Posts By Braddo

The mobile only classroom (OK, plus a sketchbook)

We’re having a warm discussion in my classes about mobiles: What is it that makes people say “put them away, they’re a distraction” or at least that they are less than laptops as learning tools before they have played with them enough to know if that claim is true or not; if mobiles are disruptive, what is it exactly they are disrupting? Or is the current mode of teaching and learning actually disrupting a future mode that includes mobiles?

So we’ve decided to go mobile only for a few classes to see what we discover about ourselves and out tools. Well, mobile plus sketchbook actually, in keeping with the idea that the best way to take in information is with paper and pencil:

We noted by our habit of defaulting to a laptop for everything and we’re thinking maybe we should consider building deeper tool chest. So, as Dorothy Sayers points out in her wonderful speech, The Lost Tools of Learning, we are going to doodle around with our mobiles to “give ourselves the feel of the tool.” 

We’ll update here as the experiment progresses.

Mobile-only Trial – Day 4

Mobile-Only Week – Day 3


The only thing I couldn’t do was print. I rarely print anything so this was kind of funny to me.

I’m finding that gesture-based apps like Mailbox and Swipes are better than laptop tools for processing email and tasks. 

We’re running a Slack trial and this is turning out to be a boon for mobile work. 

Tech is Catching Up

I was listening to CBC Radio on the way home from work–a story on the discovery of one of the ships, the HMS Erebus, from the lost Franklin expedition in what is now Canada’s Arctic in 1845. 

Parks Canada archaeologists found the  Ereberus using high resolution underwater still and video photography. Inuit oral history also tells of the ill-fated voyage and provided important clues to the wrecks location. But it was only recently, said the reporter, that “technology is catching up with oral traditions.”

Made me smile. 

Mobile-Only Week – Day 2


Composed in the WordPress app on my iPhone 6

My Day 2 was a typical admin day, one bookended by meetings and two sessions with IT to help Grade 10s ready their laptops for upcoming provincial exams. I used the time in between to set up the back end for  the new Centre for Innovation and process a ton of email. 

Mobile Only Week – Day 1


Composed on my iPhone.

I’ve decided to try going a week at work using only my phone, an iPhone 6. I maintain that all we need to run a good school is a smartphone and a notebook, that a laptop is legacy of industrial model learning and that mobiles are transformative. 

The signs all point that way at least, and now I want to know where the actual pain points are so I can build a strategy for making the transition to a mobile-first school. I have no doubt that we need a device such as a laptop or desktop for some work, but I’m pretty sure the day-to-day can be done with a mobile phone. 

Like a mad scientist I’m running this experiment on myself first. Mostly, I’m just observing and taking notes. Depending how things go, I’ll bring my students in the next week or so. 

Day One

A typical day with a mix of teaching and meetings.


  • My morning routine of checking calendars, email and social media is unchanged as I do this on my phone anyway. 
  • I was able to take attendance without trouble as our record keeping platform is web-based, though it’s not optimized for mobiles. 
  • I used Google Drive, Evernote and my notebook during our weekly school leadership team meeting. No issues. 


  • Google Classroom won’t let me create assignments on a mobile. There is no work around. This is more an inconvenience as we only use Classroom to handle document naming and filing. 
  • The mobile itself is not as big a limitation as only having one device. I usually work with two or three in my classroom. 

#gafesummit Vancouver 2015 sketchnotes

Not STEM, not STEAM, but J-STEAM 

Journalistic skills, and not just tools to record events, can be spread, taught and encouraged.
Source: Medium

This post, Move Over Citizen Journalism, prompts me to think we ought to add a J to the STEAM acronym. That would be Journalism, Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

These days, which are characterised by a shallow understanding of critical events and ideas leading increasingly to uncivil behavour on both sides of conflicts, civics ought to be as important as any of the STEM courses. And so far as journalism–the Fourth (newspapers) and now Fifth (blogs and social media) Estates–is an essential part of civil society, cultivating clear and courageous journalistic thinking in young people seems like a good idea.

Remixing SXSWedu 2015: XIM on #MIX

I thought to try an experiment at SXSWedu this year and invite a few sketchnote enthusiasts to collaborate on a collaborative sketchnote using FiftyThree’s innovative collaborative drawing platform, Mix. So we sat down andknocked  around ideas and settled on XIM, or Experimental Impresssionism. 

I’m hoping to get some insights on two things:

  • Can we tap into the crowd’s collective insight at a conference? We’ve figured out how to tap session content through tweets and shared Google Docs and the like, but I don’t know of any instances of trying to capture a collective and global impression of a conference. I want to see a conference through other people’s eyes.  What themes emerge, what dots get connected. I am not interested in capturing the details of a presentation or workshop–that sort of stuff is easy to come by. I want to know if we can capture the process by which people synthesize all they learn at a conference.
  • How might I use @FiftyThree’s Mix to make this happen. I feel confortable using  collabroative note-taking tool such as Google Docs, but I want to know if collaborative sketches work any differently. Mix seems like the best platofrm to try this.

A huge thank you to Amy Burvall, Honoria Starbuck and Sean Ziebarth for volunteering their time. But what I most value in them is their wilingness to try on ideas, pretty much sight unseen. They put me in my mind of Anthony Burrill:

If you’re at SXSWedu–heck even if your not–join us on the Mix


QQ: Does this mean the end of (strict) subject-based teaching in schools?

Corey Hesse


Source: John Seely Brown quotes Hesse in his presentation, Reimagining the University.

Or, maybe, K12 education is about subject-based teaching and universities are the place to step free of that? Dorothy Sayers wonderful essay, The Lost Tools of Learning, suggests something like that. I say something like that because organizing curriculum by chronological age, rather that developmental age, is a problematic assumption.

This has big implications for well-established programs such as the International Baccalaureate program. Maybe we will see it’s excellent inquiry-based approach in Primary Years Pr0gram extend all the way up to its Diploma Program?