Digital Learning in Maths⤴

from @ MIE Scotland

Hugh Wallace

Teacher of Maths

Kyle Academy, South Ayrshire

Twitter @MrW4ths


  Waking a Digital School

As with all schools in Scotland, Kyle Academy closed our doors on Friday 20th March with very little warning, and quite literally, no time to prepare.  The final week was spent ensuring that those who were still able to attend school, had a note of their Glow login details and knew how to access Microsoft Teams.

For some staff, they had already been using Teams with a handful of classes, but for most, they hadn’t logged into Glow for a very long time!  This was going to be a challenge!

As the ‘Digital Champion’ in school, and the only MIE Expert, I knew it was time to step up and offer support to the school community.  This has been a huge task, but I feel very proud of where we are now!

One of my first tasks was to establish a Staff Team for Digital Support rather than sending out yet another email.  This has proved invaluable as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for colleagues.  A place to find out more information, ask for help, highlight problems and share examples of good practice.

 

 

 

Thinking of the wider school community, one of the main tasks early on was to provide additional support to students and parents who were new to Microsoft Teams.  To help with this, I put together a couple of guides which were shared by parental email and twitter.

Feedback for these guides for computer and mobile users has been positive and has since been tailored by other schools.  You can view the original sway here.

 

  Digital Learning in Maths

Regular use of Microsoft Teams was already embedded in my own classroom practice and colleagues in the department were supportive.  It’s often difficult to deviate from traditional teaching methods in Maths, but it is possible as long as the tasks are both relevant and accessible.  Despite working in a department where you are the only one below the age of 50, who says you can’t teach old dogs new tricks?  Huge respect for Donna, Sue, Joyce, Karen and Sharon and very proud of what they have achieved this term.  Well done!

  Setting up Teams

Teams were setup for all our students, but classes working on the same level were added to one Team.  This reduced the need for duplicating tasks and lessons.  All our Teams were setup with a consistent use of channels.  We wanted to make it as easy as possible to navigate, particularly in the junior school where pupils may be a member of 15 subject Teams.

Here is an example of our S2 Maths Team comprising 4 classes of 33 students each.

 

General – Where weekly tasks are set alongside important announcements and all assignments.  Only staff could post in this channel which prevented instructions getting lost.

Online Classroom – Where the live lessons are delivered for all students in the Team, each Monday.

Ask (Mr Wallace) – For students to collaborate with their own teacher and peers.  Teachers would ask students to post a photo of their work if they needed help then provide feedback.  We held smaller live tutorial classes in our own channel.

Technical Difficulties – To ask a technical question or report a fault with ICT.

Weekend Challenge – A bit of fun for our S2 students!

 

We had a similar picture for Higher Maths, with 3 classes added to the Team.

General – Worksheets and core tasks are posted on a Monday and a Tuesday, immediately after each live lesson.  We also post assignments on a Wednesday, due for the Friday.  All solutions are also provided in a sway in this channel.

Online Classroom – Where the live lessons are delivered for all students in the Team.

Ask (Mr Wallace) – For students to collaborate with their own teacher and peers.  Teachers would ask students to post a photo of their work if they needed help then provide feedback.  We held smaller live tutorial classes in our own channel.

Extension Tasks – To distinguish between the core tasks and extra material for students who would like to deepen their understanding with more exam level questions.

We received very positive feedback from students early on, advising us that Maths was one of the easiest Teams to navigate.  I then continued to liaise with departments to review their own Teams and adapt a similar format for consistency across the school.  Where staff adopted this, the results were very positive and students appreciated it.

  Setting Weekly Tasks

For most classes, we found that Sway offered an excellent tool to provide easy access to short video clips, worksheets and extracts from textbook resources.  Sway does most of the work for you in terms of presentation, you just need to concentrate on collating the content!  The Sway was setup with tasks for the week, presented in small manageable chunks.  Given the nature of the content, we agreed that we would then share a link to the Team using the option for ‘anyone with a link’ to view.  This also allowed us to email the link directly to parents of students who were not engaging in the Team.

Examples:

Solutions were included for students to self-mark, and there was no requirement to send through evidence of all their working.  We felt it would be very time consuming to provide feedback on all tasks but students were always encouraged to get in touch or post a photo should they need help.

  Live Lessons

From the second week in lockdown, I started to experiment with a variety of video conferencing tools but wholeheartedly supported the use of Teams Meeting despite the lack of incoming video from a student account.  For those reading outside Scotland, Glow have currently disabled incoming video from students.

In the department, we all felt that the nature of Maths lends itself much better to live delivery than pre-recorded PowerPoints.  This format still provides the opportunity to adapt our lesson, just like what we would do in the classroom.  We were able to put students on mute and deliver our lesson by sharing our screen and making use of OneNote and the Microsoft Whiteboard apps.  Students always have the opportunity to raise a hand in agreement, or unmute if they wanted to ask a question.  In the end, most students preferred to ask their questions in the chat area which we would monitor during the course of the lesson.  We all found it was beneficial to have two screens when delivering a lesson.  The main screen would allow for digital inking and the second to keep an eye on the hands and chat.

  Class Notebook

To deliver successful lessons to my Higher class, I found the Class Notebook open in OneNote for Windows 10 just fantastic, especially when paired with my own Microsoft Surface Pro.  Luckily my colleagues managed to get their hands on the smaller Surface Go which had coincidentally been bought for the PE department in school, complete with keyboard and pen!  The Class Notebook was setup from a template of notes which I’d collated a number of years ago when I first started to teach the course.  Each lesson was easy to navigate in the Content Library by topic section, then lesson.  Each lesson was numbered in successive order and carefully matched to suit my worksheets which were set as tasks in the Team.  Whilst each lesson had already been typed up, digital ink allowed me to add annotation, highlights, sketches and refer to a marking scheme.  It really was magical!  Whilst I always used the OneNote for Windows 10 app, there was never a problem with sync back to the Class Notebook in Teams.

Here are a couple of screenshots of my lessons in the Class Notebook:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to the Content Library, latterly we started to use each pupils personal area in the Notebook.  Ideally we would have liked students to post photos of there work directly into their own Homework section, but without adequate training, I asked them to submit photos of their work as an assignment in Teams.

  Weekly Assignments

To help manage our workload and assess student progress, each week we would set one formal assignment which would be reviewed by the teacher.  Usually this was a short auto-marking Quiz using Microsoft Forms in the format of multiple choice or short response.  Students would receive instant feedback since we had pre-populated a summary message per question which would display after submission.  This then meant we only needed to input a more general comment when reviewing responses.

 

 

Latterly, we tasked students with completing a few Maths problems and asked them to submit as a File Upload.  This was ok, but I wanted to add annotation so I copied their photo submissions into their private section in the Class Notebook and used digital ink to leave feedback.  This would have been perfect if students were able to submit their photos directly into their OneNote, but I know this will need further training once we are back in school.

 

Engagement

Overall, we have been delighted with the levels of engagement in Maths during lockdown, particularly in senior certificated classes.  This is testament to the hard work and support from a committed group of staff, not just in our department, but across the school.  By setting clear instructions, short tasks and regular live lessons, we led from the front to establish a new routine with our students.  Pupils appreciated this.  Ok, we can’t get them all to engage, but that will always be part of the challenge.

Lessons from Lockdown⤴

from @ My Languages

Lockdown is continuing to be very hectic and intense for teachers. I have asked my online teacher network about what lockdown has meant for them and this is what I was told…

Lockdown has highlighted the importance of students’ intrinsic motivation and home support and the large impact they have on students’ achievements. It has also shown that teaching needs to facilitate independence. For instance, some of the quietest students have been seen to produce amazing work that they would never have produced in class for fear of drawing attention to themselves.

However, lockdown has also sparked creativity in many teachers, parents and pupils and in some case made parents realise what teaching really is about.

It has also created many opportunities for teachers to upskill, learn about blended learning, online learning and reflect on our practice.

Pedagogy and new tools-A few pointers

Focusing on fewer aspects of the language and guiding students’ practice to ensure complete mastery and success has come out as the biggest priority

Acknowledging the need for more repetition, practice and pace when learning vocabulary.

Understanding what it looks like from a learner’s perspective, keeping things simple and along a linear organisation allowing the teacher to reduce undue technical difficulties for pupils.

Developing a principled approach like the one adopted by @BarriMoc : retrieval, short video presentation, practice tasks (dictation, translation, gap-fill based on the content), reading task and a writing or speaking task using Flipgrid . Everything is then put in one document with any resources hyperlinked to avoid needing to open and flick between multiple tabs including Textivate  or Quizziz .

Exploring the use of Bitmojis and sharing on the Bitmoji Craze for Educator FaceBook group 

Taking time to test new tools, like Genial.ly 

Turning a book-based IGCSE SoW into a skill-driven one so that learning objectives and assessment align

Twitter conversations

Lockdown and teaching remotely have highlighted …

The importance of high impact, low stakes testing for informing planning as well as improving student retrieval and retention.

That the children love to be able to “pause” the teacher on Loom  so pace of explanations during direct instruction may need to be adapted.

That learners benefit from creating sentences and actively applying vocab and grammar rules along with their own creativity. This gives all they/we are doing a sense of value, purpose and meaning. It creates a bond and link of learning trust between us even though we are remote.

That in online lessons, it is a good idea to include table of language chunks that pupils can use as a writing scaffold. Pupils can add in suggestions too. Extension vocabulary and structures need to be labelled explicitly. A simple example of an activity is to get pupils to read out their Target Language phrase. Teacher highlights (on zoom) . Another pupil translates. Creative follow-up is then offered for further practice.

That your instructions are never clear enough! It has confirmed more than ever the importance of quality instruction, explanations, and modelling with a lot of comprehensible input and chunks instead of single words. Voice record pro  is great for making own listening.

Finally, the CPD…

There have been so many opportunities for all teachers and especially language teachers to upskill themselves to deliver effective language lessons remotely. I have collated many of them in a Wakelet here, with the most prolific sources of CPD being ALL, the Association for Language Learning , Linguascope, Joe Dale’s MFL Twitterati group (#mfltwitterati on Twitter) and the Global Innovative Language TeacherFacebook group  created by Gianfranco Conti  and Dylan Viñales.

Time to join the conversation!  


bookmarked: OneNote Teacher Academy⤴

from @ wwwd – John's World Wide Wall Display

Bookmarked OneNote Teacher Academy by Nick Hood
The Microsoft OneNote Teacher Academy is a learning path comprising four short courses introducing the use of OneNote in teaching for lesson planning, assessment and activities for learning ... These are my notes taken as I followed the learning path, including the reflection questions and my responses.

I’d pretty much decided to use OneNote path next year. My Previous problems lead me to depend on AirDrop, Apple Classroom & Apple Notes in my 1-2-1 iPad classroom. Local was certainly more reliable but lockdown made me think again. Nick Hood, @cullaloe‘s extensive post give me third thoughts.

Online Learning opportunities⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

Education Scotland CLD officers have collated a range of websites and specific online courses that may be relevant to those working in the Community Learning and Development sector. We hope you find these useful – please get in touch with Susan.Epsworth@educationscotland.gov.scot if you know of an opportunity worth sharing

Learn 100% online with world-class universities and industry experts – Browse Future Learn’s free online courses in subjects ranging from Psychology and Mental Health to Creative Arts and Media https://www.futurelearn.com/courses

Black Lives Matter – Explore resources from petitions to books and courses – to help you get involved in the Black Lives Matter movement, and educated about the history of black oppression https://www.futurelearn.com/info/blog/black-lives-matter-resources

Abertay University has four free credit-bearing courses to help individuals develop their digital marketing abilities, and support businesses. They are delivered online and include live teaching sessions. https://www.abertay.ac.uk/courses/digital-marketing-micro-courses

Professional Development Resources for College Staff  on CDN LearnOnline https://professionallearning.collegedevelopmentnetwork.ac.uk/

Free online learning in a range of subjects from the Open University    https://www.open.edu/openlearn/free-courses

Find training, tutorials, templates, quick starts, and cheat sheets for Microsoft 365, including Excel, Outlook, Word, SharePoint, Teams, OneDrive, OneNote and more https://support.microsoft.com/en-gb/training

The Microsoft Certified Educator Program is a professional development program that bridges the gap between technology skills and innovative teaching, learn more: https://education.microsoft.com/en-us

Trend Micro https://internetsafety.trendmicro.com/webinars

Digi Learn Scot – a range of pre-recorded webinars to learn online at a time that suits you https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzFsp7PF70TMlqVM4nCsxSg?view_as=subscriber

 

OneNote Teacher Academy⤴

from @ @cullaloe | Tech, tales and imagery

The Microsoft OneNote Teacher Academy is a learning path comprising four short courses introducing the use of OneNote in teaching for lesson planning, assessment and activities for learning:

  • Getting Started with OneNote
  • OneNote Class Notebook: A teacher’s all-in-one notebook for students
  • OneNote Staff Notebook: Tools for staff collaboration
  • Independent learning with math tools in OneNote

These are my notes taken as I followed the learning path, including the reflection questions and my responses.

Contents

Getting started with OneNote

The course makes use of lock-step interactive videos which step you through mouse clicks to achieve the various functions in OneNote, which at first I thought was patronising, but which actually gets you used to the interface quickly. If you’re following and feel the same thing, stick with it.

Module 1: Getting started with OneNote for Windows 10

So, the introduction tells us that OneNote is a way of “staying organised, quickly capturing ideas, and accessing information across devices”. It’s a digital notebook that seems to rely on Windows 10 - the intro video seems to assume that all participants are using that OS and steps through “how to use Windows”. The OS is different on my MacBook, so the introductory video doesn’t work well at the start, but it gets better once you start using the OneNote app.

Reflection

What aspects of organizing words does OneNote mimic? - It’s like a real notebook and helps you make little documents or pages of notes.

What are some ways you might organize your sections and pages? - into chapters or topics, maybe. Gather those into project notebooks.

What topics might be an easy place to start a notebook or section? - Course structure, syllabus, one note per week, maybe.

Module 2: Getting to know OneNote for Windows 10

OneNote is organised into pages, which can be organised in sections like the tabs in a FiloFax. It has a built-in full-text search function which I think is a very good thing for students to have - it’s one of the major reasons I turned from Learn to Moodle 3 years ago.

Items like text boxes in the pages of OneNote are drag-and-droppable, a bit like the Apple Pages app, and allow a great deal of flexibility over how the pages look. Each page is like “a digital canvas” that can accept media, images and ink (from a stylus), or embed things like YouTube videos. Items can be hyperlinked.

Audio or video feedback can be inserted into pages on the fly.

User help in the interface is available through the “lightbulb” icon, aka “Tell me”.

Reflection

What are the benefits of being able to start writing or typing anywhere on the page? - you can be creative with the flow and functionality of your resources and activities.

What are the benefits of being able to insert pictures and media anywhere on the page? - same again, creativity in making logical storyboards for learning.

Module 3: Getting the most out of OneNote for Windows 10

This module exemplified the use of digital ink, (re)organising materials and sharing work in a team using OneNote. A number of workarounds in the interface were also exercised in here, such as when you need to right-click, or use a non-obvious menu to perform aesthetic changes like page colour. There are neat functions built in for tablet users in particular, such as “ink to shape” and “ink to text” that convert your scruffy notes and scribbles into something somebody else can read. The glory of form over function!

Inserting video links will embed the video itself.

One very interesting feature is the researcher tool, which is used for pulling together web sources and their citations. I’m not sure it’s going to lead to good academic writing, but I’ll try it out to see how it works.

Reflection

How much time do teachers spend looking for files in old email threads? - none at all. Not this one, anyway, I’m better organised than that. I delete almost everything once I’ve detached the information I need.

How does OneNote’s organization save teachers time? - I’m not convinced it does, yet. I think that quick re-organisation of pages and sections is what is being referred to in this question.

What is the benefit to being able to access information from all of your devices? - you can drop your device off a bridge and not lose any information.

Module 4: Digital Ink

This section described the time-linked digital ink feature of OneNote which allows you to step forward and back through the sequence of pen strokes. A teacher can do this in a student’s notes, too, to enable them to replay, video-like, the thinking of the learner as they constructed their responses. A blog post advertises the features in the recent redesign of OneNote and it does look impressive in the use case shown in the promotional video. I particularly liked the attention that has been paid to achieving consistency across different platforms and devices:

OneNote users often use a range of devices. Having a cohesive user experience across all screens makes it simple for users to jump from one device to the next.

This also helps promote consistency of experience in a learning community, enabling a common culture of understanding in collaboration.

Reflection

When would you encourage students to use the “playback” feature? - when revising previous work, or when looking at teacher feedback.

Would this be beneficial for a teacher looking at a student’s homework assignment? - of course, to uncover misconceptions.

Do you think teachers would use this as they take notes for a class or meeting? - I need to try it first, but it might enable the making of useful video tutorials for revision, or accessibility, or for students who are unable to participate live.

Trying it out

I went to my own instance of OneNote to try this playback feature out but couldn’t find it at all, which was frustrating. Nor could I find things like “ink to text”, the “tell me” lightbulb, or many of the features this course has described. Perhaps the OSX version of OneNote I am using doesn’t know about the consistency across devices this module is talking about. Further reading reveals that although they are superficially similar, there are substantial differences in the feature sets in OneNote, depending on which device you are running it on. This gives the lie to the earlier content, something I am genuinely disappointed to discover, having made a real effort to suppress my visceral, justified and hard-earned distrust of All Things Microsoft.

OneNote links tend to open not in the application but a browser window - yet another version of OneNote that doesn’t have the features described so far in this course. The ecosystem seems to be significantly varied across platforms.

The very last line of module 5:

This course covers features in the OneNote Windows 10 app. To see which features are available in other OneNote versions, visit this site: The differences in OneNote.

The list isn’t complete or accurate, for example, the replay function I was genuinely excited by, isn’t in the list. Spending more time exploring the OneNote interface created more difficulty. I tried to connect to Teams, where I have set up a team for the new cohort and those remaining from previous years, but with little success, and little help when it didn’t work:

Screenshot on connection

Module 5: A content library brimming with rich resources

The last module in this “getting started” course is a collection of videos or examples of content made by other teachers (“OneNote Ninjas”). I couldn’t see how the content library worked at all, nor how it worked in teaching practice. Some clues were deducible from the end of course quiz - it seems to be a read-only resource space for learners.

Reflection

How might the Content Library be a unique place for students in your class? - in the same way perhaps, as the class cupboard is unique.

What kinds of media might you add to make your Content Library a go-to place for students? - not sure, because I couldn’t get it to work, but I would hope any digital media.

Once your Content Library is complete for one class, would it take much to alter it for next year’s class? - it depends on the class and any changes to the course but in principle, maybe just change all the dates.

The quiz

A very low bar to leap over. For example…

  • OneNote can locate any word on any page in any of your notebooks with the ____ function.

    • Looking
    • Hunt
    • Search
    • Where is it?

Still useful, though, because the quiz added some details that weren’t in the course content.

OneNote Class Notebook: A teacher’s all-in-one notebook for students

The course uses the same approach as the first, with interactive videos.

Module 1: Getting started with a OneNote Class Notebook

The Class Notebook is intended to help teachers deliver content, work collaboratively and provide private feedback to learners. It is described as being like a physical notebook, filing cabinet and whiteboard in one. This is achieved by providing a private notebook for each student; a content library; a teacher-only area; and a space for collaboration with students or staff.

The teacher can look at any of the student notebooks, and provide private feedback or commentary. The collaboration space allows for peer work and assessment. The content library is only writable by the teacher.

Reflection

What types of materials would be best housed in the Content Library versus the Collaboration Space? Think of a few ways to organize your Class Notebook and start by creating one section and giving it a try. - Static materials which do not require editing or annotation by students.

I created new sections within the collaboration space and content library, and even created a new section group, but cannot immediately tell how access is managed in these groups. Further investigation revealed that you cannot do this in the OneNote app: it can be done by logging in to the Microsoft OneNote website and finding Manage notebooks. I found this difficult because the browser version of my Class Notebook and the OneNote version were different (different groups, and sections not in sync). The browser interface offered connection to the notebook, which it did in the browser, but still gave me no insight into who could see my new group. The lightbulb “Tell me what you want to do” offered a very narrow scope (menu items) or a wider search using Bing (what else, when you’re in a corporate prison?) which isn’t available without acknowledging data permissions. I’m stuck in a hole within an application infrastructure which is utterly getting in the way of what I am trying to do.

Module 2: Setting up a OneNote Class Notebook

It says here, “OneNote Class Notebook can assist teachers in providing:

  • Individualized instruction
  • Meaningful feedback
  • Rich multimedia content”

We’re getting a lot of repetition in the videos now, and more patterns emerging. Setting up a OneNote Class Notebook starts not in the app, but on (yet another different) website: Office 365. This can also be done via the MS Teams app: I set up a class notebook for the new cohort Team OK. The dialog for this task sets out the default access permissions for the Collaboration Space; Content Library; and Student Notebooks.

Class notebook setup

Once the class notebook is set up in Teams, you can open it in the OneNote app. Deleting a notebook is a completely different matter: it is ridiculously hard to do this and will take you and hour or so of Googling: different procedures are needed according your platform, Office account setup and which way the wind is blowing. I followed this set of instructions to delete the class notebook I had set up, naïvely, in the OneNote app. That didn’t work at all, because the menu selections on the website were different (there is no “Manage and Delete” option in OneNote today). I have no idea how to delete a NoteBook. I think it can be done through the online access to OneDrive, but I can’t tell if I deleted a link, or an actual item, or whether in fact it was just moved somewhere else. That situation gives me no confidence in this software suite at all. The more I learn about it, the more I dislike it. Still, we’re here now, so let’s see this through…

Reflection

In what ways would OneNote Class Notebook allow you to differentiate your instruction to various students? - by writing different things in their notebooks. By providing different materials for them in the content library.

What is it about Class Notebook that might expedite giving feedback compared to traditional paper assignments? - synchronisation. The student’s notebook is updated as soon as the teacher writes in it.

Module 3: Getting the most out of OneNote Class Notebook

It says here, “OneNote Class Notebook has many features to help teachers:

  • Distribute assignments
  • Write feedback
  • Share with parents - a unique link”

OK, I get it. It’s like Church. Keeping saying the mantras, singing the hymns, re-stating the creed, and eventually we all are saved. The more I am sold to, the less I want to buy. I’m going straight to the reflections before watching the video this time:

Reflection

What are the advantages to verbal feedback for a student? - it seems personal, and can be nuanced in non-verbal ways through tone and gesture. It can be individual, and can be replayed (if a clip is available, which presumably it is) at different speeds for comic effect to help understanding.

What are the advantages to verbal feedback for a teacher? - it might be quicker, especially if you do it in one take. There are some very real disadvantages too, in that it can be replayed in contexts you hadn’t intended.

When might teachers use this feature? - I wouldn’t normally, unless I had a vision impaired student who preferred it, but can see why some might be tempted to try it.

Things just don’t work

I discovered more functionality glitches as I followed the “getting the most…” video. I think these are bugs, rather than poor connectivity between the various interfaces - Teams, the OneNote app, the different websites that manage the spaces, etc. Things just don’t work: it’s clunky and inconsistent in daily usage, resulting in huge time costs for the teacher. For example, in OneNote app, I found “Manage Notebooks” which popped up what looks like a browser container, where I added a teacher only space without errors. This did not add the teacher only space in the Class Notebook in the app, but it was visible in the browser. Browser and app were synching OK, because I could type in one and see the changes with less than a second of latency in the other1.

I like the idea of “distributing” a page (assignment) to all student notebooks at the same time, then being able to review all of their completed edits of their copy of that page (assignment) simply in the interface. I am not sure I can rely on that without testing it first, however, so am not intending to spend any time on this. The collaboration space idea is implemented in a difficult and weird way also: individual groups of students can be allocated to sections within that space but if a deadline passes, the entire collaboration space must be locked rather than the individual section.

I am increasingly coming to the conclusion that BlackBoard Learn might be my best option for Physics PGDE in the coming session. This is a real pity because of Learn’s deficiencies. I wonder if I will go maverick again and launch a Bookdown site as a searchable resource for my students.

Module 4: Immersive Reader and Researcher

This module provides detail on some of the accessibility features built into Class Notebook, including the Immersive Reader, which is a nice idea but again, just does not work reliably. It failed to recognise login credentials when I tried to use it the first time but I was able to get it working once I’d logged in and out a few times of the various interfaces. When it does work, it’s a screen reader - “immersive” meaning that it removes sidebars and ribbons, displaying just the text of the document you’re looking at in a large font, with a moving highlighter that follows the voice.

Researcher is a weak tool that lowers the access bar for students who need help doing basic searches for information. It seems to have been lifted, like other tools in this suite, from the main Office toolset.

Reflection - see above.

Module 5: Making Math Happen in OneNote

This module is not about learning mathematics and is definitely not about “… a virtual math tutor with OneNote”. It is just a video pitch for OneNote using children talking about glitter pens and toys in the OneNote space, and a very brief mention of “ink to math”, which doesn’t seem to exist in the app, but is available in OneNote in the browser. It’s a digital ink converter that recognises mathematical symbols.

Module 6: Accessibility in OneNote

This module is more on accessibility features and functions in OneNote - a button you can click that tells you “everything is OK” in your documents.

Module 7: Translation

Self-explanatory, this one: using the share button on any document within OneNote allows you to export it through Microsoft’s Translator application if you have it installed. I don’t because it isn’t available for OSX, and it doesn’t seem to be available in the browser version of OneNote, either.

The quiz

Just as challenging as the last one. Earned myself a “Certified Microsoft Innovative Educator” badge for having completed 2 hours of online Microsoft Educator CPD.

Review of progress and next steps

What I have learned in the past few hours (a lot more than the two hours these two courses suggest) is that Microsoft tools are most definitely not the way forward for my hybridised teaching in the autumn. Too much time is required in trouble-shooting problems, bugs, inadequately documented differences between platforms, and design flaws. I want a piece of chalk, not a stick of cheese and some certified training in how to use it on a blackboard.

Your mileage may vary, of course: if you are fully embedded within the Redmond way of things, then good luck to you. This particular teacher is going to be innovative in other ways, and not be burdened by having to work this difficult software. Class Notebook is not going to feature in my teaching.

I completed the rest of the OneNote Teacher Academy learning path (without taking notes, digital or otherwise) and earned my badge.

MIE certificate

My transcript is available here.

Footnotes

  1. Later, I got this to work by signing out in the OneNote app, connecting to the University VPN, signing in to the university’s EASE authorisation (in the browser), and then restarting the OneNote app, and signing in (to Office 365) in the app. That is just such a ridiculous waste of time messing around trying to figure out why it doesn’t work, only to have it suddenly behave itself at the point of launching the laptop out the window. For reasons of mental wellbeing, I am heading back to avoiding Microsoft software as far as I possibly can. Life is just too short for this nonsense. 

Microsoft Tools for Education⤴

from @ @cullaloe | Tech, tales and imagery

Having spent time thinking about the principles and approaches I will be taking with my teaching in the new semester, now I must move to thinking about the tools that I will be using.

Goodbye, Moodle

For the past 3 years, I have used a Moodle instance to support and communicate with students in preference to the University’s BlackBoard Learn. The main reason for this (there are several) is that Moodle is user-centric with features like search. Learn doesn’t have that, and is one of those systems that is designed for the designer, not the user.

Moodle has increasingly become more costly to sustain because of a series of ongoing bugs, most recently following the upgrade to 3.9, search has stopped working. Now, I’m a busy person and don’t have time to debug this right now, so I have decided that I need to use a more stable system of tools.

Community

One of the single most important aspects of learning is the community you learn with. Former students have continued to access their Moodle course for a long time after the PGDE ends. I don’t want to abandon them, or break that community, so I have set up a Slack workspace for former PGDE Physics students, including those more senior who did not have the Moodle experience. So far, they have responded well to the idea. I will be using Slack to connect to the new cohort, outside of the official channels which they cannot join until they matriculate in September. This will give them a head start on building community.

Conformity

There are a lot of people using Microsoft tools, and the university is no exception: we make increasingly consistent use of Sharepoint, Office365, OneDrive, OneNote, and the ever-present PowerPoint. Now, whilst there is a very good argument not to be suckered into the global brand domination of Microsoft, you can’t say that Bill Gates has kept all the money for himself, so there is a reason to go with the flow. The other, closer to home, reason is the perceived equity of the student cohort. Our students hate difference in experience, perceiving it to be somehow uneven or even discriminatory. It isn’t, and never has been. It’s good pedagogy to try to meet the particular needs of your learners, so teachers will always try to adapt and innovate to make things better for their own, very special, learners. That’s why I have operated a Moodle site outside of the mainstream experience for my Physics cohorts in the past 3 years.

I’m going to try to use the MS tools because the university has spent a lot of money providing them. Because it’s what the rest of the team are doing, and I might be able to offer support to my colleagues as we move forward into hybridised teaching together. Because the time cost of operating a maverick set is unnecessary, when I have the cost of conforming to bear also.

Getting ready

I need to skill up. So, I’m going to pick up an MIE, starting with the OneNote Teacher Academy course. I’m starting here because it’s where I need to begin in shifting content from the old VLE into something newer: not Learn, because it’s not fit for that particular purpose, but OneNote. Here we go.

Deploying a Bookdown site securely⤴

from @ @cullaloe | Tech, tales and imagery

I have been writing documentation for a project in markdown using RStudio, which provides a nice way of packaging it all as a static (html) website. I wanted to share this work with colleagues securely.

Writing workflow

The documents exist within an RStudio project and are built to a folder containing static files. That folder is by default _book, but I change this to docs to make it easy to deploy as a github site if I wish1. Configuration management is a crucial element to proper productivity, not just in software but also in all walks of life where documentation is important. Because of this, I use github to store my work safely, should I lose a laptop or suffer some other first-world calamity. It’s one of the reasons I use markdown when writing: configuration management is well-suited to text-based documents because it is easy to track and manage changes.

Although I keep the source files on github, I haven’t published this project to github pages because it should not be publicly available: instead, I deploy to a VPS (Centos/Apache/Plesk), putting it all behind a login.

The domain

I set up a specific domain static.cullaloe.net for this project, and secured it with an SSL certificate.

The files

Clone the GitHub repository into a new folder somewhere behind the web-facing directory (i.e. not in httpdocs). In this example, both the repository and the local folder are called “foobar”:

$ git clone https://github.com/githubuser/foobar.git /var/www/vhosts/[domain]

It is not necessary to specify the target directory, you’ll get that as default. It is not possible2 to selectively clone a github project: it’s all or nothing. /var/www/vhosts/[domain]/foobar now contains all of the source files of the project.

Permissions

You need to create a .htpasswd file in the server somewhere, containing the username and password you wish to grant access to your files to:

$ /path/to/htpasswd -c /var/www/vhosts/[domain]/.htaccess user1

This prompts you for the password you wish to set for this user. Adding another user is the same command without the -c option.

The server

You need to tell the Apache, using Alias, where to find the files, and with <Location>, control who can access files at the URL you are trying to protect. In the Plesk control panel, Apache & nginx Settings for static.cullaloe.net ···:

Alias /foobar /var/www/vhosts/[domain]/foobar/docs
<Location /foobar>
	AuthType Basic
	AuthName "Restricted access"
	AuthUserFile /var/www/vhosts/[domain]/.htpasswd
	Require user user1
</Location>

Outcome

I can easily continue to work on my project documentation, updating it from time to time for colleagues who are interested in seeing what I’m doing. I make (neurotic) use of github for configuration management and safekeeping of all my hard work anyway, so updating the site just requires $ git pull from the repository folder on the web server. They can then view the documentation in a browser, or download a pdf or docx that is up-to-date with my current progress.

Notes

  1. In bookdown.yml, add the line output_dir: "docs"

  2. As far as I know, anyway. 

DYW Summer Leavers’ Programme 2020⤴

from @ Education Scotland's Learning Blog

An online portal E-DYW has been created, it is a One-Stop-Shop for young people, educators, employers, parents/carers that can be accessed at https://www.dyw.scot/. It will include multiple resources from private & public sector bodies to provide support to young people leaving school this year.

A series of sessions have also been created to support both young people, parents and carers delivered through our Scotland’s Biggest Parents’ Events and DYW Skills Academy.

Scotland’s Biggest Parents’ Event (SBPE) series is aimed at providing information and relevant updates on topics that are of interest to support young people with the transition from school. The first event will take place on Tuesday 7th July 2020. www.dyw.scot/sbpe 

The DYW Skills Academy: Get Industry Ready delivered over July and August is a series of activities and virtual experiences with industry to support young people to build capacity to enter the labour market.  www.dyw.scot/skills-academy

 

Introduction to Mendeley Advisors Webinar⤴

from @ @cullaloe | Tech, tales and imagery

This webinar was run for the benefit of Mendeley advisors. I thought I might run a session on citation and referencing for students and so went to this webinar for a refresher on the advisor programme.

The webinar was presented by Dr Rob Moore, an AP at Old Dominion University, USA, and Rachel Brennesholtz, Head of Mendeley advisors programme at Elsevier in Amsterdam, who gave an introduction.

Why Mendeley, and how to introduce it

Rob cited the principal advantage of Mendeley over Zotero as the ability to annotated the pdfs within the app. He talked about some of the “gotchas” in Mendeley, specifically, getting the title right on import of a citation, and the inconsistency with author names.

He then discussed his demonstration approach when showing Mendeley to new users, which starts with input of several citations, showing the immediate build of the bibliography files. He then moved to demonstration of annotation of pdfs on an iPad.

The advisor community

Rachel told us about the world-wide community of advisors and users, and shared some statistics on its reach - 22,000 students were introduced to it in about 300 events in 2019. She shared a links to the advisor community1 and advised us to email community-@-mendeley.com2 if the advisor badge doesn’t show on your profile.

Benefits of the programme include expanded network storage (7.5 GB) and exclusive product updates and webinars. There’s merchandise, too (t-shirts, pens and stickers, etc). You have to register an event to get these, which can be online or in person. The Mendeley event can be part of other events (such as sessions on citation and referencing for example). Allow 4 weeks to get your stuff from Amsterdam.

Resources

Rachel winged it a bit as her slides froze, but then got on to showing the PowerPoint slides and other materials available to support training sessions put on by advisors.

Next steps

I’ve been prompted by a colleague today to make a video on note-taking using Cornell and sketch noting, both of which I use and teach as part of my work at Moray House. My colleague also shared this YouTube video of someone doing this, without actually understanding how the Cornell system works: like a lot of YouTube channel stars, that presenter knows about the product without understanding the process, which is the important part. I think I might also make a separate video or session on citing with Mendeley for academic writing.

Notes and references

  1. The advisors portal is here

  2. Remove the hyphens for the correct address.