AR, and Lego have a powerful illustration that shows the kinds of scenarios that AR offers –

Learning through everyday play

A market research study by Tangull America indicated that the market for toys with embedded IT is growing over 15% annually, and will grow to sales of US $146 billion by 2015. Examples include interactive puppets, girls’ toys that share secrets, and “real playmates” – which measure changes in facial expressions and use AI to respond. There are huge opportunities to embed learning tools into children’s toys.

Personalised learning

With a greater spectrum of learning opportunities available, and wider use of project-based learning, the potential for more personalized learning increases.

Devices connecting securely to big (and nano) data, content and SRM systems, can enable more and better e-learning services that dynamically adapt to learner’s needs as they evolve.

“The growth of devices connected to the Internet will give learners access to untold sources of authentic data in an environmentally friendly way.  Through their Internet connections on multiple devices, learners will collect these data and work with fellow learners and experts around the world to analyse, interpret and manipulate the information and so contribute in a meaningful way to the development of social and scientific understanding, Learning will become more contextualised, relevant and meaningful as a result.”

Dr Michelle Selinger, Director of Education Practice at Cisco Consulting Services

Anytime anywhere high-stake assessment and exams

Nearly everyone on the planet has sat or will sit an examination or another form of high stakes assessment. Device-level security, built on biometric systems such as facial recognition, offer ways to ensure honesty in exams. As well as local devices, routers could be potentially enabled for exam-standard security in designated ‘Examination Zones’.

Towards an Internet of Learning-Things Architecture

The first technical problem that needs to be solved is that every device on the Internet needs an IP address to communicate with other devices. Currently most Internet traffic runs on IPv4, which allows ‘only’ 4.3bn addresses. The current version – Ipv6 – allows 7.9 x 1028 times more addresses, but IPv6 and IPv4 are not interoperable, so the transition is not going to be immediate and smooth.

The next problem to be solved is the development of protocols for data, network, transport, sessions and applications. A lot of work is underway such as MQTT, a machine-to-machine/Internet of Things connectivity protocol, but as yet there are no real IoT standards – unlike the Internet of People, which uses protocols such as http (for hypertext), and XMPP (for IM, presence and chat).

So, achieving any form of architectural standardization for an Internet of Learning-Things is going to take some time.

However, in the meantime, there are concepts and scenarios that can help. One way to look at IoLT architecture is to split it into functional layers, and map existing technologies and services to those layers:

IoLT Arch

Internet of Learning Things Scenario

A student has learned something significant and has verified the learning through a series of low stakes e-assessments. The student now wants to get full credit for this learning through an accredited examination board (eg, University of Oceania Certificate of Secondary Education). The student finds an accredited ‘Examination Zone’ – a room or an area set up to written examination standard, and monitored for honesty. The student logs onto the examination system, which verifies the user through device level biometric security, then locks down the device to ensure no access to local resources. The student is presented with the questions and types or handwrites the answers. The device pushes an encrypted version of the student’s answers to an E-Exam-Ready Wi-Fi router, (gateway) which relays the data to servers, which also have device level security to verify the validity and security conditions of the student’s responses. From there, the examination response is assessed and credit given in due course, with an encrypted certificate sent back to the student.

Whilst this may seem far-fetched and problematic, it’s worth taking a few moments to compare the kind of advances that have been made in Internet and mobile finance and medicine. For example, diagnostics in medicine is light years ahead of ‘diagnostics’ in education. In an era when we allow sensors to be implanted in the human body to monitor and improve health in the most precise and targeted way, why do we insist that practically everyone on the planet sits down in silence and recall facts from memory on bits of paper in order to get recognition for what they have learned?

Despite phenomenal progress with e-assessment and e-examination in some countries, a recent incident at Kasetsart University in Thailand illustrates just how far other places have to go. Students there were pictured wearing makeshift paper ‘anti-cheating’ devices.

The wrong kind of innovation
Draw your own conclusions – but no conferring please.

Challenges

“We need to be ready for a new pace of change in learning”, says Jim Wynn, Chief Education Officer at Promethean.

“We will depend upon the content to be organized in ways which do not hinder learning and also and I think crucially, content will have to reflect next generation pedagogues and not those that are designed for the technology of pencil and paper”.

Another key point made by Jim is that the ‘Do It Yourself’ approach is not going to work on its own universally. “There has to be a balance between explore-and-find-out and directed learning from a wise head”.

Within formal learning, a major challenge is going to be lack of technical capacity amongst the teaching workforce. In developing countries, where some teachers don’t even know what Facebook is, ‘DIY’ will be a real challenge. Teachers in this new world will need to be a lot more technically skilled than they are now, and that will be a significant challenge.

Another challenge is the inertia in the examinations systems, and the cascade effect that it has on schooling as a whole.

One of the biggest challenges of all, however, is the uneven distribution of Internet Access across the world. Whilst it’s fascinating to talk theoretically about the Internet of Learning-Things in the developed world, what happens to those who are left behind from even the Internet of People?

According to the International Telecommunications Union, 39% of the world is not using the Internet. 31% of the developing world, and 77% of the developed world are using the Internet.

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Internet users 2012, C/O International Telecommunications Union

There are several initiatives aimed at attacking this problem from different angles. For example, there is potential for using old analog TV bands – VHF/UHF – to deliver Internet access, whilst Project Loon is about delivering Internet access via high altitude balloons.

The Internet of Learning-Things will require significant amounts of virtual teaming. For example, the UK schools ILT pilot project will be led by DISTANCE, a consortium which includes at least 8 organisations, including 3 universities. Interestingly, DISTANCE plans to create a digital information hub using Xively Cloud Services – a cloud platform that is purpose-built for the Internet of Things.

An Internet of Learning-Things may be a long way off for some. However, in the same way that online content is beginning to be a disruptive force in formal schooling in some parts of the world, a new era of ultra-low cost and increasingly connected devices, sensors, displays, security and control technologies, is surely going to accelerate change in a very positive direction.

Memorisation or Understanding? – Erik Mazur

Think of something you are really good at – something that you excel in to the point that others would comment on just how good you are at it.

Now think about how you achieved this. What did you do to become excellent at that particular thing? Which of these best describes how you acquired your excellence:

1. Trial and error

2. Lecture

3. Practice

4. Apprenticeship

5. Other

If you picked “Practice” you will have been in the majority. If you picked “Lecture” you will have been in an extreme minority. And yet, lecturing is how most of education is “delivered”.

So starts Erik Mazur’s talk on “Memorisation or understanding – are we teaching the right thing?”

Erik Marur is a Professor of Physics and Applied Physics at Harvard University and has spent his teaching career applying scientific principles to teaching and learning. Making extensive use of data, Professor Mazur shows that much “instruction” only gives an illusion of learning as its based on memorisation, not understanding.

“I thought I was a good teacher until I discovered my students were just memorising information rather than learning to understand the material”. Professor Mazur explains how he came to the conclusion that it was his teaching that caused students to fail, and how he changed his approach with the result of significant improvements to his students’ performance.

For the full story, watch this Youtube video (fast forward to 3:02 if you want to skip the intros):

CRADLE Conference, Singapore

On August 1st I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to deliver the Keynote at the CRADLE conference in Singapore.

The presentation contained a mix of material contained in “Schooling at the Speed of Thought” and some of the articles in this blog, especially the Transformation Phase article. Here’s the key points:

ABSTRACT

Introduction

Singapore was one of the first countries in the world to have a national strategy to roll out ICT to all schools. Key challenges addressed in this initiative are to:

  • Prepare students to meet the challenges of the 21st Century
  • Bring about improved learning and increased engagement through the use of ICT
  • Enable more self-directed learning

In summary, the challenge is to make schooling in Singapore even more effective through the use of ICT.

To address this, we need to ask three key questions:

1. How can software accelerate the learning process?

Computers in learning are increasingly being used as tools for creativity rather than as machines to deliver the curriculum. So, with a proliferation of new hardware and software developments, what new creative options are there for learning? How can software help to personalise the learning experience and open up completely new learning opportunities?

2. How can software be used to make better decisions?

How can schooling information and data be leveraged to get maximum impact from precious resources; what do we mean by “intelligent intervention” and why it is so important; how can we empower all stakeholders with information; and how do we drive alignment and performance towards strategic goals?

3. How can Cloud Computing be exploited to cheaply deliver massive-scale, high-quality learning solutions?

We don’t normally expect a school to generate its own electricity – but we have expected our education institutions to be experts at running their own “IT Power Stations”. How can Cloud Computing change this?

With the advent of Cloud Computing, also comes the realistic prospect of providing anytime anywhere learning for all. So how can massive, cheap, and highly available computing services be combined with a range of access technologies and high quality learning content to open up learning opportunities to all citizens of Singapore – and especially those who are in the greatest need of it?

Conclusion

With highly developed infrastructure, talent and innovation, Singapore is in a great position to exploit technology even further. The concluding part of this presentation asked what world-leading innovations and software solutions can be leveraged in Singapore and how we can architect “anytime anywhere learning for all?

For a copy of the presentation please go to: http://bit.ly/pRZUMJ

Thanks to my colleages in Singapore – Horng Shya Chua; Jason Trump; Gerald Tan; Puay San Ng; Eugenia Lim, Lee Boon Keng and the staff and students at Crescent Girls’ School. Thanks also to all those who attended the CRADLE event.

Solving Problems in Heart of Europe

Problems don’t come much bigger than getting 12 European countries to sign a treaty to form a single currency – an event hosted by the city of Maastricht in 1992. Today, Maastricht is also hosting another significant problem solving activity – PBL, or Problem Based Learning.

I was lucky enough to be able to visit Maastricht University this weekend where I learned about their PBL approach to teaching and learning. The idea is simple yet extremely powerful. Maastricht University recognises that tradtional lectures and book based approaches to learning are comparatively inefficient compared to team based problem solving.

Knowledge and skills are better developed when students are given structured tasks that involve analysis, synthesis and producing something. For example, a PBL task in Business Studies could invovle asking a team of students what a mulitnational car manufacturer could do to increase its sales. This would involve team discussions, with students taking turns to chair the meetings; private study followed by contributions to further team work; then a team presentation of their conclusions. Asssement is made up of a mix of components – verbal or written contributions to the team discussions, submitted materials such as papers, and examinations.

PBL at Maastricht is well supported by IT. The university boasts extensive online learning, productivity, and statistical applications, and students can make use of a  ‘Student Desktop Anywhere’ function which lets them use the full range of e-learning, library and research services from anywhere in the world.

Originally PBL was developed as a way to teach Medicine, and many universities now use this approach. Maastricht, however, is the only university in the world to use PBL across all of its courses. Judging by the growing numbers of students applying to join the university, one of the biggest problems of our times – how to provide effective and relevant education – is being solved in the heart of Europe.

Click here for more information on PBL