About kynanrobinson

Musician, composer, musician, educator, keynoter, founder and CEO www.enrusk.com,

Launching my new company – EnRusk

Good morning world. The sun is rising and it’s a beautiful day here in NY City.

 

EnRusk Van

We’ve done our planning, built, bought, and packed what we need, We are set the journey ahead.
This week we fire up the engines and set off into our future. It’s launch week for EnRusk

Over the last few months, we’ve enjoyed working through what we wanted to do, how, and why. We also enjoyed talking to folk all over the world who reached out to us asking for help.
Monday sees us begin our work with our new partners and clients.
They come from education, health, government, NFPs, business and entertainment, Some are old some are young, some are big some are small. None of that matters. What matters to us is they are all ambitious, passionate, open, courageous, empathetic, willing, they want to make are real difference, and enjoy the ride while we do it.
Most importantly they’re willing to change, change to survive, grow, and contribute to the creation of a new future. A future of possibility rather than predictability.

Why does this matter to us?
Because they’re the fun ones to work with.

And we’re honored to join them on their journeys.
Our journey together to change the world. Fire upon the engines.

 

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Synthesis as part of Design Thinking

It has been a long time since I blogged but I have recently decided to return to it. I now work as CEO of NoTosh Inc. We are a global consultancy company working across education, corporate and not for profits. We use Design Thinking as a method to help organizations innovate and helping individuals learn how to create as part of a group.

The phases we use as part of DT are Immersion/Synthesis/Ideation/Prototyping and Feedback and while these appear to be linear in nature they are in fact cyclical, much like all learning. This past week I was walking with the International School in Panama who are working hard to understand who they are and why they exist, what they believe about learning and teaching and what makes them special. Their values and strategy. The last time I was with them was a month ago where they had immersed deeply in better understanding themselves as a school. This visit was really focussed around helping them synthesise their data.  IMG_1615

 

The ability to synthesis is fundamental to research and learning. It requires the skills of pattern recognition and the ability to allow themes to emerge from the data without biasing the data yourself. It can be hard work and take time especially if there is a large amount of divergent data to work through. We often talk about the need to “sit in your data” to allow the data to speak to you not the other way around. 

This past week I have been working with the International School Panama to synthesise the huge amount of data they have collected since our last visit. Clustering is one tool we use to help our clients synthesis and ISP clustered and re-clustered many times. By doing so they were continually looking for pain areas to address and opportunities they might have missed.

When synthesising in larger teams it requires members to have trust in each other, listen to each other, be vulnerable and truthful – traits the ISP Design Team continually demonstrated as they synthesised to find their core values, and write the stories around them. Like other schools, we do this kind of work with ISP are attempting to create more than just noble attributes common to eduspeak (respect, excellence etc). ISP were synthesising to develop values that will define and articulate who they are, where they are going and help when difficult decisions need to be made. Also simple enough for a grade 1 student to understand and remember, their North Stars. Challenging and exciting work.

Melbourne Ska Orchestra tour dates

It’s not often I refer to my musical work in this blog but today I will. Melbourne Ska Orchestra is a band I have been playing with for many years now which has had great success internationally. We are just about to release our second album  and have a number of tour dates announced to promote the launch.


If you haven’t seen this band you really should – 35 madmen onstage playing non-stop SKA dance floor fillers.Tour dates can be found

We are coming to the

  • Gold Coast
  • Sunshine Coast
  • Sydney
  • Brisbane
  • Blue Mountains
  • Adelaide
  • Albury
  • Melbourne
  • Coffs Harbour and
  • Mullumbimbi – before heading over to Europe

Tour dates can be found at the website

 

Hope to see you on the dance floor

How to pull a rabbit out of the Internet – Kalani Robinson’s views on education

Yesterday at the #digicon15 education conference in Melbourne I had the pleasure of presenting a couple of sessions with my son Kalani.

Kalani is 15. For the last 5 years when ever I have spoken at conferences I have used him, and stories from his life, as examples to support the points I have been making. About two months ago I wondered why I was speaking on his behalf rather than just inviting him onto the stage with me to speak his own mind.

The first time he choose to get on stage and be a part of the presentation we were keynoting a large education conference in Eastern Melbourne.

I spoke for about twenty minutes, then introduced him and off he went. It was remarkable to watch him speaking so articulately and passionately about a subject that obviously meant a lot to him – his education.

Yesterday we presented again at DLTV’s conference #digicon15 and then had the opportunity to do an interview with Roland and Amanda of ACCELN fame. Roland and Amanda asked the questions and Kalani spoke entirely off the cuff. My job was to try and shut up. This interview helped remind me of how often we speak on children’s behalf, believing we have their best interests at heart because we have put so much thought into the topic we are speaking on. Kalani, and I imagine most other kids would probably like to be part of the conversation. If your interested in hearing a child’s perspective on how schools should work, what is really important to them when it comes to learning and what potentially needs to change please watch the video below and feel free to share.

IOI Weekend Melbourne

Just letting you know about a new event I’m running with Louise Bowe and Richard Olsen.

IOI Weekend is an intensive hands on workshop over an entire weekend where educators learn how to design innovative learning and teaching models that maximise pedagogical capacity, effectiveness, and quality. The idea for the weekend is something Richard and I and Lou have been discussing for some time and really has arisen out of work we have  done at schools over the last few years. Through a processes of trial and error, mixed in with theory we both believe in, we think we have got a model that will be exciting for educators as well as provide some simple tools that can use to assist as they seek to innovate effectively within their learning environments.

You can find more information at the website http://melbourne.ioiweekend.com

Richard Olsen has written a great blog post that outlines what attendees can expect which can be found by clicking on the link below:

In that post he gives a good overview of potential reasons why educators might attend:

“Experienced teachers should participate if they’re dissatisfied with their ability to adequately communicate why innovation in learning and teaching matters. The IOI Weekend provides a process to identify, justify, and measure the impact of their learning and teaching approach. As such, teachers who attend will be equipped to communicate more clearly the quality and impact of their innovative learning and teaching practice.

New teachers should participate if they lack confidence to adequately communicate why and how learning and teaching innovation is part of their role as a teacher. The IOI Weekend provides a process for developing, language for communicating, and a means for measuring the impact the impact of learning and teaching innovation. It will also equip you with some ideas of where to start, and connect you to a great group of similarly passionate educators.

School leaders should participate if they’re dissatisfied with their ability to adequately communicate the impact that learning and teaching innovation is making in their school. The IOI Weekend provides a process to identify, justify, and measure the impact of learning and teaching over time. School leaders seeking who attend will be better equipped to communicate, measure and report more clearly the impact that learning and teaching innovation is resulting in across their school, and make better decisions about future learning and teaching innovation opportunities.”

http://melbourne.ioiweekend.com/2015/04/what-should-i-expect-from-the-ioi-weekend-experience/

Also please download the flyer and share it with any educators who may be interested. You can find the flyer at: ioiweekend flyer

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Hope to see some of you there.

Using Digital Gaming with Special Needs Learning

Recently I met Adam Scanlon. Adam is a gamer, designer and father amongst many other things. What peaked my interest in what he was talking to me about was the way Adam was using gaming to assist his sons learning.

His son has autism. As Adam explained to me that brings its own series of unique challenges. Children with autism often don’t learn in the same methods as we would associate traditional learners and therefore new ways of teaching and learning need to be investigated.

As a commitment to finding these new innovative ways Adam has been using the game Disney Infinity.

Let me give you a little background on Disney Infinity. It is essentially a sandbox game. To me sandbox games are of great interest to education. Sandbox games are extremely open in nature and their lack of narrative is what set them apart from most other digital games. Most digital games operate in a linear fashion with a predetermined narrative, which the player must follow, and a set of ever more complicated tasks that the player must successfully complete in order to progress in the game. In contrast to this, sandbox games have no sense of progression, linear narrative or completion. Game play is entirely up to the creativity and imagination of the player/players. These games are providing a framework for the player to enter and then leaving it up to the individual’s creativity to do whatever they want.

The genre include games like Minecraft and Gary’s Mod and to a certain extent Disney’s Infinity.

When recently watching a collection of students playing Gary’s Mod they were collectively interacting and communicating with each other, they were building their own characters, they were inventing their own games within the game and more so they were inventing their own narrative within the games they were playing – that is narrative within narrative.  This is an example of the game makers understanding this generation of learners and providing them with autonomy, the ability to be self-directed and beyond that providing them the ability to be highly web connected. These three concepts are important to our current western education system especially as it grapples with relevancy and what place technology plays.

So back to Adam, why is he attracted to Disney Infinity and how does it help him teach his son? disney infinity

Firstly, as Adam explained, to work with children with autism you need to find the space they are interested in. It is highly unlikely they will come to the space you think they should be in. Adam’s son loves this game and will play it for hours. So rather than pull his son away from this environment, Adam went the other way and embraced it. How could he use the environment his son loves being in to help his son learn? Isn’t this a great lesson for all educators not just those working with special needs, where can you position yourself within the child’s life to give that child the best opportunity to hear you in the first place. As Disney Infinity is a sandbox game, Adam and his son can build there own universe in there, a universe of their collective imaginations that might replicate their current one or develop new ways of seeing the world.

Children with autism need a lot of repetition to grasp certain concepts. Adam explained that to teach a certain task he would have to say it over and over. They require and demand routines and so to teach them a new one, potentially means a changing of an old one. This can be difficult and require a lot of repetition. Again, as Disney Infinity is a sandbox game Adam can now build games inside the game allowing his son to play them, enjoy them and potentially learn from them. garys mod

A couple of very simple examples of the huge range that Adam provided me with might help give context for those unfamiliar with this type of game. To help “potty train” his son Adam built a puzzle game. The task of the game was to get the “brown object” to the toilet, at the end of the game. By playing the game over and over his son also was able to make the real life connections. This demonstrates a great way to instructionally teach something that is going to require a lot of repetition.

Adam provided me with another example of how he uses the game to teach new routines;

The current process for going to a shopping center or supermarket requires Adam and his son to go up and down every single aisle every time they visit a supermarket even if they only need to quickly go in and buy one product. This is a routine Adam’s son knows and is comfortable with and to change this routine causes particular anxiety for Adam’s son, leading to a seemingly uncontrollable outburst of emotion. Adam’s solution, using the game, was to build a supermarket within his Disney Infinity universe, and once again build a task into the game that allowed for his son to enter the supermarket find the object and leave immediately. He is helping form a pattern or predisposition into his son teaching him new ways of doing things.

Communication.

For a long time there was the common misunderstanding that because children with autism weren’t communicating with you in the traditional sense they also were not listening. This is not necessarily so and technology has provided ways for this group to have a voice. Early discoveries came with typing; children who would not necessarily speak out their thoughts when taught to type found this medium an easier way to communicate in.

Adam is interested in taking this concept further. If Disney Infinity is a space where his son feels comfortable and enjoys inhabiting potentially it can be  a means for the two of them to also communicate in. One of Adams concerns for his son is a simple problem that most of us without this experience would not even consider. If his son has  a toothache potentially he will never express this to Adam so how as a father will he handle this situation if he doesn’t even know it exists. While he is still only at early stages Adam is exploring ways through the game that his son might express these every day issues with him and others around him that see.

This might be something that Adam agendas within the Disney Infinity game space or potentially, his son might find the means of using it to communicate in the way he wants to.

While this piece talks specifically to children with autism the same principles apply to all classroom teaching or education in general. How can we turn the paradigm around from reductionist notions such as “teacher as expert” to “teacher as facilitator”? And if we are truly talking teacher as facilitator what do we want them to facilitate? All children exist as learners nested within their own constructions of identity. They bring their own experiences and mindsets into the classroom.

Learning occurs within a complex interplay of biological, cultural and experiential histories. Learning always occurs within the complex systems of the individual, the social surrounds and the culture within which the individual exists. Knowledge is never isolated within that or separated from it. Rather it is deeply part of the web of interactions – it arises out of it, it is an emergent, evolving phenomenon.

We can never teach the same content to each one in the same manner and expect it to have the same impact. Rather we should be getting to know our students, what are they interested in, what do they love and how do they best communicate. Then we need to adapt our methodologies to come to their worlds, not the other way around. Adam demonstrates wonderfully the powerful learning and connections that can take place when the paradigm is reversed using a technology that his child loves – a digital game.

I would love to hear any of your stories, if you are willing to share them of experiences you might have had or seen in this area.

 

 

 

Teacher as co-learner and other arguments about knowledge

“There are times in life when the question of knowing if one can think differently than one thinks and perceive differently than one sees is necessary if one is to go on looking and reflecting at all” M Foucault
In my line of work (my day job) I am involved with education and it’s relationship with technology. This work sees me in schools, universities and other places of institutionalized learning operating as a consultant, assisting them to come to grips with the challenges technology is posing to existing structures and it’s potential to change the way we teach and learn. The core of my work is centered in epistemology – the study of knowledge – and its relationship with the internet. When I present I often speak of what knowledge is, where it resides, and what are the implications for teacher practice. I often get some very strong reactions from teachers. My opening statement generally goes along the lines of, “knowledge never reside in the individual, it resides in the network.”
By this I mean that knowledge is not a tangible thing that can be transferred from one individual to another knowledge resides in the relationships, it is built up within the discourse (language or practice). While objects might physically exist outside of these discourses any attempt to make sense of them is through discourse that is socially developed. Yet our education system with its practices related to curriculum and assessment of the individual, amongst other things, so often reflects a lack of understanding of this thinking. Many of you are familiar with the phrase ‘teacher as a facilitator rather than a teacher as expert’. When we talk of ‘teachers as facilitators’ (or even co-learners), not as experts we are talking in this area, we are demonstrating an understanding and belief of learning that is framed within a participatory culture. By enabling that we are acknowledging that it is only through participation in the networks that any connection with knowledge can happen. While the term and concept of “teacher as a facilitator rather than expert” is a concept that is familiar to many of us, it is still something extremely difficult to do and I see very little evidence of it being enacted within many classrooms. I often think that it is too hard to make this change because of the predetermined sense of identity built up by the discourse of the institutions that govern the concept of a “teacher/student” Below is a very typical argument a teacher will throw at me at conferences, or online, or during PD sessions when I start to talk about such matters. I am making no judgment of the argument because it took me a long time to understand this fairly abstract concept, and an argument is a form of active participation in the discourse. This discussion took place on a friend of mines Google + account and I have added the screenshots.
A teachers response to a blog post I had written
My reply

His reply to my reply, unfortunately, he never responded. As educators I think It is paramount that we talk about these ideas, isn’t the concept of knowledge development central to our role? Furthermore, the conclusions we collectively reach will have huge implications for how we do this thing called “teaching”.
What do you think?