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Issue

16

Term

3

2015

Teachers on film: the good, the bad and the ugly

Ahead of the game

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Enterprising students are busy creating their own future jobs

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Contents

16

Term 3, 2015

P

eople no longer need to be based in Silicon Valley to make waves in the tech world. Schools around Australia, and in fact the world, are now teaching kids to develop their own apps, write code for their own websites and providing them with the business know-how to launch their own start-ups. Looking to the future, particularly the next 30 years or so, most people agree that the workforce is going to look entirely different to what we know it as today. Kids are going to need to create their jobs of the future, not apply for them. Therefore, children must be given the skills to navigate this unknown future, particularly in the areas of technology, coding and entrepreneurship. For our Cover Story this term, we look at how Australian schools compare to the rest of the world and speak with a Victorian educator who has launched an innovative entrepreneurship program to help his students bring their start-up dreams to life. The rest of the magazine is filled with wonderful stories about innovative classroom approaches to technology and the ways it is being used to teach the curriculum. One of my personal favourites is the piece written by Samantha Wasson about the portrayal of teachers in popular films. Make sure you also check out Anne Vize’s story on the effects of technology on a teenager’s sleep patterns and read about Jennifer White’s experiences giving up technology for a few days. Enjoy. Rebecca Vukovic Editor

Managing Editor Grant Quarry

6—12 Cover Story 14—24 Curriculum 26—39 Infrastructure 40—46 PD Preview & Review 47—52 What’s New 53—59 eLearning 60—61 Digital World 62—63 Cheat Sheet 64—65 Tech Head 66 App Reviews

Editor Rebecca Vukovic Journalists Chelsea Attard Sarah Duggan Art Director Jeremy Smart Business Development Manager Sandra Colli Media Sales Assistants Natasha Bozajkovska BRadley kelly Financial Controller Loretta Zoppos Administration & Sales Coordinator Anita D’Angelo Contributors Noelene Callaghan, ANNE VIZE, Jennifer White, SAMANTHA WASSON

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this magazine do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher. Privacy Policy: To receive a copy of our privacy policy write to the address below. Contribution: TechnologyEd welcomes contributions and story ideas from readers. Articles should be no longer than 1200 words. TechnologyEd is published by Tempo Media Pty Ltd ACN 100 789 848 +61 3 9421 4499 Locked Bag 2001 Clifton Hill VIC 3068 Australia editorial@educationhq.com art@educationhq.com sales@educationhq.com


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Cover Story 6 Cover Story Entrepreneurship entrepreneurship

• Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015


Cover Story Cover Story 7 Entrepreneurship entrepreneurship

Are schools preparing aussie kids to be future entrepreneurs?

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he world is changing at a rapid rate and students need to be prepared to create their jobs of the future, not apply for them. In Australia, students often learn about general business and financial management, while in the UK, children as young as five are taught to think up a micro-enterprise, as part of reforms led by the government. The Enterprise for all: The relevance of enterprise in education report, released in Britain last year, recommended embedding enterprise teaching in new curriculum materials and exams at school; giving teachers business experience as part of continuous development programs; and creating a national network of volunteer ‘’enterprise advisers’’ to liaise with schools. Through this report, the UK government has displayed its commitment to making sure that young people leave education ready to work, with the skills and experience employers are after. In the US, the Network For Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE), a New Yorkbased not-for-profit organisation, works to bring entrepreneurship skills to lower-income high school students. NFTE believes training young people to run their own businesses makes them more likely to finish school and better able to thrive after graduation. Patricia Granata, NFTE’s Washington DC executive director, says the program

helps students to identify something they are interested in, and put a spark within them to turn that passion into a business. “The goal is a pathway to prosperity, whether it is a college education, or just giving them the skills they need to help make them functional members of society,” she tells the BBC. As technology makes it faster and cheaper to start a venture, attention is now being turned to Australian teachers to begin teaching these skills in schools. Queensland University of Technology’s professor Per Davidsson says evidence suggests “entrepreneurial skills, like almost any other skills, can be trained through schooling and not just through first-hand experience”. In this feature, we speak with Frankston High School’s Shane Hunt about the launch of his school’s innovative entrepreneurship program, which allows Year 9 and 10 students to build their own start-up company. The Victorian school has renovated staff rooms and offices to fit them out with bean bags, couches, standing desks and a green screen, to encourage the students to build their businnesses over the semester-long course. We have also profiled some teenage whiz kids who are making waves in the tech world, including Super-Awesome Sylvia from the US and three Aussie boys.

• Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015

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8

Cover Story Entrepreneurship

Frankston pioneers 21st century innovating Frankston High School has launched an innovative entrepreneurship program, allowing Year 9 and 10 students to spend four hours each week building their own start-up companies. Here we speak with the Victorian school’s head of science, Shane Hunt, about how the idea for this innovative program came about.

How did the idea to start an entrepreneurship program at your school come about? The idea stemmed from discussions that I was having with students and what I was seeing outside of school. Outside of school, I surround myself with people working on a range of projects that come from a diverse range of fields and require a range of expertise to execute and launch their ideas. At school, we often see students who have mastered a particular skill or technology, or are able to generate great ideas but don’t necessarily have the skills or understanding about how they can best leverage these to create business opportunities or create social change. They are often separated into their particular subject areas creating silos, minimising the opportunity to collaborate with their peers and work on projects that require them to apply their skills. This new subject, Innovating in the 21st Century, looks at how we can bring these students together to work on a range of existing and future problems, including developing a start-up. Just after I discussed the idea of the subject with the school’s curriculum committee, the Foundation for the Young Australians launched their $20 Boss program which gives students seed money to start their own venture. We saw this as a great opportunity to run this as part of the curriculum of the new subject and have since built this into the course.

How does it work? The subject is part of our middle school elective program, so every student has the opportunity to participate.

As a new subject, there is always some hesitation by students about what it actually entails but we have a full class of 26 eager students. The subject itself looks at developing a range of skills which are transferrable across other subjects and, importantly, life outside of school. We are currently working through a range of thinking skills, which includes Design Thinking and De Bono’s thinking hats, with the aim of using these understandings towards their major performance tasks. Along with the $20 Boss program, students will work on a range of problems on varying scales to come up with new and innovative solutions. We will look at using examples of projects from sources such OpenIDEO and see how we can come up with similar projects to address problems that the students are passionate about. A huge focus of the subject is looking at the future of work and what are the skills required to be productive and happy in their future workplaces. We will look at team building, collaboration, productivity techniques and mindfulness. To give students a clear idea of what this looks like, we hope to visit some of the more innovative workplaces, such as NAB village at the Docklands in Melbourne. At the end of the unit, rather than sit a test or hand in a project, students will sit down with a panel including myself, and they will have to discuss and showcase the projects and skills that they have developed throughout the semester and why they believe these are important.

your school renovated some classrooms to accommodate this program. What do the rooms look like? Along with my colleague Lauren Costanzo, we have

• Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015


Cover Story

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Cover Story 9 Entrepreneurship Entrepreneurship

had the opportunity to reimagine the classroom and have looked to replicate what we believe will best help our students make the transition from school to university or the workplace more fluid. The rooms are significantly different to anything currently present in the school. The rooms were actually the old staffrooms and offices and so it is maze of little rooms which include breakout areas and a large green screen area. We have designed the space using David Thornburg’s ideas of learning spaces creating both physical and virtual spaces. Furniture in these spaces includes a range of standing desks at varying heights, access to monitors which allow any device to be connected, and a range of flexible furniture that includes couches and green areas for more quiet and independent working. The space will continue to evolve and is still very much a work in progress with more work to be done.

Has there been a lot of interest from students so far? Now that students have begun to hear more about the subject and have a better understanding of what they are actually doing in the subject, the response has been overwhelmingly positive. A lot of students have indicated that they would like to do it in the future and would have loved to have been doing it this semester. Looking ahead, I can see this being a popular elective. One area that has been surprising is the support from outside of the school community and the number of people working in start-ups and industry that want to come in and support the class by being mentors or sharing their experiences.

Why is it important to teach students skills in entrepreneurship in high school? The reality is that very few of the students in the class will likely go on and be entrepreneurs but the skills that they gain will be invaluable. The ability to work with peers and develop projects utilising the skills of others to reach a common goal reflects the reality of what most will walk out into when they leave school. One of the great things about start-ups is the huge failure rate and recognition that the new understandings gained from these experiences bring them one step closer to success. Resilience, resourcefulness and reflection are all key skills of an entrepreneur and these are skills that any students will benefit from.

are schools doing enough to prepare students for the world of work they will encounter when they leave school? I think there are always opportunities for schools to do more, but the reality is they are constrained by curriculum and demands from the school community to perform. Better understanding about what the future workplace looks like and the skills required by students to be successful in these jobs is essential for schools to be able to make the transition and develop time and spaces for students. It would be fair to say that educators are aware of this, but I would encourage them to go and visit some co-working spaces and see the innovation and collaboration that occurs to understand why it is important to start to develop these skills in school. • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015

We have designed the space using David Thornburg’s ideas of learning spaces...”


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Cover Story

Entrepreneurship

making a name for herself

student S whizzes taking on the world There are many young people making waves in the tech world, long before they even graduate from high school. Here are three great examples.

ylvia Todd may have only just celebrated her 13th birthday, but she has already become a “super-awesome” voice for her generation. She originally made a name for herself as an eight-year-old, after creating a web show titled, Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show, with the help of her dad. The show depicts her passion for tinkering with things, a passion which has allowed her to go on to write a series of children’s books, present at conferences around the world, and even have the opportunity to meet and show her work to US President Barack Obama at the White House. One of the things that makes Super-Awesome Sylvia such a lovable character is her obvious excitement for what she does. Her videos on YouTube, which have garnered millions of views, display her ability to teach kids and adults alike that making things can be fun, easy and more rewarding than simply buying something. Perhaps one of her coolest inventions to date is the WaterColorBot, which she made in collaboration with Evil Mad Scientist laboratories. Successfully launched on Kickstarter in 2013, the WaterColorBot is an art robot that moves a paintbrush to paint a digital artwork onto paper, using a set of watercolour paints. Despite her successes, Sylvia says it is also completely normal to fail and mess up at times. “Making and doing things outside of your comfort zone can be kind of scary,” she says. “Being afraid to mess up and fail is completely normal, you’ll learn from your mistakes...” One of the things Sylvia is most passionate about is getting more girls into STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, maths) subjects. “I want to get more people to have a maker spirit,” she says. • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015


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Cover Story Entrepreneurship

sights set on tech domination

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aj Pabari leads somewhat of a double life. Ordinary Year 11 student by day, outside of his Queensland school, Pabari is an innovative entrepreneur with plans to make big changes to technology education. Fiftysix is Pabari’s brainchild, a company he launched to produce fully customisable DIY tablet computers that children can assemble, just like a Lego spaceship. “I guess what we do is provide 21st Century Lego for children, so DIY tablets, DIY computers, that sort of thing,” he says. The unique thinking behind Pabari’s idea has been recognised by the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA), who have selected the John Paul College student as one of their 2015 Social Pioneers. Pabari is one of 50 of Australia’s brightest young social entrepreneurs selected to receive mentorship and a chance of seed funding to make their ideas a reality. The teenager says there are three checkpoints the young entrepreneurs will work through as part of the program. “For the next six months, we’re going to explore the first checkpoint, which was all about establishing the idea, making sure it’s something that requires solving,” he says. “The second one is all about implementing that idea ... and the third checkpoint is how to present your idea to investors, advisors, that sort of thing. So, it’s just a platform that I guess allows social pioneers like myself, to establish an idea and then get it out there and actually pitch that idea to others,” Pabari explains. When Pabari graduates from high school in 2016, he has plans to undertake a business/law degree and move to the UK, where the market is hungriest for his products. “Moving to that area would just be brilliant,” he tells TechnologyEd.

hanks to two entrepreneurial teens, people in the market to buy property will soon be able to walk through their dream home without moving from the comfort of their couch. Hamish Caulfield and Mackenzie Reardon from Chancellor State College in Queensland may be only 16 years of age, but the gutsy pair have joined forces to develop Holographic Estate – an interactive 3D modelling tool where home buyers and renters can create an ‘augmented reality’ by visualising designs using their own furniture or layout ideas. With their life jam-packed with school commitments, business meetings, and design and networking sessions, we were lucky to catch the boys for a quick chat in a rare free moment! “We wanted to make it simple, easy and reliable just to view houses in today’s world, because there’s heaps of issues in terms of time management ... we want to bring the latest technology and utilise it to our advantage, just to bring simplicity and easy design back to it,” Caulfield says of their start-up. For Reardon, turning their ingenious idea into an actual, workable business has been a total buzz. “We’ve had a lot of help from Generation Innovation [a youth business support team], in terms of strategising how we can implement it into the real world,” he says. “We’ve had meetings, panel pitches and so that’s where we are coming up with business plans, business models, we’re having regular meetings so that we can take this into the future and it can be a real thing that we work on.” If you have a great business idea but think you are too young to act on it, just go for it, Reardon says. “I started out with an eBay business and I had no money and I managed to make money from just nothing. You don’t need all the specialist resources, you can start from scratch basically,” he shares.

T

T

• Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015

we want to bring the latest technology and utilise it to our advantage...”


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Curriculum

linking australian apps to the curriculum By Rebecca Vukovic A new website, developed by Dr Alison Sammel from Griffith University, is strengthening the links between science and educators.

T

here are more than 75,000 education apps on the Apple app store, so it’s no wonder teachers can find it difficult to choose the best ones to use in their classroom. What can be harder still is deciding how to correctly use these apps to link them to the outcomes outlined in the Australian Curriculum. Realising this was the case for a lot of educators, a Griffith University academic decided to create a website that linked Australian educational apps to the Australian Curriculum. Dr Alison Sammel says the Teaching with Apps website focuses on strengthening communication networks between science and education by linking Australian apps, originally developed to support the communication of scientific information, to the Australian Curriculum. The whole idea for the website was originally inspired by a talk delivered by Griffith School of Environment’s professor Catherine Pickering who designed the Australian science app Grows@ Griffith. “I’m teaching primary science and I try to infuse technology into all my classes and every single aspect of it,” Sammel says. “I had a guest come in to speak to my science course and it was Catherine Pickering from Griffith. I had heard about her and the work she

was doing and one of the things was the app she had developed. “I spoke to her and asked her to come in and to talk about that website and I was actually showing a lot of other websites that my teachers, primary school teachers, could use to teach science.” Following Pickering’s talk to the students, Sammel questioned her on how she was getting this critical information into schools and Pickering admitted that it was quite a problem. “I said, ‘but how does it link to the curriculum?’ and she said ‘most of the apps that she knows of, there is no link’. And I thought, what a great project!” Sammel says. The Teaching with Apps website was designed and developed to illustrate how teachers can use these Australian apps to teach across different learning areas and different year levels. Sammel says that communicating scientific understandings is a crucial skill for primary school teachers, but it isn’t something they are • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015


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Curriculum

Science relates to just about every aspect of an Australian’s life, yet most of it is invisible.” particularly comfortable with. So starting with the Grows@ Griffith science app, Sammel began to break down the different ways the resource could be used to teach the Australian Curriculum. “Science relates to just about every aspect of an Australian’s life, yet most of it is invisible. So how do we make visible the underpinnings of society which is where science is actually based? I was trying to sort of do that,” Sammel says. “I want to branch away from the very specific science, the things that people would ordinarily say, ‘oh but that’s for the science classroom’ and show how science can actually be related across the curriculum, across the different strands and also the cross-curriculum priorities.” Sammel says the response she’s had so far from educators using the website has been very positive. “I think they really love it because, especially in geography, there are some teachers who would never have thought to have linked some of these things to subjects like geography or even art. “For people who are in primary schools teaching science, they can also link it to using the app with teaching different parts of art and different parts of geography. So it’s that cross-

curriculum perspective that they probably wouldn’t have thought of, they might have picked up the app, looked at it and mainly used it in science without realising they can actually use it in a broader capacity.” Sammel breaks down the app by writing lesson suggestions and plans, as well as outlining key strategies that seek to create a more scientifically literate community. Earlier this year, Sammel attended a Science meets Parliament event in Canberra and met with Australia’s Chief Scientist, professor Ian Chubb, and says she really relates to the visions he has for science education. “When I’m talking about science education and what we can do, a lot of people say ‘OK, well let’s just focus on Grade 11 and 12’ because for some reason, they think we would get more scientists if we actually had better Grade 11 and 12,” Sammel says. “Therefore it goes into a cycle of • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015


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Curriculum

we need to look at [science] across the spectrum of the whole age gamut and not just focus on a Grade 11 and 12.”

conversation where ultimately the curriculum is deficit or the teachers are deficit and people say, ‘if only we could improve teaching, if only we could improve teachers, if only we could do that’ – we are trapped in that loop,” Sammel shares. “Twenty years ago when I started as a teacher, it was the same loop we got caught in. I liked the way professor Chubb sees it, he sees the long term. He sees it just as important to do very good Kindergarten, or Year 1 or 2 science pedagogy,” she adds. According to Sammel, it doesn’t matter if you’re five years old or 85, the communication of science and the teaching and learning of the subject, is all vastly important if we’re going to have a scientifically literate Australia. “I think if we’re trying to get the general populous aware of science and to use science in

their democratic processes in understanding things and being able to vote according to the underpinning of science, we need to look at it across the spectrum of the whole age gamut and not just focus on a Grade 11 and 12,” she says. “I think it’s really wonderful that professor Chubb has that perspective. When you talk about education, he focuses mainly on formal education from Kindergarten to Year 12 but it’s lovely to actually see that the whole gamut, for me, is extraordinarily important and I’m really pleased that he also believes that too.” While Sammel says the Teaching with Apps website is still only in its infancy and is a work in progress, she has grand plans to build the website further over the coming years. “I’ll try to do as many Australian apps as possible,” she says. Visit griffith.edu.au/education/teaching-withapps to view the lesson plans and resources. • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015


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Curriculum

• Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015


Curriculum

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Screen T Teachers The good, the bad and the ugly

he big screen is a dangerous place for teachers. From subordinate and sexy students to ineffectual and indifferent administration, as well as obsolete and outmoded resources, life is tough for the teacher on film. Though, given the personalities and behaviours of some screen teachers, the students might well be in just as much jeopardy as the staff who are supposed to educate and protect them.

So how are teachers represented in cinema?

By Samantha Wasson The behaviour of teachers on film would be completely inappropriate for actual school teachers.

What makes them good, bad or downright ugly? As we shall see, the difference between a good and bad celluloid teacher is not necessarily the same as the difference between a good and bad real world teacher. Qualities and behaviours that are accepted, and often idealised, on the big screen are potentially undesirable, if not completely inappropriate in actual school teachers. An act such as arriving unannounced at students’ homes is frequently considered the mark of a caring and selfless teacher in the movies, but in the real world, this sort of behaviour would be frowned upon at best and at worst, might lead to disciplinary action. While John Keating might be the theoretical inspiration for poetry teachers everywhere, it is hard to imagine that encouraging students to rip pages out of their textbooks or to stand on their desks ardently chanting ‘O Captain, my captain!’ to their teacher is conduct desired of an actual teacher. So what can we make of the film representations of teachers? What can we learn from these depictions? Moreover, how do they reflect on real world teacher behaviour and public perceptions of the teaching profession?

The good teacher It is important to note that good teachers on film are a rare breed. While it was not difficult to make a list of bad teachers from the flicks, it was a considerable struggle to find many teachers who could be unequivocally considered ‘good’. I’m still not sure that all of my ‘good’ teachers are actually entirely good, but maybe that’s also a reflection of the complexity of the human character. Or perhaps it has more to do with the distinction between what’s good in real life as opposed to what’s good • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015


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being passionate about your teaching subject is an undeniably good thing.”

in fiction. Regardless, there are a number of personality traits or behaviours that supposedly good teachers exhibit in the movies. These include: having great passion for their subject area, showing personal interest in their students, using alternate or unorthodox teaching methods, and coming into conflict with the administration and/or other teachers and colleagues. Being passionate about your teaching subject is an undeniably good thing: who doesn’t want to be taught by someone who is fanatical about calculus or fixated on the clarinet? It’s definitely preferable to a teacher who isn’t knowledgeable or enthusiastic, but what about showing personal interest in their students? In Mean Girls, while Ms Norbury’s (Tina Fey) support for protagonist Cady (Lindsay Lohan) seems genuine and entirely appropriate, her public shaming of resident queen bee, Regina George (Rachel McAdams) is a bit out of line. How many real teachers would encourage a school hall full of students to raise their hand if they have ‘ever been personally victimised by Regina George?’ Although Regina certainly deserves it, this nonetheless looks like bullying by the very person who is supposedly trying to put an end to it. One of the most obvious symbols of the good, caring teacher on film is their willingness to visit students at home, usually unannounced. Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) in To Sir, with Love, Jaime Escalante (Edward James Olmos) in Stand and Deliver, Louanne Johnson (Michelle Pfeiffer) in Dangerous Minds, and Erin Gruwell (Hilary Swank) in Freedom Writers all go to see their students out of hours. In the contexts of these films, the visits appear to be acts of sincere interest in and concern for their students, but if we think about it a little more deeply, it starts to seem a bit dodgy. Firstly, how do they know where the students live? Did they look it up? Did they ask the students? Did they follow them home? A real teacher engaging in such behaviour would not only look inappropriate and unprofessional; they could also face formal complaints or potentially more hostile action. In many films including To Sir, with Love, Stand

and Deliver, Dead Poets Society and Dangerous Minds, the good teacher uses unconventional teaching strategies in order to engage an unruly and uninterested student body. Tearing up or throwing out textbooks is popular, but standing on desks, bribing students with candy, teaching them karate in an English class and wearing leather jackets to demonstrate your cool credentials are all evident in the lesson plans of good teachers on film. Often the actual curriculum is blithely tossed out the window in favour of things the teacher deems more interesting or relevant to the students in their care. Again, while this act of rebellion is represented as a sign that these teachers really ‘get’ their students, that they care and are fun – in direct contrast to other bad teachers, who are invariably old-fashioned, apathetic and uptight – in the real world this would be highly problematic. Real teachers who go rogue with the curriculum and fail to adequately prepare students for assessment tasks would definitely be reigned in by the administration, put on an improvement program or, eventually, shown the door. Conflict with other teachers, and particularly, with the school’s administration is presented in a positive light in many films. In Mr Holland’s Opus, the disagreement between Glenn Holland (Richard Dreyfuss) and Principal Jacobs (Olympia Dukakis) frames Holland as an enthusiastic teacher committed to engaging his students and Jacobs as rigid and out-of-touch: Principal Jacobs: Mr Holland, I do not want to interfere in the curriculum of any teacher. But next week, I have a meeting with the school board. And there are people in this community who believe that rock and roll is a message sent from the devil himself. Now when that issue comes up, what can I tell them? Glenn Holland: Mrs Jacobs, you tell them that I am teaching music, and that I will use anything from Beethoven to Billie Holiday to rock and roll, if I think it’ll help me teach a student to love music. A similar interaction takes place between Miss

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Curriculum

Good Teachers Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) To Sir, with Love (1967)

Riley (Laura Dern) and Principal Turner (Chris Ellis) in October Sky with comparable results: Principal Turner: Miss Riley, our job is to give these kids an education. Miss Riley: Mmm-hmm. Principal Turner: Not false hopes.

Jaime Escalante (Edward James Olmos) Stand and Deliver (1988) John Keating (Robin Williams) Dead Poets Society (1989) Louanne Johnson (Michelle Pfeiffer) Dangerous Minds (1995) Glenn Holland (Richard Dreyfuss) Mr Holland’s Opus (1995) Rosemary Cross (Olivia Williams) Rushmore (1998) Miss Riley (Laura Dern) October Sky (1999) Karen Pomeroy (Drew Barrymore) Donnie Darko (2001) Ms Norbury (Tina Fey) Mean Girls (2004) Erin Gruwell (Hilary Swank) Freedom Writers (2007) Mr Griffith (Thomas Haden Church) Easy A (2010)

Miss Riley: False hopes? Do you want me to sit quiet, let ‘em breathe in coal dust the rest of their life? Principal Turner: Miss Riley, once in a while ... a lucky one ... will get out on a football scholarship. The rest of ‘em work in the mines. Miss Riley: How ‘bout I believe in the unlucky ones? Hmm? I have to, Mr Turner, I’d go out of my mind. Interestingly, many of these good teachers are last-minute appointments. Even more interestingly, many aren’t actually trained teachers. Mark Thackeray is really an engineer, Glenn Holland is actually a musician and composer, and Louanne Johnson was a marine. Basically this sends the message that a) schools are difficult to staff, because, well, who would want to be a teacher? And b) the only people who are willing to take these jobs have failed in their ‘real’ careers. What is perhaps most interesting is how good these people supposedly are at teaching without training or practice, they somehow manage to reach out to the students and improve their performance more than any qualified teacher. So, c) anyone can be a teacher, and non-teachers are better teachers than actual teachers. Disheartening? Sure, but it gets worse. Then there are the bad teachers.

The bad teacher The bad teacher is prolific in film. From ‘The Economics Teacher’ (Ben Stein) in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, who doesn’t even know the students in his class by name or face, to The Breakfast Club’s

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Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason), whose primary motivation in life seems to be to give out endless detentions, there is no shortage of miserable, uninspiring teachers on the big screen. Many seem to have an inexplicable desire to make students’ lives a misery, such as the titular character of Teaching Mrs Tingle, whereas others appear to do so out of either apathy or genuine stupidity, such as Dewey Finn (Jack Black) in School of Rock. The bad teacher either has no personal life or a decidedly unhealthy one, which often winds up having an adverse impact on their students. The most troubling bad teacher is probably a toss up between those who sleep with their students, those who brainwash their students, and those who actually try to kill their students. In Mean Girls, Coach Carr’s paedophilia is, disturbingly presented as a source of comedy, while Wild Things’ Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon) is depicted as alluring to female students and parents alike. Election’s Dave Novotny (Mark Harelik) is pathetic for his fawning over potential sociopath student, Tracy Flick (Reese Witherspoon), but the worst teacher who sleeps with her student is probably Mrs Griffith (Lisa Kudrow) from Easy A. Not only does she refer to students as ‘sluts’, fail to listen to student Olive (Emma Stone) and instead thrusts condoms at her with the instruction to ‘let her freak flag fly’, she also conducts an extramarital affair with a student and gives him chlamydia. She inappropriately confesses to Olive that she has not had sex with her husband, another teacher at the school, in a long time in order to excuse her infidelity. She then allows Olive to accept responsibility for infecting another student with an STD. That Mrs Griffith is actually the school’s guidance counsellor is an irony played upon in not only Easy A, but also in Wild Things and Bad Teacher. These misguided guidance counsellors all possess highly questionable morals and either require assistance from students because of their own personal failures or use their positions to manipulate others or belittle them. Isn’t that comforting? Disturbing Behaviour takes classroom management to the extreme. The school

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essentially brainwashes its students, with parental consent of course. When protagonist, Steve Clark (James Marsden) asks his mother in dismay, ‘You signed me up for the program?’ she responds with that old chestnut, ‘We want what’s best for you.’ The so-called ‘Blue Ribbon’ program, which seems to turn stoners and deadbeats into honour roll students, actually involves surgically implanting a chip in students in order to control them. Sadly there are some ‘glitches’ with the plan. As school psychologist, Dr Edgar Caldicott (Bruce Greenwood) says, ‘Every time one of these kids gets a hard-on they go out and beat somebody with it!’ There’s also the matter of the failed experiments, the students, who wind up in Bedlam House psychiatric hospital. But if most of the kids are getting straight ‘As, it’s a small price to pay! The teachers of The Faculty are unusual in that, rather than simply making their pupils’ wretched lives even more intolerable, they go one step further and actually kill their students. They can, however, be forgiven for their murderous ways, because, well, they’ve been invaded by aliens. This film plays on many students’ perception of teachers as not real people by taking the notion to its logical conclusion – they really are from another planet!

What does it matter? It’s easy to dismiss these films as sheer entertainment with no instructive purpose or deeper meaning, but as many critics have pointed out, screen depictions have real world consequences. Film scholar Mary Dalton states that we should care about filmic representations of teachers ‘because people are watching and making connections among teacher movies and links between these media texts and their lived experiences’ and because they ‘diminish respect for the profession’. Sadly, it is unlikely that we will see quality teaching and teachers in films any time soon. In Good Teachers (The movie you will never see), writer Colleen Gillard makes the observation that ‘what’s challenging for moviemakers is that the kind of great teaching going on in classrooms today generally happens offstage, in lesson prep. The best teaching does not showcase a heroic protagonist, because the best teachers are generally not entertainers yammering away at the front of the room, but are more often found, almost invisible, coaching from the back. Essentially, the actual work of good teaching and good teachers is not conducive to the Hollywood model of characterisation and storytelling, and therefore is ignored in favour of an emphasis on conflict, theatrics and charisma.

the actual work of good teaching and good teachers is not condusive to the hollywood model of characterisation...”

Teachers who weren’t actually teachers Mark Thackeray (Sidney Poitier) To Sir, with Love (engineer) John Kimball (Arnold Schwarzenegger) Kindergarten Cop (undercover detective) Louanne Johnson (Michelle Pfeiffer) Dangerous Minds (marine) Glenn Holland (Richard Dreyfuss) Mr Holland’s Opus (musician and composer) Dewey Finn (Jack Black) School of Rock (musician)

Bad Teachers Richard Vernon (Paul Gleason) The Breakfast Club (1985) The Economics Teacher (Ben Stein) and Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Dr Caldicott (Bruce Greenwood) Disturbing Behaviour (1998) Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon) Wild Things (1998) Jim McAllister (Matthew Broderick) and Dave Novotny (Mark Harelik) Election (1999) Mrs Tingle (Helen Mirren) Teaching Mrs Tingle (1999) Kitty Farmer (Beth Grant) Donnie Darko (2001) Dewey Finn (Jack Black) School of Rock (2003) Coach Carr (Dwayne Hill) Mean Girls (2004) Mrs Griffith (Lisa Kudrow) Easy A (2010) Elizabeth Halsey (Cameron Diaz) Bad Teacher (2011)

Samantha Wasson is a freelance writer. • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015


Get your quarterly ďŹ x to go on iOS, Android and online. educationhq.com/magazines/technology


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Infrastructure

fablab of creativity, maths and technology Story by Sarah Duggan Photos by Jeremy Smart An all-girls school in Victoria is trailblazing the utilisation of digital fabrication and hands-on learning in the 21st Century.

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n the heart of Armadale, a leafy suburb in Melbourne’s south east, a learning revolution is quietly gathering speed. Today at Lauriston Girls’ School a chirpy group of Year 5 and 6 students are busy creating scores of music in the schools’ own ‘FabLab’ – but there is not an instrument to be seen. Instead, the children eagerly tap away on laptops, programming codes to piece together their digital compositions. This inspired merging of creativity, maths and technology is just one very small example of the type of cross-curricular learning that the school’s fabrication laboratory is fostering. And this, according to principal Susan Just, strikes at the heart of what the FabLab@Schools concept is all about. “We want to have these technologies available to the girls in every subject that they study, so that we can really start to communicate to them that an understanding of maths and science and technology is something that they use all the time and it’s not segmented into specific subject areas,” she tells TechnologyEd. Although the ‘Fab’ in FabLab technically stands for ‘fabrication’, everything about this tech-infused space is, well, literally fabulous. “If you’re at a school you expect to have a science laboratory where you can do experiments, you expect to have an arts studio where you can go

and work on your art, you expect to have perhaps a media room where you can do visual communication and you can do media studies – the FabLab is another laboratory, but it’s a laboratory in which you can do cross- disciplinary projects,” Just enthuses. “So with the cross-disciplinary approach, you can be in history [class] and you can go to the FabLab to be working on a project, perhaps in migration, if you’re doing geography you can use the 3D printer to start actually looking at contours.” Fitted out with two 3D printers, an epilogue helix laser and lino cutter, programming devices, plus a host of more rudimentary hand and soldering tools, the FabLab might be conceived as a kind of workshed-come-techhub, where students of all ages can engage both their hands and their brains to explore the world and their place in it. “The sorts of equipment that you would find in our FabLab are all of those tools and pieces of equipment for learning, but you are learning in perhaps a more experiential way, in a more hands-on way. “You can see in science there is value in experiential learning, but there is that same level of value in doing that type of experiential learning in English, in history and in art,” Just says. Born as the result of the leader’s grand vision to revolutionise the nature of STEM-based learning at Lauriston, the FabLab is modelled on one

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established at Stanford University in the US and is the first of its kind in an Australian school. “When we were looking at how to enhance the technology that we have at our school, I started to give quite a bit of consideration to the work that I had been reading about that has been going on at Stanford University around fabrication and the development of the FabLab@School concept. “I also then started to look at those schools who have FabLabs and there’s one in the US that’s near Stanford, it’s in Palo Alto, called Castilleja Girls School, very similar to our own school, and I was really interested in the type of cross-disciplinary work that was happening at Castilleja,” Just shares. Thoroughly intrigued and excited by the concept, the educator travelled to the US to see a FabLab in action for herself. “I was able to go and visit professor Paulo Blikstein at Stanford, I also visited Castilleja Girls School and came back with the gem of an idea that we could in fact have our own FabLab here at school and that we would make it cross-disciplinary...” What ensued was a 12-month negotiation period, as Just went about convincing the professor that establishing a fabrication space at an all-girls school in Australia could, in fact, prove to be an educational game changer. The rest, as they say, is history. Now as a member of the global FabLab

community (there are at present FabLabs set up in schools in Thailand and Russia, as well as in the US) Lauriston is able to contribute to leading research on how girls learn through and engage with STEM. “So Paulo’s grad students are developing really interesting resources that we have access to, that we use with our girls and the things that we do here go back to Stanford. “Professor Blikstein is very interested in looking at out girls school here and at Castilleja in California, to see how we integrate technology and fabrication into our curriculums and how that helps develop the thinking processes for girls particularly,” Just says. The real beauty of the FabLab is its ability to merge tasks requiring practical, tool-based applications, such as building a box, and those involving more sophisticated technologies. Essentially, this allows students to use their own creativity to solidify their understanding of complex academic principles, theories and concepts. Drawing inspiration from the tech-savvy DIY community that has come to be known as the Maker Movement, Just says the laboratory is • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015

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thoroughly intrigued and excited by the concept, the educator travelled to the us to see a Fablab in action for herself.”


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successfully teaching the girls to think in a more conceptual, design-orientated way. “The FabLab also has an element of the Maker Movement, which is around design thinking and perhaps developing new innovative prototypes and we want to have the spirit of that ability to think in a design way and a creative way again going right through all of the subjects that the girls do, because creativity and creative thinking skills are very important skills to develop in the girls.” Making mistakes is an essential part of this learning process, and Just says students are encouraged to see the FabLab as a space where notions of perfection and ‘getting it right’ are abolished, leaving them empowered to explore numerous creative avenues when presented with a task. “That ability to be able to plan, design and then go back and see where you’ve made mistakes and how you can improve on those and what you might need to do in order to solve problems, in again, an environment that’s very safe, around ‘it’s OK to make a mistake’ – is very important for girls. “So they will be able to see from those mistakes that they can learn, and from those learnings they can continue on with their design thinking,” Just notes. Indeed on the wintry morning that we visit the school, it is obvious that students have embraced the innovative space with a fervour that might be

mistaken for unruliness. This, however, could not be further from the truth: engagement is high because the potential to learn is high – something that the glimmer in students’ eyes attests to. “Once the girls are in the laboratory, they see it as a place where they can start looking at programming and coding. We have Arduino boards there, and they see this is not something that they have had a lot of contact with, so they are intrigued by that,” Just explains. It seems the process of transforming abstract ideas into a reality is a key motivator for learning in the FabLab. “They also enjoy the laser cutters and the 3D printers and using the hand tools, because they are seeing their projects come to reality. “For example, our Year 10 girls have chosen to do a STEM elective and they have been building sustainable houses, so they’re actually having to construct a model house, based on their own design and research. They have to use an Arduino board to program a window to open in that house when it gets to 19 degrees, so they’ve have had to go through the process of design making to get that Arduino board to program that window to open,” Just reflects. In today’s professional climate, where swift changes in technology and STEM-related fields are essentially obscuring what the jobs of the future

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will entail, teaching children to think in this creative, design-based way is vital. And this is precisely where the FabLab is working its magic. “I think that for us it is about finding ways of engaging our own students in STEM, but it’s also about preparing them for the next portions of their lives, because the kinds of equipment that you’ll find in a FabLab are exactly the sorts of equipment that are in FabLabs at unis around the world and that you are starting to find in corporations and organisations,” Just says. “We are trying to help our girls to prepare for the future, and it’s a future that we don’t have a very clear understanding of, because things are changing so rapidly in technology and in careers we are trying to prepare the girls to think more broadly about what their careers might look like.” The principal hopes that with exposure to the tools and tech trinkets made available to them, her students are confidently building a set of skills that will arm them with the acumen they need to flourish in the adult world. “To be able to go to university and walk into a FabLab, whether it is in the engineering faculty, the design faculty – or any faculty – and to know how to use that equipment, and to know something about design thinking and to being able to think and plan creatively through a process, we think are really valuable skills for the future,” Just enthuses. Sharing the wonders of the FabLab@School concept with other educators and schools around Australia is now something of a personal mission for Just. She hopes that with effective collaboration and a friendly ‘open door’ policy that other schools will start to look at implementing a similar cross-curricular approach to STEM.

it is about finding ways of engaging our own students in STEM, but it’s also about preparing them for the next portions of their lives...” • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015

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“We would like to think that we are beginning a conversation,” she says. “We think that not only is this conversation important for our staff, but it’s important for Australia, and if we’re the first school ,we expect that in the future there will be many other schools who will be looking at fabrication as being part of their curriculum for their students as well. “So if people are interested, to talk to us, we have had a number of really interesting conversations with schools and school visits so that we can begin a conversation and look at some projects that we can work on together between schools. “We are very interested in sharing that,” she adds. In light of this, Lauriston hosted the nation’s first FabLearn Conference, FabLearn Australia, in July, and Just says the school was beyond excited to bring together educators, leaders, researchers and designers to explore the value of digital fabrication and hands-on learning in the 21st Century. “It is very similar in program to the FabLearn conferences that are held at Stanford every year and a conference that I was fortunate enough to attend last year called FabLearn Europe in Demark,” she says. Held in conjunction with Stanford University’s Graduate School of Education, the conference offered a line-up of notable keynote speakers – including professor Ian Chubb, the Chief Scientist of Australia, Dr Elizabeth Finkel, the editor in chief of Cosmos magazine, and Dr Genevieve Bell, an Intel fellow and director of User Experience Research at Intel Corporation – to give an utterly inspiring

insight into how educators can work together to unleash students’ potential in STEM. But it’s not just leading experts and educators that have roles to play in the fabrication movement. According to Just, parents too must get in on the action. “When we run FabNights for parents and girls to come in, they make a u-box ... that are made on the laser cutter and then the parents and the girls get to design the lid,” she says. “When they see that level of engagement and they see how science and maths and creativity are all blended together they go ‘oh, now I get it!’”

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it’s not just leading experts and educators that have roles to play.”

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getting a I grip on our technology addiction By Jennifer White A foundation teacher explores life with and without the constant connection to technology.

’m not an early adopter to new technology. In fact, my relationship with technology is complicated at best. I’m a reluctant user, especially when I need to create and remember new login details with accompanying passwords that require capitals, symbols and numbers. Online I enjoy reading articles on health and education, Australian news, social gossip through Facebook, emailing, using Skype, pinning on Pinterest and looking at a variety of travel, food and style blogs, at my own leisure. I take a while to warm to new technological ways. I didn’t get a Gmail account until recently and I’m yet to break the habit of using Internet Explorer rather than Chrome. I’ve had three phones in 14 years, all which were hand-me downs. I was happily using my Nokia phone until I got an Apple iPhone in 2012, while everyone else got theirs when iPhones entered the market in 2007. Getting an Apple iPad in 2012 changed my understanding, approach and how I used technology. My iPad initially sat unopened in a corner for three months, until I finally set it up. Nowadays, I regularly use it for up to two hours a day, for the internet, apps and I use iView occasionally. Its versatility means I take it to work and I have taken it overseas too. I find it to be the ultimate tool for most things I need when it comes to technology.

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Despite my inconsistent enthusiasm for technology, there is no doubt I rely heavily on it. I use it every day, probably every hour, in both a professional and personal capacity. However, my dependency on technology reached new levels when I continued to check work emails at 10pm and allowed technology to interrupt my life. I would constantly check and respond to my phone, even in the company of others. In the classroom, I rely on technology and need it for my role as a teacher. I use a laptop (hired from the department at a reduced rate) my own personal iPad, the Interactive Whiteboard (IWB) and class sets of iPad minis and netbook computers that are connected to the school Wi-Fi and are shared amongst the junior school. Information Computer Technology (ICT) is integrated into most areas of the curriculum. Each day I use ICT to introduce a concept, revisit content already learned or for an introduction of a new lesson. There is usually a small group of students who participate in an ICT activity in reading groups. Students also have a weekly timetabled lesson to focus on the explicit teaching of ICT skills and they use ICT at their own pace. At work, I used my laptop for team planning, filling out department forms online, collating data and assessment, creating lesson plans and templates, writing reports, noting attendance

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Nine out of 10 of the 3800 people under 30 years old surveyed were addicted to their smartphone.”

through Compass, writing and responding to emails and modelling lessons with students. It got to a point when it was all too much and I reached technology overload. I decided I had become too reliant on different forms of technology, using my iPhone to and from work, my laptop at work and my iPad at home. I constantly had immediate access and I got anxious if I couldn’t check my phone regularly. It seems I’m not alone in wrestling my internet/Wi-Fi/technology addiction. A study by Cisco found that young people are reliant on their phones and technology, to the point it “drives every facet of their lives” as described by Cisco’s chief technology officer, Kevin Bloch. The study found that “nine out of 10 of the 3800 people under 30 years old surveyed were addicted to their smartphone and, in fact, one out of five is checking their smartphone every 10 minutes.” So I decided to run my own experiment and monitor my everyday use of technology one day and then dramatically reduce it the following day. One Sunday night, my brother gave me his Netflix login details as he wasn’t going to use it while he was in Japan for a month. I’d never had cable TV so I was excited despite not understanding what it was. Using Netflix, I found the Orange is the New Black series and I watched the first three episodes. Afterwards I used a private message on Facebook to confirm a time to call a friend in New York and we

had a brief chat over Skype. Before bed I switched my phone off and set my alarm using my iPad. On Monday morning I checked the Bureau of Meterology’s website and rain radar to determine if I needed my umbrella, news.com.au and ninemsn. com.au for the news of the day, Facebook for any updates and my work email, all before I was out of bed. On the way to the bus stop I checked Facebook and news.com.au again, even though I had checked it earlier. As I continued my journey to work, I needlessly checked links and articles through Facebook again and read the health, art, style and education sections of nytimes.com. As soon as I got to work I logged on to my emails and responded. My favourite websites automatically popped up, including educationhq. com and news.com.au, again. We had two hours of team planning and each teacher brought their own laptop. We planned for the following week and used the internet to refer to search engines including google, the ACARA website and Ausvels for progression points, MacMillan Springboard Big Books and found hook or introduction clips on YouTube via other teaching websites. At recess time I checked my phone and proceeded to surf the net at my own leisure and again check my emails. When my students came to class, we began our two-hour literacy block and used the IWB for an introduction using readingeggs.com.au and storybots.com. I often referred to my planner which was on our staff drive online. When the students broke into reading groups, one station had a component of ICT using the iPads. On this occasion, students worked in pairs. A student used the app Quick Voice to record their partner reading a text, and both viewed it back, to reflect on their fluency and intonation. As a class, we watched the recordings and discussed what they did well. Students completed their daily meditation session through the website smilingmind.com.au which is described on the website as a ‘unique web and app-based program developed by a team of psychologists with expertise in youth and adolescent therapy, mindfulness meditation and web-based wellness programs’. Used across many schools and workplaces, students respond well to it

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because it’s ‘a simple tool that gives a sense of calm, clarity and contentment’. Again, at lunch I checked emails, read news websites and on my phone responded to texts and made a call before yard duty. During mathematics, I used the IWB to show the class a section from mathletics.com.au and watched a catchy clip from harrykindergartenmusic.com, two links I often use as learning hooks at the beginning of a numeracy lesson. Generally students don’t engage with technology during numeracy because there is a greater focus on the use of manipulatives. At the staff meeting after work teachers brought their own laptops for training, contributing to documents and referring to websites. I used my phone for the duration of my trip home using public transport. After dinner, I swung between Pinterest and Facebook, news websites and other links for a couple of hours on my iPad. As I reflected on my day, I realised I accessed technology far more that I consciously recognised. The following day was going to be different. My aim was to consciously reduce my use of technology. So on Tuesday morning I left my phone switched off and didn’t access my iPad before getting up. As I ate breakfast I felt as though I was missing out on something important. I took a book to read on public transport and I was surprised that I read 32 pages. I glanced at the people on the train and most were using technology, ranging from laptops, iPhones or smartphones, iPads, kindles, headphones or playing phone games. Only two people were reading a magazine and a newspaper. It wasn’t just me, society was well connected to technology, too. At work I gave myself 20 minutes at the start of the day to check emails and I didn’t view news or scroll through social media. I surprised myself as I got the necessary done in my 20-minute time frame and then switched my phone on just before nine o’clock. During our literacy block I referred to our planner and ran a speaking and listening activity rather than screening a YouTube clip for the introduction. We had our reading groups and I continued with one group stationed on an ICT activity. During recess I grabbed a green tea without checking the net or my phone. I felt a sense of urgency to remain updated and informed but I also enjoyed not being confined to the demands of

technology and as a bonus, I had freed-up some time, too. During mathematics, we played buzz for the hook and used manipulatives for the lesson. For our inquiry unit on living things, our class made use of the veggie garden and used their writing books to respond by drawing and writing about what they saw. As a class we watched a Smiling Minds clip with the IWB. At lunch I was on a strict technology ban, no phone, internet or access to emails. At the end of the day I allowed for another 20 minutes to cram in some brief email responses. Getting home on public transport I read another 20 pages and wrote a list of things to do for the days ahead. Rather than spend a couple of hours on my iPad at home, I used the extra time doing tasks I otherwise would have left to the weekend. Technology has its place both in the classroom and in our everyday lives. I found that by redefining how and when I use it over a two-day period did reap some benefits. I’m now trying to consciously check Facebook, Pinterest and work emails less and I’m enforcing this by only accessing them at designated times of the day. Otherwise, the constant connection can become a distraction. I continue to get enjoyment from scrolling to find articles and watching clips recommended by friends but being connected less has led to a better sense of clarity and more focus. I hope that I can continue to reduce my unstructured or meaningless technology interactions and use it in a better capacity and only when I really need it! Jennifer White is a Victorian teacher. • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015

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Redefining how and when I used [technology] over a two-day period did reap some benefits.”


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PD Preview

E-Learn E conference all about blending By Sarah Duggan An upcoming AACE gathering in Hawaii offers exposure to diverse groups of remarkable people.

Explore more events To view a comprehensive list of professional development opportunities in your state, visit educationhq.com/ explore/events

xpected to draw more than 1000 delegates from 60 countries across the globe, it’s fair to say AACE’s upcoming E-Learn Conference promises to be a PD show-stopper. Bringing together educators, researchers, developers and practitioners, the all-inclusive learning meet (due to be held in Kona, Hawaii), will provide a palm-fringed forum for professionals to discuss the very latest in what effective e-learning looks like. According to Theo Bastiaens, chair of the E-Learn Executive Committee, participants can expect to be thrust into a melting pot of tech-based ideas and knowledge, not to mention a wealth of professional networking opportunities. “The underlying concept for E-Learn is based on the insight that opportunities to produce great work and achievements are often found at the margins of our individual knowledge. And by providing a forum, such as E-Learn, that exposes us each year to diverse groups of remarkable people, the intersection of ideas and knowledge should present possibilities for personal learning and growth, hopefully with the global goal of creating and improving online learning,” he shares with TechnologyEd. Cross-sector ‘blending’, according to Bastiaens, is a major aim of the event. “It is about a coming together or blending of ideas and experiences of the world’s leading researchers, developers, and practitioners from education, government, healthcare and business to all learn from and inform one another. “Too often similar groups only associate with each other and, thus, continually exchange similar ideas,” he adds. For educators seeking to devour cutting-edge research while still gaining practical application strategies, the E-Learn conference will offer a spread of key learning strands which will cater to a diverse range of PD needs. Running under the three key themes of E-Learning in Developing Countries, E-Learning Trends and Innovations, and Designing, Developing, and Assessing E-Learning, Bastiaens says the latter is all about promoting visionary thinking in delegates.

“Making the complex clear, turning difficult into intriguing, raising intellectual curiosity, supporting creative problem-solving, posing authentic challenges, building effective scaffolds – contemporary e-learning goes beyond the latest tools and technologies,” he reflects. When it comes to understanding how to harness e-learning for maximum effect, those after some more concrete information will be spoilt for choice. Various emerging trends, such as mobile learning, open education, MOOCs, collaborative technologies, social media, digital course resources, adventure learning, learning analytics, informal and non-traditional learning will be explored, with delegates encouraged to be actively involved in all discussions. “While there are keynote and invited talks delivered by internationally recognised technology experts, E-Learn is more of a participatory event. This means that all attendees play an important, interactive role, offering valuable feedback and insight gained from their own experiences. We have a welcome reception, a closing reception and more social events,” Bastiaens says. One dynamic keynote address from Lani Gunawardena, professor of Distance Education and Instructional Technology at the University of New Mexico, will help to shed some light on the complexity of ‘culture’ in online learning environments and explore how networked learning communities come to develop their own conventions for interaction. If testimonials from previous E-Learn conferences are anything to go by, the event is shaping up to be a fabulous fusion of people, knowledge and ideas: “This was a well attended event, with enthusiastic participants. I made good contacts with researchers working in the same field, and hope to collaborate across boundaries to enrich my work,” shares one enthused participant. The World Conference on E-Learning is due to kick-off in Kona, Hawaii, from October 19-22. Visit aace.org/conf/elearn/ for more information.

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PD Review

a ‘super awesome’ glimpse into future The TechnologyEd team spent two days in June covering the EduTECH National Congress and Expo live from the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

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here is something truly magical about bringing a bunch of like-minded people to the one place to share ideas. The EduTECH National Congress and Expo certainly provided the place for this magic to take place over two jam-packed days in June. As the third largest education and technology conference in the world and the largest in the southern hemisphere, EduTECH has grown a lot in the four years since it was established. The annual event now has more than 200 speakers and 5500 delegates descend on Brisbane to take part in practical breakout sessions, masterclasses, seminars, congresses and a gala dinner. TechnologyEd was there covering the event live from Brisbane – speaking with educational leaders and some of the country’s most influential tech companies about where they see the future of education heading. The first keynote address of EduTECH 2015 was presented by Harvard University physicist and educator, Eric Mazur. Mazur told the crowd that instead of developing 21st Century skills in students, educators are focused on ranking students, but they’re not doing a great a job in coming up with a meaningful ranking system. He says that part of this problem is that students themselves are quite reluctant to make assumptions, but he believes it is vitally important that this is addressed.

“The road to creativity is littered with failures. Unless you learn to make assumptions you can’t be innovative,” he shares. One of the event’s biggest drawcards this year was a keynote by Super-Awesome Sylvia, a 13-year-old from the US who made a name for herself by creating a web show titled Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show. One of the highlights of her 30-minute address was a demonstration of one of her own inventions, the WaterColorBot, which she made in collaboration with Evil Mad Scientist. Successfully launched on Kickstarter in 2013, the WaterColorBot is an art robot that moves a paintbrush to paint a digital artwork onto paper, using a set of watercolour paints. Super-Awesome Sylvia stunned the audience with the machine’s ability to paint EduTECH’s logo in just a few seconds. On day two of the event, Eric Sheninger, a senior fellow from the International Center for Leadership in Education in the US, shared his personal story of how as a high school principal, he was a “leader with a blindfold on”. That was, until he discovered the power of Twitter. “Twitter changed my life because of the people I connected with,” Sheninger said. He used the social media platform to form a personalised learning network of like-minded • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015


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educators and started to share ideas. During his address, Sheninger stressed the importance of schools sharing their stories and successes, like his with New Milford High School. “Great brands hype themselves,” Sheninger said. “In education we are much too humble, we don’t brag about the successes of our schools…” One of our personal highlights was the chance to sit down and chat with Sheninger for a thoughtprovoking discussion about technology, school leadership and why he believes schools are so reluctant to boast about their successes. Throughout the event, the Expo Hall was filled with many of the world’s leading suppliers and expert consultants showcasing the latest in cutting-edge classroom technologies and large enterprise-scale infrastructure. The companies shared some of the back-end infrastructure needed to underpin modern learning environments, as well as library management solutions, which were on display for attendees to explore and discover. TechnologyEd enjoyed walking around the expo hall, chatting to exhibitors and trying out some of the latest tech gadgets. Our editor, Rebecca Vukovic, put her pride on the line to take

part in Harvey Norman’s ‘Are you smarter than a 5th grader?’ competition. Luckily, she won. Just. The closing keynote of the event was presented by TechnologyEd’s very own Term 2 cover star, Dr Heidi Hayes Jacobs. The international curriculum expert used her talk to share a poignant idea with the educators in the room. She said the transition to the ‘future school’ requires bold moves, practical steps and rebooted missions. Hayes Jacobs has written at length about her concerns that some schools still place far too much emphasis on old-style assessment – an idea that she also shared with the delegates at the conference. “People make decisions out of habit ... just because we’re used to something doesn’t mean it’s the right thing,” she says. There were many big and bold topics discussed at EduTECH 2015, leaving educators with plenty to think about as they boarded planes and returned to their schools. A key value that underpins an event like EduTECH is the sharing that takes place. Those at home only had to spend some time on Twitter during the event to witness this in full force. EduTECH 2015 proved very magical indeed. • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015


PD Review

The transition to the ‘future school’ requires bold moves, practical steps and rebooted missions.”

Explore more events To view a comprehensive list of professional development opportunities in your state, visit educationhq.com/ explore/events

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PD Review

The what, R why and how of media arts By Sarah Duggan In July, Victorian primary teachers in search of the best technological avenues to spur their students’ creativity in media arts had all their needs fulfilled when they fronted up for a dynamic day of learning.

un as a joint venture between Australian Teachers of Media Victoria (ATOMVic), The Australian Children’s Television Foundation (ACTF) and The Songroom, ‘The What, Why and How of Media Arts for Primary School’ aimed to introduce F-6 teachers to a host of apps, digital resources and other technologies that will take their delivery of media arts to the next level. Bec Mackey, education officer at ATOMVic, says the event was specifically designed to respond to 21st Century learning trends to allow teachers to meet new expectations in the classroom. “I think the thing is, that the advent of tablets and this sort of innovative era of apps is completely changing the classroom for teachers, particularly I think, at the primary level, when they need something interactive and something visual – and that’s what they know the kids are going to respond to,” she tells TechnologyEd. Indeed Mackey says that delegates enjoyed attacking the ‘what’, ‘why’ and ‘how’ of teaching media arts from various angles. A morning exercise, which catered to Foundation to Year 3 teachers, focused on how to effectively use the iStopMotion app to get youngsters busy creating their own animated videos. A “hilarious” afternoon activity that saw participants dress up (some even donning wigs!) to produce their own iMovie music videos was a total hit with the upper primary educators. But Mackey says the software has proven just as popular with children. “It is a really simple idea but has great result for the kids. You can input a song and then the kids can take stills of themselves and then lay those out

so that they fit with the song lyrics of a song, so they can kind of look at creating a narrative,” she shares. To complement their tech-fuelled festivities, teachers were also introduced to a range of resources developed by the ACTF which they can now utilise to great effect in the classroom. “On the day [ACTF] took us through their fantastic app My:24,” Mackey shares. “The development of the app was around this idea of kids creating their own content and telling their own stories. “So we went through their fantastic app on the day and teachers had the opportunity to look at the way the app works. It’s very user friendly and interactive,” Mackey enthuses. An animated ARTS:LIVE workshop hosted by The Songroom later in the day showed participants how to successfully embed media literacy skills into their lessons. Mackey says teachers were even given the chance to test out their new skills on two of the ARTS:LIVE digital resources: Create a Photostory and Design a Magazine Cover. “The feedback was really encouraging, so everyone told us that they felt that it was something that they hadn’t necessarily received anywhere else before, that kind of learning. “Being able to access these apps themselves and see the demo’s on the spot, so yeah, we were pleased! They really enjoyed the delivery of it,” Mackey reflects. For those eager to extend their professional tech prowess, be sure to register for ATOMVic’s upcoming state conference ‘New Perspectives’ which kicks off soon on August 14. “It will feature a whole stream of primaryfocused sessions, most of which will heavily rely on technology and discussions of the use of technology in the classroom,” Mackey says of the two-day event in Melbourne.

• Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015


word mania descends on children nationwide How to get primary students excited about literacy? The biggest online word building competition Australia’s ever seen.

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eading online education resource LiteracyPlanet has used one of its most popular games as the basis for a major national literacy competition for primary schoolers. Called LiteracyPlanet Word Mania 2015, the competition involves a game where players have to build as many words as possible in three minutes from 15 letter tiles. More than 1200 schools are involved, and more than 100,000 children in Years 1 to 6 nationwide are eagerly improving their word building skills. The company set a target to reach 10 million minutes of literacy played online and students have already completed more than five million minutes of word building and built more than 25

million words. A counter on the website shows in real time how many minutes have been played. LiteracyPlanet CEO, Adam McArthur said, “We are thrilled with the way schools, parents and children have embraced LiteracyPlanet’s Word Mania competition. We are well on target to reach our goal of 10 million minutes of literacy played online by Australia’s primary schoolers.” LiteracyPlanet Word Mania 2015 is accessible with a LiteracyPlanet login, through the web version or the LiteracyPlanet Word Mania App on tablet and mobile. Teachers without an account can register their class for free at: www.literacyplanet. com.au/wordmania. New registrations also include free trial access to LiteracyPlanet, with more than 15,000 interactive and curriculum aligned literacy games for students K-9+. The competition ends on August 16 and there’s more than $50,000 in prizes for students and their schools.

What's New literacyplanet

For school enquiries contact LiteracyPlanet on 1300 565 696 or visit www. literacyplanet.com.au/at_school.

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What's New JB Education

trust is key to a successful Personal Device Program

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n a time when technology is booming, schools and parents face tough decisions on how devices can best be used in classroom to deliver engaging, creative learning outcomes for students. Trust must be established to ensure decisions made will have a positive impact. There are a number of factors to consider when thinking about establishing Personal Device Programs (PDPs). Screen Size: 10â&#x20AC;? or more. The larger the screen the heavier the device, so smaller screens are best for younger year levels. 10 Point Touch: Allows creativity and when

combined with a digital pen, brings learning to life with new features in programs such as Windows 10. Robustness: Strong hinges and toughened glass. Insurance: Optional but extremely important. If devices are school provided, they will already have extra insurance. If parent funded, it is best to have extra protection in case of unexpected accidents. Replacement screens alone can cost $350! Battery Life: Devices would be expected to last three years on average. With the development of creativity-based apps and cameras allowing for video submitted work, battery life is important. Most schools donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t allow power chargers in the school as they tend to go astray, so ensure devices have a decent battery to last the day. Professional Learning: Just as students learn, teachers need to continually learn how to use educational apps and interactive learning in the classroom. So, how do schools ensure their program is successful? They build trust, reduce risk, provide the right support and make decisions based on sound advice. When making recommendations for PDPs to parents, keep in mind that parents are looking to the school for trusted advice. So letâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s make sure they are provided with all of the right information. To learn more about PDPs, contact JB Hi-Fi Education Solutions on 1300 730 548 or visit www.jbhifisolutions.com.au.

Parents are looking to the school for trusted advice.â&#x20AC;?

AUSTRALIA + NEW ZEALAND

        

â&#x20AC;˘ Issue 16 â&#x20AC;˘ Term 3, 2015


The New Priority: AntiRadicalisation

services. CensorNet's Cloud Application Control (CAC) allows you to:

See who's accessing what

What's New

Custom Technology

Monitor student activity on social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Flickr, etc.

Track specific content

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tudents being radicalised by online material is now a sad reality. In the UK, legislation has just come into force that specifies schools have a duty of care to prevent pupils being radicalised. In Australia the ANZAC day terror plot involving teens in the UK and Australia communicating via social media highlights the issue. The possibility of young people leaving their often unsuspecting families to travel to support radical violence leaves some parents and educators feeling powerless. Recent allegations of radicalisation at a high school in Sydney that triggered the New South Wales Government to announce a statewide audit of prayer groups in all public schools, is one example of the depth of concern within Australian government. Traditional web content filtering struggles to provide the tools necessary to deal with this new threat. Focusing on just the best known social media sites is not enough, vigilance must extend to as yet unknown sites and apps. CensorNet has risen to this challenge by adding powerful Cloud Application Control (CAC) to its web filter products and

Search for inappropriate phrases related to terrorism, radicalisation and cyber bullying.

Track activity on any device Including BYOD. See bit.ly/1KorTv6 for a video demonstration of how CensorNet's Cloud Application Control (CAC) works. Be proactive, see how CensorNet can help your school community stay safe with FREE evaluations available to schools, education consultants and resellers on request. Contact the distributor, CustomTech, for more information. For enquiries contact the distributor, Custom Technology: www.customtech.com.au; info@ customtech.com.au or call +61 2 9659 9590.

...Vigilance must extend to as yet unknown sites and apps.â&#x20AC;?

Grow with us. LEARN. SHARE. INSPIRE.

      

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What's New ASI Solutions

product empowers students to learn by doing ASI Solutions is pleased to announce a new partnership with zSpace Inc. to bring their flagship product zSpace®, an immersive virtual reality learning environment, to Australia.

Z

Space® is a virtual reality hardware and software platform that allows users to visualise, create and experience content in ways not possible with a traditional computer environment. The platform fits on a desktop and combines high definition stereopsis, integrated head tracking with full motion parallax and a precision interactive stylus, so learning feels natural and completely immersive to the user. zSpace® allows users to ma-

nipulate objects in a virtual world, as well as collaborate in the real world to understand subjects in a more comprehensive, in-depth manner not derived from traditional learning methods. zSpace® provides students with a realistic learning environment and a personalised learning experience that supports the Australian Curriculum. Virtual-holographic images can be “lifted” from the screen and manipulated with the stylus. Unlike other virtual reality solutions that can be isolating, such as head-mounted displays, zSpace® encourages interaction and group collaboration. Best of all, zSpace® empowers students to “learn by doing” in a virtual environment where it is easy to undo mistakes, make changes, and not worry about material costs or clean up. Focused on STEM education, medical instruction, and corporate training, zSpace® inspires and accelerates understanding through real world virtual reality. zSpace® was named “Cool Vendor” by Gartner, Inc. and awarded “Best New Product” by Tech and Learning Magazine. Contact ASI Solutions via phone :1300 368010 or online: asi.com.au.

Our weekly briefing sent straight to your inbox. Stay updated with EducationWeek – our weekly email bulletin packed with the latest education stories and the best of EducationHQ. educationhq.com/educationweek

• Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015

zspace® allows users to manipulate objects in a virtual world...”


What's New Computers Now

Schoology announces exciting partnership Schoology, the education technology company that puts collaboration at the heart of the learning experience, is pleased to announce its strategic partnership with CompNow as the company’s Australian reseller and integrator to drive adoption in Australia. The company selected CompNow based on its continued successes in the education space in Australia.

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ost educators and administrators want to personalise the learning experience and improve outcomes for their students, but they don’t have the tools, time or data to do so. Additionally, many educators are saddled with outdated learning management systems (LMS) that either don’t integrate with the other tools they use, don’t cover the entire scope of the learning process, or don’t have all the data needed to personalise teaching for each individual student. Schoology is uniquely positioned to solve this problem, as it was founded by students who wanted to create a better learning experience. Schoology is giving educators all the tools they need to more easily personalise education and improve student outcomes, but in a way that works easily with their current systems and teaching approach. Schoology evolved the traditional LMS into an education cloud: a platform that connects the people, content, and systems that fuel education. Schoology has nearly 10 million happy educators, students, advisors, and parents across 60,000 K-12 schools and universities around the world using its system. “The education space is changing dramatically and instructors and students are looking for better ways to bring the digital world into the classroom. In the past year alone, we’ve seen a huge increase in demand for tech-fueled education globally,” Jeremy Friedman, founder and CEO, Schoology, said. “With CompNow’s proven reputa-

tion for helping customers integrate, understand, and make the most of their technology, we can now exceed the needs of educators and administrators throughout Australia who are looking to personalise learning and improve outcomes for their students.” “CompNow is constantly looking for vendors who are at the forefront of their field, in order to bring that excellence to our customers. We saw in Schoology the most comprehensive LMS offering in the market, backed by a passionate team who live and breathe creative innovation in education,” Adam Blacklock, general manager of CompNow, said. “I recently returned from the Schoology NEXT Users Conference in Chicago which was brimming with educators sharing their experiences and pushing the platform to get the most out of it for their students, parents and teaching colleagues. It was easily one of the best conferences I have attended, which cemented our commitment to become the Schoology Australian reseller and integrator.” Visit www.schoology.com to learn more. Schoology is the education technology company putting collaboration at the heart of the learning experience. Schoology’s education cloud connects the people, content, and systems that fuel education, and provides all the tools needed to personalise education and improve student outcomes. Since 1990, CompNow has helped thousands of schools navigate the ever-changing technology landscape by integrating proven technology into the everyday needs of their teachers, staff and students. Phone 1800 334 684 or visit www.compnow.com.au for more information. • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015

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What's New STM Bags

Meet the Dux Range: Top Class Protection Trying to somehow conceal the fact that he worked in the IT department was a bit of a daunting task for STM’s co-founder. A sea of boring black bags that screamed, “I work for the Man” certainly wasn’t helping. The solution of the laptop wrapped in bubble wrap tucked into a hiking pack resulted in the classic “There’s got to be a better way!” The rest, as they say is history.

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ounded in 1998, just outside of Sydney, Australia, in the famous suburb of Bondi Beach, our mission was, and still remains; to come up with a more comfortable, secure, and stylish means of transporting your digital gear.

Our products are built from the inside out We design and build laptop and tablet protective solutions specifically for the education market. With years of feedback from teachers and education IT specialists, our cases and bags are built to the highest quality standards to protect your digital gear and ultimately save you money. STM products are also designed to be easily co-branded with your school logo.

The STM difference

Surface devices), easy port access, instant on-off cover (iPad), and a super protective rubberized bracket (for even the most accident prone among us) without much added bulk. The rugged construction is designed to protect your device from the rigours of the classroom. The Dux is available for: • iPad (2nd to 4th gen), iPad Air and iPad Air 2 • iPad mini (1st to 3rd gen) • Surface 3 and Surface Pro 3 • 11” Macbook Air and 13” Macbook Air

U.S Department of Defense Drop Test STM are excited to announce that the Dux for iPad and Surface 3 exceed the U.S. Department of Defense 810F/G Drop Test Standard.

Our purchase programs are fully supported with appropriate stock levels and short lead times. We are a company that takes pride in our products and offer product lifetime warranties and world-class customer service to match.

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The hallmark of our Dux case is the clear-panel design, allowing your devices to be asset tagged/ barcoded without the need to remove the case. It has cool features like viewing and typing modes (iPad &

Give us a call on (02) 8338 0222 – a real human will answer the phone in three rings or less! Or email our Education Sales Manager, Chris Ayshford: chrisa@stmbags.com.au.

STM also have a full line of shoulder bags and backpacks available, to carry and protect digital gear, books and daily necessities. Visit stmbags.com.au for details.

• Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015

We design and build laptop and tablet protective solutions specifically for the education market.”


eLearning

Magnificent I microsoft education exchange By Noelene Callaghan Microsoft Innovative Expert Educators have gathered in Seattle and the result was a mind-blowing experience for all.

n April, I was one of 1000 Microsoft Innovative Expert Educators (MIE’s) selected to attend the 2015 Education Exchange held by Microsoft in Seattle, USA. Being a part of this truly prestigious group of educators gave me the responsibility to share the amazing work of all Australian educators, as well as learn and explore the pedagogies taught at other schools globally. Teachers who demonstrate outstanding conversation (via traditional and digital formats) with other educators about how to improve student outcomes through innovative uses of technology in teaching and learning are selected by the Microsoft Education Team to be a participating Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator (MIE). As an MIE, the educator is able to participate in Microsoft Education’s research, products and programs, attend exclusive professional development opportunities as well as networking with other MIE Experts from around the world. Prior to attending the Educators Exchange in Seattle, I ‘met’ quite a lot of my new colleagues via online meetings and training sessions that regularly took place. The overall purpose of the educator exchange in Seattle was to connect the top 300 MIE’s worldwide and provide them with the opportunity to share their teaching activities, their stories and work together on developing a new transformation project that connects real life classrooms from around the world. This will see students from up to six classrooms from six different countries work together in solving a real life problem that affects those participating students. One particular transformation activity saw a group of teachers from five schools working on how to help an African school (one of the participating schools in the group) to purify their water using the resources that they have within their classroom. The other four schools will develop

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alternatives as to how students can clean their water and make it suitable for drinking by the schools stakeholders. Although this may seem like an absolutely mammoth and unreachable task, this group is already making progress in finding ways to communicate and determine what resources the African school possesses that can be used in this project. ‘Bravery, Courage and Leadership’ was the theme of the conference. The purpose of the theme is to not only remind us of our educational journey thus far, but to remind us that we must continue to be on this journey and to extend ourselves in the same way that we would extend our students. This was certainly the case with our participation in the transformation projects. This conference also reminded us that we had a voice within the educational space and that we, as educators, were defying what ‘politicians’ and ‘decision-makers’ were telling us about what we could and couldn’t do in the classroom. We are redefining what happens in the classroom and what a ‘student’ looks like. A defining moment for me at this conference was listening to keynote speaker Mr Ziauddin Yousafzai, the father of Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala. Listening to his story of being a parent and an educator was extremely touching. All this man wanted was to be the best parent that he was able to be and provide his children with as many opportunities as feasibly possible. As an educator, he wanted his students to be better people in his local community and country. He was determined to help his students discover who they are, their real skills and to educate them to be real leaders who will change the world as they currently know it. He shared with us his story from a father’s perspective of what happened to Malala and her journey after her attack by the Taliban. There was not a dry eye in the crowd! The love and support

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eLearning

I was introduced to an amazing showcase of work that was extremely inspiring and ... simple to execute in my own classroom.”

he provided his daughter clearly has contributed to her developing into the amazing woman that she is already becoming. And the underlying point was that she could not be whom she is without education. Malala is a powerful example that it only takes one person to make a difference. More importantly, it doesn’t matter where that one person is from. A well-developed nation or one that is still developing makes little difference to the individuals that we are educating. It was after this session that I realised that in Australia, we are all capable of making significant differences to our students’ lives, regardless of which school we teach at and the type of pedagogical approach that we implement. We all have the same intention and goal – and that is to provide our youth with the best quality, enriched education that one can receive. In the conference, all 300 educators participated in a TeachMeet opportunity. Each teacher had 10 minutes to share with another a learning activity that has been used with students. This one-on-one session provided all teachers with the opportunity to learn about real learning tasks that are being implemented, learn about the challenges that teachers face in their classrooms, school and/ or country, as well as determine if the activity can be modified or used in their own school. I was introduced to an amazing showcase of work that was extremely inspiring and, more importantly, extremely simple to execute in my own classroom. For instance, a hospitality teacher from Taiwan encouraged his students to create infographics on the content learned in class by using Sway. All of the work created by students could be accessed digitally or printed in colour to be showcased to their parents. This was a great activity that could be used by any teacher of any KLA. Other activities included: 1. The fundamentals of using Minecraft and

how it can be applied to any subject. This teacher has also established his own Minecraft World, educating teachers who would like to use Minecraft themselves (Brazil) 2. Using Office Mix to explore how teachers can help children with an intellectual disability become better learners with technology and other tools (Egypt) 3. How to use PowerPoint to complete tasks in Genius Hour (USA) 4. Creating learning activities to develop critical thinking skills in developing the nation’s energy matters (Kazakhstan). I presented on how to create Personalised Learning Activities by creating matrices that encompassed Bloom’s Taxonomy and Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences. This electronic tool enables teachers to create project-based learning activities for their students to complete in a self-paced learning environment. The learning matrix presents numerous types of tasks (which students select based on points/value and are required to complete 100 points of work) that students can complete to achieve overall learning outcomes. This is an ideal way to support students of all learning abilities and gives the teacher the flexibility to purely facilitate and assist students one-on-one within the classroom. My presentation can be accessed via: sway.com/1FEmbo6F3wMHqyfn There were many sessions detailing how educators used prominent Microsoft tools, namely Office 365, OneNote, Sway, Surface Pros, Gaming, Multimedia and Skype. I found the Skype sessions of most interest purely because geographically, it is very difficult to implement Skype program in Australia. Unfortunately, Skype is blocked by the New South Wales DET and schools are unable to

• Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015


eLearning

participate in collaborative activities with students from other schools across the country. This would make a fantastic resource to remove classroom boundaries and provide other students with a virtual tour of your own community. A scenario that was shared was how an underprivileged school in the States was able to go on a ‘virtual excursion’ to Rome with the help of an Italian school. The Italian students took their devices whilst connected to the American students and showed them the sights of Rome. This gave the American students the chance to ask in-depth questions and experience Rome as though they were actually there. This type of activity could certainly benefit Australian students by connecting students from suburban and rural schools or east and west coast schools. As part of the educators exchange, we attended the Kent Tech Expo. This is considered to be one of the leading educational expos in the US. This expo showcases work created by the students themselves. I have never attended anything like it. There were more than 100 schools represented, showcasing how they use different tools and softwares in their classrooms to develop their own learning and to enhance the learning of others. The one thing that struck me was the enthusiasm of the students presenting. These students were not your average students. They were a complete range of ages and abilities, from those who were well spoken and extremely intelligent, to others who were shy with passive personalities who clearly knew their work, but could only speak within the classroom. These

students amazed me as they explained what they did in their softly spoken and innocent voices and made me realise that the theme of our conference had trickled down into these Technology Expo spaces. Many of the MIE’s that attended this expo agreed that we had never experienced anything on such a massive scale as this expo. To do this in Australia would revolutionise education. It would give children a voice that goes beyond their classroom, as well as provide them with the opportunity to share their experiences with other students, teachers and most importantly, parents. This expo could lead to stronger 21st Century learning practices and classroom practices that lead to students taking more ownership of their own work, creating authentic work as well as self-directing their work. Such an expo could help us develop students to be like those in Pakistan such as Malala to become inspirational and lead others within Australia. Noelene Callaghan is a teacher of technology, a Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator and a councillor of The Teachers’ Guild of New South Wales. • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015

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teen creatures of the night By Anne Vize How does a teenager’s use of electronic devices, at all hours of the day and night, affect their ability to get a good night’s sleep?

• Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015


eLearning

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ny parent of a teenager or adolescent child will tell you that trying to prise them away from a screen when they are mid-flight in sending a life changing message or viewing ‘just one more’ image on Instagram is nigh on impossible. The language can be enough to make your hair curl and the conviction with which the device is clutched to the chest is little short of obsessive. Tablet devices are frequently finding their way into bedrooms and now many teenagers’ beds are becoming floodlit with an eerie blue glow as tablets are hidden under sheets and doonas so they can be used at all hours of the night. Bribes, threats and the tried and true ‘if, then…’ statements are wheeled out with little result. Nothing short of total removal of the device with a predictable breakdown in parent-child relations seems to yield any results. The alternative, which many families seem to prefer for the sake of some peace and quiet, is to simply roll over and permit ‘access all hours’. This is the reality for many Australian families in a growing trend towards personal devices becoming a part of the everyday fabric of daily life and it seems the collateral damage may well be the sleep patterns of our young people. Tablet devices are now becoming a part of the everyday school experience too, as more schools move towards 1:1 tablet use and trends such as BYOD (bring your own device) become more common. But there is a growing body of research which is questioning the role that tablet devices play in determining the sleep patterns, or lack thereof, for this generation of adolescents who are the first to embrace tablet technology with such gusto.

So how much sleep is enough? To get an understanding of how screen use might be impacting upon teen sleep patterns, it is important to understand exactly what we mean by ‘sleep needs’. How much sleep does the average teenager really need? Does the need for sleep change as children move from childhood through the tween years (typically used to refer to the years from around 10 to 13) and into adolescence? Does it really matter if a teen does not get enough sleep? According to the Better Health Channel website, teens generally need around nine to 10 hours of sleep a night. This is more than they need in childhood and also more than they will need once they become adults. However for most teens, what they need is quite different to what they actually get, with many only sleeping around seven to eight hours a night. Whilst the occasional late night does not really do much harm, the difficulty arises when sleep is continually less than the brain and body really requires. Lack of sleep can lead to a state of constant sleep deprivation. This can • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015


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cause physical (clumsiness, weight gain) and psychological problems (anxiety, stress, problems with concentration, increase in frustration) and can significantly impact upon the ability to function well at school. Adolescence is a busy time, with sport, hobbies, social activities, school, homework and family responsibilities all competing for time and attention. It is little wonder that sleep is sometimes seen as the poor cousin to far more appealing activities!

Is all sleep the same sleep? Sleep is not just something that happens when our heads hit the pillow at night. Sleep is divided into two distinct phases – REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM sleep. There are four distinct phases to non-REM sleep, and these are essential for maintaining a system of balance within the body. It is during non-REM sleep that the body is able to repair itself and it is also when a growing hormone is produced, which allows children to grow and develop. The body makes a gradual transition through the various stages of non-REM sleep, moving from sleepiness and drowsiness in Stage 1 through to Stage 2 where the heart and breathing rates slow down and finally to deep sleep in Stages 3 and 4 (also known as delta sleep) where the heart and breathing rate becomes very slow and muscles relax. The REM sleep phase is when we dream and it is thought that dreaming is important in helping us to learn. REM sleep phases occur regularly throughout the night, around once every 90-120 minutes and make up around one quarter of the total night’s sleep. Another important period of time to consider, especially when it comes to adolescents, is the period of time known as sleep latency – the time lag which occurs in between going to bed and actually being able to fall asleep. For some people, this period of time becomes quite lengthy and can significantly decrease the amount of time they spent asleep in total. Being unable to fall asleep (having a long sleep latency) can cause stress and further decrease the likelihood of sleep happening easily. We are probably all more creatures of the night and day than we think – our bodies are really programmed to switch off at night time when it is dark and turn themselves back on, refreshed and reinvigorated, when it becomes daylight again. There are many factors which play a part in the process of waking and sleeping and one of the most critical ones is a substance called melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced by the pineal gland in the brain and is important in controlling sleep patterns. The pineal gland is inactive during the day and becomes active at night time when it is dark. Melatonin levels increase significantly in the evening and help the body get ready for sleep. Increasing melatonin levels cause feelings of sleepiness. The big issue for teens is that melatonin is only produced when the light becomes low – the

presence of bright light causes melatonin levels to stay low even if the body is otherwise ready for sleep.

Screens, activity, devices and sleep – what’s the link? We know that the majority of adolescents use screens of some kind or another and that their usage is increasing. PCs, laptops, tablet devices, smartphones and the like are the stand-out feature of this generation of young people. More than three quarters of Australian teens are using their devices for more than two hours on a weekday. American research found that a massive 97 per cent of teens reported that they had an electronic device in their bedrooms. The majority of adolescents report that they use an electronic device during the last hour before going to bed. We also know that 82 per cent of teens are not getting the minimum amount of daily physical activity required for good health. Decreasing activity levels can further increase the difficulties experienced by many teens in getting to sleep as we know that physical activity is an important factor in promoting good quality sleep. Teens who are active during the day are more likely to be able to fall asleep easily at night. Conversely, teens who are inactive are more likely to have trouble dropping off. The vicious cycle of not being active during the day and then using electronic devices at night feeds on itself and makes it harder and harder for the average teen to get a good night’s sleep. At the same time as our young people are becoming less active and spending more time using screen-based media and electronic devices, we know they are also experiencing significant decreases in the length and quality of their sleep. Recent research on the average adolescent’s sleep behaviour shows that it is characterised by a late bedtime, a long sleep onset latency (SOL) and a short amount of time spent asleep (around six and a half hours) on weekdays. This leads to an overall sleep debt of about two hours. The research also shows us that there is a clear link between the use of electronic devices and sleep behaviour – the two issues are not simply running parallel to each other. A review of the relevant literature shows that electronic media use has been consistently linked with delayed bedtime and shortened sleep. Research has also shown that using multiple devices (multitasking) has been linked with an increase in sleep latency and a decrease in overall time spent asleep. What does not yet seem to be so clearly established in the research is whether there is a particular problem associated with different kinds of devices. Research in this area is necessarily more recent, as brightly lit tablet devices which are typically used closer to the eyes than a PC or TV screen have not been a part of our daily lives for very many years. In fact, the first of the current • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015


eLearning

generation of tablet devices only landed on Australian shores in May 2010. Given how recently tablet-based technologies have been a part of our lives, it is not possible for longer term studies to exist which track the effect of these devices over time. In effect, it could almost be said that our young people are therefore becoming a generation of guinea pigs – conducting a widescale, all-encompassing trial on the effects of devices on their own sleep, behaviour and learning patterns. Some recent research does shed some light on the effect of tablet devices on sleep patterns, compared the use of a regular print book with an e-book read on a light emitting tablet device. This study found that the participants who read an e-Book on a light emitting device took longer to fall asleep and had reduced evening sleepiness than the group who read a print book. They also experienced a decreased level of melatonin secretion and reduced next-morning alertness. There was a change to circadian rhythms of more than an hour in the participants who were reading on the light emitting devices. It seems that there is a particular concern related to the short wave blue light emitted by tablet style devices. This light has been found to increase alertness and can be effective when used in daytime situations or where it is important that people remain awake and alert, such as shift workers at night time. However, the use of this light logically also makes it harder to fall

asleep as it promotes wakefulness and alertness – the very things you don’t want if you are trying to nod off at night. It is important to consider that for this current generation of young people, tablet-based technologies have only been in regular use for a few years. We do not yet have large scale studies or long term studies available to guide their usage for the young people who are growing up using them on a regular basis. Those children who were turning 13 and entering adolescence when the first of the popular tablet devices arrived in Australia are only just now reaching the age where they can leave school and enter the workforce or tertiary education. This is indeed the generation where we are learning just what the effects of screens and technology and their use is likely to be on the sleep of adolescents. For now, perhaps the best advice is to support families in managing devices and technology and helping young people learn to limit their use and timing of their devices so they are able to get a good night’s sleep and begin the next day feeling alert, energised and well rested. Anne Vize is an educational author from Melbourne. Her latest book Taking Care of You – reducing stress and burnout amongst teachers and educators (edhq.co/1LYBTbk) is published by Teaching Solutions. • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015

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the use of ths light logically also makes it harder to fall asleep as it promotes wakefulness...”


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Digital World

United states of america

big on blitzing learning barriers By Sarah Duggan

F

inding ways to blitz learning barriers is a must at E.L. Haynes Public Charter School in Washington DC. With 44 per cent of its student cohort identified as English language learners and/or having special needs, the urban charter school is creating a personalised, self-paced approach to learning, made possible by clever use of technology. Speaking at the recent National Coalition in Education and Training (NCTET) event ‘Seizing Opportunity in the Digital Age: The Intersection of Technology and Special Education’, principal Caroline Hill discussed how the school is harnessing the power of technology in a flipped learning environment to help students overcome their disabilities. “If schools are to meet the learning needs of every student, including those with disabilities, then we have to think differently about how we provide instruction,” Hill said at the meet. For teachers, this means adopting a flipped model of learning to give more personalised attention to students while not slowing down instruction for the entire class. Video platforms are used to record and webcast lessons and other supporting instructions, so pupils can study and re-play the content repeatedly from home until they understand. This is freeing up valuable class time and is allowing students to more confidently engage in class discussions. A 1:1 laptop and BYOD program also helps to ensure learning is essentially tailor-made to each student, while the ability to set programs and monitor progress on tablets is helping teachers to

keep track of each child’s learning. Certainly the tech-focused approach seems to be working; remarkably all of the students in the school’s first graduating class have been accepted into college, an achievement which Hill puts down to technology’s capacity to cater to her students’ diverse learning abilities. Indeed schools and special needs educators across the US are now looking to employ captioning applications, video platforms, text-to-speech software and other assistive technologies to make the flipped environment more accessible to non-traditional learners. In Cornwall-Lebanon School District, students without vocal capabilities are able to ‘speak’ by using the Prologuo2 app on their iPad and tapping buttons that represent words or phrases. They can access grammar with verb and noun inflections and form sentences with word prediction in ‘typing’ view. In Georgia’s Fulton County Schools, tablet devices are giving ADHD and dyslexic students the chance to shine academically. When combined with headphones to help eliminate external distractions, the tablet’s frame is keeping students’ attention focused on the screen, while specially designed apps and e-books are helping to fast-track their reading speed and comprehension. Even students with visual and hearing impairments are making use of tablet accessibility tools, increasing font sizes to assist reading and using specialised audio devices to adjust volume. For Kim Hines, associate director for the National Centre for Learning Disabilities, it’s clear that technology has the power to revolutionise the very nature of special education in the States. “About 2.5 million children in the US have some kind of learning disability. “For these children, technology has been a game changer, and for some, it’s been life-changing. We now know what kids are able to do, and not just what they are unable to do.”

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FRANCE

United kingdom

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Young Paris ece rocket mixakids’ inventors gathering launch cool young on show for latest teamwork authors Students from disadvantaged schools in remote and rural areas had the chance to show off their computer programming skills during a recent Show & Share event. As part of an IT project initiated by Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhor, the 210 pupils received specialised training in electronics before presenting their final projects to the committee. Taking out the first prize for the Embedded Computer System Invention was a home appliance switch controller which three students designed for those with a physical disability. The invention enables a student with a physical impairment to control the switch via a head guard connected to a Raspberry Pi. The team also developed a voice control option which allows users to manage appliances via an Android Smartphone.

Leading educators, research scholars and scientists descended upon Paris for the 17th International Conference on Early Childhood Education and Technology in July. The event aims to provide the premier interdisciplinary forum for delegates to present and discuss the latest trends, innovations and concerns in the field. A host of cutting-edge research papers were shared, with both published and unpublished works providing fuel for research-driven discussion. The conference also aimed to identify some of the current challenges relating to technology in early childhood education and to find viable solutions. Session topics included The Use of Videos: Effects on Children’s Language and Literacy Skills’ and ‘The Use of Social Networking Sites in eLearning’.

A high school has launched a rocket with the help of some local primary school students. Year 5s from Cestria Primary School visited Hermitage Academy in Chester-le-Street where they were challenged to find and then crack a series of launch codes to enable the rocket to blast-off. The children used GPS tracking devices to locate the clues hidden around the school, before using their computer skills to decode them. Staff from the schools’ ICT department ran sessions on how computers communicate and how to read binary code before the youngsters embarked on their decoding challenge. John Duggan, head of the schools’ ICT and computer science department, told The Northern Echo that the activities “are a great way for us to engage with primary students and to promote the subject of computer science”.

• Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015

African children from more than 170 primary schools are set to become published authors with the launch of a new online digital publishing platform called MixaKids. In a bid to promote ICT use, literacy, entrepreneurial skills and thinking, the iniative gets teachers to submit stories written by their students, which are then scripted, illustrated and transformed into e-books to be uploaded to the mixakids.com website. Every young author gets an account and a bank balance and is able to download any book for a price. David Mushabe, the MixaKids regional director, says the program is working to address the educational gap caused by a lack of digital content for school-aged children. “We dream of having the equivalents of Facebook, Google, and Twitter in Africa,” he told The Observer.


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Cheat Sheet

how to best use google apps in class By Noelene Callaghan Google Apps for Education is a cloud-based computing option that is both practical and inexpensive for schools to implement.

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oogle Apps for Education (GAFE) is one of the more popular platforms that schools are integrating as part of their digital curriculum. Ensuring teachers are aware of all of the tools available and have sufficient professional development to be able to use them with their students to enhance their teaching and learning opportunities is important. GAFE is a cloud-based computing option that is inexpensive for schools to implement. More importantly, it can be used on any type of device that has Google Chrome installed on it, thus supporting the technological hardware platform of the school. In order to maximise use of these apps by both the educators and students in your school, it is recommended that an Intranet page is created and used on all school and student devices as their designated home page. This will not only encourage all stakeholders to use the apps, but to make it much easier to access them regularly in class. It is recommended that for complete success, the implementation of Google Apps For Education is a whole school initiative and is used by all teachers in every KLA. The school technology support officer will be required to work with the head of technology for streamlined integration. But what are the main apps that are used?

Google Classroom Google Classroom is the online space for students to access and submit their classwork. Google Classroom now allows multiple teachers to team teach

and add announcements and assignments (with due dates) for their students to view and download. More importantly, teachers can upload worksheets for their students to complete and Google Classrooms has the ability to create a file for each student. Each student receives their own worksheet that is automatically saved to their Google Drive. Google Classroom also allows students to post comments and communicate with their teacher about any work that is posted. Additionally, students can submit their work by using the ‘turn in’ function which allows their teacher to mark and grade the work and provide the student with immediate feedback.

Google Drive Google Drive is online storage. All teachers and students save their work here and are able to share their work with one another (pending they use a school-based email account). This is an great alternative to using Google Classroom to share work. However, encouraging students to use Google Drive to create new files (docs, sheets and forms) will streamline how students create and complete their work in each of their lessons. • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015


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Google Sites Google Sites is a great tool that can be used as an alternative or to complement to Google Classroom. This online website creation tool gives teachers the flexibility to generate their own digital resources for a particular lesson or for an entire course. With the correct teacher management software, Google Sites can also be used as an eFolio as it permits students to embed Google Docs, Slides, Sheets and Forms. It must be noted that in New South Wales DET, only students in Years 9-12 are able to create a Google Site from scratch (all other students can only add to a website once a template is created by their teacher).

Google Docs, Slides, Sheets and Forms Google Docs, Google Slides, Google Sheets and Google Forms are available to all school stakeholders. Google Docs, Slides and Sheets are the Office alternatives for Word, Powerpoint and Excel. These online documents contain almost all of the functionality as their alternatives. Add-ons for each of these tools can be downloaded via the Chrome Store. The best part of these tools is that they connect to one another allowing the students to link and embed their work together forming a larger scale piece of work.

Increased Productivity GAFE is renowned for increasing productivity as everyone can collaborate in real time and are able take the initiative to self-direct their own work and take ownership of their work. Educators who use GAFE report that their students now enter class and without any prompting from the teacher, automatically turn their devices on and access their work via Google Classroom. Others are using GAFE to support their flipped classrooms and projectbased learning activities. Ultimately, teachers are encouraging their own students to create more of their own work as opposed to simply complete worksheets and the tasks that are set by teachers. If you are interested in using GAFE at your school, there are many sources that you can contact for assistance, case studies and training. GAFE also offer an online community that helps you stay connected with the latest developments of their tools and the latest resources created by teachers that you can use. There is also a Peer Community connecting educators with one another. Noelene Callaghan is a teacher of technology, a Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator and a Councillor of The Teachers’ Guild of NSW. • Issue 16 • Term 3, 2015

if you are interested in using GAFE at your school, there are many sources that you can contact for assistance...”


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Tech Head

roussel thrives in the world of tech

How long have you been in education, in what roles, and how long have you been in your present role? I did my education degree overseas and obviously married an Australian and we always wanted to move here. I’ve been teaching in Australia now for 17 years. I started my career as a language teacher, and did that for two or three years and then began getting into IT. Along the way, I’ve taught in a few disciplines, from electronics to PE and PDHPE and so forth. I’ve also been for a number of years a staffing officer of a high school and a head of faculty and now eLearning coordinator.

By Grant Quarry Eric Roussel is the eLearning coordinator at Canberra Girls Grammar School. Having married an Australian and migrated from Canada almost two decades ago, he’s been at his school of 1450 students for the last six years.

What attracted you to specialise in technology? As a language teacher, the use of technology was a great opportunity for us to communicate with other parts of the world and get information and so forth. Whenever I used technology in the classroom, I saw firsthand the impact that it had, in terms of the level of interest of the students and it changed the focus and the structure of the class and I got fascinated by that. So, at that point I started delving more into IT in education... You’ve got to be up-to-date with pedagogy in this area, don’t you? One of my former mentors said it’s no longer being a teacher, it’s being a facilitator. If you can understand the structure of the course, some kids will always be better than you, almost right away, especially at the senior level in programming. Some of the kids that I taught in Years 11 and 12, I’ve got one kid right now, I actually saw him at Australian National University about four weeks ago and he’s a former student of mine, and he’s off to Silicon Valley in two months – he’s going to try and make it big there. So, those kids, you can’t really teach them but

you can show them the direction when they start struggling. What is the most enjoyable part of your job? For me it’s the trying of new technology in the classroom, and then seeing the reaction of the students and the willingness to give it a go and their ability at times to stay focussed and be more engaged. That’s the key word – ‘engaged’ in what you are doing in the classroom. An excellent example of that right now is in my class, we finally have the ability to use videos – recording them and putting them online and so forth, so that students are able to practise speaking and then conducting peer reviews with the kids in the class all through the BYOD system. And, the most challenging? There’s a number of them. One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is bringing the teachers along, in that a lot of teachers have been full circle, they’ve experienced changes before, and it’s the ability of displaying and proving to them that what we are trying to do is of a benefit for our students. Often the first thought in teachers’ minds will be ‘you’re creating more work for us’. It’s that implementing a new system that sometimes has not been proven, and a lot of new ideas do require more effort at the beginning but having a deliverable outcome that will be beneficial and that will improve student outcomes. Now, if you can sell that, then you can bring the teachers along, but that’s very hard to do when it hasn’t been done before. In relative terms, how advanced is CGGS in its embracing of technology in education? If we were to break all schools into quarters, I would say that we’re probably in the top quarter, but in the bottom of the top quarter. The reason for that

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permission form … through a company called ‘Parent Paperwork’. So it’s been the implementation, the training and application of that. In the junior school we are also in the process of implementing a programming course from Prep to Year 6, using Bee-Bots. It’s part of the national curriculum, where we need to introduce programming at the primary level. Our students competed and won the Young ICT Explorers Competition last year. We’re going to do it in a very methodical way, we’re going to teach the teachers, I’m going to going to go in and team teach those components of the courses until the teachers become comfortable with implementing it. It’s going to meet all of our curriculum requirements and once again, the thing I was mentioning earlier, the engagement when you bring the little Bee-Bots out for the kids, it changes the dynamic of the class. All of a sudden now they’re much more focussed, they’re really interested and I suppose the challenge now is how do you educate across the different fields – how do you bring mathematics, history, geography etc. It’s a fun time for the kids when it’s that time of the day. is simple. Over the years, before I came to the school, the school attempted, and teachers attempted, many times to introduce new technologies and new programs but the infrastructure was never there… Before our current internet connection we only had a 10 meg internet link, so as soon as, say, 20 students out of 1400 were on YouTube, it used the bandwidth, so the BYOD would not have been a possibility then. At one point we sat down four years ago and started to create a strategic plan saying ‘what are the blockers of where we want to be in four or five years’, so addressing those issues, the infrastructure, which is your internet speed, your network speed, your network capability. Once we’ve done that, then what’s happened in the last 24 months is that teachers are embracing new technologies, but it’s moved the blocks. Now they’re actually being able to apply what they want to do and actually not have to fight a technological impairment.

whenever I used technology in the classroom, i saw firsthand the impact that it had...”

What have been a few of the exciting developments you’ve mentioned you’ve been busy with in ICT in your school this year? A huge amount of changes for us. We are introducing a brand new LMS – learning management system – this year, so we’ve moved to a cloud base called ‘Canvas’ – so that in itself is obviously a whole new learning curve for teachers, for students, how everything is done, and obviously for the wider community as well. We allow our parents to access the LMS. We’ve implemented an online

If you weren’t an educator, what would you like to be doing? I’m a bit boring in that regard. I used to own a café/ bakery and apart from the very long hours of working in one of those, mine was open 24 hours a day, I’d like to have a business that maybe has reasonable hours and make it a family business. I’ve got three girls, so getting the girls to come in and work a little bit with me, so, I guess for me I would not be looking at expanding it. I did find a YouTube video yesterday that was sent to me about, I think, a Spanish company, and what they do is you can tell them which books you want to order and then they print a bookshelf that you put on your wall. So then when people walk around with their iPads or their phones, each book has a little QR code. So you’re looking at the title on the binder and you think ‘oh, I like that book’ and then you click on it and it downloads onto your device. So an internet/book shop/ café is something I would enjoy. How do you enjoy living in Canberra compared to Quebec? Climate similar? The climate is totally different. It’s quite warm here. I know people complain in Australia that Canberra’s cold in winter, but the if it’s -6 in the morning, then you know it’s going to be 12 degrees during the day and sunny – that’s the average. Whereas, where I was born, the average winter temperature would be -20 to -30 degrees celsius. Whereas here it might be cold until the sun comes up. Back home it’s totally different. I love Canberra – for me it’s the fact that I don’t have to look over my shoulder with the kids and at night time you get a beautiful view of the stars, there’s not the smog and so forth. Having said that – would I move to Sydney or Melbourne one day? Maybe, it’d be a nice experience.

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App Reviews

60 per cent of my students have it downloaded onto an accessible device outside of the classroom.”

APPS FOR THE JUNIOR YEARS AND BEYOND By Jennifer White Jennifer White is a Victorian teacher who often uses apps in the classroom and these come highly recommended by students and colleagues.

WePublish

Reading Eggs, Alien Sight Words 100 Assignment Free

Free

This app was created so students can design, write and publish an eight-page printable book with their own text and images. The ‘preview books’ that come with the app explain the process of designing a book and show the different options available such as fonts, colours, shapes and textured images. The layout of a book or imposition arrangement is also explained so the user gains an understanding of how a book is made and printed. Of course, students are most excited when the books are complete and can be emailed and printed. Students at a Melbourne school created books titled Let’s make a salad, We love our garden and The veggie harvest, after tending to their school garden and cooking with the veggies for their inquiry unit. A must for kids of all primary ages and beyond, it is the perfect mix of creativity and design while still building literacy skills.

The Reading Eggs website is widely used in schools so it isn’t surprising that their accompanying app is popular too. Developed by experienced educators, it is centred on learning 100 high frequency words. The games are filled with interactive animations, hand-eye coordination activities and songs and there is the excitement of receiving puzzle pieces when new levels are reached. One of my students said ‘it helps you remember hard words and letters’ while another said ‘you can learn about words we learn in class’. In fact, 60 per cent of my students have it downloaded onto an accessible device outside of the classroom and use it for 20 minutes at a time, a couple of times a week. The option of purchasing the Reading Eggs, Sight Words 250 at $2.50 may also be an option, as they move beyond their first 100 high frequency words.

The alien ‘Gloop family’ were travelling through the universe on an exciting adventure when suddenly they crashed their spaceship and were in need of help. Aliens ‘Gleep’ and ‘Glop’ take kids on a problem solving journey to help fix their broken spaceship. Kids are given audio-visual prompts such as ‘the control panel is smashed, take a picture of something that has buttons’ or ‘the gas tank is leaking, take a picture of something that holds liquid!’ Kids then need to apply their knowledge and take photos of objects around them to match what has been asked by Gleep and Glop. Once the photos are taken, they can be reviewed with a grown-up which can help promote further discussions and build family interactions. With over 100,000 downloads and counting, this app is great for use in the classroom.

$6.49

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AUSTRALIA + NEW ZEALAND

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TechnologyEd (Issue 16)