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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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Classroom A/V Setups…

Reports. Exams. Teaching. Coaching. Learning. Assisting. Coordinating. Educating. And so….

Just a few of the things that i have had on the go lately! Usually, all at once!

With 2 weeks left of this term it’ll be great to have a break yet in saying this, it has certainly been a productive term and a lot of things have somewhat… been decided upon from a whole college perspective which has been pleasing. I have that it’s great to have a 1001 and ideas in integrating tech, embedding these ideas in to T&L programs, assisting staff, etc… yet it’s another to actually make choices on which of these ideas to implement first and to get started on!

So…

This term we formed the first official Manor Lakes ICT Committee. This committee, which consists of 10 staff from P-10 as well as specialist staff, meets every so often to make the ‘hard/er’ decisions about ICT integration in the College. A team of dedicated staff who love using IT to assist their teaching and learning programs.

One of the key decisions that was made this term, and the ball is already rolling, is to ensure that classes across the college, Early Years and Middle years, have adequate A/V equipment to use. IN the past, we have used a booking system where staff would book Digital Projectors to use with in their rooms. This has worked well, unless all are booked and you desperately need one!

With staff wanting a mix of devices we though we’d give them exactly that, and to then see how this went over the course of the remainder of the year. So here is what we have decided upon. Each team in our College from year Prep through to Year 8 will receive the following;

1. A Digital Projector Package which includes all relevant cabling, plus two Apple Mac VGA Connectors (ror older MacBooks, and newer MacBooks). Staff enjoy the fact that no matter there device, they can plug and play a D.P. quickly and easily and get their teaching happening asap! They’re lightweight, portable and these days, inexpensive.

 

 

 

 

2. A Mimio IWB with Capture Device + Supporting Digital Projector. Previously we have leased IWB’s, Smartboards, which were placed in our P-2 teaching and learning environments. We found these were mainly being used as projectors themselves and their full capabilities not being utilised, hence, our decision to move away from placing IWB’s across the college. For those unfamiliar to Mimio devices, they are IWB’s which utilise current Whiteboards and Whiteboard markers. They require either a standalone or roof mounted Digital Projector. The Mimio’s suction cup/stick to a whiteboard meaning that they can removed and are portable. I have in the past taken one from a school and used it at the Melbourne Zoo! Great devices, same interactivity and software as more traditional IWB’s, and at a slice of the cost!

 

 

 

 

3. An Apple TV Set-Up. This was the original plan. To place one of these set-ups in every 1:1 iPad room, then 1:2 for the rest of the College. The set up will involve a 50in Samsung HD Plasma, attached to a movable stand, hooked to an Apple TV Device. The reasoning behind this is the mirroring capabilities that can occur between an iPad and the Apple TV. Also that the iPad can be used, in essence, as an IWB. When Apple soon release 10.8, Mountain Lion, Apple MacBook’s will also be able to mirror! As these are portable, they do not become the focus of the room hence changing the pedagogy and the learning that is to occur.

 

I will be very keen to see how the staff utilise these technologies and how they are best introduced in to the teaching and learning programs throughout our College! I’ll be sure to assist staff where i can and as best i can to make sure also that these technologies are embedded and integrated and that the best teaching and learning can occur! As usual, i’ll keep you posted.

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The Great Egg Drop!

It is always great to see staff within your college or school utilising technology and making some attempt at embedding it in to the teaching and learning that is occurring. It’s just as great to see staff take it upon themselves to use technology and learn new things themselves through having a go at something that they in the past may not have been all that confident about.

Teaching year 9 can be difficult at the best of times, and teaching year 9 physics can be even more so! So it was great to see a particular year 9 physics class at my college fully engaged in the task that they were involved in through the use of ICT and the excellent hands on activity that they were completing.

The task, to save an egg from a 3m fall from the top of a school building! Students had a range of materials available to them to create a device which would stop the egg from cracking and making a mess everywhere! Students used their MacBooks to research effective methods of construction and held discussions with their teacher about the effects of gravity and how to minimise the impact of the egg when it hits the ground.

Now, for a staff member who is quite good with technology yet does not… entirely embrace it… displayed some outstanding skills when he created the two mini iMovie clips below! Both of which give excellent little insights in to his students work and what they created!

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ICT Provisioning…

Learn-image-apple-and-blackboard-300x200

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!

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Gaming for Learning!

video_game_characters

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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TDT… Apple Remote Desktop!

apple-remote-desktop-v32-10-managed-systems-remote-management-mac

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!