Outclassed Podcast: Episode 1: Remote Teaching and What We Have Learnt

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In this Episode:

In this week’s OutClassed Podcast, Mike and Blake explore what is happening with #remotelearning and #remoteteaching

We explore what we have learnt from the first 2 months of working with schools in Asia, how to pace yourself for excellence in teaching, and the opportunity to come through this better than you were beforehand.

We also introduce our in the news segment and our wins and fails for the week.

To see all the Outclassed episodes go to utb.fyi/outclassed

Podcast Episode Highlights:

1:20 – Introduction – Mike and how Using Technology Better is a 100% remote workforce
2:29 – What schools are grappling with
5:41 – The tech is working, what are we doing with policy?
6:33 – what have we learnt from working with international schools over the last 6 weeks – what is working and not with remote teaching, what tools are the best for remote learning
17:05 – the 3 pillars of remote teaching and learning
18:12 – How Using Technology Better Builds team and culture whilst being 100% remote 
26:24 – The opportunity to improve learning for students and how Mikes kids work in their online school
30:11 Wins and fails:
[Wins] Minecraft online capable for classroom environment and the power of
gamification of learning and the power of focus. The updates to video platforms and how technology is holding up under the present circumstances. Why Blake is super impressed with the iPad pro
[Fails] – Companies using Covid 19 to email useless stuff. Companies who offer free premium to education without thinking about the long term cost

Links to Resources Mentioned:

How to set up MineCraft Education Edition be be used remotely.

Remote Learning Document full of ideas for parents and teachers

A video for parents on how to manage screen time

Transcript:

Mike
Welcome, to outclassed this new podcast we’re starting. My name’s Blake and with me I have Mike Reading, and We’re kind of creating this podcast, to sort of bridge the the teacher and the tech divide and explore what we believe to be excellence in teaching tech and leadership. And we’re not always going to agree on everything which is good and Mike comes from a very different perspective than I do. I’m still in schools, working as a I.T team manager in a large secondary school in Victoria, and Mike travels all around the world and Asia Pacific, doing training and so forth. So Mike, I might just throw to you for a moment.

Mike
Yeah, awesome to be back at this after a couple of years taking a break. Blake. Obviously things got very busy and family and things, but we’ve just been chatting and that you know, we always love just you and I catching up in discussing the latest trends and what we see happening in schools and businesses around the world and thought that it would be really good to record some of those conversations. So I’m really looking forward to spending a bit of time hanging out and lets jump into it!

Blake
Absolutely. And I think the first thing on everyone’s mind is Covid19. What your thoughts Mike? How things have been going for you? I imagine you’re very busy with all the remote learning agendas that schools are rolling out.

Mike
Yeah so I guess, I’m in a very grateful position right now to have built on online 100% remote workforce company for the last eight years since leaving teaching. So Using Technology Better are based all around the world and in different countries, different time zones our team have never been together in the same place. So for us a lot of it is business as usual. My kids are in an online school, so even with all the school closures, it’s business as usual for them as well.

Mike
So feeling pretty grateful and lucky to be in that position, but certainly very busy right now, trying to help businesses and schools prepare for that shut down, so, living in New Zealand at the moment. All schools are on shutdown as off today, so quite pertinent for some of the things that we’re discussing at the moment around What do we do with getting teachers ready for a different way of teaching and learning. And what do we do with workers that have been told to work from home and work remotely now?

Blake
Yeah and It’s a big rapid shift as well. Things developed very quickly on a lot of schools are sort of saying, well, you know, what can we provide online? We’re scrambling just to get everyone to get a laptop and then you have other schools, especially privates, and whether where the socio economics are very high, that are being expected to kind of deliver every class as a class in each period. The roll be marked, and there’s a lot of different things going on.

Listen to a sneak peak…🔊

 

Blake
I was with friend of ours last night, whose daughter is in one of the big privates here in Melbourne, all online using Microsoft teams but having these strange issues where kids were able to mute the teacher, meet each other, And so you having sort of classroom management issues on a on a different scale and in a different format than we’re used to, you know, it’s not kids mucking around in class and throwing things across the classroom. It’s the muting each other and taking screenshots and superimposing things and turning up with various hats on. And some kids had ski goggles on. I think just a throw people off their games and that kind of classroom management stuff is really a new challenge. I’m interested to know what what you’re seeing from the training and one of the issues that you’re seeing schools having to grapple with.

Mike
You know, I think there’s a little bit of that and it’s a real shame in one sense, because you’re right. Teachers haven’t had time to prepare for this. Like in New Zealand, schools are shut, but they were basically told in a news conference minutes before it was like the end of the day. So not even a day to prepare for this. But I mean, obviously we’re being predicting that it was going to happen at some time. We just didn’t know when. So little things like those distractions in Microsoft team’s super easy to solve that a multiple of different ways we can just put the students in is not being presented, and it strips them of all of those rights. But because the teachers haven’t had to be exposed to this work flow it is quite often, they don’t know what they don’t know. I noticed that Google also fast track to the number of features around that exact thing as well. So that’s not happening in Google Meet as well. So you know, even companies are scrambling because they didn’t see needs and features coming down the line that they thought they might need So quite interesting.

Blake
And one of the big things I’ve been impressed with is how well these platforms have have kept up. Like I was expecting, you know, Meet to have problems and be overrun with You know I think they’re up 40% of their best ever day or something. Every day was like the best day that ever had in terms of users and and data being moved through the platforms. I’m just surprised there haven’t been more issues. Everyone seems to be just moving online and traffic’s going up and up and up each day, and these platforms are keeping up. So I mean, I think you’ve got to give credit where credit’s due to these tech companies. For the big boys that Apple, Microsoft and Google for for keeping up with what must be an insanely new workload in terms of video calling across the country and remote. workers using it as well? It’s not just schools that are hammering it’s meetings at work. It’s everyone trying to move things digitally really quickly. So I’ve been really impressed by that. And I think, you know, we’re in this sort of strange space now. Where were dialling into people’s homes and the technologies working, that’s not the issue at the moment. The issue is more around, what are we delivering, how we’re delivering it, and what’s happening with our policy around it as well.

Listen to a sneak peak…🔊

 

Blake
And that’s where everyone in my circle immediately goes. Well, we can’t do that. We don’t have policy for it. I think it’s been great to kind of see my colleagues stretched a little bit, having to think about Okay, well, obviously coming from the technical side, having to be pushed a bit. One of my frustrations in the tech industry is around techs who sort of immediately put the brakes on everything and say, I know policy or I know you can’t do that. It’s going to be locked down. We’re gonna have controls on it and privacy and risk assessment and all that sort of stuff. This is these kind of situations are what I love where people are forced to innovate, forced out of their comfort zone a little bit. That’s what I really enjoy.

Mike
We’re talking to one of the international schools networks that we’ve been working with across Asia. They’re coming into their eighth week of lock down. so they’re well and truly into this. And they were remarking that they think they’ve pushed teacher practice and pedagogy probably three years in the last 6 to 7 weeks, cause teachers are forced to think differently, teach differently. You can’t. You can’t go into a school lock down and remote learning, thinking you’re going to run your standard classroom and you’re just going to sit on your computer and live stream for six hours a day. It just doesn’t work. its not good teaching anyway. We are finding that teachers are needing to look at how we work asynchronously. How do we just keep tabs on where students are at, encourage Them encourage their self motivation and So you know, teachers are using tools that they’ve never had to use before and starting to really rely on it.

Mike
And if you look at the trend that we saw, the first 1 to 2 weeks everyone is scrambling and they’re trying to do business as usual. And parents have got high expectations for hours on devices and amount of work that’s coming through the pipeline. And teachers are thinking, Well, I’m getting paid full time, so I need to deliver the same amount of hours of teaching. But really, that’s not the value the value is. How you support your student’s and keep moving. And so we see that in the first weeks, people sort of hide under the radar a little bit. And then after that, they start to settle into a workflow, and we see teachers putting their hands up and saying, OK, so you might need to actually show me how to share a Google could dock because I’ve never really had to do that.

Mike
And so now teachers are starting to have to rely on these tools and know how they work and rely on their students to be doing the right thing and develop trust, and it’s a real lift and shift, and it’s happening at warp speed we’re seeing this, and it’s not just education. We’re seeing this in business as well. Like I’ve had e mails from How do I know what my employees are doing? Is they’re screen capture recording like, What can I do to you to make sure they’re on tasking, not just watching Netflix. And, you know, it’s a really interesting opportunity to build culture and trust your team and so on, hey.

Blake
It is and change the rules a little bit. And I’m interested to go back to what you were saying about teaching being best practices. It’s not good teaching you is saying to be at the computer six hours a day, because seems to me there’s really two camps here. There’s we’ve got classroom. We’ll just put the work on there and they can, self kind of direct and do their assessments. No need to link up for or do anything like that. And then there’s the other camp that’s saying, Well, no, we need every period locked in, turn up, You sit there like you’re teaching your class, which seems to me, To Ironically, more technical, but ironically, it’s more traditional in the sense that you’re just doing direct instruction. Are you trying to replicate what the classroom Was. What do you think you know as your training people? What’s your advice?

Listen to a sneak peak…🔊

 

Mike
Yeah, I think it’s needs to be both end, so I mean, there’s a time for direct instruction. And then there’s time for a synchronous learning. So what we’re finding, especially when you look into households, even if they’re even. If you’re one of those schools that have got Wonder one devices and they’ve got stable Internet at home, Maybe that’s not wonder one devices for everyone in the family. So you’ve now got Mom and Dad and sister and brother and whoever else at the house all needing to be online. So how do you prioritize those devices? You can’t just expect that students will be online with their device at nine AM, ready to learn. So having some flexibility around that definitely not just dumping a whole bunch of stuff in classroom and saying Go figure it out. We’re seeing, I think, best practice again. Eight weeks into this that the teachers were checking in the morning. They’re checking in the afternoon. they will do a roll call of sorts, but it’s a Google form or a Microsoft form, you know, asking them. What did they do today? What did they learn? What can I help you with? That ain’t here from a student for a couple of days that given a phone call or a message or ring home and see what’s going on. And if you think about that, it takes a lot more time to teach that way than it does to rip out your ring binder or your PowerPoint slide Dec or your, you know, half prepared programme that you normally teach from. So we’ve got to give teachers a bit of space. To. Look after the well being of their students, not just pump content out. There’s more to it than that.

Blake
Yeah, I feel like a lot of these platforms have sort of solved that pumping content out because its what we’re already doing in class. We’re using classroom. Whether wearing in class or not, we’re using teams, whether in class or not. So I think that sort of stuff has been been around awhile that this is a different challenge altogether. And I know with us we said , Well, okay, what are the tools you’re going to need? And there was sort of for major tools that we explored first was our, you know, platform our learning management system, if you like, which we use Google Classroom widely. So we said, you know, you have to know how to use school classroom, and the critical part of that was the assessment part. Most people are good with the stream and they’re pushing out notifications. But the assessment stuff was, it gets a bit complicated as you’ve got work going out. We’re coming back. You’ve got to grade things. You’ve got to give feedback. It’s a two way street. Skilling people up there and we found there was a lot of interest very quickly in that which was good, that so that was one tool we looked at. loom, which is a simple screen recording up huge amount of interest in that and just anecdotally, I was walking into school with a colleague from the car park and he was saying, one silver lining of all the outbreak is that I’m learning these tools and he said there’s no way that I’m not going to include these, you know, have he’s now got this in his toolbox. When when things do return to normal, when it comes back to class, he needs to fill in a topic or provide some instruction. The kids who weren’t there or whatever it may be. That’s just in your toolbox now. Its easy. You know, we’ve been using it. We’re familiar with it. We’re comfortable with it. And again that key word of confidence. And throughout this podcast, sires you’re going to hear that word a lot. I go on about confidence a lot and I think it’s critical if if you use it a lot and you get confident with it, that’s the thing you’re going to reach for when things are back. So those two tools we also used gave people a lot of help with Google hangouts meat, and so that was for obvious reasons for doing teleconferencing with the kids. But we weren’t saying, you know, we were sort of like you’ve got to turn up to every period it was more about with the seniors. You probably need to check in with them. It might be in small groups. It might just be individually. They need some help with something, and with the juniors, they struggle, They struggle with it a bit. I think there’s a lot of distractions, especially when it’s new. I think it’s going to take time if we want to move to that permanently. They obviously were not a distance education school so we have to pick our battles there a little bit. So that there was those three on the last one. Ironically, was Google forms a way To excels surveys. If you’re in the Microsoft world, a way to kind of bridge that gap of Okay, well, communicating with them. But what about doing some sort of pre testing, doing some basic auto grading tests, those kind of things that can alleviate a lot of that admin work off the teacher so that they could be focused more on engaging with the kids and meeting with them and checking up on them. And again, the phone calls home all that sort of stuff. So they were the critical tools, and we’re lucky to have Chromebooks so we can use lock mode which will lock the Chromebook out from alt tabing and things and that’s kind of just a nice way to say this is meant to be a lock down test. Of course, I could bring their phone out, use another computer and cheat at the end of the day like teachers coming to me saying, Well, cheating, how we’re going to know if they’re on tasks like going to You know, if I’m doing a video hang out, I need to know that they’re there and they’re watching, and they’re not. Well, at the end of the day, you know, this is an extreme circumstance, so I’d be looking for just seeing who turns up first. I’m taking it one step at a time and not being too concerned about if students they’re all looking at each other or not watching your presentation or watching your screen, I mean it’s a age old problem of are students paying attention just in a different tool set than it used to be.

Mike
Yeah, that’s right. Plus, we got all the distractions of home, and that’s realistic as well, right? I think, to other tools that were saying, Get a lot of ground is see saw for junior students. Primary Elementary school Such a great tool, and you use it in the way that you can in terms of setting work. Students reporting back, analytics tracking you don’t even need a log in, which is like really nice and junior school. So good on then. Also, looking at Microsoft teams has just been a brilliant platform for schools in terms of assignment settings and discussions. And interesting in now in Google, when we’re working with Google schools, where encouraging that use the same workflow is Microsoft and Microsoft teams anyway. But set up a playground that’s fun. So it’s not just all work related. You know, if you’re in a high school, maybe they set up a random fun channel. And students are sharing their favourite memes that they’ve seen today Or, you know, taking photos of the study area or, you know, their pets. And in the juniors, teachers really caring for their students, reading them a book on their land or taking them for a walk around their garden and showing them their house and just finding little ways. To keep connected and you’ve got amazing platforms to enable that that connection to continue

Blake
Yeah, and the memes have already started. I don’t know if you’ve seen online, where there’s people in video chats of their class and the kids going to the toilet with the video camera and all sorts of things. So you know, there’s definitely some safety around that we have to observe and getting in your school policy in order, at least not necessarily a full policy document. But having some communication to kids about expectations, I thinks really important, just like you got issued in the dining room and be dressed appropriately, and that the teachers and the students are both aware of those expectations. I don’t think you probably need a hard policy because no one’s really going to blame you at the moment under these conditions, but certainly having something I think is important.

Mike
And even we’re helping teachers think through like what’s in your background, you know, make sure you don’t want the students to see personal staff, things like that 12 paper that you’ve been hording. Yeah, but I mean somewhere else you could be anywhere, really in a closet. Broom covered. You’re working in your shed today, So

Blake
I am. Yeah, I’m in the garage. Yeah.

Mike
Wherever you can remove yourself from destruction or whatever. So it’s good. I think we’re finding like there’s three main pillars that people need to think about. It’s obviously the technology, and we’ve chatted about that a little bit. Tools, platforms, devices, Internet, that sort of thing. Definitely have got team. So you had your build team culture remotely. It’s interesting when everyone joins using technology better because we are 100% remote that people struggle with that because we don’t have set start time, finished time and you’ll see teachers move towards that model as well where again You’re just not gonna have your 9 to 3 or 9 to 3 30 so, but because we’re so used to structure it’s still quite hard for people to get out of that. But, you know, and the end, because we’re very intentional about how we communicate and bring people together and build culture, you know, they end up saying 34 weeks down the track, they feel more connected. To, the using technology better team than they did when they were in a traditional office or in a school. So definitely, if you’re intentional about building team, it’s an awesome opportunity to bring people together.

Listen to a sneak peak…🔊

 

Blake
How Would you do that? Like what are you doing, To Build that Connection?

Mike
Yeah. We create a space for the team to connect. So we use Microsoft teams for that use channels Really well. So we’ll have a check in channel. And so for our team, they have to check in in the morning and say what They’re up, To. And then if they’re going to be away from their desk or unavailable because we encourage our team to take breaks during the day, go walk the dog, go for a swim jet boat whatever you want, To Work in your your genius zone when you’re feeling inspired work and when you’re not, don’t So you know when you’re at your desk and available check in and when you’re not check out. And then we also do things like random fun channels where, you know, we’re just constantly throwing in things that surprise and the delight us. And then we have ah three weekly, just a real quick 10 15 minutes check in, and at the beginning of that meeting, everyone has to say what the good news is both personally and professionally, and so it’s a really good way to get to know each other personally but also celebrate the wins. So it’s a great way for teachers in this case. So, you know, our were connected with this student or, you know, seeing the students are handing in work or whatever they feel there. They’re quick win is, but also share something personal. So we’re finding little things like that build culture Over time it’s a great way to be able to work.

Blake
And is this those check in happening on video calls or you’re just using the text sort of chat channels inside? Asynchronous again because we’re in so many different time zones. When you coming online, you just check in via text and when you check out, do that as well. And obviously we have fun with that use memes and photos and all sorts of things like that as well.

Blake
Is there like a status feature in teams where you can say like I am away from my desk, Or I’m working remotely or something like that?

Mike
Yes, to give an example, I just put in our check in channel like I just said, going dark to record a podcast with Blake and then I went to do not disturb Made and so like I know there’s activity going on behind the scenes, but I’m not seeing it. So you can definitely go about dark and concentrate and focus. So you’re not getting pinged for sure.

Blake
We do a similar thing as well in our office because I have too many people who fit in one office now we should have that that split, remote kind of approach as well, and eventually our school’s going to be to campuses . So we’re starting that journey of Okay, well, how we’re going to prepare for that. If we can’t all sit in a room and just lean to the guy next to us and ask a question, What does that look like? And we use slack, which is a similar chat sort of engine like like teams and again have similar things. Fun channels and we have check ins , and statuses when people are away and stuff like that. So very similar process. So I’m interested to hear a little bit about, you hear so much about well, you know, you’re checking in by text. That’s good. But there’s something about this human Connection being able to see another human body language that kind of mental health and well-being stuff. What do you what you doing in that space? Not only with your team, but with advice for distance learning and even your kids? I mean, they’re not. They’re not being socialized in classrooms and in schools. What, what are some things that you kind of need to think about?

Mike
yeah. So we’ve got a policy, I think that’s perfect for remote work. Remote teams on. It would be the same for teachers and students that every time, like we don’t use like we don’t send text messages, everything goes into teams. And then every time we do a call like we don’t pick up the phone to call someone, we do a video call and it’s camera on. So our policy is every meeting its camera on and everyone’s on, you know, hiding. So I don’t get you. People sit there and eat their lunch or breakfast. That doesn’t worry me, but it’s that human human Connection being out, eyeball each other, see each other to connect that way. So every single one of our meetings is definitely camera to camera, not encourage that for teachers where possible and remote workers were possible trying as much as possible. Find opportunities to have a video call on Bring people together.

Blake
There are three rules I heard while I was listening to a podcast the other day. And there are three rules. One of these one of these guys who teaches at a big, you know, big distance university, he was saying three things. When you go distance learning is be overly energetic. So, You know, if you’re sitting there, kind of monitoring is going to come off really bad. If you’re super excited, it might come off sort of normal. So be super energetic to get that message across and engage the kids a bit better. You want To, Make sure everyone’s webcam is on, and that’s kind of counter intuitive, You think. Well, what does that matter? You just providing instruction, you just deliver it. There’s a creates accountability in the classroom. Make sure that you can eyeball those kids and click through them. Make sure they’re there And is that the last one is. You actually should be calling on kids. And I know that you know, that may not be a be something everyone can do right now when they’re just moving in the first week of moving to a distance education. But try and call on the kids and say un mute your mic, I want to hear from you, You know. What are you doing so that the kids know shit I’m not here just as a passenger. I’m not here watching Netflix. You know, stream is being directed to me actually, part of this conversation. So I thought that was really, really good advice in terms of learning remotely

Mike
Yep 100% on that whole Calling on people, I think, is super important as well. So doing that check in calling if you don’t hear for somebody, my kids are in a remote school. They get a call from their teacher once a week just to check in. And so again, there doesn’t need to be that level of accountability. But again, they’ve got a dispersed model, right? So it’s not like everyone has to jump on a call. And they do have that as an opportunity to. So there’s math lessons running on. And if you want to learn about this topic, you opt into it and you know they can meet other people that way and work on projects collaboratively. So the opportunity to do that. But you know, just setting those expectations with parents with school. So we’re saying, To teachers, especially Primary elementary School, set up two 30 minute meetings with your class that’s set in stone each week. and run up a Google, you know, invited everyone through calendar on a Google meet or Microsoft teams and then have the record feature ready to roll. And so if the students can show up, they’d know in advance, and Mom and Dad and everyone else can plan around that. Give them the laptop on the WiFi, whatever they need, because I know that’s the big rocks that they need to work on. And then the rest. You know, everyone just works out the best they can in the background. We’re finding that kind of cadence really helps us Well, because it does give you that little bit of structure that you need on some of the accountability and Connection and all those things we talked about.

Blake
Yeah, and as Well, like school so different now. I mean, like with when we’re a at school, I think it’s still messy and it’s still noisy and if not more So like, I think kids are happy to descent. Now. They’re happy to question authority more so than we did when we were at school. And what that does is create a culture of kind of conversation in the classroom and noise and and messiness, which, of course, a lot of educators don’t like that kind of messy collaborative space, which is which is where we’re all heading. And I think online it becomes even harder. But you got kids talking over each other, talking over the teacher. You’ve got this sort of mess of webcams all talking at each other. But I also think kids a far more empathetic than they used to be and are able to kind of do that in a respectful way. So I think we’re in an interesting place with it, where students have more, more tools in their toolbox, if you like, of how to interact respectfully but are also able to still speak up and have their voice heard in class and participating conversations they probably wouldn’t have done like I got to think back when I was in high school. If I went online class, I would literally just sit there on open solar terror or something, so it might be an indication of how I was a student. But, you know, I think we’re in a different place now. That is exciting and unique opportunities for group discussion and for students to really participate in ways that maybe they wouldn’t have 5 10 years ago.

Mike
100%. And I think it’s awesome for the students to be auto learn the way they want to learn like you look at my son. He’s 15. He loves to just focus. So he would do a whole day of math and then he would do. We’re talking high school here. So again, if you’re thinking about schools who were trying to push a traditional classroom model, where for these 45 minutes you doing this topic, then you heard of this topic then you got to go to this one. So this one, like he just wants to do math today. Then he would do science for a day than you do English for a day. My daughter. On the other hand, shit like every five minutes she’ll swap because this was once a bounce from one thing to the next, so just the opportunity for them to, learn the way they want to learn in. Our high school environment has been so beneficial for them, and they’re both found their groove, you know. So given just giving students a bit of space, To, find out who they are and how they want to learn. It’ll be interesting, like a year and 1/2 into our what we call our online experiment. Just because we travel so much around the world and the kids just couldn’t be in school. That was our main driver. But even if we way are stuck here now for a good few months, we’ve all my trips cancelled. You know, the kids are saying that there’s no way that they would want to go back to a traditional school in a traditional learning environment. So and I mean, that’s to be honest, going back to a school that has the most innovative modern learning environments, probably around in terms of what the New Zealand governments providing for school that my Children could attend. So you know it’s not about innovative learning, it’s not about the environments. It’s just about the students having the opportunity to to follow their own path a little bit.

Blake
And is that a question, that your your kids come from a family that values education that, you know, you’re obviously passionate about it and you travel around and, you know, a lot of out on that’s got to rub off. In some ways, I wonder for the big middle Is that going to work for the average sort of student across the board? That that would be my my critique of that, though, Mike, because I don’t know how. How do we get you know, those kids that are disengaged that that need that sort of physical engagement with, You know, there might be totally lost with where they’re at and math or something, and really it hands on sitting with them. They had every kind of crutch you can give them. What do you do with those kids? I mean, I know your kids, they’re great kids. It’s the big middle that we’re going after with this stuff, isn’t it?

Mike
Yeah, but I think that’s where you give the teacher and the student the space to be able to provide that if they need it. So you know the teacher’s checking if they realise they’re falling behind there on them, they’re doing one on one catch ups or suggesting resource is holding them accountable. And again, you’ve got to find your zone. So when we transitioned into this, it was very much like us asking the kids every day, right. What are you doing today? Show me what you’re going to achieve, how you’re progressing through your modules on very much tracking it. And then we’ve just relaxed as a the kids have taken on more ownership and so on. And Kelsey and Ben was still share , docs with us and show us their progress. And we can check in on that, obviously the home. So you having conversations throughout the day. What you working on? Show me what’s going on. So you’re just going to set up a bit of a cadence for checking in and and finding what’s happening and just work your way through it. But I think the interesting thing about that is that over time you will find your groove and you’ll find those support mechanisms that you need. You know, originally, we put them into tutoring groups outside school hours and and things like that, but ultimately found that it didn’t add that much extra value to what the school could provide. When you’re in just good communication with the teachers around where things are at what you need help with, Yeah, Yeah, I just I want to move on and talk a bit a little bit about wins and fails and what we’ve seen happening around around the place. maybe go with a couple of wins that I’ve seen that have landed in the next last little bit, I saw Minecraft. Now my craft Education edition. You can now join the class online. You don’t have to be at school on the same service and things like that. So you can have joined codes still restricts it just to your school So again, we’re seeing these companies had innovate on the fly, and we’re seeing some pretty good wins for that.

Blake
How are they doing that? Are They joining someone is a bit of a dummy on that stuff. What are they doing? Like they joining into like a space that looks like a classroom or into a world that’s full of class work like, what does that look like

Mike
Yeah so again, I’m not a massive expert on that ether, we got team who training Minecraft, but my understanding is that they they join into the world the classroom world. It works on student log in which is attached to your school accounts. which limits, who can access those worlds basically like Minecraft, but the teacher can control what they can and can’t do. There’s all sorts of mods in there to teach science and literacy and numeracy and humanity subjects that’s all ready to go. You can even teach coding through their platform. So it’s just a great outlet for students to get a create, but obviously not being in the same classroom and being connected to the same servers and WiFi and son would normally restrict that. That was the way they were restricting who could join your world. So for them to be able to do that online now, it is a great tool. What I will do is I link up the documentation on how schools can actually do that, set up what they need to do in the infrastructure side behind the scenes and point them to some links. I’ll put that in the show notes.

Blake
It’s definitely getting easier. We doubled in it a while back and it was quite technically difficult to set that up. I think with relms now it’s much easier and putting kids into those environments almost like the next level, isn’t it? It’s like choose your avatar and Turn up to your virtual class, and go experiment in an environment, the sandbox. And I decide you’re a few years ago around Minecraft where we could put in one of my hair brained ideas like you were gonna get a lot of these on this podcast we could put in a curriculum. And I have this theory that if you put in the math curriculum, say from year 7 to 12 and every question was a scenario. So you’re doing fractions. You had to solve a fraction problem, To unlock a key that could give you access to a diamond sword or something like that. And each of those things have progressed you and you couldn’t do the next one or you couldn’t go onto, you know, differentiation until he heard that Diamond sword go and do that thing. So, using this game, mechanics that are built into basic video games to drive the education through through simulation. So you know like if you want to know about ratios, here’s the damn full of water on. You gotta fill these dams up a certain heights, and that unlocks the next thing to deal with ratio. So we had a number of these things planned. Unfortunately, the person who was going to build it move jobs and could no longer do it. But But I still believe you would get through six years of schooling in about two years, maybe less. I mean the way, the way kids can play video games. You think about the level. And I know that I have to play competitive video games when I was younger and I look now at the level and I I’m not that much worse than I used to be, but I can’t compete anymore. I like the level just goes up and up and up and up because these kids come they’re coming at the same level of zero that they shoot straight up because I’ve got better resource and that world is always evolving, and you see there’s that instant feedback loop. Instant feedback in the competitive spirit coming out that drives it all and they can self pace. It’s not I have to sit with the class pace and the This is the year nine standard. We’ve got to wait, sort of slow down for that, that amazingly better than they used to be. So I think if you are able to gameafi the curriculum, you’d literally be able to do all sorts of other things. You have all this spare time in the curriculum. That’s my that’s my believe I could be completely naive in that

Mike
I think you’re under something there in one sense. I mean, if you look at it, you know, we talk a lot about context, switching and how much it takes away from your productivity. When your contacts, switch you look at how much context switch happens in a day in a classroom, it’s out of control. So if you can get your students just a focus on something, of course they’re going to accelerate their learning, which is another reason like this home learning is an awesome opportunity. You should be out to get through a typical day’s work the school in an hour to two hours tops. So yeah, focus, get it done. Move on

Blake
and you see that in work forces were about to enter the biggest experiment in working from home in history and a company’s going to come out of this with better productivity or worse, when all the data suggests that there will be more productivity for tasks that don’t require collaboration. But for those real idea driven tasks where ideas have To intermingle with other people’s ideas, be creative those kind of things that that is often best done in person, there’s no doubt, So

Mike
Yeah I don’t know, I challenge that. I mean, so long as you got good systems and policies and processes in place, I think you could do more remotely working together as a team that way, like I’ve given example our general manager. He came from big box retailer as a manager of a number of different organisations within the company and then he was working semi remote and felt like you had a fair bit of autonomy. But he cannot believe how fast we can move on things. Part of that’s because we’re a smaller team, but it’s partly because of the way we’ve structured a policy around quick, you know, so so long as you’ve got the tools in place and the cadence in place and the policies and the system’s running, you can move on stuff surprisingly fast. And I, I would argue faster.

Blake
Know, I think I think you’ve definitely got speed on your side in that sense. But I’m more talking about creative, softer skills, like having to design and come up with, you know, new unique designs on interfaces or things like that. I find I’m far less creative on my own in a box than if I have, you know, my business partner, Michael, with me or I’m in a room with guys and I can immediately bounce ideas and get ideas and get better ideas like we are here and learn really quickly and scale that up or remote can be obviously more difficult because you’ve got Are they there? Call them. I’m going to call him for no reason and that kind of basic idea. But what we’re about to find out, that’s the exciting thing. And one of the silver linings here is we will find out how people do operate in a vacuum, So to speak with these remote tools.

Mike
Yeah, I think if you set up chat really well and you had people managing their notifications, you’d get more productivity than having Michael sit right next you. Let’s find out!

Blake
We will. Absolutely. What else is in your winds and fails?

Mike
I think that the whole scramble of Google meat and Microsoft teams they’ve bring more controls in the meetings has been, has been great and, like you’re saying behind the scenes, them ramping up to provide that stability and the up time like Just hasn’t missed a beat Gmail the other day only served the 14 emails was pretty happy about that. I couldn’t get it to load more than the last 14 for about half an hour, but other than that, I haven’t seen any hiccups or or any anything that’s happening behind the scenes. I must be the duck principle. They must be scrambling Today

Blake
They have to be. I run a software company and we do exactly this software as a service, and I can tell you that we could make that work Behind the scenes requires a lot of clever engineering, but also the scale there on this is not like I don’t think people can actually conceive of it. It’s like when you look at that, that map of how many planes are in the sky at one time, like brains aren’t big enough to really conceive of that scale. And it’s the same. It’s the same thing with these platforms there are, there are millions of conversations going on at the same time that requires significant bandwidth and monitoring and and raising and lowering of virtual workers and all sorts of the Cooper Netease clusters and things in the background that had just insane. And they just manage it so well, I mean, that’s gotta be Google strength. You think that Google search It must be the biggest hit website in the world. They know how to do this stuff and credit to them.

Mike
Yeah, that’s awesome. What about fails? What have you got in your fails list?

Listen to a sneak peak…🔊

 

Blake
Well, I don’t have too many fails in this climate, but I do have one little gripe. Which is these emails! My email box is covert 19 response. You know, I don’t really care how my mattress company is dealing with the covert 19 crisis. I got other things to deal with, so let’s get something important to tell me. Please don’t email me with your covert 19 response. Having said that I must preface that they have been a number of useful things that I can see that businesses, you know, legitimately doing things like Loom has given free upgrades to educations. They can have unlimited video length. I can’t see how that’s a win for them. I can’t see how they make money out of that. That’s an economic advantage for them to do that. They’ve promised it for Lifetime as well, so you know there are. Companies were doing really good humanitarian and decent things in this in this time, which thanks really critical. But there’s a lot of companies out there just trying to fleece and get on the moment and use it as a marketing exploit and await brand themselves and raise himself up. I’m not okay with that. I think it’s I think it’s the wrong thing to do.

Mike
Yeah, I’ve seen that a few, and I kind of I wish them good luck in me deleting them out of my inbox. Just get some of these companies that come out saying that they’re going with all the best intentions, were providing free premium to everybody and then two days later they send you an email. They say sorry we underestimated what that would do to our servers, and we actually can’t afford To give that to you So we need To look after our paying customers and we’re taking all those features back. And I’m like, Well, there’s your motivation, right? So I mean, these guys a tech companies, they should have considered the ramifications of their decision before and stuck by it, you know, So and I think there are some people who are out there just trying to get some free PR and free publicity and trying to be that cruel that can compete on free as well. But at the end of the day, it’s going to help harm them.

Blake
We know this mike we run businesses. We know that if there’s some something topical your company can communicate through it’s going get eyeballs and it’s going to be something they’ll open. And unfortunately, I’m having to read right next to each other, something from my mattress company, right next to a department email telling us about shutdowns, both of which seemed to be a as equally as important when you’re reading the subject line until you get into it, and I think that that’s not helpful at the moment. So please stop.

Mike
Exactly told marketing team. Just don’t be in people’s inboxes unless you need to be. And I mean, you know, we’re genuinely trying to help people and I get it. It’s a fine balance and businesses need to stay in business, so it’s a lot of uncertain times, but just man, think about the long term. Don’t just think short term.

Blake
Yeah, and there are business offering things like I saw one for thermal camera to scan kids as they’re coming in. So, you know, they’ve got topical things they can offer that can help schools as well. So it’s always a balance, You know, the very, especially in I.T circles people hate being sold that and hate cold emails and cold calls and things like that, and I know why I get them. I hate them, agree, but at the same time, I also want to know what’s going on out there, and if there’s something that can help me do my job better than you know, I gotta balance that as well. So anyway, that’s enough about Spam. I think we’re going about Spam forever. So. For me, the final final piece here, the win. I’m going to call it being the tech guy as the iPad Pro the new iPad Pro unbelievable device. I’m blown away by these things. Like honestly, from where we came, when, whatever year it was I don’t even know how long about it was 10 years ago or so, So when the first iPad came out, that was This is sort of blown up iPod touch that didn’t do anything. I remember being so excited about it, and we’ve got one at school. And I was interested for about five minutes and then released you couldn’t do much on it. Compare that with what we have now with the iPad pro. And it’s not necessarily the features of the iPad. Pro is not that it can do everything. It’s the integration they’re able to do with the hardware and the software, the feel of that touch screen, the immediacy of everything. The pen latency is so low you don’t have errors, you know, weird stuff popping up the thing just seems to work, and they just look great as well. I mean, you can’t you Can’t you know that Apple products? They’ve nailed the design, but the specs are insane that the battery life’s insane. The new device now has basically an iPhone level camera in that as well. So iPad photography is not going away. Much too many people’s disgust, but the just that ability now for them to integrate mouse support. That’s the new big thing with the iPad pro. And that’s also, by the way, going to be back ported. To. I think the whole life has line is that there will be mouse support just in iPad, Os this positions of interestingly now to look at well, taking on the surface, the surface line of devices held that do everything device category for a long time. You now have the iPad, which has a full desktop browser on it, can open up sites like Google Docks and can edit things full, full desktop experience. And now that you’ve got this cursor couple that with the pen input, you got a perfect executive meeting taking device. You’ve got a perfect classroom instruction device and you’ve got this powerhouse sitting there that can it’s almost like a powerful is some desktops that I have it school, but it weighs hardly anything. The battery life last 10 hours like it’s almost hard to believe the specs when you read them. You see the bench-marking that they can get. It outperforms a lot of the entry level platforms. Almost all entry level Mac Mac books and laptops even cannot perform some of the MacBook pros in the highly spec devices. And all in this tiny form factor with tremendous battery life, it’s impressive.

Mike
You love your tech. don;t ya, I do. Over here, Mike. A lot of schools are looking at that for a student device as well. You know, works great with one note and all the different apps things that you use as well, I must say, I think one of the fails I’ve seen from Apple has been their response to the whole covert 19 thing. And, like I need to be a little bit like I always speak honestly. We work for Google, Apple and Microsoft, where part of their P D partner ship ecosystem, I guess, about Google and Microsoft have bean from what we see, at least from a customer pointing view, you know, offering heaps of resource is an advice and so on. And it has been a little bit quiet on that front. So we’re really looking forward to seeing what Apple does in terms of being. Resource is for parents. Resource is for schools and teachers and and ideas on how to use their products. Really Well, eh, So, yeah, I think a bit of a win and a fail in my books.

Blake
Yeah, I think speaking from their software side, apple aren’t strong The software suite. I mean, they don’t do cloud well, they don’t do Enterprise well, there Apple school manager from someone who uses it internally is almost a joke. The MDM solution with jamf is great. It’s really good, but is limited. And it’s limited by Apple limited by apple. So every jamf could only do as much as Apple are going to allow them to do an apple on interested in that they want to sell consumer devices, and they do a very good job at it. And if you want to buy that device to uses a personal device to take the meetings to do emails, stuff their tremendous, they’re fantastic. But if you want to roll the out into classrooms on you want to use a fleet of them when you want to use them and kind of, ah, managed to live that way. You’re going to be in some pain.

Mike
Yeah, yeah, I know they’re working on it behind the scenes, and it’s improved a lot compared to how it used to be. Yeah, I mean, amazing how much that’s come forward. But, you know, I guess it would be nice to see just to see a bit more of a response for them to be more helpful.

Listen to a sneak peak…🔊

 

Blake
And they’ve been very lucky that Google Drive has been there from the start. Without Google Drive, I think iPads would be in an even worse place in the early days. You know, everything was hears a IPad and get Google drive and now you can actually start using it. And now we’re seeing, you know, obviously, Microsoft releasing all their their apps on the platform that’s been there a while now on. I think that there’s rumors as well, about about Microsoft releasing like a super app on office app that does everything, from the office stocks to your emails potentially and file sharing the works. So that’ll be interesting. Having sort of a super app, you just have this 1 home place for everything that you’re doing, productivity wise

Mike
Be super interesting. So again, I just think that the ipad and the guys who use it on our team. They think it’s the ultimate device in high school scenario. an pad pro with a pencil will give you everything you need high school wise, especially when you use a good keyboard and so on. So watch this space. Hey, would be interesting to see in a year’s time. How many schools have picked it up on what they’re doing with it in terms of creativity and on so on as well.

Blake
Yeah, I’m excited. This exciting time with tech at the moment. Actually, things are things are in a good place, but obviously the worlds not in a good place. And we wish everyone everyone the best. We hope you stay safe and stay healthy and stay at home.

Mike
Yeah, no congregating. Yeah, it’s awesome. So I’ll put together a few links that we’re showing out with schools and businesses to help them with their go remote kind of strategy and feel free you know, we’ll throw some stuff together, and if you’ve got any questions, just leave a question in any comments, wherever you’re watching or listening to this and we’ll do our best to support you in that transition in the short term and also in the long term. And Hopefully it means positive things for you and your company or your school. Thanks for listening. For more episodes and show notes, visit utb.fyi/outclassed.

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