A guide to creating and hosting your podcasts

Shared by Darren DeMatas, How to Make a Podcast, is a really clear, easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide, which uses a range of multimedia to demonstrate and inform anyone who is interested in podcasting.

The guide also includes some indicative pricing if you are serious about getting into podcasting.

Buzzsprout, who produced the guide, offers a hosting option. The option has a free plan available, and you don’t need to enter your credit card details to sign up.

I’d highly recommend this guide!


Image: Publish once update everywhere. From the Buzzsprout site: http://www.buzzsprout.com/how-to-make-a-podcast

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What’s next? The NMC Horizon Report 2014 (HE)

Recommended by Richard Elliott in an eLearning Watch ‘extra’ (which you can subscribe to on his site), is the The NMC Horizon Report: 2015 Higher Education Edition.

A review of the report can be found by clicking this hyperlink . A brief highlight of some of the key aspects of the report is:

“The experts agreed on two long-term trends: advancing learning environments that are flexible and drive innovation, as well as increasing the collaboration that takes place between higher education institutions”.

“Regarding the challenges for universities and colleges, improving digital literacy is considered one of the solvable challenges”.

“Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and the flipped classroom are expected to be increasingly adopted by institutions in one year’s time or less to make use of mobile and online learning. The time-to-adoption for makerspaces and wearable technology are estimated within two to three years, while adaptive learning technologies and the Internet of Things is expected to be mainstream in universities and colleges within four to five years.”

Well worth a read.

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Entertain people and make it fun…make people forget they are learning

I think there there are few in New Zealand and beyond who will not be aware of Nigel Latta. He has been involved in a few TV series and documentaries, including around education.

Starting with a discussion about science, Nigel talked about his experience of doing a session about gravity hanging out of a window, and then another about hyperthermia…and what it’s like to hang out a window in an uncomfortable harness, and then standing in a freezer for an hour and 15 minutes in a shirt. Interestingly, it was when he came out that he started to get hyperthermic.

He mentioned that he likes engaging people in education – and science is seen as a “distant aunt who doesn’t come to the Christmas dinner and that type of stuff”. “If you are talking to kids about climate change”…”it’s all important, but as you read the supporting documents a little bit of your start to shrivel up”. “It’s about engaging people in the world”. Rather, if you say “do you want to see something that’s freakin’ cool…which could is going to say no?”. Nigel demonstrated with a time lapse view of the heart beat of the planet as ice forms and melts.

Using the example of the ‘story’ of the Harley Davison and the image as a way of hooking people in, realising that “the stuff that you’ve got is really cool”. “Maths is the perfect example. I went all the way through school thinking that maths was boring”. It was only later that he realised that maths is fascinating, and exciting! (and highlighted a podcast about Prime numbers where the speaker was incredibly passionate).

Nigel moved on to the question “Why does a civilisation dominated by experts find it so difficult to respond to reality rather than ideology?” (John Ralston Saul), and talked about some instances where experts from outside of communities make decisions that make no sense in context. It is underpinned by the notion that “providers are self-interested whereas providers in Wellington has everybody’s interest at heart”. He moved on to a quote by Edward de Bono “you can’t dig a hole in a different place by digging the same hole deeper” – in other words doing the “same old same old stuff doesn’t work” you keep doing the same thing!

Statistically stuff changes in people’s lives, so if you stand close enough to some of the “worst cases” you are able to benefit from some of the reflected glory – it was said humorously, but it made a great point. He goes on to describe listing all your assumptions, and crossing off all you are sure off and then the two or three that are left over at the end of the process they are often the ones that contain the seed of what is actually happening and might be influenced.

“When it comes to thinking we are not very good at it”. Nigel gave a thumbnail sketch from the beginning of the universe to now, and on the way through indicated that humans developed to cooperate, collaborate, and create. Part of this process is refining tools and tweaking them to do things that haven’t been done before – and Nigel showed the video of the astronaut who made the first music video in space. In part it was to show that curiosity and ‘amazement’ can lead to astounding progressions…some of which are to make life better. He also made the point that “basically we are using the same stone age brain”.

We also have a way of filtering what we do or do not believe, giving the example of standing on the scales weighing yourself – “if you like the number you see” you accept it, if you don’t “you get off and fiddle with the knobs” etc. We are pretty poor when it comes to thinking and making decisions. Some of it, system 1 thinking is instinctual (e.g. and angry cat), the system 2 takes a lot of energy and brains don’t necessarily want to expend a lot of energy, especially when humans were hunting and gathering. “If a bat and a ball together cost $1.10, and the bat costs $1 more than the ball…how much does the ball cost?” (answer below :D). We didn’t develop to solve problems like this, and we haven’t developed to have the number of relationships we currently do. Which means we are having to adapt and change…and that is why “change is so hard”.

The more we do something the more we ‘hard-wire’ it into our brains. For instance, if we learn the piano it starts off as difficult but then gets easier…and we can’t ‘un-learn’ it. So – change is really uncomfortable as we are having to ‘re-wire’. Human beings are therefore influenced by this, and are pretty terrible at making decisions. It’s really worth checking out Daniel Kahneman and his research. As such, the idea of certainty is the most dangerous thing. We all make dumb decisions, and understanding that we make such poor decisions and planning is a myth.

All the time “opinion is reported as fact”, and research is misinterpreted and incorrectly summarised and presented. Therefore, Nigel feels that data is really important and can provide parts of a puzzle that can inform the picture – and opinions – we then form. Data tells you things about the world that you don’t know (however – note from me – a caveat is that it does depend on how the human(s) who collect the data, interpret it – humans have been ‘certain’ about things based on data, until it has been re-interpreted, often when other data becomes available).

Nigel then moved on to talk about Carol Dweck’s work about fixed and growth mindsets. “If you have the growth mindset and feedback … when you get the option you will go for the hard option” – the growth mindset. So, it’s more positive to say to a young learner that ‘that was really good, you worked really hard’, rather than, ‘that was really good, you’re really smart’. The former keeps the door open, even in the face of things going wrong – encouraging experimentation and risk, the latter – when you hit a snag, suggests that you are not smart. Anything is possible for almost all human beings, it’s all to do with strategy, attitude and effort. “Human beings work on a growth mindset model”.

John Hattie’s research, “Visible Learning”, has collected data that illustrates, for example, class size doesn’t matter, but micro-teaching and feedback does (you can find a brief summary on this site). The most powerful predictor of success is students’ expectation of themselves. So, if you have an environment with young learners and a constant focus of raising expectations of themselves, there is likely to be a consistent raising of achievement. You can change people’s expectations of themselves!

Nigel brought us back to engagement, and how to engage people – or how people become engaged. Often big industries are risk averse, such as TV. He told the story of how he got worked to get the opportunity to make a programme in the Antarctic. What he really hopes is that “kids will start to watch this and think science is really cool”, and want to get into science as a profession. “There are jobs that you can do in science that are astoundingly interesting”. This has led him to make a science show to bring science back to TV – and making it interesting, fun, and relevant.

I really enjoyed this session – entertaining, thought-provoking, a little bit provocative. It definitely provided some ideas around ‘how’. Your thoughts? Please share in the comments below :D


2011-07-29‘ http://www.flickr.com/photos/84554176@N00/6298140320 Found on flickrcc.net
Cave Deer‘ http://www.flickr.com/photos/28110584@N04/2973134645 Found on flickrcc.net
AK3‘  http://www.flickr.com/photos/34097675@N04/5275351422 Found on flickrcc.net
Answer to maths problem = 5 cents
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A free guide to Youth Engagement in the Economy

Adam Fletcher’s willingness to share his expertise, his drive to support youth, and his ability to challenge entrenched thinking, never fail to inspire me! So, it was great to find that Adam had been working hard to write and make available his latest book, which I highly recommend: A Short Introduction to Youth Engagement in the Economy FREE (81 pgs, 2015).

Over the last six months, Adam explains, he has “written more than a dozen articles about youth engagement in the economy” (source) that cover some of the “most forward-thinking about economic youth engagement” (source). He has compiled them into a publication, weaving the key themes together, and adding a number of important points.

Some of the questions he asks to help raise awareness in specific contexts include:

  • What opportunities are there for youth engagement in the economy through your workplace, program, organization, school or community?
  • What does youth engagement cost?
  • How is youth engagement funded?
  • How is youth engagement financed (e.g., parents, building partnerships, government sources, making better use of resources, etc.)?
  • How is youth engagement in the economy sustained in your community?” (p. 77)

In the guide, Adam is “addressing youth employment, youth entrepreneurship, youth training, youth banking, youth programs, school classes and other activities” (source). He suggest that employers, youth workers, teachers, and others committed to building the economy through youth engagement, would find the guide of interest.

If you have already downloaded and read the book, please share with your networks. You can also check out Adam’s other free guides, on his website. Please support Adam’s amazing work.

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Opening up a dialogue and having a voice: Digital storytelling competition

Planet example
Planet example (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
 Details of the PoliCulturaEXPOMilano2015 were shared by Michael Barbour.

PoliCulturaEXPOMilano2015 is a global competition where the “principal theme of the Exposition will be ‘Feeding the Planet, Energy for life'”. “The idea is to open up a dialogue between international players in order to exchange views on the major environmental, nutritional and energetic issues which are more and more relevant to everyone” (source).The belief is that “that the Exposition represents a unique opportunity to >engage children, youth, teachers and families  in a program aimed at stimulating and developing the knowledge on these important topics” (source).

“For this reason Politecnico di Milano organizes PoliCulturaEXPOMilano2015, a digital storytelling competition for schools aimed at creating an engaging learning experience, based on modern technological techniques and methods” (source).

“Since 2006, PoliCultura has involved nearly 25.000 students, aged 5 to 18, and over 1.500 teachers” (source).

Interested in taking part?

All the activities for the schools will start in the second semester (school year 2014-15) for the Northern Hemisphere and in the first semester (school year 2015-16) for the Southern Hemisphere.

The “PoliCulturaEXPOMilano2015 contest asks students to build a multimedia story on the themes related to Expo Milano 2015 with the guidance of their teachers. They will be provided with the instruments necessary to create the narrations as well as their teacher will be supported with educational resources” (source).

It’s a good idea to check out the information kits provided, as well as the learning impact.


Some of the main reasons to take part include:

  • the issues are really of planetary relevance (and very good for pedagogy)
  • this is a world education experience, with world communities of learners, world-shared resources, world-shared content…
  • there is high visibility of the output (in the initiative website, as well as at the universal exposition’s premises…)
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Work-life balance: using the Map of Meaning

It’s spring, and to help pick up on the theme of growth and connectedness Dave Burton (from Potential Development) in this webinar (recording for the session; Padlet of ideas shared during the session) helped extend our thinking about work and life – in particular about how it can help us achieve a ‘life work balance’.

The Map of Meaning model (originally developed by Marjolein Lips-Wiersma, Lani Morris, and Patricia Greenhough) also helps us examine where our focus is, on others or on ourselves. Most importantly it introduces the 4 main components which lead to us having a sense that our work is meaningful and of value to ourselves and to others.

The model helps us understand how we’re investing our time and whether that investment is helping us achieve our real goals; the goals that matter most. Dave started by talking about finding balance, as well as negotiating the path between your own reality and inspiration, and shared an example of his own experiences this year.

The model

The tool was unpacked during the session and stories shared that opened discussion to help us find ways to recognise and value how we balance the demands of life and work – from reality to inspiration. Some of the key areas of behaviour were:

  • Developing the Inner Self – Developing oneself and one’s resources.
  • Unity with Others – Building and maintaining relationships. Dave suggests that there is less and less time at work to ‘chew the fat’, to build relationships.
  • Expressing Full Potential – Promoting or representing oneself, taking oneself to market. One element of this is “exercising one’s mark and putting it on the table so that others can hear it and respond to it. For example, a head of department needs to be aware of what you have done”.
  • Service to Others – Delivering the goods. This one has “much more of an action to it. Doing what one says one will do. It’s rather more practical and involves doing the things and getting the results”.

Experiences and reflections

Vicki shared that she feels as though “I have lost my voice in the school I am in…am feeling more oppressed now”. Dave suggested that personal development (developing personal self) comes under threat when things are busy.

“The loneliness of the long-distance runner”…the change agents, needs the support of others who are willing or able to acknowledge that it’s tough. It could be a shared experience of facing challenges that draws us together, whether it’s “motorcycle gangs or an acapella choir”.  It’s also important to express what we can offer, and summarise what we’ve achieved; in a way “sounding your own note in the Universe”.


During this webinar Dave encouraged everyone to explore the tension between the inspiration that drives us and the circumstances in which we’re working. The questions he used to help frame up our thinking were:

  1. Where has the focus been for you in your work this year?
  2. What has supported/ensured your survival?
  3. What has been in balance, out of balance?
  4. What have the consequences of that been for you?
  5. How might you adjust your focus: For the remainder of this year? For next year?

Nathaniel shared that “Focus for me in work has probably been focused on service to others (and not just this year either). I think this is almost an easy place to be and stay in. I find I’m not so good in the unity with others, although I think I’m experiencing growth in this area. I probably need to focus on developing my inner self – or perhaps my whole self in terms of keeping healthy physically which will help mentally also”.

Wrap up…

This webinar helped us understand that working with this model not only helps ensure that we stay on track with our work, it helps us understand why we may be feeling stressed or even overwhelmed. It helps us adjust how we spend our time to lessen those negative feelings and ensure that we do find meaning, purpose and value in our work.

To use the Map of meaning as a means of survival, is quite an investment. Having a clear sense of what inspires you is one of the steps to leading a meaningful and successful life. However, there is often a gap between the inspiration that motivates us, and the reality in which we find ourselves.

Missed the session?

If you missed the session you can always access the recording, here:


And you can watch a couple of videos about the Map of Meaning here:



  • Spring. CC (BY ND) licensed Flickr image by Moyan Brenn: https://www.flickr.com/photos/aigle_dore/13026815355/
  • Balance. cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by James Box: http://flickr.com/photos/b0xman/2622396232/
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Feel like meetings are taking over…you might not be the only one!

As you go to yet another meeting, you might perhaps be wondering why. It may help you to know that you are not alone. The findings from a recent survey by LogMeIn, Inc. and Ovum suggests that not only has the number of meetings being called increased, the indication is that the meetings are perceived by participants as providing little or no value.

Some of the findings include:

More than 50% of workers reported an increase in the sheer number of meetings they are expected to attend; 2/3 of these workers indicate that at least 1/2 of their meetings are not of value; and worse, chronic late start times of these meetings are having a very real impact on worker productivity, most notably with executives, who, on average, are losing 3 hours a week – 5 1/2 days per year – in meeting delays alone. (Source)

Virtual meetings are now becoming the norm with 24 % of all meetings being virtual, a trend that skews higher for younger workers (age 26-35) who report that 36% of all of their meetings are held virtually. (Source)

You can get a full copy of the Ovum report, Collaboration 2.0: Death of the Web Conference (As We Know It) here, or get some quick highlights from the infographic below.

Image: Collaboration 2.0. Death of the web conference (as we know it). Source:LogMeIn, Inc.media contact from: 

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The importance of leaders leading professional development

The curriculum can be re-interpreted depending on the context. For example, around Auckland and Northland, there are different interpretations compared with Southland for example.

One of the most important things about the PLD review is that everyone on the advisory group panel believes that we are all learners. Community and sharing is key. For some people, the notion of a spiral of inquiry for example, is not easy to conceptualise unless you have done it.

Sandra Cubbitt talked about the background of The Report of the PLD Advisory Group (2014), and the people who were involved in the review. The challenge in the work is translating how what you knows works in your context, to a more general context. How can we create system learning across New Zealand. Sandra mentioned two levers – funding and legislation; other soft levers include the curriculum. A new creation of a PLD system that recognises these levers is challenging.

What does sustainability mean? (Taking the money away because you are all right on your own?) We don’t examine a project or a programme and look at it to see what it is we need to modify to acknowledge the ‘time’…that recognises shifts in ways of learning, for instance. Where there is a lot of evidence, which evidence do you use?

The group started at the bottom to identify what should be happening in every school. Sandra pointed us to the Spiral of inquiry, learning and action on p. 16 of the report. What they have discovered however, as when you get more into it, there is utter confusion around the notion of inquiry. The group is creating case studies around what inquiry ‘looks like’ to help exemplify the practice.

One of the key factors is social dialogue, which includes navigational openings. The spiral of inquiry recognises that it’s necessary for every teacher and every leader has the experience of inquiry…therefore, it’s not ‘teaching as inquiry’. As such, there needs to be a strong focus on building the leadership capability.

How do you know that you are making an impact? What are valued student outcomes? The government ones of literacy and numeracy? The focus on national standards gave us narrow measurement data, and was not positive for the national curriculum. Therefore, this group has taken a way wider view of valued student outcomes. We still have to be able to tell government about the impact on students learning.

On p. 21 in the report, Sandra shared that teachers have fed back that teachers can’t see themselves as visible…where are the teaching practices? What is it that the professional has to learn? It’s about the professional as learner. The group are going to insert another box into the diagram so that the teacher is visible.

Some interesting provocations and ideas, in particular around the fundamental influence of the Principal, and the necessity of them being involved.

It’s definitely worth reading the report.

The advisory group are looking for feedback around the approaches they are proposing, so you can also contact them by email at PLD.Secretariat@minedu.govt.nz.

Image: On white: Who you really are. CC (BY NC) licensed image by James Jordon: https://www.flickr.com/photos/jamesjordan/2226419650/

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eTeachers: Empowerment and ownership

How do we, as educators, upskill in a way that both empowers us to figure out how things might work best for our learners, while having no experiencing of learning in that way ourselves? Stephen Bright in E-teachers collaborating: Process based professional development for e-teaching (a .pdf file) explores this question.

Stephen indicates that “Lecturers (e-teachers) who get involved with e-learning face a number of challenges. Often they are grappling with a way of teaching in which they have no experience as learners, and while feedback processes may be available for monitoring and analysing the face-to-face lecturing environment, few systems are in place in most institutions to give supportive feedback to staff about their teaching effectiveness in the online environment” (Bright, 2008, p. 75).

Conducting a small-scale case study, Stephen worked with six teaching staff who had a range of eLearning experience from beginner to advanced. The purpose was to develop a framework and process for collegial review of teacher presence in online courses. It was framed in terms of Professional Development (PD) rather than Quality Assurance (QA). The study was conducted to increase the quality and quantity of feedback that teachers get about their courses. Most of the QA processes tend to be based on a check list, so re-framing it as PD was a way of making it less imposing, and this was enhanced by the fact that the participants created their own checklist.

In the paper, Stephen recommends the Garrison, Anderson and Archer (2000) eBook as a primer for eLearning and a model. He also uses the Seven Principles for Good Practice from Chickering and Gamson (1987) around undergraduate education, engagement, and active learning. Stephen Marshall’s Maturity Model is also suggested as a benchmark.

Of the seven people involved, each was given one principle each. They then met to brainstorm, and collated their ideas in a wiki. The final step was going through and undertaking a rating process (what are the must haves, and what are the nice to haves?). This resulted in primary indicators (30 – the must haves) , and secondary indicators (60 – the nice to haves). The participants discussed how eTeachers could set high expectations – feedback, timeliness, exemplars, and models, and generic feedback comments in neutral spaces, for example.

The Collegial Appraisal process was based around a range of roles, which took about 8.5 hours of face-to-face time and 3.5 hours contributing to the wiki. They spent an average of 2 hours each on self-appraisal and 4.5 hours for 3 review meetings.

The findings indicated that the staff who participated felt empowered rather than evaluated, and the resulting framework was available for institutional use. In addition, it illustrated the fact that you don’t have to have best practice frameworks, and you end up with more ownership when the eTeachers develop the frameworks themselves. The framework often ends up a good match with other benchmark models.

How do you conduct evaluation of blended and online courses at your institution? Is this an approach you might like to, or have already tried? Please leave comments below.
Reference: Bright, S. (2008). E-teachers collaborating: Process based professional development for e-teaching. In Hello! Where are you in the landscape of educational technology? Proceedings ascilite Melbourne 2008. http://www.ascilite.org.au/conferences/melbourne08/procs/bright.pdf

Image: ‘Planning Your Online Coursev2‘  http://www.flickr.com/photos/59217476@N00/8186356402. Found on flickrcc.net.

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Please share if you’ve been using Google Classroom

Google Classroom is the new kid on the block, perhaps offering a (currently free) option to Teacher Dashboard. I have explored Google Classroom, and have spoken to a couple of people who are using it, but I would love to hear more from folk who are using it a lot with their learners (of any and all ages :-p). What do you think of it (overall impression)? What do your learners think of it? Any really positive aspects? What would you like to change / add?

If you’re not sure what Google Classroom is, the description on the Google Classroom online space (which is also the place you can kickstart your own Google Classroom) is as follows:

Classroom is available to anyone with Google Apps for Education, a free suite of productivity tools including Gmail, Drive and Docs.

Classroom is designed to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly, including time-saving features like the ability to automatically make a copy of a Google Document for each student. It also creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student to help keep everyone organized.

Students can keep track of what’s due on the Assignments page and begin working with just a click. Teachers can quickly see who has or hasn’t completed the work, and provide direct, real-time feedback and grades right in Classroom.

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