Our second interview in our digital champion series is with Fred Boss. He is well known on Twitter for championing and curating #edchatie. On Monday 7th November Making Ireland Click will be hosting #edchatie at 8.30pm, right after episode 2 “The Education Race” airs on RTÉ 1 at 7.30pm. In the video at the foot of this post David Puttnam makes some suggestions himself about how the government can speed up the pace of change in technology in education.
We caught up with Fred over email and kicked off with a low down on where he is coming from. He is an art teacher in De La Salle College, Dundalk for 18 years with a passion for integrating technology across the school and in the classroom. Currently seconded to the NCCA (The National Council for Curriculum and Assessment) and previously to the Continuing Professional Development Initiative with the PDST Technology in Education (formerly NCTE). He uses Twitter extensively as @fboss and moderates the online discussion for Irish educators using the hashtag #edchatie. This hashtag was nominated as a finalist for the best Twitter hashtag in 2011, 2012 and 2013. With the NCCA, he has responsibility for curriculum reform and assessment design at Junior Cycle level, particularly in the subject area of Visual Art and for the Coding short course.
If you would like to connect with Fred you can find him on Twitter, of course, as @fboss. He is also on Facebook, Instagram and many of the other social media platforms (but doesn’t use them as much as Twitter – more on that below!)
When we asked about his favourite digital technologies t’s no surprise that Fred got in quick with his love of Twitter! He answered without further ado, “It has to be Twitter still after all this time.” He went on to explain a little where this continuing attachment springs from, “For me (and it took a while) I think Twitter became one of the most engaging pieces of technology I have ever used. I think it took me three years to send out my first three tweets and then all of a sudden it began to make sense to me and now I tweet regularly every day. For me Twitter allows me to find like-minded people, interested in discussing education, technology and art and sometimes all three at the same time. I have virtually met many people from around the world through Twitter and have even met some of them in person too when we get the chance. I also moderate an online discussion every Monday night from 8.30-9.30pm called #edchatie where Irish educators (and some from other countries too) come online to discuss live a topic they have voted for a few days previously.”
We listened in on a recent #edchatie during Maths Week and were introduced to some invaluable online resources for teachers, students and parents at all levels.
As we did with Ailish in our last interview we asked Fred about the downsides to digital and how he manages it. As you would expect from an art teacher he gave a very visual response, “One major downside would be the need to look down at a screen while the world around you spins on.” He also admits that managing his digital time can be a challenge, “It can be difficult to live and work in both worlds at the same time, so balancing this time is a skill I am still coming to grips with.”
When we asked Fred about the best way to help other do more with digital, he agrees with Ailish and the National Adult Literacy Agency, “Help them be more confident in their use of technology.” he advises, “The best way to do this is to help them find something that mirrors the way they already work and show them how to apply it in new and interesting ways.”
Fred expanded on this idea saying, “The one thing people need when it comes to technology is to feel confident in their use of it. I think that after that it doesn’t matter what the technology is as the fear-factor is gone. I also think that this applies to more than just one person.” In the TV series Making Ireland Click again and again we meet groups or individuals who learn how to use one technology and then there’s no stopping them. As Fred says they have lost the fear factor.
We finished up by asking Fred are there any digital habits he is forming lately. He replied, “I’m beginning to get back to using the tablet device I have for drawing on again after a break from it for a while. I am an art teacher by trade, and for all my time in digital worlds, I have actually not combined them with my other world of art. I’m slowly beginning to bring them together now.”
We look forward to seeing more of his work!