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Apple Teacher widens its reach
Jan 30th, 2017 by H-Blog

Last year, when the iPhone 7 was launched I think, I had been reading about the new Apple Teacher program and got quite excited about signing up – only to find out that I couldn’t because it was for the United States only. It did give a page to keep checking back on that they promised to update as the program became available in other countries or regions – and I had even been remembering to check! The last time I checked it was after we came back from the Christmas holidays, and I was still faced with the single line of availability: United States

Anyway, last Thursday, I got an email notifying me that the Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) programme was open to applications again. Remembering the heft of the application last time, I thought I would have a quick glance to see what was involved this time. Imagine my surprise to find that being an exisiting Apple Teacher was a prerequisite to applying to be an ADE !

 

When I dug deeper into things, I found that the list of countries had been updated (on January 24th, just in time for BETT?) and now included Australia, Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Sweden and the United Kingdom as well as the United States.

So obviously I had to go and have a look.

An early stumbling block you might face is to do with your Apple ID. The Apple Teacher site states pretty specifically that it’s your own personal Apple ID you’ve to sign up with, and not an ID provided by your establishment. That’s fine for people like me – who surf the wave of our copious IDs with ease – but for some other teachers it may prove a bit more challenging.

Once you are through the sign-up hoop, you will find yourself logged into the Apple Teacher Learning Centre. Pick your device of choice – esentially iOS or Mac – and there are a set of tutorials and quizzes for you to complete to become an Apple Teacher. I can’t speak for Mac, but the iOS ones were:

  • iPad
  • Pages for iPad
  • Keynote for iPad
  • Numbers for iPad
  • iMovie for iPad
  • Garageband for iPad
  • Productivity with iPad
  • Creativity with iPad

Having completed the quizzes for iOS, I can confirm that they are not pitched at “Expert” level, the main plank of evidence being that I managed to pass them all. I got a very nice, shiny email for my trouble:

 

Interestingly, passing quizzes opens up more quizzes and the interface itself is pretty user friendly – as you’d expect from Apple. I’m looking forward to seeing how the site and the program develop, that’s for sure.

If you’re interested, you can sign yourself up for Apple Teacher at:

http://www.apple.com/uk/education/apple-teacher/

Calgary here I come!
Apr 4th, 2014 by H-Blog

So, it’s been a while since I posted, but I had some really exciting news today and thought this would be a good place to break it, as well as a good reason to get me writing again.

If you work with me, follow me on Twitter or are unfortunate enough to be one of my Facebook friends, then you will have been getting plagued for about the last fortnight to vote for a video I created telling people about “My SMART moment”. This was part of the application process for the 2014 Global SMART Exemplary Educator Summit in Calgary this summer – from July 19th to 26th. Sorry you had to put up with it, and thanks to anyone who watched the video, voted, harassed anyone else into voting, thought about voting or liked, RTd or shared. 

Although I never got enough votes to snag myself an automatic space (some of those other SMARTees had thousands of votes!) between my video, the votes cast and my application form I must have done enough to impress someone on the panel, because I received an email today telling me that I had been selected to attend!

I’m delighted and excited, and looking forward to meeting educators from around the world, learning loads and possibly getting a sneak peek at the new technologies that SMART are developing.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to tell you all about it on here, but that’s in the future. For now, here’s some flag mashups I created using Notebook (obviously!) to celebrate! Which is your favourite? 

 

Easy Openbadging
Jun 9th, 2013 by H-Blog

Last weekend, I took part in the Pedagoo event #tmlovelibraries. It was a fantastic day, and I learned loads. At the pub session afterwards, there was a sort of TeachMeet Unplugged event, similar in feel to the TeachMeet 365 events or, as Fearghal testified, to the very early TeachMeets themselves. Fearghal had asked us all to come with something we were prepared to share; as I have been doing a bit of work with OpenBadges and have been very impressed with them, I decided that this was what I was going to talk about.

Then I hit the problem. 2 minutes is not a very long time, particularly to talk about something you have been working on for months and have found out so much about. So, to keep things short, I decided to create an OpenBadge for all the participants of tmlovelibraries and then give it to them as a present. By claiming it, they could find out a bit about Openbadges themselves.

This idea seemed to work well in the keeping things short arena, as well as the engaging the audience area – the word ‘gift’ seemed to be the important one in achieving this! As Fearghal commented on the night, my talk also had the effect of taking his carefully honed structure and blasting it into a million pieces as people went scurrying to the internet to find their badge. The badge is shown below, together with its claim code for anyone who was there. To claim it, navigate to the badg.us site and insert the claim code ‘kapyua’ into the “Claim award from code” box. This will prompt you to either sign in to your Mozilla Backpack if you already have one, or sign up with an email address to create one before awarding you the tmlovelibraries – Participant badge, which you can then display on your blog, Facebook profile or Twitter feed.

In the impromptu break that followed my talk, I was talking to a few different people, and realised that there was a real appetite for finding out more about using OpenBadges. Quite a few people had looked at the concept themselves, before deciding that the project was too technical for them to use effectively. This, of course, is exactly the same decision I came to myself when I first started looking into digital badges. I had been impressed with the ease of creating badges for recognising various achievements on Edmodo, but had hoped for some way to display them in fronter, our school’s virtual learning environment. When I had approached the extremely helpful people at Edmodo asking if this was possible, they said that whilst they were happy for the badges to be displayed elsewhere, but it would need to be purely a case of copying them as an image and uploading them elsewhere.

I felt sure that there had to be a more efficient way of doing this, and went off doing a bit of digital badge research. It soon became clear that OpenBadges were exactly what I was looking for, but despite the fact that there were plentiful resources available for those with an ability to code, there was nothing I could find that was very user-friendly for a class teacher.

Until I chanced across the ForAllBadges site that is. Straight from the off, ForAllBadges allowed me to create an OpenBadge simply by uploading an image to the site and filling in the information fields to attach to it. Perfect for what I wanted. But ForAllBadges had far more to offer than I had been looking for. It gave me a whole badge-management system, allowing me to upload classes and add staff, create and issue badges and – most crucially given the age of my pupils – a way to display the badges earned without needing a Mozilla Backpack (currently, a Mozilla Backpack is only available to learners over the age of 13).

I soon had a pilot badge system up and running and a fronter page created with links to the pupil’s individual Trophy Rooms; here their badges could be seen through viewing their ForAllBadges badge journal. After an email exchange with the amazing people at ForAllBadges, the ability for the student to add a reflective comment to their badge journal was quickly added. This setup now allowed for a badge to be created, issued, displayed and reflected upon as well as having the advantage of being part of the OpenBadge system allowing a great degree of portability for the badges once the pupil reaches the age of 13 (or Mozilla update their terms & conditions to allow under 13s to have a Backpack with permission from their parent/carer – a change that is on the cards very soon I believe).

This was perfect for what I was looking to use it for in school, but perhaps a bit too complicated to use in ‘open play’. I had been thinking that OpenBadges could be a great way to document CPD activities such as TeachMeets or MOOCs for example, but how could an event organiser award a badge to someone whose details they didn’t know? Would they have to do all the data-inputting themselves? This sounded like a prohibitive amount of work.

Fortunately, a site that David Muir had pointed me towards had the answer. Badg.us allows a user to create badges very simply, and in much the same way as ForAllBadges. However, the badg.us site interfaces drectly with the Mozilla Backpack and Persona sign-in service, making it a far more user-friendly solution when you will be issuing badges to people from outwith your organisation or whose details you are unaware of in advance. It also lightens the administrative burden of issuing badges, as the onus is on the claimant to provide their details. The site allows you to set up reusable codes (like the one above) for large-scale issuing, or one-use codes when you are looking to target your badge claimants more precisely (I used this to create “Presenter” and “Organiser” badges for tmlovelibraries, printed up claim codes for these and gave them to Fearghal to distribute).

In my opinion, these tools make the whole process of creating and awarding badges far more accessible to the typical classroom practitioner; teachers who, much like myself and Fearghal, would previously have found the process too technical can use these services to gain the benefits of OpenBadges without having to become coding wizards. Other tools have been developed that can do a similar job – for instance, WPBadger and WPBadgeDisplay allow you to utilise WordPress blogs to issue and display badges whilst OpenBadges.me provides a very useful badge designer for either online use or as a WordPress plugin . Recently, the ForAllBadges site has joined together with its sister site ForAllRubrics, and you can set things up so that once a rubric has been com pleted, an OpenBadge can be awarded automatically. After some late-night Twitter conversations between myself and the founder of ForAllSystems, ForAllRubrics also has built-in links to the CfE Experiences & Outcomes. A very handy teacher toolkit!

So, now it begins to get exciting. The badges are no longer a concept. Now that a teacher – or a student? –  can create and award these badges, what might they do with them? I have a number of ideas that I’ll be trying in my school, and I know Fearghal had an inclination to use them as part of a programme he delivers at his school (this provoked a very interesting side discussion with David Gilmour about extrinsic/intrinsic motivation). I know that other organisations (including the Scout Association and – believe it or not – the SQA) have been looking at introducing them too.

What would you do with OpenBadges?

Looking into concept mapping
Jan 22nd, 2013 by H-Blog

I’d been asked by my Head Teacher to see what my network had to say about concept mapping. A few shouts on Twitter and some retweets from the pedagoo crew got me a pile of responses, so thanks to Kenny Pieper, Fearghal Kelly, Drew Burrett, Sinclair Mackenzie, Alan Stewart, Samantha Williams, Malcolm Wilson and Allan Reid for all their help.

So, what did I find?

A pile of stuff actually. On the free side, as well as being pointed towards bubbl.us which I have used before, I was also given links to FutureLabs exploratree and the quite interesting text2mindmap whilst Google suggested I take a look at Simple Mapper and I also stumbled across the Seeing Reason Tool from Intel.  Commercial resources mentioned included  SMART’s SMART Ideas, Mindomo, MindMeister and creately (most of which have free versions with limited functionality). Alan sent an address for a Livebinder which as well as having most of these links and a pile of others, also reminded me how useful LiveBinder could be.

So, job done then?

Sadly not. Over and above the resources themselves, I’d been hoping to find examples from people who are working with concept mapping already, and nobody seemed to have anything to share on this point. We’d also been quite hopeful of finding someone who might be able to deliver some training on the effective use of concept mapping, and whilst I had noticed that iansyst had a mention of concept mapping training on their site, I could find little else.

So, that’s where things stand just now. But I’ll keep looking and listening and see if I can find out anything else!      

 

Roll up, roll up – get yer top quality CPD here……..
Nov 14th, 2012 by H-Blog

As the explosion of activity on this blog recently shows quite clearly, I have been taking part in an online CPD course being run by Dyslexia Action and the RNIB. It is called Inclusive Technologies for Reading, and has been designed for teachers, parents,  support staff or pretty much anyone supporting people who have difficulties accessing text due to a print impairment. They say that it is also suitable for ICT professionals who have not had specific training in inclusive technologies.


The course is being developed for commercial purposes, so this pilot programme is a good way to get some quality training done for free. Already, I have been impressed with the delivery of the course, and the focus on free and inexpensive technologies that can really make a difference. The course was developed and is being run by Load2Learn – an online resource for downloadable curriculum materials in accessible formats- which has already been affectionately dubbed OverLoad2Learn!

But why am I telling you this now? Well, it turns out that if you are interested in taking part, it’s not to late to register. You can join until the 21st November (that’s next week!) if you are interested. Could be an ideal opportunity for established teachers looking to develop their skills, student teachers looking to widen their learning or probationary teachers looking for something a bit different for their CPD portfolio.

If you are interested, click here to register. Maybe see you online sometime!

Harvesting your own CPD
Nov 11th, 2012 by H-Blog

K325- The venue for TMStrathclyde – image from University of Strathclyde

I recently attended my third(?) TeachMeet Strathclyde event; the first hosted by CPD Strathclyde – the Next Generation, and the first since the big move from Jordanhill to the John Anderson campus in Glasgow’s city centre. It was a bit of a strange TeachMeet for me, as it was held in K325 in the John Anderson building – a room that I spent much of my Undergraduate time in while I was at Strathclyde studying for my BA; most notably listening to Brian Bett delivering the Basic Psychology lectures. It was certainly a bit strange to be presenting in there, and just to heighten the tension my name was last out of the fruit machine, so I had the whole evening to work myself up into a frenzy. A bit of tech trauma as I tried to get my Prezi up and running added to the anxiety levels, and as I began talking I was very close to having an actual freakout. Added to that, the evening was running a wee bit late, so I felt that I rushed a bit and the presentation suffered as a result. I thought I might be able to fix this with the video, but the 5 minute recording limit on Jing mean that what I’ve ended up with is a real gallop through some of what I said. The screencast didn’t pick up the subtleties of the animation as the Prezi advanced either, so it can look a wee bit jerky, but here it is anyway.

Despite my anxiety, the TeachMeet was a great event. I saw some really great presentations, and thought the panel discussion was pretty good too – with some controversial questions and some even braver answers! The new CPD Strathclyde committee did themselves proud, and it was nice to catch up with some of the old guard too, like Morven, Susan and Paul, as well as BEd course leaderAmanda Corrigan who was telling me how proud she is of her students for organising such events (and rightly so!).

In the end up, I got quite a nice round of applause, Omar told me my presentation was inspiring and Graham Donaldson gave me a mention in his summing up, so I must have been at least adequate! Have a look below and see what you think.

(original Prezi is available here)

Inclusive Technologies for Reading – #ITR12
Nov 5th, 2012 by H-Blog

Some of you may have noticed that my blog posts  – which were infrequent at best – took a nose-dive into the non-existent category last year. This was due to a number of factors, starting my new job and moving house being two of the lesser ones. The main reason, as it turned out, was the very demanding but exceptionally rewarding PGCert in Dyslexia & LiteracyI undertook through Dyslexia Action. I can honestly say that it is the hardest study I have ever undertaken, far outstripping the demands of my PGDE (Primary). Now there’s a sentence I never thought I would write!!!! After such an intense year, I was looking forward to a bit of an easier year, and the chance to focus completely on my work in school.

Unsurprisingly, things didn’t work out like that!

As many of you know, I am fairly active on Twitter. As is fairly common, I saw something appearing in my stream that really caught my interest. Dyslexia Action and the RNIB were looking for volunteers to pilot an online course they had been developing called Inclusive Technologies for Reading. This course will be a commercally-offered course, and the chance to take part in such high-quality professional learning for free proved just too tempting for me and so I signed up.

The course architecture is fascinating. Having used a number of learning platforms over the years – First Class, Glow, Moodle and now Fronter amongst others – I am finding this new platform that wee bit different. From what I can gather, it has been designed specifically for the course and has a real social media type ‘feel’ about it. As a result, I am finding it far easier to navgate than I have found Glow in the past or the exceptionally-bewildering Moodle that I had to fight my way through last year. Have a look yourself.

 

The course content is similarly fresh. Collaborative Google Docs, Live ‘webinars’, Discussion Boards,  Link Repositories and Twitter Socials are hardly cutting edge in the tech-world, but it is refreshing to see them front and centre in a method of CPD delivery.

As it is with the web-engagement. the ITR12 course virtually forces participants to use Twitter and also to blog reflectively. This ‘compulsory’ aspect of the course will be a great device in helping other teachers to engage through such media.

The result on here, of course, wil be some semi-regular postings, as well as the creation of the #itr12 tag in my blog categories!

TeachMeet 365
Sep 23rd, 2011 by H-Blog

EDIT – 20:13, 25th September

Just back in to the house after a long day out, and catching up on Twitter, emails, etc.  I have reading a number of posts and comments about TMSLF11, and while I am always an advocate of reflective practice, constructive criticism and striving for improvement, I think it is important to remember that people invest a lot in these events that they organise or contribute to; in terms of time, of effort and emotionally as well. When we are reflecting on such events, I think it is important to remember the emotional, personal and human aspect to it all and to exercise a degree of empathy, tact and respect – apart from anything else this is vital to ensure people continue to be willing to put themselves forward to organise or help to organise any event, TeachMeet or otherwise. For any of our critical reflections to cause genuine emotional upset to anyone means that this principle has gone wrong somewhere – as well as being counterproductive (in that it won’t help to improve things), I would hope that it must be unintentional as I would hate to think that anyone would wish to cause any such upset intentionally.

My post below, as mentioned within it, is an expression of feelings that have been growing for a while. They are not a response to TMSLF11 – it may have helped crystallize my thinking and given me a bit of a prod, acting as a catalyst for the post, but they are not intended to be a criticism of it – and if they have been taken that way I would like to apologise for the misunderstanding.

For what it’s worth, I would like to say that I thought the organisation of TMSLF11 was amazingly well done and that the evening itself was among the slickest and best-run TeachMeets I have been to. I would like to publicly thank those who organised and ran it – they made it look effortless, which I know it is not.

 

I now return you to the original post……

 

So, we’ve reached the September weekend again, which means that once more the Scottish Learning Festival is over and with it TMSLF11. The TeachMeet at the Scottish Learning Festival has a special place in the hearts and minds of many – including myself. For me, it was the first TeachMeet I attended – at the Glasgow Science Centre in 2007 – and I have been to every one since. They are different each year, and I’m always excited, amazed or enthused by something (or everything!) I see.

But.

I have mentioned before how great I think it would be for TeachMeet to grow and develop beyond the techie focus it is perceived to have just now, and how brilliant I think it would be to get more teachers involved in TeachMeets. Not just big ones and national ones, but small ones and local ones. I also think it is time to remind people (or let new people know?) that while the big ones are great and that obviously they need venues that are booked in advance, audio visual/tech support, sponsors and whatever else, just because a TeachMeet has none of that doesn’t mean it’s not a TeachMeet, or that there is nothing of value going on! Apart from being easier to organise, such a TeachMeet would hopefully be less scary – less scary to organise, less scary to attend, and less scary to speak at.

Because that was my other thought. The SLF Teachmeet in 2007 had 24 people volunteering to speak with 47 lurkers. Last night’s TeachMeet SLF11 had 13 speakers and about 100 lurkers. That’s a much smaller proportion. Whilst obviously there were round table discussions as well as the presentations, I can imagine that standing up in front of 100 people to give a presentation could be absolutely terrifying, particularly if it’s the first time you’ve done it.

So, I had a Big Idea. The last one of those I had turned out okay, although it had the potential to be a complete disaster. This one has the same capacity for disaster. And here it is……

 

 

So here’s the idea – 12 TeachMeets in one year, one every month. But small scale – no venue bookings (well, maybe a table booking…), no ICT setup, no sponsors to deal with. Just some people getting together willing to share something to do with what’s going on in classrooms right now; something they have seen or done, something they want to discuss or even something that they want to ask. Maybe in a pub, maybe in a cafe. Maybe in some woods, or in a garden. Maybe a meal, maybe a picnic. Or maybe, just maybe, in a school? And it wouldn’t matter if it was 2 people, or 12 people or 22 people or (any number in between) that showed up, because there would be no costs involved, or sponsors to deal with, or venues complaining about numbers.

So what do you think? Like I said – it has a capacity for disaster. But it might work. Is it worth trying?

IWBs – the eternal battle continues….
Jun 8th, 2011 by H-Blog

Last week, I read this interesting blog post from Kevin McLaughlin Entitled “Switching off the interactive whiteboard for good”. It revisited the argument that IWBs have been a huge waste of taxpayers money, and should be replaced with alternative technologies. The post generated a large number of comments, and even caused Kevin to go over his bandwidth allocation, reminding me of an earlier IWB-related post to this blog, which remains to this day my most commented upon blog post ever! Matthew Pearson then posted a robust defence of IWBs, which again provoked debate in the comments and on Twitter – including the (rather amusing) retitling of Matt’s post as “Interactive Whiteboards Are Awesome, It’s Just People That Suck”.

Whilst I find myself agreeing with some of the concerns other educators may have about the (over?) hasty roll out of IWBs in UK schools, and have no issue with their listing of alternative tools that they could have spent the money used to purchase IWBs on, I feel that this is a different debate to the one that they say they are having. If people want to have a theoretical, philosophical or even ideological debate about whether there should have been such hefty investment to put IWB hardware into UK schools, then I am quite happy to sit back and listen to that debate – I might even bring popcorn. My own views on that issue are not fully developed and probably rather ill-informed, and I think I could probably learn quite a lot from sitting back and listening to people who do know what they are talking about debating it.

However.

That is not the debate that people are having, although it seems to be the debate that they think they are meant to be having. The money for the IWB hardware has been spent, and the hardware is hanging on a wall, being wheeled round on a stand or carried round in a bag. At this point, whether such large investments should have been made or not becomes irrelevant, or at the very least stops being part of this debate and becomes part of the other debate described above. From a pragmatic point of view at least, where the investment came from for the boards or if it should have done so or not doesn’t matter one iota. The boards are here, so should we be learning to use them more effectively or turning them off for good as Kevin suggests?

Having read both his post and Matthew’s as well as the accompanying comments on both blogs, I find it hard to reach the same conclusions that are being drawn by many of the people involved regarding the use of IWBs in classrooms – namely that they have no future in classrooms, have had no impact on attainment and should be turned off for good to be replaced by a ‘better’ way of doing things, using different technology. Apart from anything else, the logic behind this argument is flawed – the money that has been spent on IWBs is gone, we cannot go back in time and ‘unspend’ it and choose something else instead. And even if we could, should we? Kevin mentions in his post that

Occasionally you will meet those in teaching who use their boards as an interactive learning tool, creating content that engages their class. But this is not the norm

Surely then what we are saying here is that a tool has been provided with which teachers are able to create engaging content for their classes, and that they are simply not doing so? Why, therefore, should taxpayers be willing to provide these same teachers with a different tool? A blanket rollout of IWBs has not worked, why would a blanket rollout of iPads or slates or netbooks fare any differently? From a purely financial point of view, it makes no sense. Why waste – and let’s make no mistake here, that is what we are talking about – a perfectly good resource? Surely you owe it to your pupils to find ways to make good use of  all the available resources, including IWBs? Looking at the comments made by pupils in Kevin’s post (the ones used as a reason for ditching the IWBs), it strikes me that they are not criticisms of the IWBs themselves as much as criticisms of how teachers are using the boards, so surely just finding better ways to use the IWBs is the answer?

And there are better ways to use IWBs. Bill Ferriter argued in a comment on my previous post  that it is not necessary to buy an IWB to achieve some of them, and that is true as far as it goes. But here’s the point – if the board and the accompanying software has already been bought and provided for you, why would you want to use something else to achieve the same aims? And perhaps more importantly, if the hardware and software had been provided for you, why aren’t you using them? If you have a pedagogical reason, then I’m going to be okay with that, but if it’s because you don’t know how to use them? Shouldn’t you be finding out? And to suggest you want to replace the IWB with a new piece of technology instead?  If a maths scheme or a set of books had been bought and the teachers were not using them to best effect, would the answer be to buy a new maths scheme or different books? Of course not – the answer would be to provide training for the teachers so that they can utilise the tools and equipment they have to best effect.

And so it is with IWBs. Teachers need to be given the opportunity to see and show what IWBs are capable of, and perhaps more importantly need to be given time to generate ideas and content that are relevant and useful in their classrooms. Having been working in a school which uses SMART Boards, I know for a fact that SMART are very good in this regard, having trainers who can come to your school and help deliver training for your staff and answer questions that are directly related to the resources they are wanting to make. As far as I am aware, there is no cost to the school involved for this above the purchase of equipment. There is also no cost involved in downloading Notebook to your computer at home to create resources there, providing you have your SMART product key. SMART also run content creation seminars, where teachers who know a trick or eight using Notebook will create content that can be tailored to (in our case) the Scottish curriculum and made available on their website to download for free.

In these times of shrinking budgets and cost-cutting, it seems to me that these services would make a lot of sense to schools that were trying to find savings. The equipment is already there – we’ve all seen it hanging on walls, often not being used properly (or at all?). The expertise is there – you only have to look around classrooms, trade shows or the internet to see that. Perhaps it is the inclination that is missing – the drive to share and the willingness to allow yourself be shared with?

But there are signs that things are changing. The increasing popularity of TeachMeets and similar CPD events where educators are learning from other educators is encouraging, as is the continued activity in CPDMeets. Perhaps if there were opportunities to learn from colleagues who were already using IWBs effectively (TeachMeet IWB anyone?), and perhaps the chance to work collaboratively on resources that enabled the IWB to be used as was intended  – interactively with engaging content – then the desire to rip out all the IWBs and throw the on the scrapheap would be somewhat lessened? After all, just because they shouldn’t be used for everything doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be used for anything…..

#TM5 – TeachMeet Beyond
Feb 25th, 2011 by H-Blog

You may be familiar with the TeachMeet concept, but did you know it was coming up for its fifth birthday? To celebrate, Ewan McIntosh has issued the #tm5 challenge –  Ian Guest (@ianinsheffield) has a good post on it here: http://ianinsheffield.wordpress.com/2011/01/16/tm5/ .

This challenge kind of merged with some thoughts I had had during the TeachMeet research I undertook last year – and during the #tmfuture discussion – about trying to extend the reach of TeachMeets beyond the predominantly  ‘niche’ market of technophiles it had. I had heard people talking about how TeachMeets were just for those heavily into ICT, and whilst at the TeachMeets I have attended or heard of  this is to a certain extent true, I felt that if  this was allowed to continue it could become a hindrance.  At the same time, I would not have wanted to risk upsetting anyone in the TeachMeet community – especially those who created the concept – and did not feel I could go ‘trampling’ over the conventions and guidelines they had set down for TeachMeets. However, when the opportunity presented itself to interview Ewan McIntosh about TeachMeet, it became clear that there was a recognition that TeachMeet had to change to evolve, and that far from discouraging this the TeachMeet community were ready and willing to engage with it.

A number of changes began to show in various TeachMeets, including my own non-techie presentation at TMSEG10 (for which I was branded a ‘rebel’ by David Muir!) and slowly the idea of trying to organise a TeachMeet themed around outdoor learning started to grow legs and dance around my head. When the #tm5 challenge was thrown down by Ewan, and chatter started again about widening the TeachMeet ‘audience’, it seemed like an opportune moment to try it.

So here we are!

I approached four colleagues to moot the idea, and was so encouraged by their positive responses I got to work on a wiki to help plan the event, which by this time had been christened ‘TeachMeet Beyond’ as it is about learning beyond the classroom. The wiki is a bit short on concrete details at the moment, but it has a number of suggestions and space to discuss them.

So is this do-able? If it is to work, as with any TeachMeet, this event will need to be crowdsourced. Do you have something to offer? Could you get involved? Do you have any other ideas for venues/speakers/dates/sponsors(?), or any suggestions at all? Please head over to the wiki and join in the discussion.

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