Are you struggling with a lack of student engagement or want a new project to reinvigorate your classroom? On this week’s episode Mark and Bex chat with Conor McHoull from Microsoft NZ about the potential for ESports to act as a powerful engagement tool for your students.
We also discuss about the importance of ‘your why’ and how, in many ways, it is more important that your school’s vision, and Adrian joins us to explore the learning and productivity opportunities AI and tools like ChatGPT can give teachers and leaders in every school and organisation.
Check out the resources we’ve mentioned in this episode:
Microsoft Educator Centre – Minecraft Modules
We post every week and would love to have you keep up with us. If you know someone who would get value from these episodes, hit the share button and let them know. Lastly, if you have questions or anything to share with us, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Instagram at @usingtechnologybetter or on youtube.com/@utb
We’d love to hear from you! See you next week.
Podcast Transcript Podcast Below
Bex Rose: 0:00
Having the why made decision making so much easier in the ESL T space because you get thrown in so many opportunities all the time from different places, places, people, things, opportunities, just get thrown in your desk all the time. And I made the mistake when I first started and teach and SL T was saying Yes, that sounds cool. Cool. That sounds cool. That sounds cool. That sounds cool. And you end up getting this absolutely over crammed calendar. But as soon as you then pull it back and you go, actually this is our why is this going to contribute? Is it going to enhance? Is it going to help to support that? Why? The better mindset podcast.
Mark Herring: 0:44
Welcome to the better mindset Podcast, episode five, I’m not hearing and I’m Beck’s rose conversations about leadership, learning and educational technologies. On today’s episode, Conor McCall from Microsoft, New Zealand joins us to help us engage our students through the world of Esports we dive into the opportunities that chat GP t always get that wrong has for teachers in the classroom with Adrian, and we go deep into the importance of the why for your personal and professional lives. Well, pics making waves this week is my turn. So this is something that I’ve been thinking about a little while. And it’s actually a bit of a shameless plug for my Instagram account, because I made a post recently a carousel post mark dark to hearing in Zed by the way, but it’s all around this whole idea of y being more important than your vision. Okay, so I just wanted to have a conversation about this because a lot of schools are in a place where sometimes they don’t have everybody on the same page in terms of their y. And often schools that we work with don’t even have a vision or if they do have a vision. It might be might be defined might be on the wall, you know, they’ve got a mission statement. But what is actually missing is the why behind why they exist and the whole motivation of what they’re doing. So in a school context, sort of around, you know, what you’re trying to achieve with the students and what kind of education, purpose and motivation do you have for existing, and it’s really important for people to be on the same page about that. So I just wanted to go through a couple of things that I think are really important for making sure that everybody’s got the same why, but can I give you a? You must have seen that post, by the way. I think
Bex Rose: 2:22
I follow you. As soon as you post, I like it.
Mark Herring: 2:27
It’s there. Like, that’s fantastic. All right, well, I’ll give you a little story. And a reason why. For me, this is a big thing, I guess a little bit of a mistake that I made years ago. So I was in leadership at a school. And we made a I made a call effectively, because that was when I made the classic mistake of making a rather large change within the first six months of me being there. And it was a school that had some very sick traditions, they had things that they were doing, you know, and it was one of those schools where things were only running for two or three years before it was like, this is the way we do things, you know, it’s like, it’s like a tradition. But when you actually dig deeper, it’s like it’s only four or five years old. It’s not like it was 100 years ago. And what I decided to do was change the camp, which until I came for a few years was a trip to an island. So they took the senior class, everybody looked forward to it, they took that class to an island for effectively the way I saw it was a bit of a holiday. And I wanted to change it round to a bit more of an outdoor adventure camp. Now, the blowback that I got on that decision, not only from the kids, but from some of the not everybody, but a good section of the parents was actually quite strong. And the decision didn’t really go down. Well, it took me probably a couple of years to roll that through before people kind of saw the value to it and accept that. And then it became something that they look forward to. And I’m pretty sure the school continues that style of camp now. But it was a really good example for me to look back and reflect on the fact that the community, the people, a lot of the people in the community, the parents who were bringing their kids to the school had a very different why behind what they wanted out of their education experience than I did and what my wife being involved in the school and you know, teachers and leaders in schools, sweat, blood and tears, don’t we, you know, we really worked hard, and I couldn’t understand why I was getting the blowback. The reason is because we had different y’s. So when I reflect the parents, why was about the students having a very similar experience to what they had. So it was about replicating their childhood. the why behind school was about encouraging children to have amazing experiences and to connect with family it was a very community family orientated school. But my why was quite different. My Why was about encouraging growth, about development about pushing outside your comfort zones about doing things that were a little bit hard because I knew that for a lot of those students. That They had, you know, their, their lifestyle. And their whole upbringing was amazing. And it was all about lifestyle experiences. And I wanted to kind of push them a little bit. So that was why I wanted that outdoor adventure stream. So just a little bit of an example of having people on different different ways. Have you seen that in some of the schools that you’ve worked in?
Bex Rose: 5:20
Absolutely, I was also part of a leadership team. And we had a change in leadership, bit of a change in guards after 25 years of the same principle. And then a new principal came in and I was the DP and, and that exact situation, where they were historically, lots of things that just happened because they happened. And, and those things were ingrained in us, across the staff and across the community. And the why was challenged on a number of times, and even just things like, we had an assembly on a Friday, and that was cast off as sort of extra release time for teachers, right. And, and the wife or the wife, wife of the teachers was that it meant that the SLT took the the assembly, and the teachers got to go back to the classes and get things done. Yeah. And then you principal decided that that all the prints all the all the teachers needed to be there at the at the assembly and the and so the y’s clashed for a moment there. But then, as time went on, it was actually really ended up being a really integral, important part of the week, because we all got to be together, and we would sell us celebrate success or celebrate things that were happening in the class in the school. But yeah, initially, the y’s clashed quite a bit. But then as soon as I think that the biggest thing about it, the biggest learning from it was really getting that clear. Understanding and, and getting all key stakeholders involved in developing that, that central why that core, that core reasoning behind everything,
Mark Herring: 7:08
because otherwise, if you don’t address that issue, then it just becomes about the other things, you know, and the you end up kind of having this tussle and back and forth. And if I had gone back and have another go at that experience, I may have done the same thing. But if I had, I might have made the same decision. But if I had been able to understand why people were having that pushback, then it could have been different, you know, we could have actually understood each other and maybe I may have, if I had understood what the community’s Why was, then I may have understood that and maybe a depth of what I was doing. I think the key thing is to make sure that everybody’s on the same page. And as leaders, you know, if you’re in a school, if you’re a teacher in a school, understanding the principles vision is important in the leadership’s vision. But understanding the why is super important too, because you can either match to that and you will understand why decisions are made. Or you can find another school that maybe matches your why and fits with your values as well. But I just wanted to give quick, some quick little three things, why I think the why is really important. And the distinction between that why and the vision just really briefly, and again, you can go to my Instagram clip, if you have a graphic and just another shameless plug, there’ll be a link, there’ll be a link in the show notes. So the first one, so here are the three reasons why we need to plug into our why and dig deeper. So number one, why gives you a fuel over the long term, you know, so. But it doesn’t just give you the fuel for the long term, it actually gives you a feel for today. So vision is very much a future thing. It’s something that we’re working towards, you know, this is what we want our school to look like this is how we want our students to operate and learn. And this is where we’re moving to, whereas a why helps you get up in the morning. So when you’re feeling a little bit down, or a little bit circle, this thing’s not going quite right in your personal life. You understand the the dedication and the commitment that you’ve got to the school. This is what we’re all on. And it gels people together right now. So when we’ve got a staff meeting, everybody’s bought in, because this is why this is what we’re about. And there are a couple of schools that I am thinking of immediately who I know that everybody is there for a specific reason. The wires on the wall, the wires talked about at staff meetings, the wires brought up all the time. So that’s really important living
Bex Rose: 9:20
Mark Herring: 9:22
Yeah, 100%. Number two, a wire is important because it will evolve over time. Whereas a vision sometimes can be something that you’re going to, and it’s a direction that you talk about and it is important, but it tends to be reasonably fixed. It’s like this is where we’re going whereas the Y can adapt and change and evolve. And it leads to number three as well because of why can adapt across contexts. What I love about Simon in Simon Sinek I don’t know if I mentioned him he’s really popularized the Golden Circle and the importance of the why his name will always be linked probably forever. Mr. cynic, I call him with the why approach. But what I love about my wife particularly is that I can relate it to my personal life, it can relate to my professional life. And it can also relate to even my, my marriage or the way that I connect with family. So, there are things that I can do with that, why that will be cross contextualized. That’s not a word. But you know what I mean? Like it can go, it doesn’t have to just be in one particular area. And then the last one, they talk about vision, taking at least, you know, 18, or 20, I forget the number, I’m terrible with numbers. But it takes multiple times to be able to articulate and catch a vision from someone, you have to keep coming back to it over and over again, and keep articulating it. Whereas a why, if I share my Y with someone, they kind of get it straight away. So I’ll give you a quick example, my personal wide that I’ve developed and just come to come to terms with and have as a real motivating factor is around investing and people everything that I do, whether I’m with my kids, you know, now at a picnic, or we’re having dinner, don’t get this right all the time. And I’m not perfect, but everything that I do on this podcast, you know, things that we do in our company, when we’re working with schools, it’s about investing in people. And so when I when I talk about that with people, you can kind of catch it, you kind of understand my motivation. And you know, there’s like a an understanding there, that catches pretty quick. So I don’t know if you’ve got anything. Is there anything else that people can do? What are your thoughts about what people could do that to discover what there was?
Bex Rose: 11:29
I think yeah, I think it does take time and and when you said your why, Mark, I go that’s 100% you like that’s, that’s that’s you absolutely to a tee. And I think it does evolve and change over time. What it refines over time. I think you kind of realize that you’re you’re on this planet for a reason. And this is your why behind it. I don’t even think I’ve really 100% developed mine to be honest, personally, Mark, but in terms of professionally, having the why made decision making so much easier. And the ECL T space because you get thrown so many opportunities all the time from different places, places, people, things, opportunities, just get thrown in your desk all the time. And I made the mistake when I first started and teach and SLT was saying Yes, that sounds cool. Cool. That sounds cool. That sounds cool. That sounds cool. And you end up getting this absolutely over crammed calendar. But as soon as you then pull it back and you go, actually this is our y, does this, is this going to contribute? Is it going to enhance? Is it going to help to support that Y? Yeah, or is it going to just overcrowd it and just you know, not really kind of go on that same trajectory. And so as soon as you start doing that you get real traction, and formulating or making sure that that y become is alive and kicking.
Mark Herring: 12:58
Yeah, 100 of what we talked about vision acting as a guardrail, you know, to all the decisions that you have to make and, and then that leadership space, I think the why does that as well. You know, so like you say, you’ve got a lot of opportunities to do a lot of things. And I think schools fall into that trap, they’re doing so many things, because they see there’s value in that. But if they’re able to sit down and like you say, examine the values, what are our principles? What are we actually trying to achieve? Where are we thinking on, on our motivations? If the if you can articulate that and figure out what it is you’re trying to do, then I think you can make decisions, does this help us do this? Does this help us do that? That’s really important. And I think I was gonna add another fourth one there. I think understanding that why helps you continue going in the long term. Because I think for a lot of people, sometimes their Why is to reach a certain position, or to achieve a certain thing. And then you know, so like, I think, through my teaching career, I started to develop a bit of an aspiration to want to be a principal, you know, like a lot of a lot of teachers that are kind of working through, they’re looking at their classroom practice, and they’re thinking, well, I want to move into the leadership space. So then, if your why. So if my wife was to become a principal one day, what are you going to do when you get there?
Bex Rose: 14:11
Yeah, what happens?
Mark Herring: 14:12
You become a principal, you sitting on the desk, and you kind of like the door shut behind you. And then you’re like, Oh, what am I gonna do now? You see it all the time with sports, with sports players, you know, in professional sports people, they, if they’re wires, you know, the admiration. You know, being in the All Blacks or winning a World Cup, often you hear about this huge plummet that they have afterwards because they’re why has gone because they’ve had to retire or they didn’t, you know, you see all sorts of examples in the sporting world of people not achieving that goal. And if they don’t achieve that goal, then their life is over. But if the why is if they examine their why, and understand that it’s something bigger than that, and there is something that has a motivating purpose behind you, whether it’s you know, supporting my family or building a foundation for my future generations or You know, all of those big aspirational things that people have? I think that can really go a long way. So what’s for people to think about? You know, when you’re you’re walking your dog or driving your car, it’d be really interesting thing for people to think what what is their schools? Why do we have a why is that something that we’ve discussed and talked about? Is this, is there an opportunity for us to do that. But I think on a personal level, I’d really encourage you, if you’re in a teaching role, if you’re in a leadership role, if you’re working in the classroom, understanding what that wire is, it’s going to be super important.
Bex Rose: 15:31
Yeah. Thanks for that.
Mark Herring: 15:35
All right, our guest on the show today is a very exciting guest as our first person outside of UTV so it’s great to have you on the call. I’m kinda I just got a little bit of a bio that I’ll use to run through. And you can sort of, you can give me some feedback on this bio, because this came straight from LinkedIn. So I don’t know how this is going to roll. But anyway, Conor is a learning delivery specialist, currently the education success manager for Microsoft, New Zealand. And I know that that’s a role that you’ve just started last year. Your background. Conor’s background is five years as a teacher at Northcote intermediate, and Auckland, and two years at Northcote primary school and in Auckland as well in New Zealand. And this is interesting, LinkedIn comes up with three people who are your interests, so I wonder if you could have a quick little guess who they might be? Anyway, obviously, with Microsoft, you’ve got Bill Gates as the first one. You’ve got Satya Nadella and third one drumroll just send her idea. And so that’s exciting for you. Free, I wonder what that says about your personality, your professional aspirations. Obviously, there is some CEO of a major corporation and the Prime Minister of a future nation in your in your future. So it’s awesome to have you on the call Conor, we’re really excited to talk to you particularly today, around the eSports environment that you’ve got the experience that you’ve got and what you’re doing and your background and how you got involved in that. Because for a lot of teachers in classrooms, one of the huge challenges that teachers have got at the moment is around engagement, no matter what age your students are. We’re really struggling in the classroom to get engaged get attendance as one thing I know in New Zealand, particularly getting students to the classroom is a real challenge after the lock downs and COVID and the patterns of behavior. But then how do you engage them when you’ve got them in the room as well. So no matter where you are in the world, that’s an issue. And I’m interested to see what kind of role eSports could play in that. But did you just want to give us a background kind of catch up and how you got to where you are now with Microsoft and how that led to your involvement with eSports?
Conor McHoull: 17:35
Yeah, cool. Chiara. Firstly, thank you for having me. As part of this, this podcast, super exciting to be the first external guest outside of out of UTB. So huge honor.
Mark Herring: 17:49
Number One On The List. You were like, right at the number one, we’ve got less than 100. Yeah, yeah. Yeah.
Conor McHoull: 17:55
All right, high expectations. I think, you know, engagement in schools is such a huge thing, right. And I think reflecting on my time back in the classroom, I always prioritized engagement, right? In terms of if you can get a student wanting to come to school, and excited to come to school. That’s, that’s the biggest part of the battle, right? If you can, if you can, if you can achieve that. The learning is going to flow naturally. But if you’re constantly battling that engagement, you’re going to be battling the learning, and you’re going to be battling, you know, for the remainder of the year. And I think, I think I relate to that, because I was that kid at school, I really struggled with engagement. And I really struggled with school. To the point where I didn’t finish high school, I left I dropped out of high school at football. Oh, wow. Yeah. And I really struggled because I didn’t have the things that I was engaged in the things that I really enjoyed doing. And at that time, it was tinkering. It was taking things apart, it was exploring, it was being hands on and being curious, and everything that would relate to what we would probably classify as STEM learning now, right? And a huge, huge part of that. And my interest and engagement was gaming was was being involved in that in that side of technology as well. And so growing up I was I was always really passionate about computers, technology gaming. And that was always a huge driving force of what I did in the background and behind the scenes. And so yeah, when I left school, I went into the I went straight into an automotive trade worked really well for me as I came out of school, tinkering hands on, you know, learning and being engaged and curious. And then, as a little bit older, I had a pivotal point in my life where I wanted to do a little bit more than that and I wanted to get involved in a little bit more and I wanted to be giving back and helping others. And so I made the transition to teaching. And so I went and studied to become a teacher. And funnily enough, you mentioned my two last places of employment as a teacher, Northcote intermediate and Northcote primary. While I was studying to be a teacher, I also worked at the Northcote tavern.
Mark Herring: 20:25
On your LinkedIn,
Conor McHoull: 20:28
I was very, I was really engaged in sort of, ingrained in their Northcote community, I saw a lot of future parents, in many states, code seven, which, which might have helped me when I started teaching there. So yeah, I continued, while I was training, to be a teacher, with my passions, which was was gaining technology. And in the background, I was always doing things online. You know, I was always staying up to date with the latest technology and just really curious about that site. And then yeah, when I made it into the classroom, that’s when I really started to put my passions with, with my professional practice. And so I started to really integrate technology into the classroom. And so from from early on, I was I was really, I guess, understanding of these kids who wanted more than what the current curriculum was, was offering. And, you know, it was still kind of early days around, especially esport, back then, when I originally started teaching, but I really saw a shift and students craving for a little bit more, you know, in the classroom. And so, over time, I started to integrate that technology, I started looking at ways to use that as a tool in the classroom. Initially, it was, you know, looking at ways to provide a reward for students for completing, you know, like a writing piece or a reading piece. And then hey, now you can spend some time and go and do something on the computer, play a game or do something. But as it evolved, it really changed from a reward piece to a really essential component of classroom gamified learning and providing a platform for students to align their interests with this new exciting thing. You know, and it was really quickly becoming a career opportunity, which, you know, is quite a bizarre thing to think that now these students can can progress through the classroom and have this, this pathway in front of them where they can follow their passions through gaming and coding and eSports. And that’s a viable, profitable career path. And so as I continued teaching, and it became a little bit more common, a little bit more understood and a little bit more frequent in the classroom, I really started opening up what I could do with with a sport. And so when I made it to North, her intermediate, I took over the digital technology, space, so I was a general classroom teacher, but I also oversaw the digital curriculum, the digital technology, the digital extension program, and I ran a specialist group, as well, with with a selected group of students to really help drive technology in our school. And time and time again, after asking students what they wanted, what what would they want to see more of in the school? Quite often, it came back to esport gaming and those opportunities. And so that’s exactly what I did. I built out a school Esports tournament that grew into a, a, that esport cluster group. So I started getting schools from all across Tamaki Makoto to come to our school and we hosted a an esport gaming event. We got up to 13 schools out, we hosted we had students playing, we had multiple teams, I had students doing, broadcasting students doing, you know, the Twitch streaming, commentating, filming, you know, learning how to do all the graphics overlays on stream labs. And I think, for me, as an educator, that’s the most exciting part is that there are so many different layers to this, this technology in the classroom. It’s not just about playing games anymore. You know, it really opens the door to so many different career paths. And you can engage so many students and in such a wide variety, you know, like I said, you’ve got the streaming, you got all the technical aspects with with that go with understanding all the camera equipment. You got the teamwork, the collaboration, it’s a huge, it’s a huge piece. And so that was that was something I was hugely passionate about. And so I i successfully set up a couple of those eSports tournaments. And then I started to, I guess, work with other educators who attended these events and wanted to replicate similar events at their schools. So then I started providing, I guess, guidance and support to other teachers to run their own. And then as a teacher, I took students out to attend these other events that other teachers were putting together. And then, I guess, through through that, I had this opportunity to come and work with Microsoft. And it’s not necessarily esport focused the role that I do, but that’s a big part of my role here with Microsoft is working with schools, and teachers to help understand how eSports and all of these new digital tools work in the classroom and Minecraft being one of the biggest Microsoft’s products, teachers are really craving that and, you know, that’s, that’s where I’m able to come in and provide some support and assistance on, you know, what does this look like in the classroom? How can I leverage this to support my students? And where can I take it? What can I do further than just playing games? So yeah, a whole range of things.
Mark Herring: 26:14
Yeah, it’s amazing. And I know bits that we really want to give people some some hard, you know, Visa, some things that you can go away and do. And some int x entry points really into eSports, for this for the classrooms. But I just want to kind of wrestle with that idea at the moment that a lot of people have, that esports is or gaming is not really something that’s that has a place in education, and it’s something that kids do when they go home, or students do when they go home. Because they know that if you’re into it, chances are you’ve got nine or 10 colleagues around you who think that you’re completely wasting the the student’s time. And, you know, it’s just, I liked that analogy, or the story you told where you said you went to the students and ask them what they wanted. Some sometimes when you encourage teachers to do that, they think you’re Yeah, of course, they’d say that because if I said to them, what would you want? They’d say, oh, yeah, we just want to have pizza all day. And, you know, we weren’t like five hour lunchtimes, you know, but, but like you said, for a lot of students, getting involved in gaming and eSports in school does lead to future careers. And we all know that person like my cousin that I lived with in the 90s, who started out, he had the original PlayStation when I flirted with him at one stage. And then he then he took that to actually start working for a company that were designing PlayStation games. And then he went on and worked for Trade Me, which outside of New Zealand is sort of like our re, you know, approach. So like, it just blossomed, and brands from there. Do you see? Do you see that kind of pushback from teachers? And when you hear that pushback, what’s your immediate go to? kind of answer for people who say it’s a waste of time?
Conor McHoull: 27:51
You know, funny, you should mention that I think teachers teaching and schools are a really interesting place, right? Yeah, you got you got teachers who are really on the forefront of digital growth. And then you’ve got, you know, maybe some teachers who are a little bit resistant to change, and maybe struggle with understanding how some of these new tools, support and encourage growth. And so there is a lot of there is a lot of pushback and some instances when it comes to esport. And you know, I’ve personally seen that I’ve set up and gone to promote eSports events, like I spoke around, and I’ve had schools flat out email reply and say, No, we won’t be attending because we don’t see how this relates to education or will benefit Wow, students, right. And, as someone who has been seen the impact that this has had positively, you know, firsthand, it’s quite a, it’s quite an interesting thing to see. You know, I guess, as educators, what we what we want is to be looking at all of the ways that we can support students and all of the ways that we can foster growth, whether it’s, you know, through developments, and writing and understanding a new tool that supports, you know, reading fluency, as well as our creative fluency in terms of digital transformation in gaming, and how all of that can open up so many different career pathways. You know, and I’d like to think that educators are taking every opportunity to try and provide those outcomes for students, I think, I think my biggest thing when I do try and counter that with, with teachers, or anyone who kind of says, well, gaming is just gaming, it’s one of those, it’s this, you know, solitary environment of a child sitting in their dark bedroom, you know, playing games and not socializing. And you know, that maybe that’s what the stereotype might have been in the past. And, you know, don’t get me wrong, there is still that element of it. But when we’re talking about getting in the classroom, or eSports in the classroom, so more broadly Les, I think it’s important to note that we’re talking around collaborative games, we’re talking around a sport that is driving to promote those, those soft skills and students, right, that communication, that collaboration, the, you know, empathy, and all of those skills that go with it. And the learning that comes with it, right? Not this solitary, dark room gaming stereotype. And so, I always try and challenge that, you know, you look at some of the eSports events that are happening all around the world, you know, we just had the, the world, world esport tournaments, end of last year, take place in Bali. And we had some representatives from New Zealand, go and attend. And this is, you know, 90% of it is team based sports. So you got FIFA, you know, you got the football, you’ve got Rocket League, which is, you know, the car based soccer game, which is all team collaborative sports. You know, you’ve got the you’ve got the communication and the teamwork and the strategies and everything that goes with it. So yeah, I always try and tie it back to that.
Mark Herring: 31:12
So it’s not like to street fighters, like when I was at the spaces machine. Like that was what it was, it was two street fighters fighting each other. That’s very eSports that you’ve got, you know, that collaborative nature goes on because you’ve got team against Team, isn’t it? And I’ve been in rooms where these things have been held and the noise and the talking between people. It’s just next level, isn’t it? Have you seen that BEX with you? I know you’ve got kids. Yeah, we never mind that noise just goes through the roof, doesn’t it?
Bex Rose: 31:37
Absolutely. And I’m just thinking, you know, in my experience, I’ve kind of got two hats here, because I’ve gotten my my classroom in the school. And then I’ve also got my son who’s very much into it. And, and to engage him in learning through eSports, or through Minecraft, or through something like that. That’s when you start actually seeing some traction. And there’s learning because it’s authentic, it’s relevant, it’s in context that he understands, you know, like, it’s just been a game changer for my son in particular, and then also with kids that have been hard to engage those typical, you know, I always I always come back to those those years, six boys that are just not keen on learning that or learning collaboration, they don’t want to play team, you know, those kind of games in the classroom, but then as soon as you bring the esport element will soon as you bring some sort of gamification, the engagement is just phenomenal. So yeah, I just love hearing, I loved hearing your journey to Conor around that you were also in that same, that same space as a student as well. So, yeah, it’s been really interesting to hear.
Conor McHoull: 32:41
I definitely think that that the engagement is, and I touched on it at the start, I think the engagement is such a huge piece that can’t be understated, right, if you have those years, six boys who are disengaged, and you know, we pigeonhole the six boys, but I think, you know, even girls promoting girls and esport is a huge area, which we’re doing a lot of work in. And I say we, I mean, education as a whole, right? But I think if you if you look at those disengaged students, we as educators should be doing everything we can within our toolkits to try and find ways to get them engaged, find an area where they are passionate, and find ways to support them and turn that into a potential pathway. You know, I never would have thought that I would get to where I am and have this opportunity work with Microsoft. And if I, if I peel back the layers, it all kind of stems from my passion and my, my, my gaming, right, it’s where it all sort of grew from, and, you know, a lot of the students that I have worked with, and I’ve seen, you ask them what they want to be and now like I said, they can say that they want to be a professional streamer or a professional gamer or a shoutcaster or whatever. You know, so we should be finding ways to engage them in that and, you know, part of also aside from the role that I have at Microsoft, one of the other elements that I’m involved in is a chair, the New Zealand esport Federation’s education subcommittee. So, New Zealand esport Federation is it’s been sanctioned under New Zealand sport. So it’s a it’s a officially an official recognized entity. And then under that, under the New Zealand esport Federation, there’s different subcommittees, and we’re engaged and aligned and supporting specific areas. So we have woman and eSports we have indigenous and eSports, education and eSports and that’s the one that I look after. And so within that education, and eSports I have a team of nine people that I work with, who are all teachers, who have all been involved in education in one way or another And our goal, essentially is to provide framework resources, starting points entry points into esport. For for teachers across the country. And that’s, that’s a relatively new thing. So we kind of brought that to fruition needs to end of last year. And, you know, we’re working away to really centralize a hub where where people can come and get that support if esport is something that they wanted to pursue in the classroom. Some of the people in the in the teamer X professional, esport players, as well as, you know, teachers like myself, so we’ve got a really well rounded structure to provide that support. So, you know, something that I’m really passionate about?
Bex Rose: 35:45
Yeah. So you mentioned you’ve got this team of people, but how would the average Joe teacher go, they listening to you and going, I’ve got a bunch of kids, or I’ve got kids that would really love this, how do we get started? How do we get into this?
Conor McHoull: 35:59
You know, there’s, there’s so many, there’s so many articles, and so much research, and there’s a lot of different entry points. So that’s a great question. I guess, speaking with my Microsoft hat on one element that I would highly recommend, and, you know, we have our Microsoft learn portal, so that’s Microsoft learn, you can just search that. And then within the Microsoft learn portal, that’s the that’s like the one stop shop for all Microsoft, learning that teachers or anyone can take on professional development, create a profile, earn badges, and build out their professional learning. But within that there’s a subset of education specific learning pathways and modules. And then within there, it breaks it down even further, you’ve got STEM learning, you’ve got, you know, teams learning, but then there’s a whole session, sorry, a whole segment of Minecraft. And Minecraft being a really great tool that, you know, so many students are already using and successfully in the classroom. And then within there, there’s a whole unit on what’s called the the Minecraft teacher eSports Academy. And so that that mod, that module is designed to step teachers through the whole process of starting esport in high school, what this looks like, you know, small steps, building up an esport team or a group of students to help with that, and then providing the framework with a Minecraft approach on how you could build that out across your school. So within that Microsoft learn portal, there’s there’s two elements is that the Teacher Academy, and then there’s also a student Academy as well. So you can really break it off into two different pathways, you can support teachers, and you can also develop students capabilities within esport as well, teaching them around collaboration and teamwork, and, you know, working with peers and stuff, so I would probably draw on those two resources. And there’s a whole bunch of other Minecraft tutorials in there as well on how to get set up and the different types of esport games within Minecraft because, you know, when you talk esport broadly, what what’s hard to recognize is that there are different within within Minecraft, there are different objectives, you know, different game criterias, or different game outcomes. So, you know, you might have a build challenge where you tasked students to work in groups of five to race against the clock and build a specific object within Minecraft. And then you might have a rubric where they can, you know, they have to achieve certain things. So that’s a build challenge, then you might have like a creative code clash challenge where students go in and have to collect nectar and bring it back to the beehive and, you know, do all these different other sporting challenges. So there’s a whole range of different activities that teachers can go in and understand more about.
Mark Herring: 39:08
And since I know in Minecraft, so you can create your own worlds with your own chalkboards and you know, different things that you can do. So I’ve heard of teachers creating, or having students create their own challenges, so students have to go in and compete within their world. So that’s fantastic. A great resource for people to be able to go and plug into and a really good entry point to the whole world of Esports. So we’ll put some links on the in the show notes box, and we’ll have some things that people can go to, to be able to get started. But fantastic to start that journey. And I think it’s one of the things that you know, at the beginning of the year, a school year in the southern hemisphere, and you know, you’re looking towards the summer in the Northern Hemisphere, you’re wanting to try and keep kids engaged and, and keep things sort of ticking over. I think there’s some fantastic ideas there to unpack. So thanks so much for kind of for jumping on. And we’ll also you know, have a have a connection for people to reach out to you if you’re A foreign New Zealand tone and make some some connection with you through soundtrack.
Conor McHoull: 40:05
And yeah, thank you so much for having me. I am more than happy to answer any questions if anyone has, you know, any any specific esport or Minecraft related questions, more than happy to provide support. I’ve been working with some people over in the Philippines and working with teachers in Hong Kong and other parts of the world. Who interesting got in touch with with specific esport questions. So yeah, I love it. If I can help in any way, shout out. Thank you for having me.
Mark Herring: 40:35
Bex Rose: 40:37
Mark Herring: 40:41
All right, well, this is the good to know segment. And we’ve got Adrian, one of our trainers in Australia, I actually, I think your claim to fame is the longest running member of the team. So Adrian, I’ll let you talk about that in a second. But you’re gonna talk to us about chat GPT. And one of the exciting things about this is it’s a relatively new tool in the education space. And we just want to have an awesome little conversation with you around some of the research you’ve done about the opportunities, because I know that for a lot of teachers, there is a lot of concern, a lot of fear about assessment and lots of things like that. So looking forward to finding out about some things about it from you. But do you just want to explain for people who have might not have an awareness of what it is and how it works? We could start from there.
Adrian Francis: 41:20
Surely out? Yes, I will. That’s a good place to start. So chat DBT has been out for a kind of hit the social media around Christmas time issue last year, so 2022 and started getting a bit more traction. And you might have seen some stuff online looking at people that are creating artwork done by AI or artificial intelligence. So check GBT is the chat version of that where you can actually open up a browser, search for chat GPT you have to sign in. And then once you’re signed in, there’s like a little bar at the bottom of the window. And when you just type in a question, it will fire back and answer for you. Now, it’s not a Google search. It’s slightly different from that because we are used to doing a Google search and looking for how to bake a cake and up comes 15 websites and we pick what we want. Now this is using a neural network, which basically is an AI system in the background, which is a deep learning architecture, this is kind of nerdy for you that will then learn and process language and then find the answers and solutions for readily published are from read only published articles or information. So what it’s actually kind of doing this is Adrian’s version trying to explain it to his mom, you ask a question, and then goes and interprets that question. It then goes and scrapes information off the internet where it can get things from. So it could be articles, it could be newspapers, it could be videos, whatever. If then we’ll have a response and come back to you. It gets better as it goes along. And it’s very conversational. Unlike a Google search or any other search engine, where you just put in a question, it gives you one answer. This is like you can have a conversation with it. It also learns as you go through so as it gets better, it’s learning that how to recover respond to you, and also how to interpret what you’re writing. So it’s actually quite a fun thing to play with as well, it’s quite, you can actually ask her a question about how’s your day been those kinds of things that will actually come back for an answer. And just be aware that it is refining itself, it’s very much in its infancy, they would have done some beta testing before they went live. But this is still kind of in beta anyway. But it’s quite a nice tool to have. So it’s
Mark Herring: 43:27
just kind of like a glimpse into the future of where things are going and what and what what’s going to develop further down the track, I heard a great example where they said that once once it does get connected to the internet, it will be able to, you know, do things like putting together a schedule for you. So I saw one person say, you could say to it, I’m in Paris, on these dates, I’d like to see some amazing restaurants, go to some theaters and see some of the local sites, Could you arrange a three day itinerary for me, and it will map all of that for you and put it a bullet pointed itinerary of where you’re going to go and what you’re going to do and where you going to stay. Now that’s slightly more advanced, isn’t it than a Google search? And when it gets connected to the internet, it’s going to go for that. But at the moment, my understanding is that what most people are using it for is content creation, developing ideas, you know, that whole text based approach is that kind of how most people are using it at the moment.
Adrian Francis: 44:17
That’s what I’m saying. It’s what I’ve played with. But I think that it would just be the tip of the iceberg because that’s kind of the realm that we’re playing in. We’re all ex teachers, we know about creating content. And we kind of think, well, we can use this to kind of use that bit. But I’ve had friends of mine and get it to write stories with slight pathos in it and it will or with a slightly I write a story in the same kind of style. But that sounds so weird, right? And it will write it for you. It’s quite a bizarre type of thing. I think it’s bigger than what we kind of using at the moment and the education space. It’s got a few people spooked.
Mark Herring: 44:48
Yeah. Do you want to tell us why? Why do you think teachers are so concerned?
Adrian Francis: 44:53
The big I think the big thing is this is just me with my head on is that we are very used to doing things exactly the same way. The way we always have. So we all went to school, normally we did, because that’s what you do you go to school, and then most people don’t go to university. And then they go back to school again. So all they’ve really known for their entire life is that mode of school, you learn something, you learn something from Monday to Thursday, and on Friday, you get a test on Monday, you get it back again. And then away, you go again. So it’s that kind of cycle. So we’ve, we’ve grown up in there, and that’s how we’ve learned, then we go to university that’s reinforced as well. And to make it even more complex, or the parents of the kids that we teach, have the same experience, or our parents have the same experience, it goes back and back and back. So when you want to change or adjust something, people start getting spooked. And there’s two reactions, one, you could go, this is fantastic. Let’s embrace this and run with it. Or oh, my goodness, let’s lock this down. Because I don’t want anyone to be able to see it. So that then creates that kind of tension in your staff and in the school and in education about where are you going to use this kind of tool. And if you kind of take a step back to COVID, when COVID hit, how the heck are we going to manage we’re gonna have to go online. And surprisingly, we did flick online. And we did teach. And we did actually do some stuff really well on mine, we learned a stack. And now that we’re back, we’ve kind of got that ability to pull out our hybrid learning model quite easily out of our backpack, we were forced to do it. But now if you look at most schools, 90% of them are back to what they were doing before. So they’ve kind of dropped the opportunity to use that changing kind of circumstance or changing technology to enhance learning for students, they’ve gone back to what they’re now doing before. So check GBT is the same, because what happens is with this, if you want students to write an essay about a war in the 18th century, they could say write me a 500 word essay unrolling drone, sensory, essentially, and reference that for me, please. And we’ll do it. Now it does it, it loses that human voice. So it’s not quite there yet, but it’s getting pretty close. So that means,
Bex Rose: 46:48
Adrian. Yeah, I have seen you can refine the voice that comes. So you can say whether you want it to sound professional, or if you want to sound casual. I’ve seen a few applications of it within education framework, what are some ways that you have seen it? Or what are some ways you’ve been dabbling with it that we could have some practical applications in the classroom. So that
Mark Herring: 47:13
doesn’t mean you could say make it sound like a 15 year old student.
Adrian Francis: 47:19
We could give it a crack and see, but I think probably for a teacher, what it means is, so thanks, I’ll look back to yours in just a smidge. I did an example of a school that I was working in last year, and I got six people to open up asking exactly the same question. And they got six different responses, which means that you can’t put it through a plagiarism checker because it’s, it’s unique every time you create. And you’re not going to pick it up. Because that’s what teachers normally do, I’ll put it to a plagiarism checker. If they cheat, then we can pick them up. One teacher responded to what we now need to teach his process. We need to know our kids and have that drafting process done really well. We need to teach problem solving. And we need to teach wisdom, not content. And I thought that was pretty cool. That was a really nice summary of what we need to do in education. Now the the pain point is that we still are governed by exams at the end or some sort of assessment, and that needs to get that tick. So they can move on somewhere else. So we kind of got that paradigm ring. But where would I use it as a teacher? Well, first thing, creating lesson plans is the big thing. So you’ve got a great lesson plan on something you’re not quite sure about it, you’ve got some idea about the content, but just get it to build our lesson plan for your 45 minute lesson plan on algebra, teaching these key concepts, link it to the Australian standard or New Zealand standards, and it will do it for you bang, you finished. Now you need to know your stuff. Because otherwise, it’s just going to spit something out. And then when you stand in front of your kid, you’re going to pair up something here and you have no idea about it. So never use a tool like this, to do something that you don’t know about anyway, I’ve done some stuff with coding, you know, write some code for stuff. And 99% of it was spot on one bit just didn’t work because of my environment. And if I didn’t know that, then I would have been pulling my hair out. So you still need to know what you’re doing to make it work. So that’s lesson plans would be great, because then once you link it to the straight like for us, in Australia, the AITSL standards, you can link it to all the standards, you’re done and dusted really good. So that’s and that’s a lot of time for teachers, you know, and you can even say do a five week unit plan on this break up activities for every week, and it’ll map it out for you. And then you can adjust and move it. I’ve looked at the timing of stuff when they’ve done things like that I’ve asked him to build out a training course, and the timings are out. But that’s because I know my stuff and then I can go through and change and modify otherwise you’re gonna get sunk. The other one
Bex Rose: 49:32
most important thing sorry, Adrian, I’m just gonna jump in there that I think that’s really important to emphasize is that it is not replacing teachers, you still need to know the content you still need to make sure that what you are presenting is accurate but it takes that leg workout right it takes all that Admony types, league work type stuff out of it so you can focus on the most important thing which is that connection with the with the kids to pass on the information or pass on the moon. experiences right your
Adrian Francis: 50:01
100% picks. That’s exactly right. The other thing that I’d use it for, so I probably got three or four that I use it for. The other thing I’d use it for would be that personalized learning that differentiated learning, as we talked about all the time, I’d be great. We want to differentiate the class. And all we do is we take one question off of assignments to flick it to the kid, so it’s not really differentiating versus kind of reducing their workload. So what you could do is you can say, Okay, guys, I’m thinking of something like a food tech or a week or food tech here, which is, you know, home economics or cooking in nutrition. You could say to the kids, like, these are your 10 ingredients, you’ve got an hour in our listened, you need to come up with a recipe that uses those 10 and makes these outcomes. Yeah, give them a rubric and stuff beforehand, they could get into that into check JBJ saying blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, want to do a 45 minute lesson. But this needs to cover these outcomes, I need to be able to be assessed against this, give me 10 questions at the end, I can answer, it will then create a lesson plan or a cooking program that’s personalized for that kid. So if they want to do chocolate cake, and they’ve got the right recipes, we’ll do it. If they want to do a sponge cake, it will. So all those kinds of things are there, the process will be different. The content, like the materials, I need to do it, I still the same. But every kid’s got an individual program they’re working on, they set that in with their assignment, you’re done and dusted, then I think that is just absolutely superb. And as a teacher, when they hand in, when they when you go and assess it, they’ve got the lesson plan here, because the kids made it, you’ve got the rubric that you’re marking against. And every kid’s got ownership of their learning, rather than being told what to do. So I think that’s a really good way of doing it. And you could apply that to multiple subject areas as well, which I think is pretty, pretty good. The other half of that is get a copy of each of the kids lesson plans. And now you’ve got 30 lesson plans ready to go whenever you need to. So you might be sick bank, flick that out and turn it into a relief lesson done does, you have to do anything else about it. So it’s pretty cool. That’s what I do. The other one, or there’s probably got two others I said three alive. So two others one, writing emails to parents, and things like that, you need to address an issue, and you need to do it in a positive manner. That is really hard. And for me, that takes a lot of time and energy. But you can say write a positive email about Belinda, who is late to class. And I’ve just noticed that a homeworks not being done regularly, I’m concerned about the people she’s hanging out with, I wonder how we can work together to make this better. So that you can just type something like that, it will then draft an email out for you with that positive spin on it, addressing the issues that you want to that you can then change in doctor and make appropriate, then you can use for sending home to the parents, which is pretty cool. So that’s that one. So get out. The last one is the bane if you ever talk to teachers about what’s the boundary life is it’s always reporting, it’s always writing that report at the end of the term, those kinds of things, I would be using this to generate some standard kind of responses, inputting someone’s name, putting some stuff about the marks, get a whole bank of standard responses there. And then to see you can use them to craft your own response when you’re writing a report, I would do that, because then you’ve got that ability. Now the probably the downside of that is you’ll end up with a great chunk of comments that you can then come back and get to at any time, but then you’ve got a comment back, you’re refining the way that you write and the way that you can add your voice to it. And at the end of the day, you’re going to have a comment going to the parents that’s going to be meaningful and helpful, and doesn’t eat all your time, which I think is a really good thing. So use it the same time, use it to make mental learning outcomes for students, and you use it to lift that load off of you. When you’re doing some preparation. That’s what I’ve been doing. So good.
Mark Herring: 53:27
There’s actually two things that people can jump into they’re out there.
Bex Rose: 53:31
Absolutely. And I saw some a cool way I the Facebook group, the teacher Facebook group, and they are talking about their welcome back to school newsletter that they were compiling for their for their teachers are for the parents that were coming in. And so I suggested that and and yeah, just takes the time you can you still have the opportunity to refine it and and give put your flavor into it. But it just gives you that skeleton that takes so long and you go oh, like, you know, trying to get back in the groove of things. So yeah, just skeleton, you don’t have to, you don’t have to copy at one word word.
Adrian Francis: 54:06
I think that gives you that structure, as we said before you become an editor. And it is sooner, because sometimes you’ll be able to, you’ll be able to go that’s not quite right. So really stuff that’s up to date, if you’re asked to do some political analysis, and our analysis is something that’s just happened, it struggles a bit because there’s not enough stuff out there for it be able to find anything that’s even really technical and a specific thing it’ll do really well unless it can’t get access to journals that are behind a firewall or a paywall, and that it can’t grab information to give you a response.
Mark Herring: 54:35
And that’s at the moment, but obviously that will continue to grow as acquisitions happen as more companies take on and this is just the first iteration that’s been released to the public. So I think it’s really, really good opportunity to get in there and have a go. One of the things that I’ve noticed is that when you’re talking to different teachers, so if you’re a teacher and you haven’t experienced this, if you haven’t clicked on the link, we’ll put that in the show notes for you to go and have a little experiment. It really does change change your perception once you’ve had a go so listening to it and hearing it, you kind of don’t quite get it, I think. But when you actually put something in there that you regularly do, and then have that come back to you, you know that that’s just saved 30 to 45 minutes of your life, you know, and it just really does change the whole way that you see this and the potential. So hopefully, some of the ideas that you’ve given Adrian are going to help some people that the move from a little bit more, less of a concern area into some more, sort of looking at opportunity. So I think that’s fantastic. Thanks for sharing that. It’s awesome.
Adrian Francis: 55:31
No problem. Thanks for having me. It’s been great. Thanks, Adrian.
Mark Herring: 55:37
All right, so five in the ken Beck’s, what are your thoughts?
Bex Rose: 55:40
Well, it was so great to hear from Adrian about chat GPT there’s just so much to learn here. But we do have a dedicated chat GPT special episode to listen to. So just pop back through the episode list and you’ll find it. I was thinking I guess you could apply that ye piece you spoke about making waves to develop how chat GPT could work in your school. Something to think about they’re hearing Conor’s story about his lack of engagement at school has led him to the space where he works in as a career is super inspiring is so great to hear listened to so great. If so Thanks, Mark.
Mark Herring: 56:19
That’s totally My pleasure. I love I think this is this is one of those episodes that you’ll everybody will probably know somebody that would get some value, whether it’s the chat GPT thing you might be having conversations with people who are a little bit nervous about how that’s going to impact on their classroom, and what are they going to do about this mess of things come down the track or, you know, there’s some teachers who could really do with some engagement work with their students. There’s lots of reasons to share that. So that’s one of the things that will encourage all of you to do this little share button, click that get the link, send it to anybody. We’d love for as many people as possible to find out what we’re doing and get some value from these conversations. We also have some great links in the show notes for you to explore this week. So check that out. Go down into the show notes. Click on that the chat GPT one will be there, especially in the Minecraft. We’re also posting every week so make sure you don’t miss those by hitting this subscribe button that’s going to make sure that you get notifications and you find out when we release those and they drop. If you know somebody who would get value, like I said, hit the share button and let them know Lastly if you have questions or anything to share with us, email us at team at using technology better.com. We’d love to hear from you. See you next week. See ya