Category Archives: EDU TECH

Evaluating apps for learning 

Technology integration isn’t about the app or device but more about how aspects of knowledge come together to enhance learning.

To truly use technology well to impact learning;

  • You need to be an expert teacher fully aware of pedagogical practices that impact student learning. Formative Practice, Visible Learning etc
  • You need to be an expert in your subject matter, the content you want students to know. You know your stuff!
  • You need to have an understanding of technology tools. You explore the #edtech world because it’s where our students live and what they need!
  • You then need to be able to connect Pedagogy, Content and Technology together. mash it up!

That’s why frameworks like TPACK & SAMR are great ways to support all teachers to become aware and proficient with technology to enhance learning.

diagram-puenteduraRuben R. Puentedura’s Weblog – The SAMR Model – Dr. R. Puentedura


TPACK model by Koehler & Mishra – image by @ICTAVANGELIST – Mark Anderson

Developing tools to assess apps are a great way to help put the focus back on learning rather then what the app can do. Thinking about learning first and how the app can assist in students achieving the desired outcomes is critical. A great exercise is to have your team assess a range of apps and then create an app guide (iBook, blog, etc) which takes the hard work out of finding an app. All staff have access to this app playbook which outlines how the app can enhance student learning.

Possibly think of using subheading like:

About the App – Brief info about the app – its URL

Assessment – How the app could be used for formative & summative assessments

Learning – How it hits Blooms taxonomy?

SAMR – Where it sits on SAMR?

Here are some tools that we are using:

Tony Vincent’s – Learning in Hand
Kathy Schrock – iPad app evaluation

My own App evaluation

This template is used to give more detailed information about the apps ability to enhance learning, teaching and assessment against 21st century thinking skills, higher order thinking skills, assessment ideas and general.

Luckily we have brilliant educators who share and help facilitate the learning of all students.

The Padagogy Wheel – Download the PDF here.

Developed by Allan Carrington Designing Outcomes Adelaide South Australia Email:


Happy app finding


Trying to dig deep with a flipped classroom

I have been a ‘fanboy’ of the flipped classroom for sometime, having built up confidence in totally flipping my subjects and seeing the many benefits a flipped environment brings. One of the main areas that I have been really happy with is how the flipped classroom allows the class to dig a little deeper into active learning. It’s a big misconception that the flipped classroom is about making videos and placing them online, sure that’s one part of it. It’s an important part of the puzzle as its forces you to focus on the explicit content you would like students to know. Making a 5 – 8 minute lesson isn’t easy, but it certainly makes you consider what your learning objectives are . The real power of the flipped classroom is what happens the next day in class. Lets face it who wouldn’t want more time for students to dig deeper into their learning via projects, self and peer assessment and timely feedback. The flipped classroom opens up these opportunities. My main goal is to go deeper and have students participate in a richer active learning experience where I become more of a coach to guide their learning. The classes become much more collaborative in nature where students are solving complex problems with an emphasis on higher order and critical thinking skills.

As Prensky highlights that the technology today’s learners have grown up with has ‘induced today’s students to think and process information fundamentally different from their predecessors’ (Prensky 2001, p.1). We know our students access, process and create information in very different ways and are moving away from more classical approaches to teaching and learning in order to engage students and move beyond retention. It is a mistake to focus solely on the technology as its the active lesson which really makes this a powerful pedagogical approach to learning.

If we look at this in the context of a ‘traditional’ classroom most of the focus is on the remembering and understanding stages of Bloom’s Taxonomy, processing information and content. Students then move to the more difficult thinking processes at home by themselves.


Bloom’s Taxonomy ©

No expert support, no feedback, no collaboration. Why? With todays technology there is not much point for students to be spoon feed information in class. Class time is for active learning not passively soaking up content. I know I want my students to be pushing the boundaries of their thinking into the higher levels of Blooms Taxonomy. Essentially in the flipped classroom the opposite happens, the remembering and understanding is at home and the difficult learning of application, analysing, evaluating and creating happens in class. Flipping is more than videos is about class time and what can be achieved. This time is spent, supporting students through the difficult tasks of learning and thinking, making the lessons more engaging, collaborative and about feedback. It allows students to be the drivers of their learning, they can self regulate their journey. For us we can listen for learning and personally engage with each student or groups of students. This is where I see the power of this learning. Screen Shot 2015-06-20 at 11.47.17 amLets flip Bloom for the 21st century, it now looks like this. With this new model of Blooms Taxonomy the passive learning is where students can watch lessons at home about content – remembering and understanding.  The active and deeper learning is in class.

Where to start

It’s important to start a flipped journey well and sensibly. I didn’t completely flip my class at the beginning. I made a few lessons, learnt from the experience and moved to more lessons. I arrived at the point where everything is now flipped and I am adaptable enough to make new lessons when questions are raised in class. Before I moved to a flipped classroom I spoke to my students about ‘why’. Why are we moving to this, what are the benefits, how will you learn. We did some training around note taking, expectations and how to participate with lessons. I also taught my students how to watch videos and take notes during the lessons. This made a significant difference in a seamless setup. It’s always important to give students a voice and be part of the learning decision.

The setup

There are many platforms and apps out there that can be used to flip your class. I have used many and found that a combination of an iBook, LMS – Schoology, educreations and YouTube a great combination. The iBook provides the framework for students to access all project assessments and the required content lessons. The setup provides a sequential order for students to work through at their own pace. It also provides feedback regarding assessment rubrics and how to access the required ‘post up’ activities during the lessons. I have found this to be the most efficient way to deliver the required outcomes to my students. All students have access to a MacBook Pro or an iPad which makes this a really a seamless integration of platforms.

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 7.45.03 pm

An example of the sequential lessons in an iBook, all hyper linked to specific learning requirements. 

This is complemented by our LMS – Schoology. Schoology has excellent features that can place restrictions over the access of content, making it self paced. Of course some students don’t watch the lessons, this is less about the method of the flipped classroom and more about normal behavioural issues regarding ‘homework’. What works is that you can setup student completion requirements around the content meaning students can only move onto to certain lessons once they have completed the requirements . This has been great in supporting those students that don’t watch the lessons at home. They realise pretty fast that they must engage with the lessons at home in order to fully participate with the classroom activities. They also can’t move on to the next lesson unless they contribute and participate. Schoology also has excellent analytics capabilities.  I can capture data on when lessons have been accessed and by whom.


An example of the student requirements setup in schoology

Activities during the lesson are also important, as it provides me with feedback on what our next lesson looks like. Simple ‘hinge’ type questions that can provide a quick snap shot are great,  informing me what we do next and what targeting learning I can give to individual students. Check out my post on hinge questions here. Hinge Questions.

The importance of creating a student centred approach within the Flipped Classroom approach is paramount (Flipped Learning network 2014, p.1). Gorman (cited in Hamdan et al. 2013) states that

‘any learner centred educator would provide activities in the classroom that are action based, authentic, connected and collaborative, innovative, high level, engaging, experience based, project based, inquiry based and self actualising’

(Hamdan et al. 2013, p.12). Roehl et al. (2013, p.48) suggests that the Flipped Classroom approach incorporates a combination of these ‘in class’ activities described by Gorman along with an innovative use of technology, all which leads to ‘higher order thinking skills among students’

Flipping your class takes time, but I would argue that this is the new way learning should happen. Embedded technology, active learning and engaged students.

A video I created for our staff day about flipped learning

Prensky, M 2001, ‘Digital natives, digital immigrants’, On the Horizon, vol. 9, no.5, p. 1-6.

Hamdan, N, McKnight, P, McKnight, K, Arfstrom, K.M 2013, A Review of Flipped Learning, Flipped Learning Network, retrieved May 15 2015, < cms/lib07/VA01923112/Centricity/Domain/41/LitReview_FlippedLearning.pdf>

EduTECH Day One reflection

Video reflection 1 – Before the trip!


A great way to start day one, framing the consumption and creation of digital content in a global context. What does it mean for educators?

I felt honoured sitting in the great hall and having the chance to hear from Eric Mazur in person. It was very clear from the onset that Mazur doesn’t value memorising content via rote learning practices. He framed this with his anecdote about meeting a woman on a plane that was developing a cloud based flash card solution. Cleary making the distinction that this practice is rote. What does this mean for our study practices and techniques? Is this the technique that is flawed or the assessment process of an examination? I know where I stand!

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 10.50.13 pm

Mazur has found only 35% of the content would be retained after one week of using the flash card app.  This highlights the fact the memorisation doesn’t constitute deep learning.

Mazur moves to discuss something that I believe is critical for all schools and that is,  ‘flipping our understanding of assessment’. Mazur highlights the fact that our current assessment practices are used for only ranking and clarifying students. I tend to agree that we don’t focus on how our assessment develops 21st century learning skills. How do we change this? Is assessment the silent killer of learning?

Mazur asks the audience about the purpose of assessment, we came up with these;

  • to inform the teacher as tyo what to do next
  • to rank students
  • to identify gaps
  • to inform students of where they fit
  • to find out their learning needs
  • to track progession of skills
  • to interrogate content
  • to inform quality of teaching
  • to find out what they already know

Mazur gives a framework for assessment: Purpose, Problem, Improvements. Usually our assessments focus on inauthentic problem solving. Lets take examinations, why would we use a standardised test to rank our students, which in turn kills all innovation? What learning occurs here?


Mazur uses a physics problem to identify the issues within an inauthentic task and how this relates to the lowest stage of Blooms taxonomy. He highlights the most obvious concern with this target, goggle can answer this.  He also points out that the problem requires students to make assumptions, develop a model and apply that model. If we make the assumptions it kills our students ability to analyse and evaluate their thinking and frames their thinking at the memorising stage. He points out the need to focus on authentic problems and how this can open a dialogue for collaboration with students.

Screen Shot 2015-06-02 at 11.28.21 pm

He shares this picture and asks us what this images represents, stress, anxiety, not fun and most importantly ISOLATION! If a key aspect of the 21st century is collaboration why on earth would we get students to learn in this way? It doesn’t make any sense. How is this an authentic experience of real life problem solving skills.

‘If you pose a question that can be googled its not really an authentic assessment question.’

Mazur also points out that high stake examinations promote cramming information that will be stored in our short term memory.

‘no retention, no transfer’.

Mazur states, ‘I have my students right now ‘cramming’ for examinations that are worth 50% of their assessment. What authentic learning is occurring? What if we changed this and examinations focused on students collaborating’. Mazur explained how his students sit an ‘examination’. Mazur further explains ‘They start individually, then its team time where they share and debate and work out solutions to shape their responses.’ He notes that students can also bring in anything to his ‘examinations’. What you see is authentic learning.  Amazing – what if Caulfield exams were like this?

Assessment produces a conflict – are we the coach or judge? 
Teachers hide behind a thin veil of objectivity.
Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 12.36.16 am

Eric Mazur ©

How to improve assessments

  1. Mimic real life: How learners learn – make it open, collaborative; students teaching each other in an exam – if you get it wrong the first time, try a second time or a third time for reduced marks. 

Check out

2. Focus on feedback not ranking – objective ranking is a myth!

3. Focus on skills not content: apply backwards design, understanding by design. Think about the desired outcomes, what is the evidence that I am going to accept, what will my students be able to do?

Screen Shot 2015-06-03 at 12.46.41 am

Eric Mazur ©

  1. Coach or judge? Use external evaluators, peer and self assessment should be a focus.

Check out
There needs to be a call to action. We must rethink assessment,  if we do not rethink our approaches to assessment we will continue to educate the followers of yesterday rather than the leaders of tomorrow.

Very lucky to have a chat with Eric after Edu TECH today.


Larry Rosenstock,  from High Tech High. Amazing look at project based learning and a fully autonomous learning environment.

After day one reflection