Save Hearts

Here is my infographic created for PIDP course 3240, assignment 3. Do you know the difference between a Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest?



Need an Infographic?

screen-shot-2016-11-06-at-10-00-06-pmHere’s a nice site which will guide you through some of the best ‘infographicking’ software around at the moment. I recently used Canva which is a really user friendly platform. Jillian Petrova, in writes:

Applications like these could kick graphic designers out of business before we know it, since PiktoChart markets itself as the tool that let’s “non designers create beautiful infographics in as little as 10 minutes.” This may be a shocker – or maybe even a bit offensive – but it is true. Piktochart has over 400 fully customizable themes with retina-ready images, objects, graphs, and colors you can edit and adjust according to your preference.

I really wish I had discovered infographics at the start of the PIDP program, but I’m glad I didn’t miss out on them before the end. These will certainly work their way into my classroom…take a look, unleashed the designer in you!


Make history

“In a world where media is global, social, ubiquitous and cheap. In a world of media where the former audience are now increasingly full participants. In that world media is less and less often about crafting a single message to be consumed by individuals. It is more and more often a way creating an environment for convening and supporting groups”

The question we all face now, is  how can we make best use of this media – even though it means changing the way, we’ve always done it”

When I watch myself teaching from just 18 months ago,  and with all of the PIDP almost complete, these statements have never been more pertinent; I cringe at my naivety. The possibilities are literally endless, the internet is so vast and our students have never been so ‘hyperconnected’…how foolish would we as educators be to not explore its offerings…to explore how we can harness its connectivity. Lets be honest, the student will always be one step ahead when it comes to its potential, but working towards these goals, if nothing else, increases our legitimacy, efficiency, and consequently respect as a modern educator. It allows the student to utilize the virtual world many are accustomed to. Our duty is to promote the ideas, concepts, lessons and a positive learning space in the online environment, as we would in the traditional classroom.

How? That’s up to our imaginations.

Dance vs. PowerPoint

As a musician (albeit positively terrible), I have a love for the arts. As a teacher (also, arguably quite terrible) I have developed a certain disdain for powerpoint, when used in the manner in which it seems the majority of its users are accustomed to (myself included at one point). This TEDx talk by John Bohannon explores a few messages. The first, (but not necessary the primary) is using dance to aid explanation of complex ideas; science in this instance. The second intertwined offsetting the USA’s ridiculous national debt, and the blatant, lazy misuse of PowerPoint epidemic.

Apparently I am becoming (or possibly have become) a total powerpoint snob. Bohannon says “apparently there are some 30 million powerpoint presentations created, every day”.

30 million! …and I wager most of them bad.

I have nightmares about powerpoint. Both from sitting through days, weeks….sheesh, what felt like an eternity of college lectures with bullet point after bullet point…my head flipping back and forth like a cheap car dashboard novelty toy. What makes it worse is that when I think back through my own teaching history, for the longest time I did the very same things. One particular lesson I remember vividly was on ‘units of measurement’…it was literally all abbreviations and acronyms! Can you imagine? This is ft lbs…this is newton meters…can I introduce you to the Vickers scale of hardness…my word, it makes me shudder to think about it. I remember a discussion around PowerPoint from a previous PIDP course; in essence, the instructor said “just, don’t”.

Don’t get me wrong in enthusiastic, creative hands, of course there is a time and a place for PowerPoint; but I seem to recall the statistics for information retention from heavily loaded PowerPoint lessons, are diabolical.We’ve all sat through the bad ones, I don’t need to remind you. Its just too easy for people to ‘cobble together’ something that vaguely resembles a lesson, using the crutch that has become Microsofts PowerPoint.

Bohannon begins to conclude with “The more he said, the less…I understood, because, if you’re trying to give someone the big picture of a complex idea, to really capture it’s essence, the fewer words you use the better. In fact, the ideal, might be to use no words at all”. Surely It’s a romantic image to think that dance could be regularly used by faculty to assist the learning process, but creating lessons which inspire, touch and motivate students, are absolute reality. Dance won’t inspire everyone. Even on a recent teaching forum, teachers commented that they were too distracted by the dance. Strangely, as a person who sometimes feels like he is genetically connected to a meerkat, the dance in Bohannon’s TEDx didn’t draw my attention away from the presentation, moreover, it connected my thoughts to the speech; it enhanced it. Perhaps the beautiful choreography heightened my senses, and therefore my intrinsic motivation to listen and digest (the terrible musician in me). Whether you agree or disagree with ‘learning styles’ theorems, it is difficult to argue against the fact that we all have a preference; according to the VAK model of learning, my preference is visual – kinaesthetic. The point here is that the message that you send, needs to be via a medium that your learners can connect to, it’s no use throwing up OHP’s (remember those?)in an orderly fashion, while you’re students frantically scroll their Twitter feeds.

While there is truth in Bohannon’s statement “that bad powerpoint presentations, are a serious threat to the global economy”. At grass roots, the issue is that bad powerpoint presentations are a serious threat to our students learning environment, and our validity as educators.

Do something different. Be creative. Dance.

Lets see who will..blah..blah..blah

We all see them, the quintessential call for Facebook attention, ok maybe I am being a little harsh, but how many times during a good social media scroll do your eyes glance over the status “how many of my friends will” or “ok lets see who will read this”. Just today during an act of extreme procrastination from the usual daily hustle, I chuckled at a friends post which was a meme of Robert Downey Jr., eyes rolled back, arms crossed with the words:

“lets see who will read this” at the beginning of your post virtually guarantees I won’t read it. Ever.

During a Skype meeting early in the PIDP, my professor threw a statistic at me that something ridiculous like only 15% of students read their feedback (after he thanked me for reading his feedback). For a person on a course of which, one of the main outcomes is ‘become a reflective practitioner’, this is positively baffling! Maryellen Weimer in her The Teaching Professor blog for Faculty Focus discusses, students reading textbooks (or rather not as the case may be). In a study of “nine different introductory psychology and human development courses and the percentage of the text they said they read ranged from 32% to 69% with most of the percentages around 50. That means half the text not read” HALF of the text! …Astounding. Weimer goes on to make a very valid point that “if students discover they can do well on exams without reading the text — if most of what they need to know is presented in class — then it’s highly unlikely that they will read the text”.

Effort for many is an expensive commodity these days, the attitude “why do I need to” is one to which the younger generations are very accustomed. I remember a student of mine asking if I would be handing out a copy of the slides, when I responded with a yes, they visibly disengaged, the pen was dropped. This was a game changer for me. From here on in, my slides became either prompts, prominent pieces of information or visual aids.

José Bowens book, Teaching Naked Chap 5 discusses in depth the ways in which teachers can utilize “Technology for Engagement” and at the beginning of the chapter how “it may be effective to know the competition” (p131). By that he means get ahead of the game or, know your enemy. If students are not going to read the text, what will they do? Bowen says “Do what your students will do – Google the book or search the topic on Wikipedia. Look at the summary sites and see what your students will see” He suggests having students critique what they find. By doing this, at least you can focus the their minimal efforts onto what you really want them to think about. Bowen proposed in this TEDx talk, that learning is becoming more about “fact checking” or “how quickly you can access information, how well you sort, how well you think about that information, whats relevant, whats not” (5.10 – 5.35). This is scary stuff, Bowen also suggests that employers questions would have to change from:

do you have all the knowledge you need” to “can you sort through all that stuff on the internet, and give me what I actually need, today

Back to Maryellen Weimers point,

if students discover they can do well on exams without reading the text…then it’s highly unlikely that they will read the text”

We have to use technology to our advantage. We have to find ways to ensure learning is achieved, otherwise the workforce will be slowly diluted with a generation of ‘supergooglers’ with no real depth of understanding. If the students are finding more ‘efficient’ ways to learn, then we as educators owe it to them to find more efficient ways to teach.

…One last point… its not just the students who don’t read. Bowen also writes that “If the Dean sends out a long report, most faculty will first look at the title and executive summary and decide if the really need to read the rest”…

Guilty as charged. We’re all busy, we all have different priorities; if we want anyone to read and digest what we write or assign, the reader needs to understand its relevance or validity.

Hmm….I wonder how many of my followers will actually read this post?

Me again, guess what!?

I can’t believe it.. I’ve landed it, THE DREAM JOB, managing and teaching a course, which will allow me to use the last 20 years; my military career, personal experiences, fitness and even my hobbies to help mould the future of the British Military and Public Service Sector…

…Oh no thats right, I didn’t get it…I didn’t get the  dream job…s**t.

Don’t get complacent, don’t count your chickens etc etc. I couldn’t help but get excited, professionally it ticked all the boxes (logistically it was a total nightmare) but here’s the thing, I wasn’t prepared; I thought I had in the bag. The interview; a simple, seven question interview which should have allowed me to eloquently present my teaching philosophy to the most receptive ears a budding teacher could ask for; but I didn’t, I was complacent. I wasn’t nervous, truth is, as a long time recruiter, interviewer and extrovert, I stumbled in an area I thought I had covered. I couldn’t work out what the ‘right’ answers were, and as such fell short in practically every area apart from the ‘wise crack about being naked from the waste down’ area (which I thought it was hilarious [it was a Skype interview]).

I was offered feedback last week, which of course as any self critical, reflective educator would, I gladly accepted (read: “what on earth could it have been that someone did better than me?”). In brief the feedback read “we enjoyed speaking to you but you really should have expanded on…”; this stung. A dear friend of mine said to me shortly after “I’m wondering if it was the equal ops (interview) that tripped you up, its hard to show what you’ve got unless you jump though their hoops in very specific ways”. This was certainly a part of the issue, the panel was clearly on a schedule with agenda, which I hadn’t anticipated. I had expected a flowing interview, which would allow me to quickly build rapport and be home for ‘tea and medals’ before you could say ‘authenticity’.

Interviewer: “How would you define a brilliant lesson as opposed to a great lesson”

Me:”erm” (*Johnny’s first mistake)

Here it was, the proverbial diving board that I should have driven at high speed into any number of elements from my last two years of learning with the PIDP; instructional strategies, feedback, authentic assessment, student goals…My answer was that good, that I don’t even remember what I said.

Double s**t.

In the moment, I didn’t really know what to say. “You just know” I said. “if you’ve prepared an authentic lesson which allows the learner to X,Y, Z and the feedback and feelings that you get are positive, then surely you’ve delivered a brilliant lesson?” Really Johnny? How about “is there such a thing?” As reflective practitioners, we should always be looking for ways to improve our practice, times change, technology changes…our subjects take new and exciting paths. While I knew what I meant regarding the brilliant lesson, I didn’t give the interviewers anywhere near the confidence that I actually did know what I was talking about. So? How would I define the brilliant lesson? How would you?

You’re prepared, you’re confident you’re passionate and approachable. You create a presence in your classroom that promotes learning from the outset. You listen to your learners, you show that you care about them, you connect. You adapt, you stay flexible. You deliver material in a thoughtful, enthusiastic, valid, relevant and challengingly achievable way. You listen. You use a teaching style that suits your learners, and not necessarily yourself. You listen. You use assessment techniques that allow everyone to grow, yourself included. Cover these few points and the lesson that ensues, will likely be ‘rather good’.

I had so much to offer this job but have no-one to blame but my self. I literally just described a brilliant lesson by starting with “you’re prepared” – I wasn’t prepared.

I began by saying that this job would have allowed me to “utilize the last 20 years; my military career, personal experiences, fitness and even my hobbies” When I didn’t get the job, this was my disappointment…bitter disappointment quite honestly. Now, a few sleeps on, I remind myself that wherever I end up teaching next, I will always be able to use the last twenty years, my experiences, my learning –  thats what makes me authentic, valid and ultimately, a teacher.

How do I, I mean does ‘it’ look?

 Image retrieved from
Image retrieved from

Evaluate, evaluate, evaluate; that’ is the order of the day. I’ve talked relatively exclusively of late about how we need to evaluate our own practice; how we should be reflective, objective, and critical in order to become better with each and every class. Times change, learners change, techniques and strategies change, we change and therefore we must be accepting of such. A classmate of mine recently created this aesthetically pleasing infographic to describe As a new feedback method to me, I initially found the chili pepper feature for the student to rate a professors ‘hotness’ amusing but on a less superficial note, the author makes a great point about student bias that I found interesting, and I believe stands true for any autonomous feedback method. We should “recognize that students who comment may have had extreme experiences (either very good or very bad)” (Deol, 2016). This means we need to be selective and critical of the information we extract from such feedback methods. At grass roots it stands to reason that we as the educators use such feedback to responsibly develop our practice, our classrooms, our material, our student evaluation methods, but what about the bigger picture? What about the institution that we teach within, or the program itself, the Fraser Health Authority says

In this complex, quickly changing environment, decision-makers need to understand why observed results occur. An evaluation process can seek to understand the attribution or contribution of observed results to a program. Evaluation can also inform new policies and programs that respond to these challenges”.

Now, I’m not about to break down the process of how a program evaluation should be conducted, but I think its important to understand that we are merely pieces of the educational jigsaw which as a collective, has been designed to achieve results or uphold a standard. A requirement of an assignment I had for 3260 was to write a piece on accreditation; the ‘whys’ or  ‘what ifs’ involved. I left the post until recently because I couldn’t find anything during my research that I could really relate to…then I realized…John, you come from arguably one of the most heavily regulated industries in the world beside medicine; Aviation. Also, not three weeks ago discussed how in my five year plan I aspire to have ‘qualified teacher’ status. I suppose sometimes you just can’t see the forest for the trees.

Canada has the Canadian Council for Aviation and Aerospace (CCAA), the UK the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), both are similar entities which regulate aviation; its processes, training, qualifications, licenses etc. The Royal Air Force, is renowned for having the most ‘over maintained’ (as in every aircraft is fully maintained before and after every flight, no matter how long the sortie) aircraft and best qualified workforce in the world. However, the training and qualifications received by its Airman and woman are largely non transferrable to either organization. I don’t believe this is a reflection of civilian views on the training, it is more that there is an agreed standard, a specific set of objectives, training paths and professional monitoring which have been deemed the necessary for the industry. CCA says “Most aviation regulation and policy is harmonised across the world to ensure consistent levels of safety and consumer protection” and that it ensures:

  • the aviation industry meets the highest safety standards
  • consumers have choice, value for money, are protected and treated fairly when they fly
  • we drive improvements in airlines and airports’ environmental performance
  • the aviation industry manages security risks effectively.

Consistency, protection, highest standards, manages risks. These are the reasons that aviation is regulated, peoples lives are at risk every day. If its technicians and pilots can’t operate within the realm of such regulation, then they are jeopardizing the safety of everyone who flys, or works on their aircraft. The CCAA says that it “brings together business, labour, educators, industry associations and government in a strategic alliance that is focused on implementing solutions to the specific skills and demographic needs of the industry”

These reasons transpose to many, if not all accredited courses or institutions. Recognition by an authority might say “I have been trained and work to standards A,B &C and my work is checked every X years” the authority is doing their due diligence to ensure the original standards are maintained, along with recognizing that time moves swiftly on, and it can and will implement “solutions to the specific skills and demographic needs of the industry”. 

When I moved to Canada from England despite working as an Engineer, I couldn’t legally call myself an ‘engineer’ because I didn’t have a ‘P Eng’, no big deal, but certainly people acted differently to me when they didn’t read those four letters on my business card. Because I was not a member of APEGA and spoke in a funny accent, suddenly they were doubting my capabilities as a professional. As much as a challenge as this could be sometimes, I understand why, its like buying a product. A consumer likes to know what they’re getting, a certified diamond versus a cubic zirconia (I am no diamond though, thats for sure). So why do I want to have qualified teacher status? Mainly because I’m goal driven, I like to run marathons, to compete at triathlon. Of course its great to keep fit but also because I like to have something to aim for. But also, I would like to say that I match up to the governing bodies standard of what a teacher should be.

Just as our goal is to promote learning in the best way that we can, so is it that stakeholders want to know that their program is doing the same. Just as our practice can become stagnant if left stationary, a programs validity will soon fade if it doesn’t move with the times. Just as in aviation, my job as a teacher is to achieve consistency, the highest standards, ‘protect’ my students best interests and drive performance.