Teachers should work in teams

A teaching team of two (at least) is what teaching requires in 2020. Digital changes everything, whether online or off, as soon as it goes on a screen it has to compete for the ‘attention of eyeballs’. Not only that, it isn’t a cliché that ‘two heads are better than one’. Advertisers know that it takes a write and an art director to create a compelling idea. For something compelling to work online it need the write, visualiser and coder. A team of three might be asking for too much, but the point remains.

How many people does it take to create a module of online learning at the Open University? The figure is more than one. Why therefore are teachers and tutors expected to do everything themselves? 

David Susskind on AI in the world of work and how it will impact the laggardly education

David Susskind at the EdTech Summit 2020

The Future of Education 

This was a lecture that sustained its pace. I’ve changed its title because I suspect that he adapted ‘the lecture of the book’ ‘A World Without Work’ and then journalistically tossed in a bit of Covid, when in fact his presentation and thesis was that education is getting behind and profound change is in the air. Some have already embraced it. Woe betide those who get left behind. 

There is a time and place for talking not teaching. Teaching can be talking, whatever you are taught in PGCE.  

There were several parts to this memorable and important talk. The part on education is what matters to us in education – the rest was a preamble. 

I got the impression that Susskind was saying that it felt as if education was operating in isolation from the ‘real world’. My experience is that it is not helped by being underfunded and so under capitalised. Do we have the right kit, the best kit, the most appropriate platforms and apps and do we have a team of experienced, hot e-learning experts? 

I rather feel that if we want to prepare students for the world of work then they need to be equally familiar with Microsoft systems (Team and 360) and Google through G Suite for education. What if G Suite is the better delivery system for education, but once out there students are going to have to get their heads around Microsoft from scratch. The brave thing would be to go Google with the creative industries, Apple Macs too – while everyone else goes with Microsoft and PCs. 

It was an eyeopener to learn what Artificial Intelligence (AI)  is doing in medicine, journalism, law and architecture. Where is it making headway in education? Accountancy, law, languages … 

As a society we suffer from a bias towards the status quo, Susskind said. I have to wonder if we are governed by little Englanders. We can never be Singapore, though I suspect Scotland could be. Does education lack the desire to succeed if that requires change? Success in education is built on and requires school thinking and methods. I have to wonder if education is populated by what Everett Rogers would term the ‘laggards’ rather than ‘innovators’ and ‘early adopters’. Certainly in the public sector the money is lacking. How well off are private schools by comparison? Even certain universities – the rich ones. Is money dictating a person’s ability to get into the world of e-work, let alone thrive in it? 

During the EdTech Summit 2020 there has been repeated talk of the ‘widening gap’ in education. Too many kids do not have a laptop, desktop of tablet; if they are fortunate they have a phone. Too many kids do not have Internet access at home. And if there’s a computer at home they have to compete for time on it, and then use it in a shared space. This is hardly conducive to studying and absolutely not suited to live-streaming conference classes. 

Speaking like a consultant to the education sector, Susskind warned that ‘the way we teach people hasn’t changed for decades.’ It was ironic therefore that he was speaking from a Balliol College study, one of the oldest colleges in Oxford, in one of the oldest universities in the world, a university that has its foundation and geographical location based on the printed book, its rarity and exclusive access to the knowledge they contain through the Bodleian Library.  

Susskind spoke of ‘spectacular failures in teaching people remotely’ though he shied away from offering examples. Are we talking institutions, apps, trends? There have been successes too. He didn’t say what they were.

IN  CONCLUSION

“We need to think more boldly about the way we teach and face the inevitability, ambiguity and uncertainty – and be willing to retrain.”

I need  to read his books! 

Daniel Susskind, Balliol College, Fellow 

I got ‘A World Without Work’ via Amazon in a few clicks. Not wanting the digital version – I’m not going to drop everything to read it anyway, I ordered a hardback copy. It arrived less than 22 hours later. 

It is now stacked with no fewer than 27 other books I want to read and review. I will have to set some priorities: First World War History Books forms one stream – by far the largest. I can have two of these on the go at any one time. E-Learning comes next, and includes a backlog of TES magazine and now Daniel Susskind. There is also a small stack on sustainability and the environment – mostly George Monbiot’s back catalogue.

Are your computers ‘sanitized’ – given a clean – of any kind?

A woman at her desks sneezes into her computer without covering her nose and mouth.

My concern for staff who hot desk (me) and students is that they will often sit down at a computer where someone has sneezed onto the keyboard and screen without any attempt whatsoever to shield their environment from the germs they are spreading.

I see this often. What about you?

The answer is to educate staff and students.     

Add cleaning keyboards and screens to what the cleaning staff do.

Get rid of the all use ‘Press this Button’ pads that used to enter the building , and libraries and corridors – except for those with a disability, who clearly need to use them.

Students and staff touch these repeatedly across the day so no wonder germs spread fast and so many people end up off ill.

Without frequent handwashing it is hardly surprising that so many people end up ill.

Lewes Late Night Shopping 2019

Working with tutors to create immersive and effective elearning for SEND students

Now that the development phase is passing into review, first with an SEND tutor and then with SEND studens themselves I am learning:

  • Value of Video Demo: signing in to a the resource centre, logging in to a computer.
  • Importance of talking them through things we may take for granted.  
  • Pick out key things, in this case opening and closing times.
  • Add a quiz to this to give it emphasis and to engage them.
  • Tell them often. They love repetition and will return regularly to something for a reminder
  • As Immersive Reader provides, best to have text on blue, yellow or green background and use Comic Sans as their favoured font as it is less ‘harsh’ than others.
  • Not all have Smartphones, say 5 out of 14 have no phone. 
  • 360 headsets would be fun to use if we had them, but proper ones!
  • 85% are auditory, or visual/auditory learners
    • Though my learning from the OU is that these learning preference categories are a nonsence unfounded in any science. Rather in this instance it is a medical aid surely? Someone who cannot see, or cannot hear will have a preference away from seeing or hearing – naturally, with it having nothing to do with learning.

I am delighted to share this with the OU community and my followers. Thoughts and comments please!

I was delighted with the course tutor’s response, though I’m mostly awaiting for a response from a number of the SEND students themselves. It has to work for them, and be adjusted, even reinvented so as to appeal to and to work for them!

https://www.thinglink.com/mediacard/1244284378704510977

“Slick, professional … and a lot of clicking which they will love!”

Thinglink Tour of the Learning Resource Centre for SEND Students

Give it a go. Let me know what I might change to impove it!

Video Production Kit

Having to become a videographer in my own right or at college required me to kit up. All from 12 things a filmmaker must have

This is lot is recommended. Some I have.

  1. PC with video card, RAM and screens
  2. Full HD camera with Manual 
  3. Memory – lots of cards
  4. Filters – for shallow depth of field
  5. Fluid head tripod e.g. Manproto 501 
  6. Sound Recorder – Tascam or Zoom HR4N
  7. Headphones
  8. External microphone – shot mike AT83JB 
  9. Mic stand boom pole
  10. Lighting & Disk Reflector
  11. Editing Software: hit film express
  12. External harddrive

1: Desktop Computer

I have always been a MAC person and run an iMac with two full on screens from home. I don’t have such luxury at work where I use a PC at whatever desk I land on, never a double screen and sometimes a challenge to upload and use the software.

2. Full HD Camera with Manual Setting

I got myself a Sony Alpha 7 four years ago and use this with a mixture of lenses supported by a lens adaptor for a zoom lens. I have a 50mm, a 40m prime lens, a short Sony zoom and longer 300m Minolta that must be 30 years old, ditto a fish eye.

3. Memory Cards

I need more to be safe!

4. Filter

I tend not to use anything more than a filter to protect the lens. How often is it so bright in the UK. But if it is advisory to have one then I’ll do so.

5. Fluid head tripod

Crucial, but who buys one, me or college? There’s also the opton of a steady-cam gimble.

6. Sound Recorder

This is vital. The sound quality we are producing at college is pants. It matters that we can hear the speaker and hear them clearly without background interuptions. Whether this means going the whole hog and having a second system and operator is another matter. I cannot direct, ask questions and hold and monitor the sound via a boom pole can I?

7. Headphones

And then concentrate. Despite already doing the job of three people.

8. External Mic

To go with 6 & 7.

9. And to support it.

10. A disk reflector is a fine idea, but now we need a third or fourth pair of hands surely?

11. Edit Software. I edit on whatever is simplest. I’ve never managed with anything fancy. iMovies has been my starter, so I’ll take a look at Hitfilm Express. There are pros and cons.

12: External Hard Drive

Despite all the above I had a former editor/videographer showing off what can be done in camera on an iPhone. Beautiful smooth wide shots, dropped into a time line, butt-joined and GVs added even cutting to a single audio track to produce a pro looking cut almost in real time.

Would it be simpler to invest in a better iPhone?

Barcelona Day 3

Day 3: Barcelona

It is a joy to be close enough to walk and to prepare our own low carb breakfast: spinach, tomatoes and egg.

We head out along a series of tall streets to the edge of the park around Montjuic.

Museu National d’Art de Catalunya

Arriving soon after opening whilst there are a reasonable number of people outside taking shots of the view and selfies, there are few people inside. Skipping the 13th to 15th century church art entirely we opt to jump any chronology and go straight to the modern art.

For the first hour it feels like we are VIPs on a private viewing. This is ended by couple like us, the difference being the constant desire to be photographed in front of their favourite pieces.

Sculptures by Enrico Claraso

We marvel at sculptures where stone has the texture of skin and the muscles and skeleton are so apparent beneath the surface.

Sculpture by Enrico Claraso

Other sculptures that caught my eye were Little Gypsy Girl by Joan Rebull and a cheeky bust of Picaso by Pablo Gargallo.


Little Gypsy Girl by Joan Rebull c.1933

Modern Art

End-of-century styles thought of as too decorative, and lacking form and structure resulted in a return to classicism. At the same time urbanism and industrialism brought brutally realised in the First World War and resulting in experimentation and collage saw another shift with a return to traditional craft skills.

Too many people for my liking posed for selfies or posed in front of works. Am I being a hyporcrite? We took plenty of photos ourselves. It is permitted but perhaps people should be encouraged to turn off the shutter sound on their phones.

A game we played in the evening, as we meandered around the exhibitions, sometimes together, sometimes apart, was to play ‘snap’ with images we had both been drawn towards. This was one of them. It looks like Joan Miro. It is the same period. 1937.


Affective Harmony. Pen and ink and gouache on paper. Jose Garcia Narezo c1937.

I realise I am drawn to a common palette. Such as these:

We were on our way out. Two hours in one place appears to be enough for us. When we saw there was a temporary exhibition on a Spanish photographer.

The photo journalism shot of a model, legs akimbo, all 1960s reminded me of . What we got was a much more, a mixture of Don Mcullin and David Bailey with the humour of David Hockney thrown in.

Oriol Maspons. Contests in the 1950s. Against award seeking behaviour. Paris and the Club des 30 x 40. He also had to leave his job with an insurance company. The fifties saw Maspons’s developing interest in realistic and utilitarian photography.  The Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya conserves over 6,500 photographs of Oriol Maspons, of which 503 are on display in this exhibition. Mostly original prints.

I was immediately struck by the quality of his compositions, the way he guides the eye to a specific part of the frame, also his wit and ability to observe and captures what matters in the moment whether a model, cattle, nuns, soldiers, or a family at a funeral.

His life was reproduced as a timeline.

Outside was bright and humid. We took a slight detour to walk across the park. On a less grand scale the water cascade reminded me of Alnwick Castle gardens some 1100 miles north of here.

Fundacio Joan Miro

Having visited at length six years ago I rather felt that I was seeing it all exactly as before, this time with the bustle of a busy August crowd. There are the Garden and terrace sculptures, the Mercury cascade and its bobbing movement, the eclectic Rope tapestry with beach bits and other collages and constructions. We were flagging from our morning’s exhibitions. We avoided the bright primary colour sculptures and prints. Maybe this is what you do on repeat visits, you start to look at the niche exhibits and to feed a curiosity for the particular, rather than trying to take it all in.

I spent longer in the underground cave with its rough earth and rock strewn ground and a mechanical seesaw sculpture and these tiny rods with flower like stems – which I have only figured out days later in close up.

When I was here last we walked off the hill to the nearest metro. That was six years ago. They have built a hillside funiciar which connnects with the Metro system. We opted for this rather than my prefered ride in a cable car down to the marina.

We had a series of long trecks courtesy of closed stations and lines, or simply getting fed up of being underground when on the surface you discover, rather as in London, that things are not that far apart on foot -0 necessarily.

We eventually made it to the seafront but disorientated by Google Maps we walked in the wrong direction for a while. We worried about not getting to our next vegetarian restaurant before it closed.

Aquaribay

Gaspachio

Pad Thai sweet potato rice noodles

Museu de Disseny de Barcelona

The Best of 2019 was a Design & Art Direction exhibition of the top three in a multitude of categories. The inventiveness of these always fascinates me, from a Nigerian school design to encourage a draft through the building as an inexpensive solution to the heat, a temporary event display made from paper and light to look like an a lava flow and knitted fashion styled around New Guinea tribal costumes and customs.

Domestic Inventions

Intriguing practical designs from tongs to pick up ice-cubes to the usual variation on a chair, bicycle or cabinet.

History of female fashion 1550 to 2015

Used to the V&A, Museum of London and others, it was a pleasure to have a different take on the development of fashion of the centuries with a very clever use of mannequins with articulated sections that could be expended, extended or stretched to show how the female silhouette has changed.

There were entire floors also dedicated to ceramics and print publishing design.

Green Spot

Pea, coconut and mint gaspacho

Sweet potato taliatelli, cabbage, macadamia nuts and pine nuts

Goats cheese foam

Pizza cauliflower and chestnuts

Coconut yoghurt and mixed berries and dragon fruit

And home to our Air BnB apartment.

It’s only two flights up to our apartment, but the steps are narrow and steep. After a long day on our feet, walking between exhibitions and eateries (between 15-20km) this final stretch is a push.

Barcelona : Day 1

Day 1 Barcelona Air BnB Trip

Deposited at terminal C and found ourselves wandering off towards a distant train station in a gradually dwindling group. Soon lost and in building works we shared views and I found myself leading the party the length of the airport from terminals C, through B towards A.

Starting to realise the length of the walk and realising that the bus parked by Terminal B was headed for Placa de Catalunya near to our final destination I opted for that. Having only ever got the train into town this was a departure for me, that left a few who were on my trail temporarily bewildered.

Having arrived 30 minutes late I now fear I have badly misjudged our arrival at our Air BnB. My phone plays up too, being full, apps don’t load, I miss messages and end up relying on phone calls. All calls from our host give no identity which starts to bug me. At last we speak and we get the full address. One letter error and we are delayed again and now someone else will meet us there. Once resolved we find ourselves at a door to a late 19th century or early 20th six storey mansion block. Reminiscent of Paris but corridors somewhat narrower and darker, winding steps up steeper and the paintwork more chipped.

The small flat is all that we expect and could wish for. Two bedrooms (double and single), a modest dining/sitting room area off a kitchenette and a bathroom with a large shower. We are two storeys up, on the corner with views up, down and along a typical Barcelona street.

Lonely Planet is our guide. That and Google Maps and happy that we can do most of our trips on foot we are quickly out of the door.

Centre d’Arta Santa Monica

The Arts Santa Monica presents itself as the entrance to an international corporation. It is both imposing, and deserted but for a couple of receptionists at different desks. We find ourselves under a collection of huge paper drapes hanging from the ceiling with haunting folk music playing in support of a video installation. Its an ominous start in an obscure gallery we stumbled across simply was we walked from the Rambla del Raval to the marina.

A parallel world of exhibitions exploiting Google Street View

Twelve artist/photographers are featured. One of the most engaging is by the Cuban artist and photographer Ruben Torras Llorca. In his series ‘Road Movie’ he revisits famous movie locations using Google Street view and superimposes a mashed-up shot from the film. Off hand I remember: Easy Rider, Paris Texas, Zardoz and James Bond.

Google Street View and James Bond mash-up by Ruben Torras Llorca
Google Street View and Easy Rider mash-up by Ruben Torras Llorca

The most relevant and practical series Beagle 2.0 by Roger Grasas took excerpts from ‘A Naturalist’s Voyage round the world’ by Charles Darwin and revisited the spots now urbanised and too often piled with litter.

Beagle 2.0 by Roger Grasas

I’ve been doing the same with the First World War and the Western Front using Google Street view for the three volume 1938 publication ‘Then and Now’ to revisit the original pilgrimage to the Western Front 1914-1918 to 1924-1928 with a visit made by ‘The Camera Returns’ between 1982 and the present day’ and Google Street View 2014-2018.

With some cajoling, rather than heading for any of our hit list visits on our first afternoon, I got us in to the Museu Marítim. The vast and empty hall and ticket office suggests it is not a visitor to Barcelona’s priority.

This 14th century shipyard, come armaments factory was brought back to life in the early 1970s with a modern refit in the last decade. It is an impressive space that blends the gothic architecture of the original shipyard with a 21st century museum space.

Various histories are told, from the development of the shipyard and maritime trade as part of the history of Barcelona. The most revealing and shocking is to contemplate the lot of a man shackled to a bench to work out his life as a galley-slave.

There are numerous cleverly designed and revealing interest points, multi-media stations and short drama-reconstruction films.

Tired from an early start in England we ate at a very British time at a vegan choice, Rasoterra, found in Lonely Planet

Image by Rasoterra featured in Tripadvisor

It was awkward to be put next to the only couple in the place, also English. We avoided any excuse to introduce ourselves. Efforts to have us go for the tasting menu fell on deaf ears.

It was a memorable, freshly prepared meal of lovely surprises, from Seaweed Tartare, to croquettes of spinach and bao with asparagus.

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