Another Remote Lesson on Slack and Google Docs

This morning I ran another remote lesson with my Lower Sixth class. Important to stipulate there are only six pupils. We tackled the environmental impact of technology in 40 minutes. This consisted of a surface dive into the general area and then breaking into pairs for deeper dives into specific areas. A Google Hangout at the end to sum things up (plenary). Below you can see the anonymised conversation from the Slack channel. But before that you can click here to see the outcome of the lesson.

At the end, I set homework to read the material the other pairs had assembled, and to read the textbook section on this topic. Interestingly, the textbook is less than two pages. The reason for doing this work is to help the pupils be aware of the issues surrounding the impact computers are having on the natural environment, both good and bad. I will follow up in class with an essay-type exam question that tackles this issue but requires material not directly cited in the specification.

Slack conversation

## This is quite long so I have highlighted and commented on what I think are key points in the flow of the lesson. It is important for me to read through the message thread and reflect on whether or not I made good decisions. Typos are left in. Some text has been removed but not much.

daibarnes [11:26 PM]  ## reminder message sent night before

@channel remote lesson in the morning. See you logged on at 0830.

—– Today December 3rd, 2016 —–

daibarnes [8:08 AM]  

Today we are going to investigate the environmental impact of computers. This has different strains to it. The impact of production of hardware. Disposal of obsolete hardware. Contributions to global warming through manufacturing and use of technology including the Internet. However there are positive environmental impacts as well. Use of technological science to understand exactly how to protect the environment by solving problems caused by humans. ## introduction text


Start by looking into the general area for a little while

daibarnes [8:16 AM]  

Your aim is to deep dive into one area – three different areas to work on in pairs on a Google Doc – 1. the harm computer manufacture is causing to natural ecosystems and biodiversity. 2. the methods and efficacy of recycling and how the computer industry is taking measures to be more green. 3. the use of technology to solve the environmental problems caused by humans (not just those caused by tech).


@Student 3 @Student 5 morning Gents – can you ping the others on their chosen flavour of notificationised media please?

Student 3 [8:17 AM]  

yes I will tell them on the fb group ## pupils have a facebook group for the class



thanks @Student 3

Student 2 [8:19 AM]  

whos deciding who does what

daibarnes [8:19 AM]  

you are


@Student 2 is in charge of research allocation ## allocation of responsibility allows me to manage other things

Student 2 [8:20 AM]  



@Student 3 @Student 5 you can do 1

Student 3 [8:21 AM]  


daibarnes [8:21 AM]  

first of all is the surface dive into the topic – familiarise yourselves

Student 2 [8:21 AM]  

@Student 4 @Student 1 will do 3

daibarnes [8:22 AM]  

oh – sorry – should stipulate that @Student 2 and @Student 6 cannot be a pair because they are in the same room


aren’t you?

Student 3 [8:22 AM]  ## pupil suggests integrating Google Docs into Slack, which I did and created a Google Doc to be a base for our notes. It automatically shared the doc with all those in the Slack channel.

Several People Are Typing — The Official Slack Blog

Google Drive + Slack

Create and share without losing your groove.

Reading time


2 min read


Oct 19th at 5:00 PM

Student 2 [8:22 AM]  

but that just makes the job a lot more efficient



daibarnes [8:24 AM]  

shared a file

Environmental impact

Document from Google Drive

Click to open in Google Drive

1 Comment

daibarnes [8:24 AM]  

Not sure how this will work but lets use it as a top level doc to aggregate all our work.

Student 3 [8:24 AM]  

I will delete mine

daibarnes [8:25 AM]  

can you all edit it?

Student 2 [8:25 AM]  

does anyone have any good websites?

daibarnes [8:25 AM]  

i do

[8:25] ## previously found source material

Student 6 [8:25 AM]  

@daibarnes Student 4 is downloading slack

daibarnes [8:27 AM]  



Technology and innovation:  New and existing technologies have the potential to transform society’s impacts on the environment, how we minimise those impacts and how we carry out our business more cost-effectively. From remote sensing to DNA analysis, from big data to the ‘internet of things’, we need research to help us exploit these benefits

daibarnes [8:28 AM]  

uploaded and commented on a file




Click to view


extract from this doc

Student 4 [8:29 AM]  

Here sir

daibarnes [8:30 AM]  

no @Student 1 yet as usual


he’s gone green!!??


@channel On the GDoc, place generic links for surface articles ## at channel notification pings everybody with short instructions


then create a doc per pair and link to it once you have done the research

Student 2 [8:32 AM]  

commented on daibarnes’ file Collaborative_Research_Priorities_for_the_Environment_Agency_2016-2020.pdf

this is quite a dense document

daibarnes [8:32 AM]  

to work fast you will need to paste extracts and sources in your docs


it is – use CTRL+F


Student 4 [8:36 AM]


9 technologies that promise to clean up the planet

Whether working on better maps or organic batteries, these firms are at the forefront of developing tech to help the planet. (85KB)


Student 4 [8:36 AM]  

sir would preventing rather than solving be better?


daibarnes [8:37 AM]  

same sort of thing @Student 4 but yes


daibarnes [8:38 AM]  

@Student 1 good morning! 


daibarnes [8:38 AM]  

over to the doc please? let’s get this party started




@channel okay – let’s split off into our pairs please.

Student 4 [8:43 AM]  

@Student 3 @Student 5 this might help


Ecological Impacts of Technology

Research about the negative and positive impacts of technology on today’s society.

daibarnes [8:43 AM]  

Itchy brain – love it.

Student 5 [8:43 AM]  


daibarnes [8:44 AM]  

you will notice it is hard to actually find stuff on google – the algorithms do not help much – you have to experiment with your keywords


this is what can happen when so many web pages are written – google starts to show how useless it can be – we should do a test sometime to see how our search results differ if we search the same keywords.


@channel you have 15 minutes to do your deeper dives – return at 0901

Student 2 [8:49 AM]  

Student 6 and i r working on a separate doc if youre wondering where we are

daibarnes [8:49 AM]  

I assumed you all are! _fingers crossed nervously_


Student 5 [8:59 AM]  

there are alot more articles against technology than there are for technology saving the environment

daibarnes [9:00 AM]  

@channel okay – back in the room please


Can you share your work onto the Google Doc so everyone can access it? ## pupils pasted their findings in the outcome doc linked to earlier


@Student 5 that is true and tells its own story



Google Hangouts

Click to join now. If the call is over, start a new one with up to 10 friends.


Another Remote Lesson on Slack and Google Docs

(How) should we tackle pornography in schools

Disclaimer: all opinion in this post, and indeed all my posts, is nothing whatsoever to do with my employers, past, present or future. It is, however, safe to read at work (SFW).


Hardcore pornography is readily accessible by anyone with an internet device. Pornography has been one of the catalysts of the Internet and web content. Check out this infographic published last year showing USA stats on porn. And a more balanced examination of such stats from the BBC, as well as this article exploring research about the harm that porn can do, which includes an analogy of porn to alcohol, saying that for some it’s a problem and for others it’s a pleasure. [NB: schools do educate about alcohol]

So, should we be doing anything in school about pornography? And, if so, what should we be doing? I have been discussing this question with colleagues and the answer is not clear. It’s not an easy subject to talk about. Imagine the potential outrage as students hurry home to discover what all the fuss was about? Those not exposed to such material may venture to satisfy their curiosity and the school will ultimately have led them there. Unacceptable, right? So what might we be able to do about this without leading our cohorts to the content we are advising them to avoid?

Should we do anything at all? This New Statesman article argues that there are ten more important sex education issues to deal with than porn:

  1. Where and how to get contraception
  2. How to use that contraception
  3. Consent
  4. Basic anatomy
  5. How to put it in
  6. ‘When a man and a woman don’t love each other very much…’
  7. Sex positions
  8. Orgasms
  9. The Morning After Pill and Abortion
  10. The sexual double standard

You may agree with them or not. Although it is just an opinion piece, it is prioritising the importance of practical facts, sort of. A young persons (mans? womans? boys? girls? childrens?) relationship to pornography is a complex one, and there will undoubtedly be many people better qualified and experienced than me to explain this in more detail. I find that it is similar to the body image issue which I often feel lacks sufficient complexity when presented to young people because it never explains how you – and I and them and us and we – are in the game. The impact of media-distorted body image (both self and others) is so entwined in our thoughts that effectively disentangling ourselves from admiring the beautiful (desired?), and superficially judging the occupant as an object, is much harder than it seems. Brangelina are the perfect couple, aren’t they? In an attempt to do this without doing it, I teach a unit of work called ‘Digital Media Decoding’ whereby the pupils use graphics packages to alter photographs. But, might it be necessary for schools simply not to get involved? Maybe this stuff is so wrapped up in the double binds of life that each of us must unravel these for ourselves; is it not this that defines who we are? Bob Dylan, discussing songwriting, says:

First of all, there’s two kinds of thoughts in your mind: there’s good thoughts and evil thoughts. Both come through your mind. Some people are more loaded down with one than another. Nevertheless, they come through. Source:

So, how can we dictate, or even determine, how thoughts (and the potentially distorted thoughts that an individual may have after subjecting themselves to pornographic material) might manifest in the intimate relationships our children are having or will have? Will these thoughts change actions? Will the absence of hands gently finding each other in streamed online media actually mean our young people will not work this tenderness out for themselves? Do we really think that they will not understand that our/their media-distorted expectations are irrelevant, and that the physical embodiment of connection between two people is so much more valuable, more beautiful, than what they watched online? Will there be a Generation XXX?

Well I’m not certain about what to do, but my research on the matter led me to this video which is the best thing I have seen so far (NB: if you know of anything suitable, please get in touch?). The video is a TEDx talk by Ran Gavrieli from Israel: ‘Why I stopped watching porn’. I recommend you watch this young(ish) man explain his experience. He is earnest and humorous and sensitive.



(How) should we tackle pornography in schools

Tablets 4 Schools 2013 Twitter notes on Storify

I didn’t attend this event. I was lucky enough to receive a personal invite but had already committed myself to another tablet event (much smaller scale) with a company called Jigsaw24 who have some innovative ideas on how to roll out iPad in schools. On the train home I read through the tweets and found Tony Parkin had impartially documented the gist of what was presented. I was going to write up the notes (they’re in my notebook) but time is against me, so here is a storify of the key tweets. All are worth reading from beginning to end, but it is long so I’ll say goodbye here… comments at the bottom should you feel the need!

PS: remember to click *Read next page* link at bottom of storify embed.


Tablets 4 Schools 2013 Twitter notes on Storify

EdTechRoundUp Hanging Out Again

Do you remember ETRU? It was a weekly podcast I co-hosted with Doug Belshaw and others. We *ceased trading* two years ago because the conversations had, at that point, run dry.

ETRU logo

But it’s back! Should you want to get involved in this community (on Google Plus) then please do request an invite. The conversation is all about education technology and the usual suspects participants are UK educators (teachers of all sectors and independent consultants). We have met twice so far, the output of which is stored on YouTube.

First introductory meeting (20/10/13):

And yesterday (02/11/13) to discuss the transition of ICT to Computing in the UK:

The agenda is driven by those that attend. Anyone is welcome to contribute or just watch/listen to the conversation. Google Hangouts are limited to 15 participants, so first come is first served. For me, the reason I do this is so I know I have somewhere I can ask questions, reflect on practice, hear other peoples thoughts and learn from their experience. The people who attend are all tweeters and all lovely people. Bonza! What’s not to like?

EdTechRoundUp Hanging Out Again

Twitter for teachers: CPD

I just sent the text below as an email to all teachers at my school. I feel rather stupid doing it, like I’m blowing my own trumpet or whatever. I wonder if anyone will want to attend? May the farce be with me…


tweet tweet


Dear all,

I write a little nervously… #bearwith

During the year some of you have expressed an interest in how I use twitter and blogging. Those of you who have had the misfortune to endure my ICT induction session when you arrived at the school will have first-hand knowledge of my unshakable belief that twitter is the best CPD any teacher can have at any level. Why? From my experience it can connect you to teachers all over the world specialising in your subject or discussing teaching and learning and sharing their experiences. I have developed a genuinely valuable network of educators from all over the place. From headteachers to NQTs, professors to consultants, multinationals to entrepreneurs. Twitter is the great levelling playing field upon which many educators, just like you and me, can share and learn.

So, here I take my timid nature in hand, and, on Monday at 16:20, I will be presenting twitter for teachers as I see it (NB: this is not the definitive way because there are many mystical methods to this madness). Venue is ICT2 unless numbers require an alternative, which I very much doubt, but one or two of you might be interested. Please reply to let me know you are coming.

The aim of the session will be to give an overview of what I have done with twitter, answer your questions about twitter, and to try to unveil how you might get started with a twitter account. It is not compulsory. In fact I think we shall call it an unmeeting (I just made that up – it means you can say whatever you like whenever you like and decorum will be maintained by mutual trust).




Update: it seems unmeeting is not my creation…

Twitter for teachers: CPD