Archive for the ‘CPD’ Category

CAS Conference Resources: HTML + CSS

November 23, 2014 Leave a comment

Here are the resources for my session at the Computing at School (Scotland) Conference 2014 & also the Education Scotland events in November /December 2014.

HTML/CSS resources (zip)

There are additional resources in the zip file that I didn’t have time to cover during the session, however these contain notes on how to use them.

Here’s a good ‘story’ that explains computational thinking in a non-computing way – Searching to Speak (pdf)

Game Development with Javascript – webinar and resources

Some delegates at the conference also had a go of the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality headset that I brought along – see their reactions in the video below! I’m looking for ideas on how the headset can be used in education. I f you have any ideas, then please leave a comment or get in touch.


Start of term and a new year

January 11, 2014 Leave a comment

It’s the end of the first week back at college after the holidays. What have I been up to and what is on the horizon?

  • Finished One Game A Month 2013 and ranked number 8 in the high scores
  • Started One Game A Month 2014 and am planning only two games this year, one made with my students (until May) and then a personal project after that.
  • Teaching a variety of subjects this term – Fashion photography, Photography Graded Unit 2 (HND), 2D animation, 2D Animation (Advanced), Games: Media Assets, Portfolio Production, Portraiture, Corporate Photography. The new block starts in March, but most of my subjects continue until June.
  • Anticipating a change of management at work. As part of the college merger process a number of head of department jobs have been advertised internally, so each department may have a different manager in the very near future. Uncertain times!
  • Started teaching on the Adobe Generation Animation course this week and am looking forward to starting a new course on Video in February.
  • Heading to Aberdeen in February to run an animation workshop at the Aberdeen Learning Festival.
  • Looking forward to participating in, but not teaching, the Adobe Generation App Design & Game Design courses later in the year.
  • Looking forward to publishing my first comic book in March and releasing a short film in April (details soon).
  • Hoping to start on a World War 2 history project in the Summer.


Luddites Alive in a College Near You

February 3, 2013 1 comment

The Luddites were a band of artisans who rebelled against the introduction of machinery during the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, claiming that the machines would lead to unemployment. The term ‘Luddite’ has come to be used as a derogatory term to describe those who eschew technology.

With the great advances in digital technologies, both at home and the workplace, one might expect modern day Luddites to be a dying breed. Fortunately this appears to be the case, however a few still linger on, and worryingly, in the education sector.

I had the great displeasure of meeting some Luddites this week whilst leading a workshop for college lecturers at the University of Dundee. While the vast majority of the delegates (studying for the Teaching Qualification in Further Education) seemed comfortable with modern educational technology and approaches, there were a few technology naysayers that took me by surprise.

In my workshops on the Flipped Classroom I talked about my experiences of using video lectures with two groups of students, and the subsequent changes to my classroom practice. I explained that it seems a waste of time to be teaching basic facts in class, the lowest levels of Bloom’s taxonomy; that time could be best spent working with students on more difficult tasks that require higher order skills at the higher end of the taxonomy. Flipping the classroom involves taking the traditional homework tasks and doing them in the classroom in a supported environment, and taking the traditional ‘delivery’ of knowledge out of the classroom and onto the web, usually in the form of video. The idea seems perfectly acceptable to me, and although student results increased after introducing the approach, it became obvious that a minority thought it was complete madness.

One lecturer claimed that putting his lectures online would lead to him being put out of a job. Another claimed that using Facebook with students sent out a message that a lecturer would be on call 24/7, and that he would never do it. I tried arguing against these claims, but it was clear that there was no room for movement on any of these opinions. I explained that the same claim about lecturers losing their jobs had been made with the introduction of Virtual Learning Environments a decade ago, but  the job losses hadn’t happened. I also explained that I didn’t get so many questions from students via Facebook or other means that it had become an intrusion into my personal life. However, so vociferous were the modern day Luddites that it completely spoiled the workshop for me, and I expect it did so for some of the delegates. From trying to suggest a new approach to teaching and learning I’d ended up battered and bruised on the ropes.

I was quite shocked at these people’s attitudes. The blank refusal to accept a technology, based on incredibly weak arguments, was not the attitude I would expect of an educated person in charge of educating modern day youngsters. I honestly wonder what kind of experience their students have in their classrooms and sincerely hope my own children never face such narrow minded educators.

Later I posted some questions on Twitter, asking peoples opinions. I know it is asking the converted (they wouldn’t be on Twitter otherwise), but it went some way to restoring my faith in education after a day that frankly dented my hopes and aspirations.

Here are the questions and the responses I received:

Question 1

It’s 6.30pm on a Saturday & I just answered a college student’s question on Facebook. Do other lecturers do this? Is that acceptable?


  • I say yes and yes. We’re in their world performing, not the other way around.
  • Anytime, any place anywhere – it’s OK so long as you have a Martini.
  • I am more impressed they are thinking about college at that time
  • I do the same on our #glow blog. I figure if they’ve taken time to ask, it’s only polite to give a prompt reply. #neveroffduty
  • I once answered a (school) student’s question in the middle of hosting a dinner party …
  • I do. Keeps their engagement and ensures that at least some of the FB time is about college.
  • Totally acceptable & fab they’re thinking about college work on a Sat! Great use of social media-hopefully not tons extra work for you

Question 2

Does putting your lectures online in video format jeopardise your job? Had this response at a workshop on Flipped Classroom. Thoughts?


  •  If “teaching” is standing and the front and reading/speaking things which simply watching a video could replicate, then maybe…but I think that /could/ say more about the teaching strategy being used than the implications of flipping a classroom…
  • I use @udemy quite a lot and it’s great for learning. I think more lectures should be done like this. Learned so much from them…Well a video can help someone complete a task and learn to a point, but without the support I think it can be hard to go further
  • Not if you keep updating and improving them. The online lectures probably serve as recruiters.
  • “Any teacher that can be replaced by a machine should be.” Arthur C. Clarke – It’s up to us to change… I found (this quote) via Sugata Mitra, whom some accuse of trying to do teachers out of their jobs……!
  • Teaching is so much more than delivering a lecture – worrying if this is what others perceive our role as!?
  • If learning could be done by all from flipped resources, then teachers would already have been made redundant by the Web.
Categories: Conference, CPD, teaching Tags: ,

Connecting For Learning, 11th December

December 15, 2012 Leave a comment

This conference jointly run by JISC RSC & College’s Scotland focussed on how technology can support learning.

The programme included keynotes, ‘teachmeet’ style sharing sessions, and optional workshops and seminars.

The conference was opened by Marie Dougan, a former teacher and now professional genealogist who took us through the changing technology she’d encountered in her career, from BBC Micros to Moocs. This highlighted the rapid technological change that has affected education and life in general over the past 30 years.

In the morning there were several workshops to choose from including sessions on e-books, social networking and managing information overload.

The afternoon sessions included developing apps, using video effectively and using QR codes & augmented reality.

In between the main sessions there were short pecha-kucha or ‘teachmeet’ presentations on a variety of topics including educational games, movement analysis for sports and blogging. Some of the sessions were provided remotely via Adobe Connect.

I enjoyed the conference, however it confirmed my fears that Further Education is behind the curve in terms of some of the innovations I’ve seen in schools. Most of the topics I saw have been featured at other conferences I’ve been to and some of the ideas were several years old. This isn’t a big problem, as any kind of change can be beneficial, however it underlines that FE just isn’t as adaptable or flexible as it needs to be in a competitive education sector. The FE sector in Scotland is currently distracted by mergers and cuts, and this has left ‘teaching and learning’ and educational technology left in the background until the upset subsides.

On the whole though, it’s good to see there are pockets of innovation happening and a few lone souls battling against the tide to make learning relevant in current times. It reaffirms my belief that educational change doesn’t come from policy, but through individuals selflessly sharing with others.

Categories: Conference, CPD

Computing at School Conference

October 28, 2012 1 comment

Saturday 27th October was the first Computing at School conference in Scotland. Held at Microsoft’s offices in central Edinburgh, the conference attracted around 100 teachers, educationalists and industry people.

Keynotes by Prof Muffy Calder, the Scottish Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, and Dr Quintin Cutts emphasised the need for more computer science and computational thinking, not just for the computing industry, but also as a skill for other aspects of life.

There were many professional learning opportunities at the conference with seminars and workshops on a range of technologies including Arduino, .Net Gadgeteer, Blender, Greenfoot, Livecode, Mozilla Thimble, etc

I enjoyed the conference very much and came away with many ideas I’d like to implement in my own classroom. The conference also provided a great opportunity for networking with colleagues across the sector and several are now considering setting up local CAS hubs to support computing at schools in their local area. I hope to get involved with this and will raise it at the next Pedagoo Fife meeting.

For more, check out #casscot12 on Twitter or follow @casscotland

E-Assessment Scotland 2012 – part two

September 2, 2012 5 comments

Continued from Part One

I’ve been interested in gamification for some time but have only just begun looking at gamifying a unit that I currently teach. Somewhat related to gamification is Open Badges, which is a way of awarding achievement with digital badges that can be displayed and managed on the web (think of modern day Scout or Guide style badges). It’s also similar to the ‘achievements’ available in some video game systems such as XBOX Live, so I think it is something that could have meaning for some students.

At E-Assessment Scotland I went along to Doug Belshaw’s seminar to find out more and discovered that it’s possible to create and issue your own badges related to any subject you want. The badges contain a unique identifier so that they identify the person that it’s awarded to (so it’s easy to check if someone has stolen a badge), and that badges can be endorsed by individuals or organisations (a mark of credibility). In fact, it’s quite possible for badges to be used in place of certificates for courses or qualifications.

Although Open Badges is still at an early stage of development I think I will investigate further and try to introduce the system to some of my college classes this year.

Doug was followed by June Wigfield & Caroline Patterson of Stevenson College in Edinburgh. Their presentation, Collaborative Eventful Assessments, spoke about integrating a Digital Culture unit with their course in Events Management so that their students could benefit from using information technology and gain credit for it. They have been using online collaboration software called Zoho and are looking at using virtual worlds to facilitate communication and meetings between students.

The final keynote of the day was from Cristina Costa of the University of Salford, who presented Feeding Forward – The Role of the Participatory Web in Formative Assessment. The presentation continued the theme of feedback and looked at digital tools to enable feedback and reflection. Cristina advocated the use of social networks and collaborative tools for this purpose.

It’s always good to attend a conference that sparks ideas and genuinely makes you change your established practice. Sadly with education budget cuts it is becoming increasingly difficult to attend conferences and external CPD events. This is even moreso the case for classroom teachers, and many conferences end up being attended by managers rather than practitioners. During my wait in the queue at the start of the conference I chatted briefly with one of the other delegates who asked if I’d attended before. I hadn’t and she said she was certain I’d enjoy the day as it was definitely a conference for practitioners. She was right!

E-Assessment Scotland 2012

September 1, 2012 3 comments






This was the first time I’d attended this conference and I have to admit I had a preconception the conference might be too narrowly focussed to be interesting. Fortunately I was proved wrong and found a great variety of workshops and seminars and lots of thought provoking discussion.

Held at the Dalhousie Building at the University of Dundee, E-Assessment Scotland 2012 was very well attended and the programme featured dozens of keynotes, workshop and seminars.

I was presenting a seminar myself in the morning, so only managed to attend seminars in the afternoon.

The opening keynote by Professor David Boud of the University of Technology Sydney focussed on feedback given to students. He challenged the way that feedback is used by teachers and presented 3 models of using feedback that showed how feedback was most often used and how it could be used more effectively. This keynote set a tone for the rest of the day and many of the later presenters picked up on Professor Boud’s thought-provoking studies.

I spoke with the Professor afterwards and we discussed some recent teaching and learning topics such as MOOCs, the flipped classroom and technology. I asked what his next area of research might be and thought that while it was good to look for new innovations, sometimes it was good to look at things that are ‘right under our noses’ and take for granted – such as feedback. He reckoned that there was still a lot of research to be done on feedback, so that would be his continuing focus. It was also good to hear from the Professor that he still has pre-conference nerves (something I think most presenters suffer from), and always wonders if sharing his research at a conference will present the audience with something worthwhile, or if it will just be ‘stating the blindingly obvious’! I can reassure him that wasn’t the case and his research definitely had an impact on how I viewed feedback.

I shared a seminar slot with Dr. Keith Smyth, Julia Fotheringham and Karen Strickland, Edinburgh Napier University who presented Structuring Online Assessment to Support Progression in Professional Practice. I confess that I didn’t hear much of their presentation as I was preparing for my own, but their research must have been good as they received one of this year’s E-Assessment Awards.

My own presentation, Investigating MOOCs, examined the fairly recent phenomenon of Massive Open Online Courses. The session was well attended and provoked a lot of questions and conversation about the validity of MOOCs and whether they posed a serious challenge to more traditional education pathways.

During lunch I was invited to speak on EduTalk who were livestreaming from the conference. During the session Sheila MacNeill, Assistant Director of JISC Cetis and I chatted with John Johnston about the conference and about the theme of feedback and its importance to learners. The Edutalk site contains a list of recordings from the conference – tagged eas12.

I had a real ‘face-palm’ moment during Russell Stannard’s afternoon keynoteChanging the Way We Provide Feedback. He was demonstrating his use of screen capture technology to provide feedback on assessments. Although he was using it for written assessments – highlighting problem areas and suggesting solutions, I immediately saw it as a useful tool for analysing photographs. I’ve been using screen capture tools such as for years, and I had never considered using it in this way with my photography students. This is certainly an area of practice I’ll change in the coming year, however I may not be able to use it extensively as it is always difficult to find a suitable place at work to do recordings without background noise and interruptions. Coincidentally, just as I was having my face-palm moment, my pal Ian Guest tweeted the following:

Wonder if @camaxwell could use similar tools to those described by@russell1955 but to comment on students’ photo imagery? #eAS12

Part two to follow…