Aug 31

Education is Changing – five of my fave quotes about how and why!

I’m sure you’ve notice that education has changed since we were at school – and is continuing to change! Not only are the kids different and have access to different types of learning, but teachers today know more about what it means to learn and how to best help kids understand and create new knowledge.

Hopefully, we don’t see too much rote learning and textbook-based teaching in our primary schools. This still happens in some schools but in every school I’ve visited (over 500 in the past 2 years) every teacher wants the best for their students – sometimes the reason that they still use ‘traditional’ methods of teaching is because they haven’t had the opportunity to engage in other ways. This is tricky! And isn’t likely to be fixed in the short term. What we can do though is to have a think about what education is actually for…is it to pass exams? To be like the other kids their age? To be well-rounded members of society? Maybe education is about strategically planning for our countries future – and then creating and education system that spits out kids that will make that vision a reality.

I think the role of education is actually quite complex, but whatever its purpose, education has to address the fact that learning today shouldn’t be the same as it was 20 or 30 or more years ago. Some very smart people have thought about why we spend time on education, here are 5 quotes that I love :0)

1   ‘To be a teacher you must be a prophet – because you are trying to prepare people for a world thirty to fifty years into the future.’
Gordon Brown MIT


2   ‘We need to prepare students for THEIR future not OUR past’
Ian Jukes, educator and Futurist.


3   ‘Education is the most powerful weapon, which you can use to change the world.’
Nelson Mandela, former President South Africa


4   ‘The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.’
Alvin Toffler
5   ‘We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future.’
Franklin D. Roosevelt


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Aug 17

Take better video on your smartphone!

How is your week going? I’m busy at work but enjoying it. I have actually finished a few things on my list and emails them off! (practically a miracle). I’ve been answering lots of questions about using cameras vs smartphones for video making lately. I know that lots of kids love to make movies on mum or dad’s phone so I thought I’d offer a few tips so that when we have to watch that ‘adorable’ video for the hundredth time you won’t be twitching with irritation at the jerky video or bad sound!

Here are my top 5 tips to get your kids taking better video on your smartphone (or tablet!).

  1.  The videographer needs to stand still! Yes, obvious but hopping from foot to foot makes for horrible footage. Plant two feet on the floor and stay there.
  2. Elbows in! Hold the device with TWO hands, then tuck your elbows into your side. If you need to follow the action, twist at the waist and keep those feet still and your arms in.
  3. Give a countdown. Before you start filming, let the ‘actors’ know that you’re about to film. Three! Two! One! Action! This will avoid having to scroll past 2minutes of ‘wait, i’m not ready’ ‘I’m ready’ ‘Wait for me’ !!
  4. Record a bit extra at the end. If your kids get to edit the movie, they’ll love adding credits and adding themselves as director, actor, writer. You’ll need a few (maybe 5) seconds of extra footage at the end to roll the credits over. Easy to do and fun too!
  5. Use the built in camera app to film. Then use another app to edit. iMovie is great but there are some great apps that add kid-friendly fun filters at the push of a button. Try Adobe Premier Free (Android and iOS).

When you are done, don’t forget to delete the out-takes – you only need to keep the best one, otherwise your devices will fill up with 4 second clips of someones shoe and you won’t have storage for when you really need it ;0)

Have fun filming!

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Aug 03

7 things to know about Pokemon GO before you head out the door with your kids

Do your kids play Pokemon GO?

If the answer is ‘I don’t know’, then you need to ask them today (or check out their device for the app).

Pokemon GO is huge right now, and for good reason, it’s fun! There’s a fantastical storyline through the game that, for many young adults, reminds them of the Nintendo GameBoy games they played in their teenage years – there’s a lot of nostalgia in Pokemon GO for some people! For others, this is a relatively new type of game. It’s augmented reality, what you see in the game is the real world, overlaid with fantasy animals and virtual landmarks.

Through my work at university, I’m researching the impact of this type of game on how kids learn, and what motivates them to persist when things get hard. Pokemon GO is based on some software developed for another, very similar game, called Ingress (check it out if you like the idea of Pokemon GO but aren’t into made up creatures – Ingress is based on a much more low-key Sci-Fi story but it’s very similar in other ways).

There are some reports of ‘bad’ things happening within the game. Mainly folks getting distracted and wandering into the road…This is easily avoided!

We need to teach our kids real-world safety as well as online safety – that includes roads and traffic :0) With the hype around Pokemon GO at the moment, I know a lot of parents are being nagged to take their kids out Poke-hunting. I think that’s great – good times for all! Before you head off though, here are the 7 things you need to know to look good in front of your kids this weekend!

  1. Pokemon GO is a virtual reality game that you play but physically going to places in the world. Be prepared to walk!
  2. The game involves finding and ‘catching’ Pokemon. These virtual creatures can fly, walk, crawl and swim, so you need to look for them everywhere. They also appear at different times of the day (fairies only come out at night, don’t you know). They appear in a modified map on your phone screen. When you tap on them your phone camera turns on and you can see the Pokemon located in your actual environment – a bit like a video overlay on the world. Get ready to learn lots of Pokemon names!
  3. Pokemon are sneaky. You catch them by launching ‘Pokeballs’ at them, (flinging virtual balls at them from your phone’s screen and trying to hit them), but sometimes they duck out of the way. Keep trying!
  4. You’ll need ‘supplies’ to play the game and reach higher levels. You can collect everything you’ll need by visiting landmarks in the real world. These are called PokeStops and are where your kids will want to go! In the game they look like giant lollipops on sticks. Be ready to visit new places and to set boundaries about where your kids are allowed to go!
  5. When you get to level 5, you can visit gyms. Here you can virtually battle other Pokemon to score points and control the Gym – all from the screen of your phone. This gives your team extra points and extra supplies. This part of the game is cooperative – and you will need to carefully supervise your kids and explain how to play safely. Remember to discuss cyber-privacy and online safety!
  6. PokemonGo is fun, engaging and motivating for adults and for kids. If your children are young (or young at heart), they will need your guidance and common sense. A big part of this is the fact that as you get further in the game and play collaboratively, you’ll need to be aware that other players can see your location. Of course, they don’t know what you look like in the real world and one way to confuse other players is choosing a player name of the opposite gender (so, if your name is Rachel, call yourself Bob in the game: other players will be looking around them for a guy….). Be ready to talk about this aspect of the game and monitor kid’s use!
  7. Playing this game you will likely exercise more, get outdoors more and visit places in your Neighbourhood you didn’t know existed. PokemonGo is a great family activity and a fun way to get your kids out and walking around. Don’t be afraid to play the game. If you have younger kids, install the app on your phone and be sure to supervise their use. You can maintain control but your kids could use the navigate features to practice location skills while finding new Pokemon, or they could launch PokeBalls at the Pokemon and experience physics and angle and velocity.

There are lots of learning opportunities in the game – Get ready to have fun!