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Our iPad Amazing Race…

Our playground for the day…

Last Friday our College had a Curriculum Day which gave staff throughout the school the opportunity to attend relevant Professional Learning. Several hot topics were listed for staff to focus on such as Differentiation, ADC (Australian Developmental Curriculum), Literacy and the National Curriculum, and of course, Learning with iPads, just to name a few.

Staff were given the opportunity to place their name under the relevant professional learning that they wanted to attend in a Google Doc, and the rest as they say, is history.

Being given the option to run a Curriculum Day event based on ICT and more specifically Mobile Technology (iPads), was fantastic. As we run 2 1:1 iPad Programs (prep and years 6 and 7), it gave teachers a chance to learn more about how iPads and Mobile Tech could be integrated in to teaching and learning programs. I had a number of specialist staff from the Phys Ed and Arts areas also attend and this was great as they could gain a greater understanding of how Mobile Tech could be utilised within their own specialist programs!

As we place such a large emphasis on engagement within teaching, i thought it imperative that i do not give a ‘stand and deliver’ type of scenario as that is simply not engaging, no matter how good your Keynote Presentation is!

So…

The day that i orgainsed ran in the following manner;

1. An iPad Amazing Race. 

This involved staff being given an iPad with the selected year 6 and 7 applications, as well as a created eBook that I had produced in their iBooks library. This book outlined exactly what each staff member was to do for the morning and that being having staff visit and use Federation Square as the meeting point, as well as the surrounding landmarks and attractions, to complete a series of iPad based tasks using the app’s available to them! They were to do this in any order, individually, pairs or small groups, and aim to complete as many of the tasks set with the time that they had.

I have embedded all relevant documents below as well as the PDF File of the eBook.

PDF: Curriculum Day Information Document: ICT Curric Day 2012

PDF: iBook Author PDF Version: Curric Day 2012 – Mobile Tech

2. Lunch… at a pub of course! That’s always engaging! 

3. More structured PL held at our IT Partners (Xcite Logic) Offices in Collingwood. 

Anita L’Enfant, Xcite’s National Manager for Professional Learning, run my staff through effective iPad Use and showed them a number of applications that could be utilised within their teaching and learning programs. I have listed these applications below as well as a short piece about what they are and what they do. Thank you to Anita for running the afternoon’s session as it was great for my staff to have Professional Learning that was not ran by myself.

On reflection, and apart from the weather being terrible in the morning, and the iPads not have decent Wifi connectivity, i was very pleased with how the day ran. Feedback from staff was outstanding and i also need to thank them for their patience and participation throughout the day! One thing that I would liked to have altered was the activities within the morning ‘Amazing Race’ component. I would have liked these to not be as… one dimensional as they were, meaning i found them to be a little in the ‘substitution’ mould of things. Meaning, I would have liked a more creative element to them, to really showcase what the iPad can do. But alas, something for next time. I felt the lack of wifi hindered this also and although Federation Square has free Wifi, it’s not reliable for what i would have liked to do.

Working Hard!

Collaborating!

Below I have included some feedback from staff about the day which I was very happy to receive!

“Last Friday was really good. It was really worthwhile. I learnt how I could use some the apps in an engaging and practical way that then could be taken back into the classroom and be extended upon for learning. I enjoyed having the opportunity at Excite to explore Apps and work on our books. I liked the application of using it at Fed Square as that is an accessible venue for us to visit for excursions, particularly with years 9 and 10’s.”

“I thought that all of the planned activities were great. It gave me a chance to really think about how I can utilize ICT in a PE environment. Personally it gave me time to experiment with assistance the use of different Apps. I would feel more comfortable in using iPads in PE after being exposed to using an iPad and the various Apps.”

All in all I’d love to run a similar day again, perhaps a whole day of the mornings activities with more staff, with more of a creative and collaborative focus. As mentioned i hope that the staff who attended took some valuable things away for future use because as we know, PL that assists us in becoming better educators is PL worth attending!

 

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Favourites (or, at least just a few of…)

Throughout the marvellous journey I have been on once i joined the Twitter fraternity, i have enjoyed, thoroughly, the many thousands of tweets that have been tweeted my way. To hear and often see what other educators are up to in their daily teaching lives has certainly open my own eyes to how i can improve my own practices.

To also have something so simple as Twitter be such an important and powerful resource, one which i now rely on frequently, at my disposal 24/7, is a great thing. To have created and developed a strong PLN, both locally and not, has been of great assistance to me, especially in my current role.

One thing that i gave found tricky with the whole Twitter thing is what to do with ALL of those great tweets and resources that come my way. Like many, i ‘favourite’ what i definitely want to come back to and occasionally even book mark items to my tool bar in Chrome directly. This has caused me a great deal of pain as my tool bar now has an utterly ridiculous amount of links associated with it, all of which has zero organisation!

So in my madness i have aimed to begin to collate what i have added as a ‘favourite’ over the years… and there’s a lot! If anyone out there in Twitter land, or somewhere else land, can assit me in the best way to orgainse these it’d be greatly appreciated!

Below i have included 20 links, yes, just the 20, that i’ve found to be of great value both in my owen role, as an educator, and as a coach!

Enjoy!

And a few extras…

 

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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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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!

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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!

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Welcome!

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Welcome to my Blog. During my very first blog post I am pleased to discuss the greatness that was the 2010 Ulearn10 conference that was recently held in Christchurch, NZ.

It was a pleasure to be able to hear from great educational minds such as Lee Crockett, Steve Wheeler, Stephen Heppell, and Lane Clark. The philosophy on education and teaching in a digital world with digital learners was exceptional to hear.

The Breakout sessions that i took part in were also outstanding. I can honestly say that in my 8 years of teaching i have never attended a Professional Learning opportunity like this one. I learnt more in the 3 conference days that i attended than i have in quite a while. Game Based Learning (Adrian Camm), Teaching with Twitter (Steve Wheeler), Learning Spaces and Places (Stephen Heppell) and the Apple Tools Smackdown (ADE + Others), which was awesome!, all were great and wonderful learning opportunities!

The discussion around online teaching resources as well as creating PLN’s (Professional Learning Networks) showcased the importance of creating and using specific online tools. I have been a Twit (what i call a Twitter user) now for a week and a half and the learning that i have achieved through this is outstanding! Get on board, i recommend it!

I will collate several of the excellent resources that i came across, and share these with you! Be sure to stay posted, as these links will keep on coming!