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BYOD, or… BYOT?

Last Tuesday my Principal Jason and I attended a breakfast/meeting,  hosted by our Mac supplier/partner Xcite Logic. The philosophy and ideology behind this breakfast meeting was to get together with other schools working with Xcite and discuss where we are all heading in relation to BYOD or, Bring Your Own Device.

This model of technology integration appears to be gaining momentum in schools across Australia and i know that school and ICT leaders and educators are somewhat divided by it’s happening. As a college we have decided to move down this path, as we feel that the benefits behind BYOD are the best fit for our college and community.

The BYOD model at my college is in direct relation to our year 6 and 7 students who have been asked to purchase their own iPad device. If only this was the case at the moment with a reduced price (that is a whole other story!)… We have received excellent praise and feedback from our parents in relation to moving down this path and as a college we are grateful for that. When parents are in full support of your decisions as a college it makes what you do more worthwhile and a lot more rewarding!

The day began hearing from Tony Panetta, the managing director of Xcite Logic. Tony gave background information on Xcite and the key people involved at the company who were working closely with schools to implement technology in any way, yet especially BYOD.

From here we looked at the following question: “What is BYOD and why would you do it?”. A good question! For us as a college we felt that it was the best fit. We are already a large college of 1500 strong, and rapidly growing. To lease and manage machines was not entirely feasible, especially as we are an Apple Mac School. To move from a leased laptop option to a BYOD iPad option we felt was a great avenue for success in meeting student learning outcomes and embedding a culture of effective pedagogy through ICT.

We next heard from Anita L’Faunt, Excites National Teaching and Learning Consultant. Anita spoke about BYOT (bring your own technology) and what the key +’s and -’s were in relation to this model. Now. BYOT means students can bring ANY device to the school. They are not railroaded in to one particular device or OS. Students can use iPads, laptops. MacBooks, smart phones, etc… This is my opinion is outstanding in theory. However… it does have certain implications in relation to teaching and learning, technical setup, back end setup, etc… Obviously though, this model does give students the flexibility to each have a device in their hand to foster anywhere, anytime learning. Some features of a BYOT model were discussed and here they are:

  • Choice. Choice in the device for the students and parents not having to purchase extra technology. They can use what they already have.
  • Equitable access to online learning.
  • Student centred learning and access.
  • The school provides a robust infrastructure for all learners to access information
  • Specific decisions about ICT support and service can be made.
  • Teachers focus on digital pedagogies rather than how things work.

From an Admin POV:

  • Schools can build a sustainable tech model.
  • Provide a technical solution that’s in line with the school beliefs.
  • Direct school funds to develop a sound infrastructure.

From a teaching and Learning POV:

  • Student’s motivation. Students using their OWN devices.
  • It becomes a learner centred environment.
  • Takes the focus of ICT training for teachers.
  • Solves issues of staff wanting to pigeon hole students through wanting to use a particular program.

From an IT Dept:

  • Less time taken and used on technical support.
  • Reduced load on ICT infrastructure.

Examples of colleges and districts heading down this path were also mentioned and i have included more information about these below, including a video from the Hanover Public School District in Pennsylvania.

The discussions then centred around our more traditional BYOD models and how we as schools and colleges could best implement this. Everything was discussed from security online, to iTunes accounts and iPad usage, to iPad management software such as Casper Suite, bandwidth and wireless issues as well as rolling out devices to families and students the best way possible.

Lastly, we heard from the Keynote speaker of the morning, Leanne Windsor, who is a staff member at TIGS (The Illawarra Grammar School), and their schools journey in BYOT. Key points taken from Leanne’s presentation were:

  • BYOT is very different to BYOD. Students are no railroaded in to one device. Options are plentiful for them to choose.
  • Parents need guidance in being part of a BYOT model. If none is given they may just well freak out. It is important to discuss with your families along the way all that you are doing and are about to do. Give them support.
  • Laptops are, at TIGS, the primary device. Other devices are optional, but laptops are the way to go.
  • 70% of devices at TOGS are Apple Mac based. This is purely a student driven thing. Not a school push in any way.
  • Leadership support is essential.
  • A sound infrastructure and network is needed!
  • Access is more or less guaranteed to ALL students.
  • Clear policies and guidelines are needed to assist in the implementation and running of a BYOT program.

So  after ALL of that, what are your thoughts? BYOD, or, BYOT? Is one a better fit for your college? At this stage, i think we are happy running with our BYOD model. Yes, we are dictating to kids what devices that they can use however… in relation to meeting student learning outcomes, we feel that is the best fit for our students, staff, and community. Would love to hear from others!

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Digital Storytelling @ ACMI

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Over the past two days i have been fortunate enough to have attended a wonderful professional learning experience at ACMI (Australian Centre for Moving Image) at Fed Square in Melbourne.

Now. Having been to Fed Square and ACMI one thousand times before i knew the emphasis that was placed on film and australian cinema. I also knew that ACMI ran professional learning for teachers and workshops for students but what i did not know was just how professional the experience was, until now. ACMI education resources can be found HERE.

As a result of our college, primarily one of our prep classes and their teacher, Sam (@sirwin2pt0), having recently completed a digital literacies grant, we were invited to attend a two day workshop to educate us about the power and process of creating professionally made digital stories.

Prior to attending the workshop we were given the following document: , and asked to write a 150-300 script which would be the basis for the digital story were were to create. After reading through the above document i decided to write about my honeymoon back in 2008, something which my wife and i will never forget for so many reasons.

Day began out by discussing what digital stories are and for those who had already used them as part of their teaching, realising how to make them more authentic and give them a greater purpose in your teaching. We discussed the language and grammar that is often used in DS’ (digital stories) and how that language can change the nature of a digital creation. We discussed the power of digital literacy and the importance that learning through film and video can induce in people, especially students. A great example that was shown is below! An all time classic!

The morning was spent talking about the process of film and animation creation and the importance of having strong ideology prior to the production stages. The creation of a story board, after a script had been completed, was essential. The storyboards aim was to show, in a comic like format, the shots that would be needed and the camera angles that would be used. When completing the stryboard process the follwoing needs to be thought about:

  • what shots do you want to use?
  • what camera anges are appropriate?
  • where will the actors/characters be in the shot?
  • what sort of movement do you want the camera to have?

With a DS essentially being a recount text type or genre, we spoke about also the importance of the film giving the viewer background information to ensure that they would understand the story. The who, what, when, where. That being a DS, and a recount, it was imperative that personal comments were embedded thickly in to the film.

From the above we were asked to read and re-read the scripts we had brought in and worked with the ACMI staff leading the workshop to ensure that they were conveying our stories without giving un wanted language and text. One great idea, that we didn’t do yet discussed, was the idea of script circles. A process where those with completed scripts sit in a circle and read them aloud to the rest of the group. The invites feedback from others on how to improve the script as the scripts writer can often not realise that they have missed key information.

Once completed, we took turns to enter a sound recording booth and have our audio recorded, so that we could then embed in to the iMovie HD software we were using! (Can you imagine my joy when i realised we would be using iMacs!).

One of the ACMI iMacs in Action!

One of the ACMI iMacs in Action!

Once we had recored our audio, imported it into iMovie HD, it was then where the fun really began. We were also asked to bring along any images or audio to compliment our scripts and it was with these images that we would create basic overlays of a storyboard on top of our printed scripts, to show which photos would go where in our DS’. This was a time consuming process as we were told to overburden our stories with too many images and this can take away from what your story is aiming to achieve.

The remainder of day one and the majority of day two was spent pulling everything together. Ensuring that the audio and images were overlapping correctly and in the right places. That effects, transitions and text were included where needed, and here was were another major emphasis arose. As good as these effects and the like are, than can be overwhelming when creating a digital story. That students especially need to not get carried away with including too many of these effects.

So after a good 90 minutes of ensuring i was content with my completed digital story, it was exported as a full HD film, compressed and placed on to a memory stick. I was a little perplexed to see that a 2min digital story ended up being 550MB monolith.

Overall, it was a large 2 days of PL. In depth and rich in what we learnt about digital creation and creating stories as a whole. If my monolithically huge story was not so large i would gladly share it with you all.

Below i have also included some great links related to ACMI such as their 15second project, which has huge potential for student and teacher use!

ACMI 15 second Place.
ACMI Generato.r
ACMI Online Resources.
ACMI Teacher Development.

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Marco Torres

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Firstly, apologies for the lacklustre efforts on my own behalf to keep adding to this Blog, it’s certainly been on my to do list, along with the other 14,567 things!

Anyway… Several Tuesdays ago i had the pleasure of attending a Professional Learning opportunity that was too good to resist, that being to hear the great Marco Torres speak and share his philosophies about teaching and learning and the importance of using technology in the classroom. I had heard Marco once before at an Apple ITSC Conference and was in awe really of what he had to say and what he shared. His knowledge and  beliefs about education are outstanding and the examples that he shares with those he speaks too are phenomenal.

For those of you who are thinking, “who the hell is Marco Torres?”, he can be defined simply in this little grab from http://www.novemberlearning.com/ – “Marco is a social studies teacher, media coach, and education technology director at San Fernando High School. He has received numerous honors and awards for his work helping students empower themselves through the mastery of multimedia. He serves as one of Apple’s Distinguished Educators and is an advisory board member of The George Lucas Educational Foundation.” Marco is also a television and film producer and has worked on such shows such as Myth Busters and the major motion picture ‘Collateral’.

So instead of hoarding all of my notes, I thought that i would simply share them with you, which were taken via my iPad using the Corkboard App, and hopefully via these, you will be able to take some key thoughts and ideology from what was is listed. Please excuse what does not make sense!

Mac1 PL

Several of the key points made by Marco that really reasonated i suppose with me were:

1. That ‘why’ is everything! Give everything you do as a teacher a context, a place in what it is that you are doing. Students need to understand that there is a reason behind what it is that they are doing in class and not simply because it’s in the curriculum.

2. It’s not about the content being taught, it’s about the delivery. There are ways to teach and there are was to engage. Go with the latter. Do not be, never be, afraid to mix it up in your class and teach differently. Take a risk. If it does not work, who cares. Move on and try something else.

3. Watching people learn and reflect is engaging. MasterChef, The Block, The Renovators and My Kitchen Rules are all examples of these! Get your students in the habit of watching each other learn and reflect on their own learning. Not about the task they are doing or have done, but about HOW they are learning.

4. Make Chefs, not cooks. If you then dont get a chef, you’ll always have a cook. Aim high and set the bar at a level that will challenge the students and their abilities. Average standards set by teachers get average results.

5. Ship you ideas and your learning. Do do and then do nothing. Share what you learn. Share how you learn. Collaborate with others!

6. It’s not about the final product, it’s about the process. Students, and teachers for that matter, will learn more from the journey they go on to complete a task rather than by looking at what they’ve created at the end.

At the end of the day i approached Marco and thanked him for the day and his time. He was very appreciative of that. He then responded with “So how are you going to reflect on the day”? Good question. Often I attend PL and conferences, think about what i have heard and seen, use a few ideas that i picked up along the way, take a few notes, and that’s about it! As a teacher i am always asking students to reflect on their learning, i am thinking after Marco’s comments it’s about time i start doing it myself.

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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!

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My 211 Happenings!

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Well. Here we go. What will 2011 hold for me? What are my aims and goals and challenges?

I must say that I am looking forward to this year. I have a number of things that I have in the pipe works in which I am greatly looking forward to. This year will see me teaching Year 9 for the first time in my teaching career. Not that I see this a challenge as I have been fortunate enough to teach the same cohort of students the past two years. Rather than being a generalist class teacher as I have been in the past, I will be teaching two ICT based Discovery Units (Electives) covering two areas I am very interested in.

Game Based Learning has certainly grabbed the attention of educators in the last 18 months and had been a proven hit for those educational settings that have trialed the teaching of this. I look forward to investigating through inquiry why games, video games in particular, are so popular and how they are created. Students will also be given the chance to create their own basic games and to then share these with others. People such as @adrian_camm have been somewhat of an inspiration for me after hearing him speak about game based learning at the recent Ulearn10 Conference in Christchurch. Adrian’s Games In Education Wiki can be found HERE.

The other Discovery that I will undertaking will be titled ‘Digital Media Creation’. This will involve my students looking at film and how technology assists in the creation of certain programs. My students will investigate how films are made, primarily documentaries, and put in to action the creation of storyboards, working with audio and various techniques as well as investigating lighting and trouble shooting lighting issues. I have a core group of budding IT Savvy students who are keen to get involved in this and I greatly look forward to rolling with this.

Another large part of my role for this year will be to Peer Coach staff at my College. Working closely with staff and assisting them as much as I can in regards with implementing ICT in to their teaching and learning programs is something which I enjoy and through the ICT Peer Coaching Professional Learning that I undertook in 2010, I feel I have a great grounding to really set some great Peer Coaching in practice.

The 1:1 MacBook and iPad Trails that I coordinate are certainly two things that I am deeply passionate about! Having seen our Secondary students grow in to the excellent Digital Learners that they are today and to witness the great things they are able to create on their MacBooks is outstanding. The iPad trial also with our Year 6 cohort has been a revelation at our College and has paved the way in opening the eyes of parents, staff and other students in just how valuable mobile technology is and how beneficial it can be.

Teaching teachers and sharing my experiences is also something I look forward to in 2011. I look forward to presenting at several conferences and have already been booked in for a few! Sharing the experiences of our iPad trial and our 1:1 MacBook program are always great fun.

So there. I am sure there are another 24 things I have failed to mention and there will be zero shortage of things to be done in 2011 but, if I didn’t enjoy it, I would do it!