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In this Episode:
To see all the OutClassed episodes go to utb.fyi/outclassed
Podcast Episode Highlights:
2:56 Things that we have learnt from this year
11:29 What are we up to in this holiday
12:54 Upgrading schools to make them super futuristic
24:51 Using robotics in the real world and smart homes
32:33 Rebooting student tech team
37:54 Schools are changing to make students more job ready
45:28 Self assessment for students
Resources and links mentioned:
Mike Reading 00:22
All right, everybody, welcome back to the outclassed podcast is the last one for the year looking back, doing a bit of a wrap, and just getting ready for Christmas and end of year. So looking forward to chatting through celebrating a few things, looking forward to 2021. Blake how’s things?.
Very good, Mike, it’s good. Just the two of us today and a bit of a reflection. I think it’s been a hell of a year for us, hasn’t it?
Mike Reading 00:45
Yeah, for some of us. It’s been worse than others. Obviously, with your guys, you’ve already been in school, what less than a quarter of the year or thereabouts, right?
Yeah, about a third I think in the end, but yeah, it was always sort of touching, go coming back and going back into lockdowns and a lot of uncertainty. And I feel like now we’ve got a lot more certainty around what’s going on. And we sort of know the drill, even if we had to go back into lockdown. So yeah, it’s been it’s been a tremendous learning experience, that’s for sure. And I think a lot of people have had the opportunity to stretch themselves in ways they wouldn’t have otherwise. And, yeah, there’s been, there’s been a lot to show for it. So from that perspective, you know, there has been some positivity out of it, but certainly some grave and difficult challenges for a lot of people.
Mike Reading 01:32
Yeah, yeah, I think one of the things we should do today is just spend a bit of time. So yeah, celebrating some of that. And like some of the lessons we’ve learned, the way we have come through come through strong, like we’ve got that hard time sometimes it’s, you know, grow. So there’s a good opportunity to grow and celebrate that. What’s the changes, we just been doing a bit of a planning session today for New Zealand and, and talking through some of the opportunities for 2021. And one of the great opportunities is that schools and teachers are more open to doing online PD. So you know, professional development that’s delivered online, which we think and I have fought for a long time, is does actually get to better outcomes. But people have been slow to adopt. So yeah, there’s been some good that has come out of it, I think. But before we dive into all of that, just want to give Steven heska a shout out from Hong Kong, I was on a call with him yesterday. And if you’re listening to this podcast, and you ever want to jump on a call, just reach out and say hi. He was saying, Blake that he listens to our podcast Re listens , because there’s so much in them sometimes that he just goes back through them. And he was handing me for a new episode. I don’t mean it’s like getting those out. And that’s totally on me. But it’s like, just give him a shout out and say thanks for listening. He’s a great guy in Hong Kong, we should definitely look him up on Twitter, as well.
Well definitely do that. Hello, Steven. Great. Well, yeah, I mean, if we were looking back, Mike, what was the big celebration for you? What was some things that we can celebrate out of out of 2020?
Mike Reading 02:57
Yeah, I think that there’s just been new ways of working in new ways of thinking for me, in that professional development space, I think there’s a good opportunity for that it’s forced us to rethink how we do things. It’s forced us to evaluate what’s good and what’s not good, and what can be improved. I think a lot of people went into survival mode, and to be honest, and they were just like, Okay, how do we pivot to just be able to get ourselves through this. But I think we saw it as a real opportunity to go, Okay, let’s just put everything on the table and see what’s gonna work and whatnot. Not and it’s been even really evident to me, like we had a team plane, just looking at team in general, last week, looking at 2021, and some of the things we want to do. And, like, I’m gonna be honest, out of my mindset was gonna be great to get back to running regional events, and getting teachers together in the room and their sharing of ideas, and, and so on. And one of my trainers picked me up on it was like, you know, exactly walking the talk right now. Because, you know, we’re talking about the benefit of online and you know, what we should do and, and your default is let’s go back to running add together. And so where’s the balance in that? How can we do blended where there’s some PD in person, but there’s also PD and learning that’s happening online, and whether that’s on demand or synchronous or asynchronous? So it was good for them to pull me up on that and just not default back to you your default setting all the time, then?
Hmm. And I think that’s definitely the risk in a sense, is that we just sort of go back to business as usual and throw away all the all the good learnings we’ve managed out of this process, but I don’t think anything will be quite the same. Again, even if you know, the vaccine comes in, everyone sort of gets back to a new normal. I don’t think it’ll ever quite go back to exactly what we had before. So you mentioned earlier about, you know, the appetite for PD online and you actually think that that’s a superior way to deliver it. What makes you think that that’s interesting?
Mike Reading 04:49
Yeah, I think what happens is you get to do it, when depends on how you’re doing that. So if it’s synchronous, and we’re online, like some of the conferences that we ran this year, When you come in, listen to a keynote. And then you bounce out, you do your electives, people definitely felt like they got more out of it for a couple of reasons. One was, they got to choose the elective that they wanted. But they didn’t feel bad. If they bounced out of that activity into another one, it’s not like you literally pick your computer up and walk out of a room when the present is presenting. It’s a bit more freedom. But there’s a lot of back channel chat that’s going on, right. So we have all of our chat enabled in the side, and people are discussing things and, and so there’s an element of community building that you don’t necessarily get when it’s like Stand and Deliver. From that point of view, I think people just appreciated the fact that out of three cents to sit there, whether you like it or not, in the sense that with that, that ability to be able to run shorter PD, it’s very targeted, very topic centric, so teachers could opt in. But then they get the recording afterwards, and they can go back over it. So blending that synchronous and asynchronous. I think from an asynchronous point of view, like if you’re looking at what are courses that are pre recorded, we’re seeing a massive uptake in people using those courses, for several reasons, one, you can just dive into the little pace that you need, like that’s just, you know, just in time learning. But there’s little tricks that we show people how to how to watch our videos and double speed, for instance. And then you just saw, like zipping through the training and someone grabbed your attention, and then you go back to normal speed and your watch that and then we can rewatch it or you practice it. So I had to just wing back your time. And there’s lots of lots of reasons like that teachers I think have appreciated.
Hmm, it was definitely some benefits. They I think that the missing piece for me is that, you know, to galvanize people in the room, you know, where if things get a bit hard, you know, there’s no one to kind of lean on and ask questions to, you know, raising your hand is kind of hard online sometimes. And, and I think that, you know, there’s, whilst it’s great that you can sort of get a buffet approach, I think it’s sometimes a little less rigorous, maybe than sitting in a room and saying, Rob, we’re gonna do you know, the Google certified educator today. And we’re all gonna sit in the room and just get it done. It can be hard to foster that in a group like of people, it’s I think it’s usually good with those early adopter types and the, you know, the already engaged teachers, but it’s very hard. I think, once you’re, you’re on the fence about it already. And then, you know, you realize this is actually going to be a lot of work. And it’s easy for you just to like you say, jump out of there. zippity doo out of this. Yeah, there are still challenges, I think,
Mike Reading 07:41
yeah, we did work hard on that. So just having that place where no one can really hide, in a sense. So everyone’s team’s color, resume color, or meat or whatever program we’re running, and having some level of like that chat going at the same time. And so people are asking questions, but you’re calling on people to answer. So making sure they stay engaged doing things. And I know, Paul, one of our trainers do like day long trainings, even with teachers, but use jam board really well, for instance, and had teachers throwing ideas on jam boards, and, you know, collaborating and creating, and, and then calling on people so that they felt very inclusive. And so even at the end of that training, teachers who were like, I would never have thought that this would have been any good kind of forced to be there. They didn’t opt into it. What do I just said, like, this is amazing. In terms of our preferred model, we much prefer this,
I actually did a white card induction, which is like, allows me to go into construction sites, it’s a safety induction. And obviously, I couldn’t run them in person, I did it during the, the, you know, complete lockdown. And also surprised how good that was, like, it was eight hours, I’m thinking eight hours of the computer like this is even for me, that’s going to be pushing it. But they had had describable protocols in there with that stuff and ask everyone to, you know, put something in the chat or put your hand up if you’ve done this or show, you know, demonstrate for me, you know, moving something or doing something, you know, in the environment. And then they took us out into breakout rooms and gave us a little, you know, one to one exam like this like asking a question directly and you answer and then they sort of give you some feedback marks. And yeah. And just because they’re able to split up some different stuff throughout the session, it didn’t feel too bad and they let you break for lunch. And they gave you a timer when you come back and you kind of check in see how many minutes were left on the timer and stuff. So I think that it sort of put you in a bit more control. But I can certainly say like I was talking to some staff at work about remote learning for the kids and how different that is and I think for the teachers, it’s great. You know, we’ve got professionals in place when it’s the kids it’s a little bit different. It can be a bit more, I guess, divisive. Like I think the kids that were already motivated that already kind of like hungry for knowledge and want more information. They did really well. I loved it. They’re able to say, Well, great, no distractions that don’t have social pressures, I can just sit here and I can crush through twice, three times the amount of work easily. But then the kids that were already perhaps, you know, needing that social connection, like not even bad kids necessarily, obviously, the school refuses what, we’re even more difficult but, but I think where you’ve got a child where it’s and I’m seeing this across a lot of schools I’m talking to, where they’re, they’re the ones that have sort of noisy in class, and they’re up on the board, and they’re doing working out and, and, you know, interacting, you know, all the time with the class and getting responses and they learn socially, those people sort of disappeared, you know, their results just went to nothing. So I think it really was about that almost that learning styles argument, isn’t it about the you know, the way in which you’d learn it will affect the you know, if do people differently depending on you know, what, what version of lockdown you’re in, but it’s certainly been the challenge this year is to figure out those kinks while they’re happening. And then what we do now about it, you know, how do we how do we follow up and bring everyone back up to standard and everything else? But, you know, we’ve we’re extremely lucky. I mean, we’re all set up with online tools. And, you know, kids, for the most part, you know, we’re able to just keep going without missing too much of a beat. So, yeah, we’re very lucky, very lucky this year. And, yeah, we’re looking forward to a very exciting 2021. How about you, Mike, what do you got? What are you going away over the break? No, New Zealand probably don’t remember that. There’s a pandemic going on. But you
Mike Reading 11:37
are still reminded every day that this could break out at any moment? I don’t want to loose so. Yeah, so we’re gonna get away for three weeks, I think it’s really important to rest. So pretty much the whole team is taking three weeks off, just because it’s been a pretty, pretty horrendous you for us in terms of how busy we’ve been. probably less so in terms of chopping and changing. I mean, at the end of the day, for us, we’re training. And it’s different online than you know, being on a plane and traveling around and doing it. But at the end of the day, things didn’t really stop for us. So yeah, so we’re going to take three weeks off, we’re gonna get to see my wife’s brother up in Auckland, and then spend three weeks driving home back down to Queenstown, say, I don’t even have a road trip, see when we
leave the country. So yeah, just watch those midges. Oh, man, I
Mike Reading 12:28
sandflies though, I was on the West Coast a couple days ago, I’m still so our last week, I’m still sore from it.
Yeah, I’ll never forget that on the west coast, when I was over in New Zealand dry driving through that West Coast Highway or freeway or whatever it is, and stopping off at a few places got out of the car. So we got to get back in now. inundated in two seconds. Yep, that’s great. And look, I’m super busy next year. So we’re not going to be doing too much resting. It’ll just be prepping for 2021. You know, we break up this Friday. But I’ll be back on the Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, all the way up to Christmas Eve. And then we’ll be back sort of the first day after New Year’s that we can. So yeah, huge amounts going on next year, very excited,
Mike Reading 13:11
is that to do with the new school build or your campus coming online.
So what’s the number of number of sort of challenges we’re trying to deal with and also opportunities are trying to take advantage of so obviously, the new campuses is a big one. And part of that build is that we have to extend our network to the other campus. And that requires some rejigging of what we’re doing. We’re taking the opportunity to kind of remap all VLANs and the underlying kind of infrastructure. And that’s obviously a massive job, every server has to be re reconfigured every printer, every phone, every security camera, you name it. So. So that’s sort of slowly happening, we’re slowly rolling that out now. And then the stuff that can’t happen while we’re live, this week will happen next week. And then we’re actually rolling, we’re lucky enough to be rolling out new wireless access points to the whole school. So 120 or so of those. And that means, you know, getting up and replacing each and every one of them for a new wireless access point, which is actually going to be Wi Fi six compatible, so I x, but that we made that now, but it’s certainly going to help us out in the next few years in terms of not having to change again. So it’s giving us some stability in that sense. And the more I think about Wi Fi six, like, you know, five gigabit speeds, that’s just insane over Wi Fi, which I don’t think we’re going to need anything beyond that for 10 plus years. You can quote me on that I’ll probably be terribly off. But i think i think like those sort of speeds are getting to the point where, you know, I don’t see how we would like how would the internet take advantage of that in the next 10 years? I mean, maybe in 20 years, but you know, that’s what is that 500 megabytes a second? If, if videos are 500 megabytes a second, I’ll be very surprised, but maybe with VR or something like that? I don’t know. But yeah, we think we’re sort of Future Proof ourselves, then nicely, which is good. And then it’s kind of looking at this big rise of what I call Rise of the class tech. And you know, a lot of schools have dabbled in this with makerspaces. And, and your campus is meant to be a steam campus, as you know, science, technology, engineering, arts and math’s. So that’s sort of the focus and a lot of design and fabrication focus. And so we’re looking around schools, and if anyone’s listening who is doing something interesting in this space, please let me know. But we’ve looked gone and looked at recent schools that have built steam environments and steam focused campuses and stuff like that. And, and it’s been a real sort of opener and the challenges that you have when you’re trying to roll these things out. And I think the challenge we have is, one of the things I hate doing, and I’m sort of unwilling to do is use this technology in a real tokenistic way. And we and we have elements of that at the moment that can support the curriculum. So you can say, Okay, this is a little tiny task, and we’ll all jump on a, you know, a 3d printer, or whatever, and we’ll do this little task, and that sort of half works, and then everyone moves on before, you know, you really get anything sinking in. And so I think, Okay, well, how do we embed this, you know, for something like engineering and fabrication, you know, we want to have the ability for kids to build things and seal the issues along the way with trying to build something. So thinking about that design thinking framework that I know, was its Ewan McIntosh? I think his name is he’s really big on. And so if you want to check his stuff out, it’s really awesome stuff. But the design thinking framework, you know, generalized framework, you know, kind of has a boss to what you actually building things actually doing things. So you can see the mistakes and learn from them and optimize and all that. And I think a lot of the time in especially in an academic school like ours, we can get caught up in the sort of the bookwork, if you like so. So that that gives us an opportunity to really push hard into what that looks like we thinking, you know, okay, if we do 3d printing, well, how do we enable that I mean, it’s different, every technology has its different constraints, 3d printing has the constraint of it takes 10 hours to print something that’s a long time, you can’t do that in a class. So having some congruence between classes, having a dedicated space where I can golf and print, and you can keep running your class somewhere else. But then you compare that to like a laser cutter, where you can cut a whole class worth of stuff in in a lesson easily. So, you know, there’s quite contrasting properties of the technology and trying to navigate that is really the challenge we’re facing at the moment. And I think what we’ve realized is the sort of two factors that are going to going to hamstring us or three, one is accessibility of the technology. And you know how good the experience is, when you’re using it, obviously, staff want to be confident that it’ll work. And the second one is the skill set of the staff. So you know, how they’re going to be confident enough to use it, it will have had training and have access to that kind of training, and sort of not just like general training about what 3d printers are like, situationally, how would I use this with my class? Can I see an example of a best, you know, an exemplar that’s done it? Or has it has a lesson plan for those kind of things? Because we are talking about something is big and new and scary and kind of unknown for a lot of stuff. So. So there’s those kind of two factors. And then of course, the final factor is the funding of it, you know, we can’t just spend a million dollars, like we have to do something’s meaningful within a budgetary constraint. And what we’re finding is if you want to buy those really high end, super reliable, super automated printers, like they might cost you $10,000 each, how many can you buy, and if it’s 10, out, print, you know, so those logistics we’re trying to figure out. And we think, you know, ideally, the best way is to buy more of a cheaper grade printer, maybe a smaller format of can’t do as big a print. But every student can get on and do it in a class, every student can pick up their print in the morning and see what went wrong, what needed improvement. And over three or four periods, you could probably run, you know, a fabrication session, and every kid could get something out of that, they can actually take forward into that design thinking process, and start to optimize and really reflect on it in a powerful way. And I think a lot of what we’re seeing with the use of it now, and not just us, but in other schools is the outcome of what prints out of the printer is the thing that is graded. And I just, we’re trying to get away from that we’re trying to move to well, the reflection of the process. In fact, if you if yours doesn’t print, right, if yours has issues, you may actually end up learning more, you may have more to reflect on and more learning to, to, I guess, explain and to talk about in your reflection. So it’s really shifting away from that outcome being the thing you create, and I think that’s a real kind of art mindset of we create a sketch, you know, I’m gonna grade you on what you give me. One, I’m actually I’m going to guide you on the reflection, the learning that happened around what you did in terms of that science, engineering and design thinking process. So yeah, long diatribe. But yeah, that’s sort of where we’re at the moment.
Mike Reading 19:42
Yeah, that’s good. It’s like making learning visible. So yeah, put the spotlight on those questions have been asked and discussions that were had the changes that were made. Yeah, interesting thought process. I know. We met with a guy in Hong Kong who kicked out stem labs in schools. That’s Eastern All through China and Hong Kong, and also asking him that same question, is it better to go high end and have lesser technology? Or is it better to go lower and have more like different variety. And he was definitely of the opinion, like spend less on 3d printing, because he sees that sort of that technology changing, but spend a bit more on a laser cutter. And then he had a printer that you could do jewelry on ceramics and things like that. So he was like laser printing jewelry making in a ceramic kind of a machine. And then a different type of printer after that, but he had some really interesting concepts, but didn’t think to tell you about it, like he had all the furniture was codable. So the students would color, like a module out of underneath a bench, for instance, on the side that had all the gear in it. And it would know if the there’s a pack of back and push it in, right? If it didn’t, alarm would go off. He had things like they like a tight like a workspace table, but the kids could code it and handle lights on it and so on. And at the end of the day, we just lift up into the ceiling. So you had all this floor space to do robotics, and then drop tables down out of the ceilings. But all of that exchange would have to code to get it all working on furniture was kind of one. What planet was this from? Yeah, this is the sort of stuff that’s coming in Hong Kong and China at the moment.
Mike Reading 21:20
Yeah, that’s Steven Hesketh at the moment, he was saying, In Hong Kong, the government’s giving schools a million dollar grants to do some AI blockchain, big data kind of projects. With an authentic project that comes up with that stuff, the government’s funding that.
That’s awesome. Yeah, that’s the other side of this as well. It’s not just you know, they’re just examples, but we’re looking at CNC mill and some other things. But then, you know, in the making part, there’s other things that come with that, like sanding, you know, you make some progress to sand it down to get the dimensions, right, or finishing it with paint. So painting booth, spray booth, those kind of things, only talking about ventilation in the building. So you know, it has all these sort of knock on effects. And it’s kind of chicken in the egg. And in some ways we having to wag the tail is having to wag the dog, to kind of have this happen in a way that can be inspiring for teachers and can create opportunities. Because I think at the moment, you know, if we don’t do that, if we kind of just go in there and say, well, you guys come up with what you think, and we’ll try and facilitate it, it’s going to be to light the ship will be sailing in a way so. So we have to kind of make some tough judgments about where we think things are going what is the future and what isn’t. And yeah, one of those is definitely in the in the engineering space. But, you know, conversely, we’re also looking at experiences. So we were looking at, you know, we have this brand new building in this dedicated spaces in there, do we do a 3d cave where a whole class can go in and visit the barrier reef? Or is it, we want VR headsets on top of you know, every lab computer, and kids can go in the lab and throw the VR on and go to the International Space Station, or, you know, so even, you know, one of my passion, see what the flight simulator is, you know, being able to jump into actual legitimate flight simulator and learn all the ropes, every switch in the dashboard can be turned, you know, you can really Tinker and play around and the stakes are really low, right, you can just crash the crash the plane and doesn’t matter. So that kind of stuff, giving kids exposure to different things, through these digital technologies, I think is going to be, you know, one of those big opportunities for us as well. And then the third part is then in the coding side. And like, I think the best way to us to do this at the moment is through embedded technologies. So ESP is a big one is p boards. And there’s these things called em five stacks, which are like the size of I don’t know, like a match box, basically. And you can then get ones with touchscreens, ones with a LEDs on the ones with just buttons on them. And they have all these plug in modules. So you can plug in a temperature sensor, you can plug in a co2 sensor, you can plug in a light or something like that. And the whole thing’s built on the web, like through a web based block builder. So you don’t have you know, it’s not a high point of entry. Teachers don’t need to know how to code yet. To get that started, I think in the middle years, like your right and your nine that’s really accessible. And it’s also giving them principles of coding, which is really what we want. We want to be giving kids that principles of problem solving, rather than teaching them necessarily, I mean, we should teach them some coding languages. But you know, we can’t teach them all the coding languages. So giving them those principles in a kind of easy to maintain, easy to deliver why where staff aren’t having to then stock take 10,000 little items afterwards. And, you know, you see a lot of robotics labs with 1000 drawers of pieces. And it’s like, yeah, how do you even manage that? Those kind of logistics, so it’s balancing those two out, isn’t it?
Mike Reading 24:45
Yeah. So you mentioned two products there.
What was the first one you mentioned? The M five stack that one? ESP? Yeah, what’s that stand
Mike Reading 24:53
So ESP is Esperanto, which is the language that they mostly use, I think, but ESP have a series of super cheap prototyping boards. So this ESP 32 and ESP 8266. And basically what it is, is it’s a, it’s a computer that runs like an ARM processor, so it doesn’t windows or anything like that. But you can easily interface with it with Arduino code, you might have heard of that. Yeah, there’s other things called ESP home, which lets you like flash it and connected to things like home assistant that Gish gives you a GUI. But it lets you understand how these things work. Like it seems really overwhelming to learn the entire stack of how the microprocessor works, how the GPIO pins interact, and then how the Arduino code sits on top, which is like a whole other ecosystem of things you need to learn, being able to flash it with your little block builders. And there’s a whole heap of online tools as well, where you can connect over Bluetooth, you can connect over Wi Fi. And once you connect it to the device, you can just flash it with your new so you know, just push your updates to it and see if it works. It’s really fast feedback loop for developing and doesn’t require knowledge of every single layer in that stack. Which of course, if you are interested in and if the school goes further with them, we can build upon that in the latest senior years to actually give them you know, real world prototyping experience.
Mike Reading 26:10
Right? That’s a whole lot of acronyms in a GUI.
expressive is what’s called expressive, ESP, 32 and 8266. And to give you an idea, like I use these at home, I have one two since my garage doors open or closed. And I use another one with a relay that actually is connected to my garage door opener, and will close the door. And so one of the sort of real world applications for that is my set my ultrasonic sensor when the door comes up, the beam gets blocked. And so I know that if this ultrasonic sensor says less than 200 mil, then I know that it’s open. And if that happens at 8pm, I have home assistant tell me that it’s open, it notifies my Android phone the app on my phone, and the app has a little notification action, where I can literally just see the notification like you can reply to an email on your phone, I can just press closed door and it just closes the door. So super convenient. And that’s just like one example of you know, a smart home obviously is a place where these get used a lot. But you know to buy all that cute gear to borrow that kid I think the whole thing with a relay and an ultrasonic sensor and the device itself and a USB cable. I think it’ll cost like $9 something like that. Yeah. incredibly cheap, incredible
Mike Reading 27:24
project for people listening. Hey, go grab yourself a play.
Yeah, home assistant, if you want to talk to me about home assistant, Michael, I’ll talk your ear off,
Mike Reading 27:31
okay, is that all running through google assistant is saying it’s running on an Android phone.
So it has an app for Android, which will leverage the notification system. So it’ll You know, it connects to home assistant as like a device in it. And then it will say, you know, you’ll be able to create automations if your battery’s low and things like that, or, like it’ll tell, you can tell because the apps installed when you plug your charger in, it tells home assistant, you’ve plugged your charger in sort of like your own private home automation system that runs locally. So you’re not having to trust Google with all your data. But you’re able to extend it in ways you can’t do with Google Home or Apple home kit and those kind of things. So it’s very flexible, it’s easy to get into. But it’s also very extensible. You like you can use it I know people are using it in like automation of factories and machines and things they’re using and all sorts of different ways that wasn’t first intended, because it’s so accessible and cheap. Okay, to get up and running. That’s cool. Cuz
Mike Reading 28:25
that’s one of the questions we get asked all the time, we’ve talked a lot about privacy this year on the podcast that you’re saying it doesn’t like it’s not running through Google Assistant, as that
goes on forever. So you can connect it, you can connect it and you can decide what stuff you want to expose. So something like my garage door opener, I could put that into Google Home, you know, into the home environment. So I can connect my Google account to it. And there’s a few ways you can do that. But basically, once it’s connected, I can then say, Okay, if I, if I run this scene, or if I run this automation, I’m going to call home assistant to close my garage door or something like that. Or if my garage door opens, I want to call Google Home to notify me through my speaker in the lounge room or something like that. So there are sort of a number of different ways you can do it, but you decide how much you’re willing to interact with the cloud. And I think, you know, that’s one of the core founding paradigms of homocysteine is that it is founded on your home should be private. It shouldn’t be in the hands of a big tech company. And yeah, and it’s not hard to say why like you’ve got companies like If This Then That, that disappear. And you’ve got you’ve got pricing models, like the Google Photos, predatory pricing that all of a sudden Google Photos starts costing you money and you’re like, well, if I hadn’t known that when I signed up, I probably wouldn’t have signed up. But now I’m in there, I can’t so much effort to move that I’m sort of locked in. It’s like predatory pricing methods that are that I really don’t like so I think this gives you a bit of freedom against that and a way to kind of run it yourself. You can just run on a Raspberry Pi for You know, 60 bucks. So, yeah, you don’t need a full home server or anything like that. Yeah, wow,
Mike Reading 30:05
that’s very cool. Something definitely worth having a look at and thinking about their tech programs for next year. And I sounds like it could be a really authentic project for their students to dig their teeth into. And if the students have to pay an extra 10 bucks, I had something that I can take.
Absolutely. And one of the things, we’re actually going to look at doing it in school next year with our student tech team, which we’re rebooting next year is giving them a project for doing learner meters in the classroom. So Steven hepple, if you if you know he’s big into one of his passions is about the learning environment. So what’s the co2 level? What’s the light level, what’s the noise level in the classroom. So using exactly these senses, he has a learner meter you can buy that connects to the cloud, it’s like, I think, is $1,000 or something like that, you know, you could build that for $50, probably less per classroom. And so we’re looking at, you know, running a little trial of getting the kids to build a few of these connection to home assistant, and, you know, have a little LED on the wall that goes red, if something happens, or you know, flashes orange and have a little key of what that means, okay, co2, slow, open the window, the noise levels have been too high for five minutes, we’re starting to damage our students hearing, you know, people would blast the projector, you know, blast the sound on the movie, you know, you will be able to actually get bit of feedback on that. If it’s too hot in the room, optimal learning conditions, we can get an orange. So that’s something to think about as well. And I think it’s probably something that’s not spoken about too much. I mean, we sort of assume, you know, you turn the heating on turn the aircon on, that’ll be enough. But what’s happening with the co2? Are the light levels adequate for learning? You know, is that audio too noisy? Is that humidity too high? There’s a million different things that can affect your ability to focus and be comfortable in that environment and learn. And I think it’s a good little project, you know, it’d be interesting to see if we can map some kind of academic improvements against it.
Mike Reading 31:54
Yeah, that’d be interesting. Hey, so you get the data and then try and filter out. Okay, so out of all the data we gathered, which ones you get top three? Or if you look at that as a principal, what? What’s the 20%? It’s going to give us 80%
improvement, focus into interesting write up as well for other schools to look at what we found and see, you know, okay, what’s the number one thing? Is it temperature? Is it noise? Is it Yeah, yeah.
Mike Reading 32:15
Yeah, definitely. I think students write that even better.
Absolutely. Students have to write I don’t have time. So.
Mike Reading 32:23
Yeah, that’s, that’s very cool. Yeah, it sounds like you got a lot on next year, and a lot,
a lot, lots on next year, and we’re rebooting our student tech team into more of a all inclusive, you know, leadership opportunity for the kids, so not just, you know, come in and help out and we had a few certificates they could do. Now, we’re really formalize that process, where next year, we’re launching a whole new student tech team, where there’s going to be a team leader, you know, an office bearer kind of situation where there’s like a secretary and someone who’s in charge of the certification, someone who’s in charge of growth of the student tech team, and in the membership, someone who’s in charge of, you know, enrollment into the team and exits and things like that to get them real world experience. So, you know, one of the things that’s on astrodon, you know, talking about vision, like this is all driven from a strategic plan, right? One of the things is job readiness skills. So how can we contribute to that? Well, we’re one of the unique areas in the school that can directly contribute to that, we are able to provide you access and information and oversight and also opportunity to work in, you know, a really complex and multifaceted environment of it. And you know, you can’t do that in every facet of the school, but you can do it with it, and you can get them involved, you can give them some accountability. And we’re actually going to build specialist roles for things with a data center, you know, role will have specialists, the network role, have a specialist IV role has a few specialists, maybe the class tech role might have a 3d printing specialist and a laser cutting specialist. And their job is to help facilitate the teachers help maybe even run some PD for those teachers. But also maintain the machines, look after them, be the expert on those machines, build the documentation, and also hand it over to the next person as they go into the senior years and have to focus on studying the seven year eight students that are coming through will be trained up, apply for those roles. And it’s really like a real job, if you don’t perform if you don’t show up, you get warnings and you get kicked out. So you know, there’s not that mollycoddling of no will look after you or whatever, it’s your chance to really try out what work try out working in a governance model as well with office bearers and, you know, a group of students that are all kind of working to self improve that system. And so it’s very ambitious, maybe too ambitious. I don’t know, we’ll find out next year but I think it’s probably the biggest project or undertaking at the moment in terms of its scope and its ability to impact what we’re doing at the school because if we can get that up and running, then we can we can afford to maintain and run a much larger classroom technology program in terms of more, more of these types of technologies with 3d printers and stuff because at the moment, I’ve one tech would have Manage, you know, a disparate 10 or 12 classes of devices and be an expert in all of them. It just isn’t, isn’t realistic. So give kids got spare time. They’ve got the willingness, they got the enthusiasm. Let’s get them to help us operate the school and help us get better outcomes for everyone. It just makes such makes such sense to me.
Mike Reading 35:18
Yeah, well, like from what I’m hearing for you there is that you’ve got a real why behind it. We’ve talked about that this year as well like making sure you’ve got a strong wire for what you’re doing in terms of linking that to the vision. And I think so often schools will put a student tech group in because I’ve seen it at a conference or heard about it somewhere and they just go, Yeah, that’s a good idea and get some students together, ever and see what happens. But yeah, it’s not like a long term, it’s not a well thought out project, in a sense. So that sounds like you’ve kind of taken the best of all of that, put it together, but then really formalized it quite nicely and given them a pathway of development.
Yeah, and they work through these little certificates. So they do an AV certificate, learn how to make a loom of cables, learn how to replace a projector, and then they can kind of apply for the specialist role. But all the while, they can also go up to like a second level of certificates, if they can play to the first level ones. And that is in house ones we’ve created. And there’s sort of a simple assessment by them, they’re not super rigorous, and we’re not pushing them to do it. But if they don’t do it, and they stopped doing them for a few times, we’ll just ask the question, why are you here. And if they don’t keep doing them, they’re out of the program. So it’s sort of an opt out policy. And when they get to the very top of that level, we’ll then support them also, like a you’ve invested in us, you’ve you know, given us some value, we want to give you a value back, which is we’ll pay for an industry certificate or CCNA, from Cisco or MCC from Microsoft, and you can actually get an industry certificate that you could potentially leave school with, and get a job for straight out of school. You know, whether it’s part time or ag uni or take a gap year or something like that. So it’s really about giving them a an option, giving your kids more options when they leave school to do better work, you know, to be more engaged in the, in the work process and understand what it’s like working in a team and what the dynamics are not kind of coming with a academic understanding solely but also coming with a real world. I have worked in a team, I have rolled out projectors, I have worked with constraints and budgets and these kind of things. So I understand it. And I’m ready and willing to kind of participate in the in the workforce in a turnkey way. And I’m just hoping we can build like these super Tech’s that can go out there and do some great work in technology.
Mike Reading 37:24
Right. Wow, that’s, um, that’s pretty cool. So yeah, I like the way you thought that through and, and just really worked on it. And yeah, sold it out and made it quite authentic. So that’s, that’s really good.
Yeah, if it goes anywhere, if it’s if it actually works, we’ll, we’ll probably end up open sourcing it on GitHub, the product structure of the program. So
Mike Reading 37:45
nice. Definitely be checking in on that next year. Yeah. Yeah, we’re pretty stoked for next year as well, we’re going to be just, you know, seeing everyone go into their shell a little bit around COVID. And just, you know, what’s the bare minimum we have to do to survive and sign off really wanted to push back on that notion. And that’s almost double down and go big or go home? So I think so. We’ve got some really good plans and how we’re just going to serve more schools next year and get things going. Got a whole hiring process on at the moment. So we’re interested in the middle of all these interviews for a different staff members, we’re going to hire five new people next year. So yeah, massively ramping
up the team we’re about we’re about to hiring
Mike Reading 38:26
all over. So we’re looking at marketing managers, some more assistance, hiring another trainer in Auckland, to keep up with demand today. Yeah, go to another business development manager coming on. He lives in Oakland as well. So yeah, looking forward to next year in terms of all the all the new team that are coming on, and that represents about a 20% growth for us, I think we’re seeing about 18 people at the moment. So bring you on over five. So you’re brave men most off more problems. That’s
what I say. But more often than not, it’s great. And, you know, if there’s one winner this year, it’s definitely been technology. I mean, whether it’s the price of the stocks or the usage we’re seeing and just the embracing of technology and the understanding that guy, this isn’t a thing we use to enrich certain areas of the curriculum. It’s like an underpinning basis for what we’re doing. And my view is, there’s no such thing as a tech company. Every company is a tech company. So you know, if you’re a taxi company, and then you think Ubers, the tech company, no, Ubers, a taxi company, you just haven’t got your tech stack, right? You don’t realize your tech company until you’re out of business because you haven’t become one. Yeah. And so I think, you know, we all have to start embracing technologies, we’ve got to get literacy in our kids, we got to get tools in our kids toolboxes. Like we had, like I had moving into the workforce. You know, when I turned up to cause Meyer, I could use you know, simple thing like Excel spreadsheet formulas. I’m looking around at people saying, you don’t know how to do a V lookup like this is gonna change your life. Yeah, have you hours and hours of work like, you know, this simple thing and so You think the analog of that being a kid going into a workforce, any job with Python experience, and you can automate something with Python, you know, pulled out or in and spit it out in the right format, or, you know, build worksheets for construction business, or whatever it is, if you just have one of those little skills, you know, maybe it’s fabrication with 3d printers, and you can prototype things, maybe it’s, you know, understanding the nuances of laser cutting and realizing that what you think you want to do in your business isn’t going to be possible because I’ve used a laser cutter and doesn’t work like that. So just giving that perspective? It doesn’t matter what industry you go into, you’re gonna it’s a superpower, isn’t it? It’s like an unfair advantage. So, you know, we have to, we have to do better. And one of the pandemic, in the outcomes of the pandemic has been sort of pushing that in our faces, like, yeah, we really need this technology. We really need video conferencing, when we have to work remotely and those kind of things. And now that it’s a tool in our tool belt, you know, when we have a exchange program, we need to get on a video call. There’s no barrier there. Super easy. It just opens doors for us.
Mike Reading 41:02
Yeah, yeah, it’s interesting. I was talking to someone, they got a business, they have a remote company for seven years, and they’ve just in in COVID, they got made, we’ve done it like, Oh, it’s going to help businesses go remote. And just sitting down and just talking strategy of how do you use these tools effectively in terms of collaboration in the cloud, in terms of meetings and working asynchronously across different time zones, and now all these skills that we kind of take for granted, because we just do it day in and day out. But most people are struggling with? Yeah, I hate to give students an opportunity to learn that way as well. Just put them that much further ahead of the competition.
But does and it’s about getting that unfair advantage, isn’t it? I mean, it’s about taking kids that are, you know, moderate marks to doing, you know, fairly well sitting in the middle and making them exceptional. That’s the challenge. Is it, you know, the kids that are exceptional are always going to be exceptional, that’s fine. But how do you take the kid that had, you know, a pretty average upbringing from pretty average family and average socio economic area, and give them a huge opportunity, a huge leg up, I think the only way to do that at the moment, it’s not through getting 2% better literacy or 3%, better numeracy, it’s getting 50% better digital skills and what’s in the market at the moment, go work in agriculture, and you have world’s more knowledge about drones and all these other things you can do to automate cattle management, whether you know, it’s for automatic cattle management or not, that’s going to help you a lot more than a little bit more literacy and numeracy, I think, not to say those things aren’t important. Of course, they’re critically important. I don’t get too many flames on that one, but literacy and numeracy are critically important. But I think if you want to talk about changemakers, and things that can scale, things that can you can take, you know, a small seed of an idea, like some Python understanding or some understanding of technologies, like drones, or fabrication technologies, those things can scale tremendously, especially, you know, things like agriculture and those kind of industries. So yeah, that’s what I’m passionate about, for sure.
Mike Reading 43:00
Yeah, definitely. I mean, even if I’m looking at the all the interviews that I’m doing at the moment, you know, I’m not looking at I’ve never wants to ask, like, what did you get in English? Or I haven’t even asked, What did you study at uni? Really?
I mean, I’ve asked that question, but I don’t really care. Did you get a distinction or a high distinction? Yeah.
Mike Reading 43:17
I’m looking for those. And we talk about it. And industry has been talking about it, I want to talk to me about resilience. Talk to me about adaptability, talk to me about understanding, you know, the market and how you’ve had to pivot to meet the client’s needs or talk to talk to me about those sorts of skills that you’ve got, because
we can get them solving,
Mike Reading 43:35
we can, we can train you on skills on Google and Microsoft and Apple and Salesforce or whatever else we’re gonna train on. But if you got a bad attitude, or you can’t pivot, or you can’t handle pressure, then like, we got, I can’t train that, you know, the only way I can train them to put you under pressure just about break, you know, what’s that? Say?
No, that doesn’t solve the problem. But it’s really about problem solving, isn’t it? Can you take a set of variables and, you know, put them together in different ways to provide more value than the next guy? You think about middle management as well? Like, can you hire someone to be a manager, I heard a good way of thinking about this is what makes a good manager is someone who can take input from capital, like take money in and then deliver a higher standard or take less money and deliver the same standard, right? So they’re kind of the two the two measures of your management like, Okay, can you take the same amount of money and get a better standard? Or can you take less money and get the same standard? That’s sort of how we have to think about it. You know, obviously, that’s, like, simplified into a, you know, business process. But think about that in terms of your students, what skills can you give them to, you know, work with the same constraints as everyone else, everyone else can go out and buy a drone, everyone else can go out and learn Python, but if they’ve learned it already, and it’s easy for them, and they know what they’d like, if you don’t know what you don’t know, you don’t know Python can do that. No, no, I’m gonna look in that area. So I think you know, that’s what schools play a critical role in a holistic, wide ranging educational And heaps of different things so that you can just pick that tool up again and say, I know how to use that. I’m gonna go use it. Yeah, yeah.
Mike Reading 45:07
Yeah, take the learning, you know, in that particular area and apply that skill, set all that knowledge and be adaptable and say, Okay, well, I know that about this. What can I take from this to apply to that?
Yeah, pretty good. Which,
you know, that skill stuff kind of ties in with my last exciting venture for 2021? Like, I didn’t have enough going on? Yeah, I think I might have spoken about this previously about AI skills sort of assessment, where we’re asking everyone sort of, you know, to self assess without each skill. And then I’m asking my tech leadership team, which is a team of someone from every faculty in the school to get a wide representation of, you know, voices, across check, a self assessment of how confident you are with particular technologies against a tech leadership team survey that tells me how relevant of these technologies, and then helps us prioritize where those technologies should see it. And in the process of doing this, I was talking to a couple of researcher from Melbourne University about it. And he was saying, well, you what you want to do is by setting some science, right, and I’m saying like, that’s, that sounds good. But I don’t have a year to go and run a Yeah, a research sort of project and figure out what what’s what, but I’ve managed to find this amazing framework. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, Mike, the European Framework for digital competence of educators. So it’s called Digi comp. edu, if you look that up, di gi, co MP edu. And there’s heaps of research already based on this. In fact, a lot of countries within Europe, so within the EU, Spain, for instance, have built their own version of this on top of this research. And then of course, by doing that as strengthening the underlying research as well. And basically, what it does identifies I think about six sections of proficiency levels, and it gives you wording and, and you know, scientifically backed ways to define those levels. So from newcomer to Explorer, to integrate it to expert to leader to then pioneer, that’s kind of the spectrum if you like the continuum, but within there, they give you the language, right, and they say, Well, if you want to move from newcomer to explore, then that needs to show on it a level of curiosity and willingness. And if you move up the next one, it’s got to be meaningful use of the technology and the ability to vary what you’re doing with it. And then if you want to move to the next one, well, that’s you actually able to be strategic with it. So that is solve big problems with it and diversify with it. So, you know, differentiate the learning, use it into three different scenarios in different ways. And then when you want to move from expert Up, up, again, that’s the ability to reflect on your practice, share your practice, be confident enough to teach it to someone else. And then the final, the innovative, you know, sort of Pioneer section how, how you can critique and then recycle and renew your ideas, and sort of, you know, take what you were doing before and like improve on optimize it and come up with ways of melding and meshing different technologies together, that puts you in that category. So what this does, it lets us have a scale of people scale for people to rate themselves on, it’s actually backed in some kind of science that says, Okay, this is going to be this is going to give you a fairly accurate representation of where they’re at, rather than you kind of plucking names for different things on a scale out of the air. That doesn’t necessarily mean one thing to one person to another thing to another, of course, this will still be subjective, but hopefully, at least has a basis of science, rather than you just making it up yourself. And I always encourage you, if you if you are making surveys, go and look at some literature go and do some googling for instruments or tools that have been built in the research first. And even if you don’t match exactly, at least you have a basis in science. And I think that’s the that’s the important part of when we’re sending out surveys to teachers, we don’t be wasting their time, we want to be doing it in a in a meaningful and kind of considered why.
Mike Reading 48:56
Hmm, and then if you consider what I’m sure you have, like, what’s the end game? So you’ve got these ratings and scales and pathways? Is there an expectation that teachers will go from one to another within a timeframe like a to b by Wayne? Or like, what’s what mean, once you got the data? So what?
Yeah, so. So that’s, that’s when it comes to overlaying that against the relevance. So rather than asking everyone to questions, which is, you know, across 50 different things, there’s going to be an enormous survey, we can’t really do that. So we have to be realistic and pragmatic. And so we ask the teachers, every teacher to write themselves against a subset of tools. And we’ll outline a tool inside Google Classroom. By this we mean, because if you say google classroom, you say I use classroom all the time I send out stream notifications, I’m an expert. Yeah, then you can say, Well, no, we’re talking about other things as well. Assignments gradebook, and they’re like, what’s that? You know, so, so we have to define what Google Classroom is. So we would probably say, you know, Google Classroom, the use of gradebook, assignments, blah, blah, blah, where do you see it? Are you an expert that’s teaching other people or are you someone that’s just sort of starting to use it meaningfully unable to use it in a diverse set of set of ways? Okay, well, you’re back here. And so we asked that for each person, that we overlay that with the tech leadership team. So someone from every faculty, so we’re getting a nice balanced voice there about the needs of each faculty on the relevance. So you might say, I think 3d printing, right? I’m, I’m, you know, just barely aware of it, you know, I don’t know anything about it, I’m right at the start. But then as a tech leader say, Well, actually, we have no real use for that, there is no way for us to implement that in most of our subject areas, then we’re not going to prioritize it. Okay. So but if we get across check that says, classroom is critical, like it’s transformed the way I teach, it’s really, really important, it’s going to remain important, okay. And then we see that the use is, you know, fairly meaningful, maybe somewhat strategic, we want to get that up to a point where everyone can reflect on their usage and improve it and share it with others, then we really want to push for it. And the beauty of this is like you gave me this idea, Mike, where we’ve already identified who the experts are, then we go look at the answer to that classroom question. We see the people who are brought up in the pioneering phase, and we say to them, okay, put your money where your mouth is, let’s go. You can run, you know, five of you can run a session each on classroom, Here’s what you’ll need to cover, here’s what the outcome is, right? We want to move people up this chain. And here’s where most people are. And we can group for really low performers, the medium performers and the somewhat high performers to try and move everybody up. In one go. So that’s kind of the outcome.
Mike Reading 51:22
Yeah, yeah, we find that you need to put a level of expectation in that. So you know, that skills checklist we use in schools? Yeah, people need to become a basic, intermediate or intermediate to advanced in one to one every time. That’s right. Yes. Don’t move.
So it will track that. And we’ll say, right, this is annual things. I’m going to ask it every year. Where are you at this year? Here’s what we say, here’s what you did last year, and they can move things up. But yeah, you’ve got to be improving in some tool sets in some ways. But that’s not to say you have to improve and everything if 3d printing is not relevant, if you’re, you know, you’re a math teacher that has to do handwritten exams, that’s all you focused on fine. But there are other things you can improve in use of Google Calendar, to coordinate with kids catch up sessions or use of classroom for, you know, gradebook to streamline your marking. So there’s always something we can find, I think, and you know, if we, if we have that problem, where people are so far up that high end, and I think that’s a good problem to have.
Mike Reading 52:19
Yeah, yeah, totally. Yeah, I think that’s, that’s really important. So that’s why we give that choice back to the teacher, say, you choose the total that you need to improve, it’s going to make your life better, we’re not telling you that you need to use classroom better, you’re telling us that you need to use classroom better. And we’ll give you the tools and the processes to make that happen. Like, we’ll resource that for you.
Let’s support the growth and, and there is a model for this in schools law schools have pdps, or something similar, where you set goals in a particular set of domains, and then you track against those, and we’ll help you achieve them. The difference with this is, we’re able to be very pointed and specific about Okay, you’re stuck with this actual tool. We have an expert on that next PD day, there’s going to be a session on that. You get to choose your session, you know what you’re low in?
Mike Reading 53:03
you go to those sessions that you think are most relevant.
Mike Reading 53:06
Yeah, now that’s really good. You’ll see like a real shift and that once then shift your culture. Because that’s when if we’re doing a definition of cultures, that’s what we do. Yeah, whenever I’m very excited about Yeah, you get away. That’s, um, that’s very awesome. You will see some great games.
Yes, a big plans, we’ll have to check in next year at the end of the year, and see how many of them I managed to take?
Mike Reading 53:27
Yeah, I just don’t really wanna see how you do. That’s why I really like that 1212 week year concept where you just pick something for a time, and you just nail it. So yeah.
If only I could just pick one thing that caught my issue, I think.
Mike Reading 53:42
Yeah. That’s very good. I think it’s been a really interesting year, I think there’s been a lot of change, but I think there’s been a lot to celebrate, I think there’s a lot to look forward to I don’t think the magic year fairies gonna wave the magic wand and says, we take over the 2021 everything’s gonna change, I think. I think that’s wishful thinking at best, that, you know, you’re still going to need to be strategic, you’re going to need to be adaptable, you’re going to in 2021, you’re still going to need all those things. We’re wrestled with skills were developed, we definitely need to carry them into next year. Yeah, I
think they’re just going to be more important, more important for giving kids job readiness skills and more important for you to be more effective at your job. And, and, and also just to, you know, we’re incredibly lucky in the countries that were in, you know, looking around the world, I think there isn’t better to countries and maybe New Zealand and Australia during this crisis. So, you know, we’ve certainly had a challenges but we’ve been incredibly lucky and very grateful for being where we are in the world. And you know, it’s just kind of that winning the lottery thing, isn’t it?
Mike Reading 54:48
Yeah, yeah. Definitely want to stay with those of you that are in different countries as well. And I can look down on Hong Kong is back in lockdown probably of March the same weekend. Yeah, crazy times. But whatever we can do to help just let us know if you just need a bit of support, encouragement, something to cheer you on, because you’re doing amazing jobs. Do that. Yeah.
And I’m just hoping that, you know, we just have nothing but improvement in 2021. So things can just get better and better and better.
Mike Reading 55:16
Yeah, yeah. So everyone is listening, we just got a really good break that you do get some time to rest and refresh and recharge those batteries, come back, ready for 2021 feeling strong when you’re in the Northern Hemisphere, and you’ve got half a year to go off here in the southern hemisphere, and you’re looking forward to a brand new school year, new students and new classes and all of that that goes with it. But yeah, appreciate you, having us in your earbuds again for another session, whether you’re running or riding or driving or whatever you’re doing. It’s good to be here in a bit of a support man, a bit of encouragement, and hopefully, we have inspiration for you along the way.
Awesome. Thanks, Mike.
Thanks for listening. For more episodes and show notes visit utb.fyi/outclassed