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ICT Provisioning…

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Teaching with Technology. Hmmmm. It was a good idea at the time! Now the bane of my life! Well, not entirely true! I couldn’t live without it. However, it’s certainly something that presents challenges every single day and this evening, as part of my role as eLearning Coordinator at my College my largest challenge to date, loomed!

It had nothing to do with inappropriate student use of our MacBooks, nothing to do with damaged or stolen devices, nothing to do with staff being difficult and blocking the processes I would like in place. It was all about the continuing creation of a whole College ICT Vision! (Not an easy thing to do I have found).

So… what’s the issue you ask? Well I say… there are a few. But first a bit of background knowledge on our College and where we stand! We are a 1:1 MacBook College in our Yr 7, 8 and 9 cohorts, (roughly 380 MacBooks). We also have a 1:1 iPad Trial in Yr 6 with 110 students. In addition to those programs we have iMacs, iPod Touches, more iPads in our Specialist Learning Centre, Digital Projectors, Flip Cameras, Digital Cameras, IWB’s and even more MacBooks in classes for our younger students! Safe to say we are an Apple Mac School! If I have my way, we always will be!

As you can see we have a lot of technology at my College. Technology, we love and use on a daily basis. Technology that is used, effectively and efficiently by students beyond the expectation of our Teachers to create outstanding work. Work that promotes their learning and actually demonstrates that they have achieved a learning outcome!

So… once again, what are the challenges? Ready? I am sure you can all relate to this…

1. Finance.

The cost of the technology listed above is not cheap. Apple technologies are not cheap, but they are worth every cent (personal opinion). Our iPad Trial is funded by DEECD (Gov. Education Department) so there’s no cost there. Our 1:1 MacBook Program however is the costly part. Now, I am not going to divulge figures however it is very expensive and as a College we need to find a greater model that is more sustainable! This in turn will free up more funds in my budget for the purchasing of even more technology and the building of sustainable infrastructure! More IWB’s for the junior areas, iPads for Preps, and so on and so on!

NSSCF Funding.

In a nutshell, our previous Prime Minister’s promise to place a device (net book) in the hands of every Yr 9, 10, 11 and 12 students hands! A GREAT election promise! Fantastic! Excellent way for school to implement 1:1 programs in their senior Secondary Year without schools themselves having to pay for it. So what’s the problem you say? That’s great! Well, it is! BUT… Each child in those Yr levels is allocated $1250 and can choose from ONLY 6 devices, and therein lies the problem. 5 of the 6 listed, are Windows based Net Books. The other is the MacBook, which is great for us, however the cost (and here comes more funding/finance gripes) of a MacBook is a lot more than a Net book. Not $1250 worth, but close. The remaining funds of the $1250 once a device has been purchased is to support the College in it’s 1:1 Implementation. Wireless Infrastructure, Risk Mitigation, Laptop Trollies, Electricity Costs, etc… Purchasing the MacBook does not leave us a lot. We can though, manage, but it will be a challenge.

Now. As I said we are a Mac school. Net Books are no good to our College. I am not saying that Net Books are a terrible device and that schools who have gone down that path have made a poor choice, etc, etc… Net Books are simply NOT suitable for us and our setting. We as a College have worked too hard working with students to assist them to create such outstanding pieces of work that going from MacBooks to Net Books simply would not suit the Multimedia purposes that we have and that the students currently use.

So that is THE challenge!

Where to now? A Vision! What would and do I want for our College? To create a vision, a provision for ICT across the College, from P-9 is a challenging task. I’d love to put an iPad in the hand of every student! How do I go about that? What funding models do I follow? Lease? Share costs with parents? Parent funded? School purchased? Do I not have any iPads and go MacBooks? Perhaps then only from 5-9, or, when we are a fully fledged College, 7-12? Then who funds that? The NSSCF? The College? This is my challenge!

To all of you out there who may read this… if you had the chance to create an ICT Vision for your College, a vision that will last for 3-5 years, what would you want? Would an iPad for every child be a good thing? Would you want a MacBook for the older students? Is 1:1 the way to go full stop? There is so much discussion that I could continue with, discussions that I’ve had with Apple and their Education and Finance people, my College’s Leadership team, our Mac Provider and Parents. These conversations I’ll save for the update!

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments about the above.

Thanks!

DEECD Innovations Showcase 2011

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Earlier this year I had never heard of the DEECD Innovations Showcase. Had no idea whatsoever what it was or what was involved, and I am a little bemused as to how that came to be!

I have been fortunate enough to attend several outstanding conferences in the past, on Local, State, National and International levels. So when I cottoned on that this event was happening I was all over it, and having been granted permission from the Powers That Be to attend the DEECD Innovation Showcase, and it proved to be a great experience.

To hold a conference that showcases the outstanding things that educators are doing across the state of Victoria is a remarkable feat, seeing that there are so many of us doing so many great and wonderful things.

The Masses!
The Masses!

The day began with 2 wonderful young Secondary Students, Elizabeth and Shafiqah, being introduced to MC the days events. Both girls, currently in Yr 12 and members Victorian Students Representative Council did an outstanding job of introducing speakers and holding their own throughout the proceedings.

After we’d heard from the likes of the Hon. Martin Dixon, MP, Minister for Education, Katrina Reynen, Innovation and Next Practice Division, DEECD as well as other Key Speakers, sharing their thoughts, beliefs and goals for Victorian Education is was time to move to the first of my 3 sessions for the day. In saying this, it’s the biggest pitfall of attending a conference, having to choose and select sessions to attend and if you’re like me, picky and wanting to go to everything, making the choices can be extremely difficult. Now in saying this… I feel I chose exceptionally well!

Learning through Games (catchy title!), was my first session and it was impressive! 8 schools showcasing the extraordinary things they do in relation to using Games in the Classroom to foster and encourage learning! There were Yr. 11 students developing their own games for the Xbox Games Console, a number of Xbox Consoles attached to the Xbox’s Kinect device in which student’s actual movements controlled the character on the screen! This was a great way in getting students actively engaged in what they were doing and there were so many varied applications for using such an innovative gaming device in the classroom. The number of mobile devices being showcased was also astonishing. iPod Touches, iPads, Nintendo DS’ and Sony PSP’s were all being used to compliment learning. This was such a great hands on session to attend and I must say that it was a first for me attending a conference and dancing and singing to Michael Jackson in front of a group of strangers (well sober at least)…

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Xbox Kinect at it's best (Meredith PS)
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Yr.11's from Melbourne High writing games for Xbox.

Yr.11’s from Melbourne High writing games for Xbox.

From here I moved to ‘Better Blogging’ which was hosted by a fellow GTA Graduate in Kelly Jordan and her colleague Kathleen Morris. The session, as the title states was devoted to how teachers and students can use Blog within their classroom settings. Both Kelly and Kathleen had their audience thoroughly engaged and wanting to know more. The examples shown of what they had done, and were currently doing, were outstanding and made participants of this session want to create a Blog and get started immediately! Links to both Kelly’s and Kathleen’s Blogs are below!

2KM/2KJ Blog: http://2kmand2kj.global2.vic.edu.au

Kathleen’s Blog: http://primarytech.global2.vic.edu.au

Kelly’s Blog: http://teachingliteracy.global2.vic.edu.au

My last session for the day was attending ‘Learning in Little Big Classrooms’ run by Anne Mirtschin, a very success educator who does amazing things with technology, even when her access to technology has been limited. Anne’s session demonstrated and highlighted the importance of Global Collaboration between schools, teacher’s and students and how software, as simple as Skype for example, can be used as such a powerful tool! The highlight of the session was a live hook up via Skype with a Malaysian School who performed their adaptation of ‘The Lion King’, in song and dance, which was spectacular! It was simply great to see someone with a passion for technology, working in a small rural school achieve so many wonderful things. It was a session the proved that technology can enhance teaching and learning opportunities in so many ways, no matter where you’re located or what resources you have.

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And then, like all good things, we had to come to an end, and WHAT and end it was. I have been to quite a few Professional Learning Days and Conferences of recent times and I can say that the finale’ that was put on show by DEECD was fantastic. To have Anh Do, one of Australia’s greatest comedians finish off such a great day was a perfect fit (I know that DEECD are perhaps not known for their sense of humour however this was a great!).

There are so many things that I’ve not discussed or shared, owing mainly to there being far to much, and I feel I’ve gone on long enough!

GTA 2011!

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Well. What an experience. An experience filled with such wonderful learning opportunities in so many various ways.

From my last post you may have gotten the hint that i was somewhat ecstatic at being selected to attend the Google Teacher Academy for 2011. The fact also that it was the first GTA of 10 so far, being held in Australia, and the second to be held outside of the U.S. made it all the more special.

For those who are unaware of what the Google Teacher Academy is, in a nutshell, it’s an opportunity for educators to be involved in a wonderful learning experience relating to al things Google and how all these things… ‘Google’, can assist teaching and learning. Both on a personal and whole School/College level. Those who attend the GTA then become GTC’s, or Google Certified Teachers. The Mission statement of the GTA summons this up very well:

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At the beginning of the day, and also prior, (actually we were warned, several times) warned that we needed to be ready to be hit full on, with a day in which we would be covering a massive amount of content. Hit we were! The day was jam-packed full, covering all of the major Google tools and resources with a group of dedicated ‘Lead Learners’ (Google Certified Teachers who had obviously outstanding content knowledge of the Google Tools and Resources and who were also wonderful people to meet and get to know!) The 54 participants (most whom are located below in this great photo),

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whom had been selected to attend GTA 2011, and this gave each and every single person in attendance the chance to meet, network and collaborate, which was extremely powerful! You can see from the map below just where all 54 members had travelled from!

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The whole day was planned with intent and purpose in with the GTA Team it’s Mission Statement (above) with flying colours. The talk and chatter that occurred throughout the day was phenomenal. Interactions between people who’d never met, people who had only met via a PLN such as Twitter, and those who’d actually met was outstanding. To see all these great educators collaborating with the tools they had been shown to them truly was a credit to the day and the leaders involved.

Here is just a few of the things that we covered throughout the day and as i said, just a few… 😉

  • Google Apps: Education Edition
  • Google Books
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Docs
  • Google Earth
  • Gmail
  • Google Maps
  • Google Mobile
  • Google News
  • Google Reader
  • Google Search
  • Google Sites

It was however the first activity that we had to complete for the day that really made me think about my own teaching, my own personal learning journey, and education and teaching in general. The activity was named, aptly…

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For this great activity we were asked to “Think of the best example of innovation in education that you can”… The catch (as there always is…) the innovation that you think of cannot involve technology! No iPads, Laptops, Mobile Technologies. Nothing ‘techie’ what so ever! I can surely say that this threw me! Not an easy task! We had time to think about this, share this with our team, and share this with the rest of the GTA team! A great question to have a think about yourself! The answers that were shared by the GTC’s were amazing! Topics ranging from Learning Design Spaces, to the workings of the Human Brain and it’s development and understandings to the thinking curriculum! Many and varied answers, just what you’d expect from so many varied educators!

If i were continue down the path of telling you all that i’d learnt and what i’d gotten from attending the GTA, we’d both be here for some while. I will finish with this, and that being, attending the GTA for 2011 was a learning opportunity that i will never forget. The tools, resources, people and setting all made for such a remarkable day.

Thank you to all those who attended to help make this such a great professional learning experience. For those who’ve ever though about becoming a GTA, those who’ve never thought about becoming a GTA, or those simply interested in Google and what it has to offer, i encourage you to complete the application process and join this great community of educators who have a passion for learning!

One last thought or statement which came from GTA and a great one at that:

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Google & GTA 2011

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This year i was luckily enough to be selected to part of the Google Teacher Academy (GTA) for 2011. I will be honest and say that I was quite ‘chuffed’ when i was informed of being chosen to be part of this amazing group of people and this wonderful learning experience!

I think, more so believe, that Google is a resource that is massively undervalued as an educational tool. The App’s that Google offers educators to assist teaching and learning highly out weigh a lot of what is already on offer out there in the World Wide Web!

So… what i would like to share are a few links and resources that i have come across in my time, mostly from having a great PLN,  that i have found to be both useful and practical. Resources that have assisted me in delivering specific content to my students and tools which have helped me with my teaching. I hope you find them useful.

1. Google for Educators. The official Google for education site. Here you will find excellent tools for your classroom including activities and posters to display, information on becoming part of the Google Teacher Academy and how you can become part of the Google Teacher Academy.

2. Google App’s for Education. The applications on offer from Google to be used in the classroom offer educators and students free and customizable tools that allow students to work more collaboratively and with greater ease. This is a path that i have gone down with my own College. One app, gMail, Google’s email application, offer schools up to 900 free gmail accounts, each with approx. 7.5 GB of online storage! A massive amount!

3. K-12 Guide to going Google. This links will give you tools and guidelines to assist you in getting your schools, teachers and students up and running regarding using all things Google App’s. A very helpful site!

4. 100+ Google Tricks that will save you time in School. What’s not to love about a title like that? Here you’ll find tips on everything from using Google Docs to Search Tricks to Google Books.

5. The Google Classroom. As this site states, “Google has not only taken over the world, but they are positioned to take over many of the classrooms!” There are great links here for everything Google and Education. Just follow the links.

6. Google Sites. The Quick and Easy way to create your own website, on anything, for free! Excellent alternative for a wiki or blog if you’re after something more in depth.

7. Google Earth. Sure, we’ve heard of it. I will be money that one of the first things you did on it was look for your house. Maybe used it for directions or looked for a famous landmark. But… it can be used for so much more…

8. Google Tools for Schools: Google Earth. An outstanding resource which will help you embed such a great application to your teaching and learning programs!

9. Google Earth World History Tours. This Wikispace gives you acces to specifically created Google Earth Files that trace the footsteps of some of the greatest events and people in mankind’s history. A classic example of someone taking a tool such as Google Earth and utilising its features for teaching and learning purposes.

10. Google Public Data Explorer. Here you’ll find excellent public data that Google has sourced and placed here for you to utilise and explore. Things ranging from European unemployment by country, road transport figures, global broadband performance, US Population and many more. Great classroom discussions can be had from the data sets given here. Well worth a look.

And last but not least…

11. Google Reader. I felt as though i was somewhat blind and deaf for not having seen or heard of  Google Reader before! For those who have a gMail account, Google Reader allows you to suscribe to specific blogs and websites that you love to get information and happenings from. I can hear the sceptic saying, but i suscribe anyway and get email alerts when a new post or blog is updated… Correct. BUT… Google reader allows you to collect all of these updates in one place, with out the need to visit all of the countless blogs, news related sites and the like you may follow. A great tool for making life in the technical world… easier!

Gaming for Learning!

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This term i have been running two Yr 9 classes based on IT, one titled Digital Media Creation, the other, Game Based Learning.

The  concept of using Gaming and Serious Games for education purposes has always been something that has intrigued me as i see that Serious games in particular, these being games with a specific leraning outcome or focus, certainly have a place in education and learning.

You just have to look at what a lot of my Year 7, 8 and 9 students do on their MacBooks during their spare time! Games galore! I am just happy that we made the decision not to update the student MacBooks so that they had access to the Apple MacStore!

I look back now thinking that i may have been a little ambitious in running a Yr 9 Discovery (elective) based solely of Game Based Learning. I feel to a certain extent that perhaps i may have rushed in to things a little to soon however… the students involved in this unit are loving it and there have been some absolutely outstanding conversations that have developed! Although, if i keep getting asked if we can play Call of Duty: Black Op’s i’ll break down in tears. The students have though been putting up very strong cases as to why we should play it at school, telling me that they learn all about history and weapons and the like! Hmmmm…

They way that i have been running my sessions started with an intensive three week theory session, much to the student’s disappointment, to drill in to them that games can in fact be educational! That a lot of games do in fact have specific learning outcomes. One of the key resources that I used was to educate the students about Serious Games was an educational Video on You Tube titled: Video Games in Education

The other 1 main resources that i have used is Adrian Camm’s Games in Education Wiki which is outstanding! A lot of the games that i ask my students to review come from here. The game making tools, presentations, resources and the games themselves are excellent! This site is linked above.

From here students have been on a weekly basis playing and reviewing games that i have suggested from the above Wiki. The way that students have been reviewing these games has been excellent and in depth. Students started out simply typing their reviews, then they moved to podcasts, then on to Vodcasts and screen capture technology (via the Screen Recording feature of Quicktime Player), and most recently using Web 2.0 tools, one of these being Xtranormal.

Several of the excellent Serious Games we have reviewed thus far are:

– US Mission
– Ayiti
– Stop Disasters
– Against All Odds
– Smokescreen

In relation to Game Creation I decided to use the software known as Kahootz, which is effectively software that allows the user to create many a thing, from Digital Stories to 3D Movies and of course Games. Kahootz is great software however it can run quite slowly on a Mac which can be very frustrating for the students. Students have chosen a curriculum area to focus on and have also listed an learning focus or learning intention that players of their games must grasp. Student developed games are incorporating a range of curriculum areas from Numeracy, Literacy, History and Geography.

I will upload the game files once they games are completed which is not to far away! You will need Kahootz however to view and play the games.

Where to from here? Hmmmm. I would love the students to be using a more developed Game Creation Tool. One perhaps that allows them to create more in depth games for learning. I have been trying to get my head around Game Salad, software which i know is being used to great effect in South Australia. So far i have found it a little tricky but i’ll endeavour to work on it! The other software that i’ll also investigate is Scratch, which i know is being used by other educators to great effect, one of these people being Ashley Proud (@ashleyproud). I am hoping to do some Collaborative work with Ashley next term re: Scratch.

As always, i will aim to keep you posted!

iPads vs Netbooks vs Laptops…

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Last night I was lucky enough to be asked to participate in an EdTechCrew Podcast via Skype, which was a great experience! The EdTechCrew, which consists of Darrel Branson (The ICT Guy) and Tony Richards from itmadesimple.com, upload weekly discussions via PodCast on a whole range of topics all relating to digital education, technologies, web based tools, web 2.0 and much much more!

The topic of discussion, as you can see from the title of the this post, was a great one! The whole iPad / Netbook / Laptop debate! Via the Skype call which Darrel and Tony hosted, i was fortunate enough to be joined by Adam Brice (@adambrice), an Assistant Principal at Ringwood Nth Primary School who is doing great with with iPads as part of the DEECD iPads 4 Learning Trial.

We also had Narissa Leung (@rissl) who is the Ultranet Coach in the Goldfields Network of the Loddon Mallee Region who is also very Passionate about eLearning and all things Cyber Safety. Last by certainly not least was Brett Moller (@brettmoller) who is Head of Learning and Educational Technologies at King’s Christian College on the Gold Coast. Brett has an extensive knowledge of ICT and worked with schools through Australia, Asia and the US.

The chat started with an introduction from Tony about each of the speakers and then it was down to the nuts and bolts of what we were there for. Each speaker was given roughly 3-5mins to present their case about which piece of Technology they saw to be most beneficial to student learning and teaching practices.

Rather than bore you all with my recount of the evening i will add a link below, when it arrives, of the actual Podcast itself. All i will say for now is that all guest speakers spoke strongly about which device they believed was the best for students and their learning.

It was great to have such an easy going conversation about such a debatable topic and to have the opportunity to hear such great educators speak and hear their pasion for ICT was a great experience. One thing that i certainly took away was that it was awesome to to hear not so much about what digital device is the ‘best’ to use, but that digital devices were in fact being used with students! I strongly feel also that depending on your schools setting and student needs, which cohorts will be using the devices and for what purposes, the need for different devices is paramount.

I am sure that all of you have your thoughts on which device you feel is the best fit for student learning, weather you’re a fan of Apple Technologies or a lover of PC and Windows based devices, I am sure that this debate will continue to rage on and continue to challenge those of us who are avid about using and embedding technology in to teaching and learning programs!

TDT… Apple Remote Desktop!

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Last night after a what was a busy day and all of the little cherubs had departed,  I hosted a short, yet fast paced, Tech Day Thursday session for our new staff involved in our 1:1 MacBook program. Having several new staff, mainly graduates, in our 1:1 area, who had never used a MacBook before made, and still makes, for interesting times. It had been super however to see these new staf take on board the Core Apple Technologies being used at our College and keeping up with and in front of the expert students we have in our 1:1 program.

One key piece of software that we utilise for both the monitoring of student laptop usage and for the sharing of student work is Remote Desktop, or as it’s more affectionately known, ARD. This great piece of software allows staff in our 1:1 area to view what it is students are doing on their MacBooks in real time. Staff can view 1 machine at a time or several depending on their ARD settings. It is a great way to ensure that all students within a particular class or cohort are on task and completing the great work they are known to complete.

It is important as always that staff are up and roving the room as they would normally however ARD gives the teacher another avenue of monitoring what the students are doing. Students have become very very cleaver at utilising the Expose’ and Spaces features on their MacBooks to ‘hide and cover’ what it is that they are looking at!

Since last nights session staff have been actively involved in monitoring student usage throughout today which has been great to see. It has been ever greater to see staff using ARD for teaching and learning purposes!

What. A. Week.

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As the title suggests, what. a. week. Chaotic! Bedlam! Hectic! And… i loved every bit of it! Between teaching, working with staff, solving IT based issues, and everything else it was the week that was. The two highlights for the week however would certainly have been our1:1 MacBook Parent/Student Rollout Evenings and the visitors we had to out College to see the great things happening in regards to our iPad trial!

I’ll start with the 1:1 Rollout Evening. These nights are always chaotic. The setting up, the ensuring that all documentation is ready to go and be handed out, that all MacBooks, Bags, Key Tags, and Student Login Details are ready to be distributed all make for a lot of work! We ran four rollout sessions over two massive nights and and i am pleased to say that all went smoothly! Students and parents were informed that they had to attend and sign all relevant documentation to recieve their MacBooks, which, of course, meant that over the two nights just about all 150 students and their parents showed up, which was fantastic to see.

The hour long sessions were broken down in to three parts involving three speakers, one of those being myself introducing the evening and giving an overview of our 1:1 MacBook program. We had two representatives in James and Hayley from Mac1, our Mac Supplier, talk to parents and students about looking after and caring for the MacBooks which was great. The highlight of our sessions however was having Tony Richards (@itmadesimple) from ITmadeSimple attend all sessions and talk to those who attended re: the issues of Cyber Safety and Cyber Bullying! Tony really gave an eye opening presentation outlining the importance for our students to not give away detailed personal information, any personal information as a matter of fact, to any online site. Tony demonstrated just how easy it is for students to be tracked using the information that they post via Social Networking sites which really got people in the audience talking, none more so than teachers who were attending the sessions also. It was just as eye opening to see the importance we all must place on Cyber Bullying and the lasting effects that it can have on all those involved. I’ll be posting about these issues and sharing resources with you all soon!

So… we now have 99% of all Yr 7 students with their own MacBook and all looking like kids in a lolly shop! The staff in Yr 7 can not also contain their excitement as all their planned lessons are containing rich and relevant I.T. based activities!

The other major event to occur last week was the hosting of two College’s to our school to see the exemplary things happening in our iPad trial. The first of our visitors was Holly from Mallauna College. Holly is currently involved in Professional Learning Leave and is looking at how the implementation of mobile technologies can assist and foster learning in students. Holy got to see the Yr 6 students in action and was impressed to the great ways in which the iPads were being implemented in in to the teaching program. It will be great to see the results of Holly’s Professional Learning Leave findings and whether her College decides to go down the 1:1 iPad path.

The second group of visitors that we hosted were from Braemar College. Paul, the AP, Rod, the manager for IT, and Christine, eLearning Coordinator all were keen to see the iPads in action as well as they are considering going 1:1 in specific areas of their College. It was a pleasure to host these groups of visitors and answer their questions about anything and everything related to iPads, 1:1 learning and mobile technologies. It is great that people out there are hearing about the great things the staff at MLC are doing with the iPads and are willing to take time out of their busy day to visit us and see what we are doing!

I hope that i was some assistance to these visitors and that they do decide to go down the path of 1:1 iPads in their educational settings. Each day i am seeing more benefits to using iPads for learning and can see these devices becoming more and more popular amongst education institutions.

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And that was a small part of the week that was.

GBL & Digital Media Creation!

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1 week in and my students appear to be engaged, enthused and enjoying what it is that they are doing. The two discovery units that I am running for Yr 9 this year have a strong Inquiry focus through largely implementing ICT and IT ideology!

GBL, or Games Based Learning, is something that I heard about several years ago and is an idea that has not really taken off here in Oz as yet. I know that the discussions around GBL are becoming more in depth and that Educator’s around the country are trying to implement more of a Games Based focus within their teaching and learning practices. The work of people such as Mark Prensky and Adrian Camm (his Games in Education Wiki is Excellent) have certainly pushed the notion of GBL into many educators minds. The mention that GBL also received in both the 2010 and now 2011 K-12 Edition of the Horizon Report also have assisted GBL to be seen as a more serious method of teaching in the 21st Century. The Horizon Report 2010 states –

“The interest in game-based learning has accelerated considerably in recent years, driven by clear successes in military and industrial training as well as by emerging research into the cognitive benefits of game play. Developers and researchers are working in every area of game-based learning, including games that are goal-oriented; social game environments; non-digital games that are easy to construct and play; games developed expressly for education; and commercial games that lend themselves to refining team and group skills. At the low end of game technology, there are literally thousands of ways games can be — and are already being — applied in learning contexts. More complex approaches like role-playing, collaborative problem solving, and other forms of simulated experiences have broad applicability across a wide range of disciplines, and are beginning to be explored in more classrooms.”

The discovery that I am running with two Yr 9 classes is seeing my students talk about and discuss the relevance of GBL and weather or not they as students, as digital learners, see a place for GBL in the education system. It has been interesting to see their notion between games and gaming and how these seem to differ. That playing a game and gaming involve different skills and can be worlds apart. As a class we view the following You Tube Video which explained quite well, albeit quite fast, the differences between educational games and gaming for entertainment. We held several discussions about the notions shown in the video which promoted plenty of rich and relevant thoughts to be shared.

Students have since been asked to complete a research paper on GBL and what it involves, how can we assist other people to see the benefits of GBL in a classroom, and what examples of GBL can we get involved in to promote GBL amongst the educational community.

One major aim for this unit is to have each and every one of my students having developed, researched and constructed a Serious Game that can be used within a classroom setting! I am sure that they will rise to that challenge!

Over the past 2 years working with Secondary students in a 1:1 Program, it has been an amazing journey to see them progress with their ICT skills and to see them create the outstanding pieces that they have. The use of CORE Apple Technology and the Applications via iLife and iWork have certainly assisted both students and teachers alike with the learning and teaching that occurs. My discovery unit titled Digital Media Creation has been based around a Document written by Marco Torres and Ross Kallen, which was sponsored by Apple, called ‘A Curriculum for Digital Media Creation‘. I have modified the lesson involved to suit the needs of my students as well as the resources on offer at my College.

The discovery essentially involves the students looking at film and media creation, from the thought processes of thinking up ideas for a project, to creating the storyboard, to then placing that storyboard in to action! As the document mentions “Every day digital media becomes more important as a means for receiving, producing, sharing and broadcasting information tools and resources that were once the exclusive property of a few are now available to many more people.”

This week will see my students create a 60sec video staring a day in the life of… an inanimate object! A rock, water bottle, laptop… whatever! This should be a laugh! I am sure all of the students will do extremely well! I will aim to have all film uploaded by the end of the week  to you all to see!

And I’m Back!

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Here I am back at work having left off straight from where i left myself and my workload in 2010. I was thinking that the beginning of 2011 back at school would be somewhat of a smooth process. WRONG! It seems there is truly no rest for the wicked and in the world of ICT it seems that things keep evolving, changing and occasionally, crashing and burning to make life difficult!

But… In saying this i would not have it any other way! In the week and bit i have now been back it has been one of the most hectic work times of my life but i have enjoyed every minute of it. I have rolled out with the assistance of my great Tech’s 130+ MacBooks for classroom use, ensured that all 130+ iPads are up and running for all our students involved in the DEECD iPads for Learning Trial, and made sure that all students in our 1:1 MacBook program in years 8 and 9 have smooth running machines, all of which were re-imaged and raring to go!

Next week I hold two 1:1 Laptop Information Sessions for parents and Students in Yr 7. Parents and students will be spoken to myself of course about our 1:1 Program as well as Tony Richards from ITMadeSimple, who discuss the importance of Cyber Saftey and Cyber Bullying. We also have one of our Apple Supplier representatives from Mac1 talking as well on MacBook care and support. This has been a great night in the past with 80-90% of all parents and their students attending.

A key focus for myself this year, along with teaching my Yr 9 Discovery units on Game Based Learning and Digital media Creation, is to get in to the junior section of the school to assist teachers in that area embed ICT more frequently in to teaching and learning practices. We will be running a buddy program with our Prep and Yr 6 students based upon the use of iPads, integrate and place a greater focus on the use of our IWB’s, and aim to get all students up and running on the all mighty Ultranet!

Since we’ve started back i have already been contacted by two Colleges to come and see the great work our students and teachers are doing with the iPads as well as being visited by the Independent Evaluators of the DEECD iPads for Learning Trial who are keen to see and hear all that’s happening in regards to the trial!

I am keen also this year to utilise the expertise of the excellent people i work with across the college! I have staff who are excelling in the use of Web 2.0 tools, cloud computing and the use of all Apple Applications, especially those associated with iWork and iLife. I even have a staff member creating his own iPad/iPhone4 Applications for use with his prep class! I will certainly keep you informed.

Personally, i have applied to become an ADE (Apple Distinguished Educator) and am hoping that I receive the magical message that informs me that i have been successful! And if not, so be it. I will also continue to run my ‘Tech day Thursday’s’ to assist all staff at my College, especially with all and anything ICT.

Let 2011 begin!