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No Excuses!

Well. As the title suggests, it’s certainly been a while since i’ve blogged here and i certainly have no excuses. Definitely NOT good enough, so i apologise to those few who like to read my ramblings!

It has been such a hectic start to 2012, a start that i will say has been fun, yet also challenging, more so from an organisational point of view though. There have not seemed to be enough hours in the day lately and hence, chaos reigns!

The 2 1:1 iPad Programs which i am coordinating, in years Prep and 6 / 7, have begun smoothly and has certainly made for many excited students running app’s and hammering the app store for anything and everything which looks fun and enjoyable to play, and that’s FREE! Teachers, particularly those new to the college, are geting their own minds around how to best integrate iPads devices in to their learning and teaching programs and i will be running extensive PL for these staff in the coming weeks!

 

Parents have been super supportive and next week i’ll be running several parent based tech sessions to assist families in monitoring and utilising the iPad and its features.

We are also still running our 1:1 MacBook programs with our year 8, 9 and 10 students, with the year 10’s having just received their brand new MacBook Pro’s, which have certainly been a highlight and great addition to the tech stocks at out school. All 600+ devices have been re-imaged and updated to OSX Lion, which in itself has been a hit! Teachers have already been running with tech integration from the moment students had their devices handed back and are utilising the technology extremely well which, from my point of view, is excellent to witness.

Lately on Friday mornings i have been assisting staff via conducting Techie Brekkies, an idea which I originally picked up from a great teacher, Henrietta Miller in Sydney. These are a chance for teachers to come to school early and spend a morning with me to learn new and wonderful things! The two that have ran so far have been for new staff in assisting them to become familiar with all of our ICT happenings at the college and to access all of the countless information that they need. This mornings session was to assist staff in creating classroom blogs to use with their students! Both sessions went very very well!

2 weeks in to the year and we have already have had our first college visitors to witness our iPad programs in action. 2 wonderful staff Toni and Kim, from Dripstone Middle School in Darwin, NT, came to see what we were all about. I sensed the feeling that they enjoyed their visit and really took something away from the discussions we had. I have two more schools coming in the next week or so to show around which is fantastic. It s great that we as a college have the time, find the time, to share pedagogical practices with others.

It appears that it will also be a big year in relation to both attending, and presenting, at a number of conferences throughout 2012. I have been listed to present at this years ICTEV Conference in May and in a fortnights time, i will be presenting at the Int. Books conference, discussing all that is eBooks and education.

As a college we’ve brought a new management system on board, known as Compass School Manager, and since we’ve/they’ve completed the initial set up, this online school management system has certainly made a lot of little tasks a whole lot easier to manage. Everything from marking the roll, which can be done on smart phone devices and tablets, to checking staff and student timetables, to creating events for excursions and to now booking available classrooms, this software has been an excellent addition to our college.

On a more personal, school based level, i have been creating a number of documents to support the teaching and learning throughout the college. these have involved a School Wide Social Media Communication Strategy (that’s a mouth full)… which will assist staff in putting processes in to place if and when they decide to use social media with their students or a class as a whole. I have also been working on an updated eLearning plan for our college. This has been based on data received from teachers at the end of 2011, who all participated in the ePotential survey, stating which areas of ICT they felt that they needed assistance in. A few of these areas for example were incorporating more aspects of social media in to their learning and teaching along with blogging, podcasting, and working more collaboratively with others outside of the college setting.

My teaching load for 2012 has increased from last year also, making for an even busier year ahead. In saying that, i am not complaining at all! I am teaching Multimedia to year nine’s and ten’s, all of whom are actively engaged and loving, well appear to be, the subject and what they’re involved in! As i mentioned in a previous post, it’s great to have a class, or several, that i can utilise as, dare i say, guinea pigs, to test all the new web 2.0 tools and sites I come across. The teaching aspect of my role is one of the greatest parts of what i do! Being able to teach, and, work closely with staff to implement and embed excellent technological practices.

I am feeling like i have only scrapped the barrel here with what is occurring throughout this year however whatever lies ahead, i will be sure to keep you all posted and updated! One main aim for this year… to continue with this blog and add more content, more often!!!

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The Only Danger Is…

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Yesterday I had the pleasure once again of attending a session hosted by Stephen Heppell. Having heard Stephen talk on several occasions before I knew that seeing him speak, or more so listening to him speak, was yet an another opportunity that I could not pass up.

As an educator I have quickly learnt in my short career that hearing people such as Stephen talk can give you a greater insight in to how as an educator you can develop your practices to become a more effective teacher.

Hearing what was discussed throughout the session certainly got me thinking yet once again about how i could challenge myself, my students and others.

Below I have written 5 quotes from Stephen that resonated with me from the session, one’s that may hopefully get you thinking about your own practices and or thoughts in education and learning…

1. “What would the best school in the world look like?”. Hmmm. Ripping question! I have absolutely no idea. It might have a water slide and a pool and be very play and inquiry focused. We’d be trying to solves the planets problems and that of of humanity as well. Learning by being involved in authentic tasks that are risk and purposeful. The layout would be open and spacious, colourful, as well as challenging. You might have to walk through a maze to get to a particular class or scale a giant cargo net to get to the canteen! It may look a little like a Google Head Office! Kids would go from one floor to the one below via a fireman’s pole or twisting slide! There would be technology available to those who want it, and other tools to assist learning to cater for those with varied learning styles. There would be outside areas where students could work. Places that fostered creativity and imagination. The learning would be challenging. The teachers would take risks and push boundaries.

2. “Doing things differently is the only way forward”. Who really wants to be doing the same thing day in day out? One of the greatest aspects of teaching is that each and every day is different. Presenting new challenges and bringing with those varied emotions. The greatest part of my role currently is that with all of the IT that i manage, i still have 3 year 9 classes that I teach to use as Guinea Pigs! I can do things with them that i would do with other classes and push those boundaries and do things differently. In saying this, the best people at doing things differently and finding new ways of doing particular things are the students. Hence… the next quote…

3. “Let Kids Go. Let’s see how far they can get”. I have often thought that we place a huge amount of time assisting those student to learn who need it. Those students who may not quite be at their expected level. And, of course we should, it is our job, that’s what we do. However… how much time do we spend on the other students who are flying along? Those who complete their work with 40 mins left. Those who can, and could, if left alone push the boundaries of their learning. Why should we hold kids back. Those kids who want to learn and develop their own knowledge will. Let’s get out of their way.

4. “Focus on the process”. I think that we are too focused on the content that we teach. The end result. We place little focus on the skills that it actually takes to get to that result. This got me thinking in regards to my teaching. Obviously teaching film creation via stop animation and claymation techniques, it is generally the final product that i look at. Until recently i have not placed a great focus on what it took to get to that end product. The hours of editing. The management of tools and resources needed. The IT skills to create the stop motion and tie it all together. Embedding music that is not breaching copyright. The ability to upload to the internet to a hosting site such as You Tube. And so on… I know that instead of focusing on the end result, i can develop a greater understanding of my students via carefully watching the process unfold.

5. “The only risk is to take no risk”. I love this saying. Might get it tattooed on my back! Or maybe not. It’s been great to see the young and enthusiastic staff we have here at our college push the boundaries and take risks in their teaching. To attempt new things and to get kids working out of their comfort zones. Being judgmental about the way that they are teaching and reflecting on their own practice. I think this saying resonates deeply with all of the others above. As a teacher i perhaps can take more risks. Push the boundaries of learning more often. Not be afraid of getting caught out or crossing the line. I believe as long as students are engaged, learning, and enthralled in what they are doing, then, basically, who cares.

Lastly, as the title of this post begins, and as Stephen quoted, “The only danger is not being brave enough”

A lot to think about!

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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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Digital (Contemporary) Literacies

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Recently I was successful in obtaining a Grant from the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) to investigate the effects that Contemporary Literacies have on young students in relation to literacy outcomes.

I had to think for a moment what did DEECD mean by ‘Contemporary’, and this is what was discussed. Contemporary Literacy refers to new forms of literacy made possible only by digital technology.

Before I head in to the nitty gritty of the Grant and it’s intentions, a little background information first. There are 20 schools involved in this program, all of which are investigating contemporary literacies with Prep students, which is approximately 400 students in all. Daphne Cohen, who is the Manager of Emerging Technologies in Education, Innovation & next Practice Division is heading this project and very excited to witness it’s outcomes come the end of the program.

The big question that was posed to us was “What role do digital technologies play in the education of early learners” (in this case, preps). From here the big 4 questions that were to guide our grant were the following:

1. How do preps learn using digital technologies in and out of school?

2. What are parents and teacher attitudes towards, and expectations of, technology use in the Early Years?

3. What are the challenges and opportunities in providing children with contemporary literacies as they start school?

4. What are the possible implications of the findings for existing literacy teaching/assessment practices in the Early Years?

Ian Burrage set the scene for the day discussing the questions above and where we are at in relation to 21st Century Learning and Thinking Skills, of which have been around since DaVinci! Perhaps time for us as educators to move on and forward. An interesting thought!

Following from Ian we heard from Judi Hanke, the Victorian Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, who discussed that Literacy is more than reading writing and speaking and listening. It involves students making ethical choices in a knowledge rich age and being a critical consumer and creator. We looked at and spoke about the picture below and the importance of a child’s development at an early age.

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As a group we discussed briefly what the ‘teddy Bear’s Picnic’ should look like in the 21st Century! Using google maps to plan the walk, and recipe based websites to cater the event, and creation tools to make invitations, Shazzam iPhone/iPad Application to find appropriate music!

Following on from the conversation above we also spoke about the importance of the transition that young people go through between pre-school and prep and the importance for children of this age to become familiar with technology. For them to develop the background knowledge that they need as they progress to school.

The main guest speaker for the day came in the form of Daniel Donahoo (@ddonahoo, @prjct_synthesis) an Author and Tech Addict among many other things. Daniel spoke to us about technology, children and the future. We heard that the pace of change is extremely rapid, especially in relation to technology and its ever changing ways. It is difficult to keep up with the rate of change as once we gain a great understanding of one thing, we have already moved on to the next, which does make it difficult for people, especially children, to become experts in the field of technology.

The afternoon sessions involved many short and sharp discussion around many topics relating to the days proceedings. We discussed safe and ethical behaviour and the resources that were available to us as educators such ad the DEECD FUSE website and Hector’s World.

We also heard from Daniel again, this time discussing the types of technology that is available to us to enhance Digital, or Contemporary Literacy. Daniel showed us a range of tools and devices that we as schools may like to purchase with our grant money to support the literacy programs we already have in place. An example of these being:

– USB Microscopes,

– Micro Cameras,

– QR Code Generators and Readers,

– Flip Cameras,

– Sony Bloggies,

– iPads (App’s being Toon Tastic, Little Explorers, Toca Tea Party, Motion Math,

– iPod Touches,

– Digital Voice Recorders,

– Digital Cameras

– and so on…

So… after all that was discussed throughout the day our decision is now this… What do we spend our grant money on to support the Literacy programs we currently have set in place in our Prep cohort? One prep class will be the focus of the program, that being our Prep Teacher Sam Irwin (@sirwin2pt0). Being a Mac School we are thinking iPod Touches, as we can purchase a greater quantity with what money we have. The fact that these devices are also portable, smaller than an iPad, and can have a lot of the same applications seems a clear winner for us. Students can take a photo and record voice which is also a benefit of these devices.

Sam and I will be sure to keep you informed of our happenings of this program and it’s outcomes. What would you purchase to support you literacy program? A big decision!

Overall, it was a great day, heard from lots of great speakers with great ideas and a real passion for embedding technology in to the Early Years of Schooling! I look forward to getting underway!

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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!

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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!

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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!

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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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2010 Comes To A Close!

Apple Winter Holiday Mac Christmas Leopard

What a year! A year which promised so much for myself and the College i am part of and having just about all of those promises come to fruition!

This was my first year in a role that saw me out of a classroom full time since i began teaching WAY back in 2003! Being given the eLearning Coordinator/ICT Leading Teacher gig was a major highlight for me personally at the end of 2009 and then to put that role and its responsibilities in to action this year was a great learning opportunity for myself. I reflect back along the course of this year and think that there are so many more things that perhaps i could of achieved but maybe that is setting expectations somewhat high for myself.

Managing ICT at such a fast growing College, one which is set to be the largest single campus P-12 in Victoria, certainly will have it’s challenges, some of which i have already met and conquered is part and parcel if the role i am in. Technology is an area the generally people love or hate because it either works for them, or it doesn’t. The main responsibility i am assigned with is to help people see the light! Help them to integrate ICT in to their teaching and learning practices and to make other educator realise that technology is a tool to be used and embraced, not shunned.

I had the opportunity to not only attend, but to also present at several outstanding Professional Learning sessions throughout the year and these made a huge difference in how i went about my new role. ACEC 2010, ITSE10, VITTA 2010 and Ulearn10 were all sensational outings in which i learnt a great deal from. I heard some amazing keynoters speak, people whom i had heard of, yet never heard speak, or, in some instances meet and converse with in person or even have dinner with! Marco Torres, Steve Wheeler, Gary Stager, Lee Crocket, Sylvia Martinez, and Stephen Heppell just to name a few. Amazing educational minds with even more amazing educational thoughts to share.

Being involved in and coordinating the DEECD iPads for Learning Trial was also a major highlight this year. Being one of nine schools in the State to be selected was great news for our College and would, and has, complimented our excellent ICT programs we currently have running. The 100 iPads being placed in our Yr 5 cohort as well as 10 more for our Specialist Learning House certainly placed us on the map for IT Innovations. The iPads have been a revelation in our College and it was not until recently in the trial that the staff and students really started to demonstrate just how powerful the iPad as a Mobile Technological Device could be in an Education setting. I will certainly keep you posted on all of the happenings relating to this trial!

Next year i am very much looking forward to Peer Coaching. I am looking forward to assisting staff where i can in integrating ICT in to their teaching and learning practices. A great part of this i am sure will be the learning that i will undergo throughout this process. I am sure that i will learn just as much from those that i am Peer Coaching with as perhaps, fingers crossed, that they learn from me!

The learning that i witnessed throughout the year from the students who had ICT firmly embedded in to their daily practices was astounding and i am mainly talking about here students involved in our 1:1 MacBook Program. The students have developed so far over the course of the year, especially our Yr 8 students who started off with their MacBooks last year in the program. The work that all our Yr 7 and 8 students have developed has been excellent. The movies and creative flare that has been shown was by no means lacking. Students used a wide array of applications and software on their Macs such as iMovie, Comic Life, and Garage Band just to name a few!

Overall it has been a year of many learning curves. I am greatly looking forward to 2011 and what it holds! I will be teaching two Yr 9 Discovery Units, Media Creation and Game Based Learning, assisting all staff with their Ultranet endeavours, coordinating the last 12 months of the iPad Trial, as as i have mentioned Peer Coaching fellow staff! I am also booked in already to present at specific conferences next year which i enjoy immensely also!

Have a great Christmas and New Year, and thanks for taking interest in what i have to share!

Cheers!