Friday, November 3, 2017

Coding Across the Curriculum: Update 1

Since I returned from Sydney in August, my work on my Innovator project has been somewhat uneven. I initially did a lot of planning but had lots of work at school to do. During the school holidays I got a good amount done, but have since slowed down. Still, I've managed to make some pretty good progress and follow some pretty interesting tangents to my project so I thought I would share my journey up to this point.

The Good News
I've managed to make two videos. To be honest I didn't think that I would be this far along at this point, so that's pretty good. Both videos were shot and edited during one week, so if given the time, I know that I can produce these at a fairly good rate.

I've also received mostly positive feedback from the educators that have used the videos, and many are looking for more. So that's also exciting. One of the bits of feedback I got was from Tim Bell, a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Canterbury who has been significantly involved in both CS Unplugged and the creation of the new Digital Technologies Curriculum here in New Zealand. I had also previously attended one of his workshops in Christchurch (CS4PS) that has been instrumental in my understanding of computational thinking. So that was a pretty big deal for me. His advice was extremely helpful and will hopefully be seen in some upcoming videos.

I've also had a chance to try out one of my videos with my own learners, which was part of the reason for picking that idea. The early responses were very positive. The children were able to complete the task, with very little extra input from me, which made it much easier for me to manage another group (see some comments below about that). The idea of teaching this way is probably something that is going to increase more and more in the future. It frees up educators to do what educators do best: guide children. It allows children to learn at their own pace. Some people may say that getting a robot to do an educators job will not be as good, but I say that they've made educators do robots' jobs for so long it's about time we did what we can do to be more impactful. I'm not saying videos should be used exclusively, but if a child can learn from a video of me doing something, that allows me to teach a lot more children and frees me up to support them in other ways rather than just content delivery.

Another thing that has come out of this is that I'm learning a lot more skills for producing videos. There has been a quick learning curve and I imagine that as time goes by I'll have to learn more out of necessity. Already I have been looking at ways to improve sound quality and I want to work on video quality as well (I'm not so sure filming with an iPad is the best way to go, so we'll see).

Overall I'm extremely please with the progress so far.

The Bad Stuff
One of my biggest frustrations at the moment is time. There is just not enough of it to do everything I want to do AND have a life outside of school. For various reasons, most of my out of school time has been focused on non-school activities - which is the way it should be, to be honest. That means though, that I have been much slower at putting the videos out that I thought I could be after making the first two. My plan was actually to have three done before school had started this term because I was teaching both ideas and it would have allowed me to see how two different videos would work in a classroom setting. That being said, it's probably best not to pressure myself too much, as I've also managed to create some other things on the side, due to the skills I've learned making these videos.

The Interesting Tangents
At least two other projects have come out of this journey so far, and I'm planning a few more as well.  The first one (which I've actually written about already) was the digital breakouts I've been making. The second, which may actually have the potential to be more impactful on education than either of the others is that I've started making a series of videos to show a variety of math strategies. It was a convergence of a lot of things all at the right time that got me started on this and when I shared the first 8 videos (they're a lot quicker to make) the response was more positive than any of the other resources. But these resources will be shared in more depth in a further blog post.

Other things that have been happening as a result of this is that I'm getting contacted by more and more outside agencies and people (which reminds me I need to get back to them). This is certainly an area that I'm looking towards developing as my focus is shifting from my own classroom to a larger scale (potentially global at this point).

Where to Next
For my project, my future plans are to continue to make the videos. My next one (which I've got the script half finished) will be on making stories with Scratch, while the fourth will shift gears a bit and focus on debugging (which has come out of some discussions with others about the new curriculum). Beyond that we'll see. Hopefully that can be completed before the end of the school year (December) and I can use the holidays to make a few more. Ideally this will be alongside more breakouts and maths videos.

I also want to start looking at Phase Two of the project: starting meetups for educators who want some support or who want to share. In the coming weeks I will put some feelers out through Twitter and Facebook to see who is interested and will hopefully be able to plan something for late January or February next year. I'm getting a bit excited about this as bringing more people on board might make this project take off a bit more.

I've got to remember that things start slowly. If I only have two videos it's not as useful as if I have a whole collection. Once things are made it will be a bit easier to have an impact, but like I mentioned above, it's all about finding the time.

I'm going to leave you with the two videos I've produced so far. Feel free to share them and use them as much as you'd like. I always appreciate feedback on what I've done so that I can improve what I'm making. Subscribing to the MakerEdNZ YouTube Channel would also be greatly appreciated and make sure you got emailed about new videos.

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