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VITTA 2012

On Monday and Tuesday this week I once again had the wonderful opportunity to attend VITTA 2012 – Reign of the Cloud, conference at Caulfield Racecourse. VITTA, or the Victorian Information Technology Teachers Association, run excellent professional learning programs with the VITTA Conference being their swan-song!

As like most other conference based PL, the process is the same in having to register, attend keynote presentations, and select workshops and breakout sessions to attend based on your interest and that of your setting. This being i feel the great thing about such conferences, the ability to select what learning you’d like to be involved in. Wouldn’t it be great if kids had the same opportunity! Hmmm…

OK. Starting with the Keynote addresses. 4 Keynotes. 4 very different presentations. 4 very passionate people. Now rather than go in to paragraph after paragraph about their addresses, i thought that i would simply let you all see them for yourselves. Below i have included the key note addresses for your viewing pleasure. Highlights for myself were certainly the talk from Yong Zhao and that from Greg Whitby. Two men very passionate about education, technology, and the path that both of these are taking heading towards the future!

To access the Keynote addresses, head to the following site: VITTA 2012 Conference Videos

More keynote presentations as well as videos from other presenters will be added over the coming weeks so watch this space.

From the two Keynotes which I found most relevant, i have outlined 10 dot points from each that resonated with myself and really got me thinking about not only technology integration and education, but in some instances life in general.

Yong Zhao – Presidential Chair and Associate Dean for Global Education, College of Education at the University of Oregon, where he is a full professor in the Department of Educational Measurement, Policy and Leadership(EMPL). He is a fellow of the International Academy for Education.

1. Its not about the technology, it about the ICT skills and kids we want to produce.

2. Why when we have mobile technology and Internet, we place restrictions upon it for learners?

3. What kind of education can we give that promotes success and happiness?

4. In years to come, large workforces such as those found in factories will cease to exist. The only sectors to employ large groups of people will be education and governments.

5. Is humanity loosing key skills through being creative? I.e. The ability to grow food for yourself as to now simply be able to just buy it?

6. China is ranking as one of the ‘smartest’ countries in the world in mathematics, reading and science. However, they are one of the worst at developing entrepreneurs, unlike the U.S., which is the opposite.

7. The current curriculum is based on producing academics. Knowledge is very important, but it is by no mean imperative.

8. That all curriculum should be personalised and product based.

9. All learning should be taking place in a global context. i.e. – obaworld.com

10. We need to develop entrepreneurs for the future, not just kids who do well on assessment.

Greg Whitby – is the Executive Director of Schools and leads a system of 78 Catholic schools in greater western Sydney serving over 42,000 students and employing over 4,500 teachers and staff. He has extensive experience in senior system leadership and K-12 schooling in government and non-government sectors.

1. Staff and schools across Australia need to focus on developing better practices of teaching.

2. We can reflect over the past 150 of education here in Australia, but lets NOT base where we want to head to on where we have come from!

3. We need to build schools that enhance the professional life of teachers and promote learning.

4. We need to focus on change and adaptability. This being adapting teaching and learning where appropriate to the technology.

5. We need better teachers in Australia now more so than ever.

6. Diversity needs to be the norm, every teachers and student is unique and individual.

7. It’s all about learning. Period!

8. Data is not the driver. It is the catalyst. The driver is god instruction led by instructional leaders.

9. Teachers, Educational leaders need to shape the agenda of learning and teachers. Not others. I.e. Politicians. Governments.

10. It’s not about the device. it’s about the software. We all have a device, who cares what it looks like, it’s about what it can do!

 

I was was fortunate enough to present myself on a topic that seems to be quite hot at the moment in BYOD. I have embedded my presentation below and you have any questions, please email!

 

Over the two days i can say that i took away a lot of learning experiences from the sessions that i was involved in. Having attended sessions based upon iPad integration and app’s for learning, Adobe Photo-shop, Unity 3D and 3D Design, and Game Maker, certainly left me with a lot to think about and some fantastic new ideas to attempt to ‘smash’ my students with!!!

Thanks very much to all those who presented and made the conference what it was, that being a great success!

 

 

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Slide2Learn 2012

Right. It’s now been a week, and a bit. Had plenty of time to reflect, so here we go.

Last Monday I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the Slide2Learn Conference hosted at Albert Park College, Melbourne. S2L has been a conference that i have been aiming to attend for a few yeas now as it’s reputation is quite seeing that it is a conference ran by teachers, for teachers, as well as being heavily focused upon Apple Mac technology use in education. Fr more about Slide2Learn and its inner workings, head to the website HERE.

Now S2L was a two day conference and due to prior family commitments i attended only the Monday, a which was filled with learning and engaging sessions for attendees to… attend.

Now, rather than give a minute by minute experience, which may bore some to the utter death, i thought i’d be a little more proactive in giving more detail about some of the excellent tools that i came across. These tools being one’s that could easily be embedded in to a Teaching and Learning program. Tool’s that i know i’ll be keen to use with my own students! Some of these may be new, others, perhaps not, so here we go… Thanks to Simon Shaw from Apple for these… 

1. Nearpod Application – iPad

Nearpod is an application that has been released only recently and allows some amazing things within a classroom to occur. Teachers can create a slideshow online via the Nearpod website. Nothing special. Yet. Teachers can embed in these presentations quizzes, videos, polls, sketching tools, and more. Still not impressed? From here, students have on their own iPad devices the “Nearpod Student App”, which allows them to view the created presentation on their own device, in real time with the teacher. So when the teacher swipes to the next slide, it will do so on the student devices. Now this can only happen if all devices are connected to a wifi network, however, 3G will also allow sharing to happen! If creating and sharing slideshows is not your thing, then PDF documents can be uploaded, exported as a slideshow, and shared with students this way also.

All of the above can be a little better explained i suppose through the image below, sourced from the Nearpod Website.

All in all, and my VERY brief summary has not done it justice, Nearpod has a plethora of applications for classroom use. Head to the website for a much better description! www.nearpod.com

2. dotEPUB

dotEPUB allows users to embed a Widget/Bookmarklet in to their browser (Firefox and Chrome only) and then, once on a web page of interest, by clicking this installed button the text from that webpage is automatically converted to an e-book! A great way to share specific content that is web based with others. As a teacher, excellent resources can be created from this, such as converting a current event news story to an e-book and then sharing this with students. And, as the e-book can be read offline, great for students who have zero Internet access at home if the e-book or reading material is distributed at school.

3. TEDeD Talks

Most of us are familiar with TED Talks. Well, for those who may not know, we have now have TED-Ed Talks. This site focuses solely on educational based material that educators can use with students. Currently, at time of timing… there were 89 Videos that have been uploaded for use. Not much hey… HOWEVER! These videos have been ‘Flipped’ 4,740 times! Now what do i mean by flipped? Rather than me trying to explain it, i’ll TED do that… “Flipping” a video allows you to turn a video into a customized lesson that can be assigned to students or shared more widely. You can add context, questions, and follow-up suggestions to any video on TED-Ed or YouTube.”

Check the screen shot below for a snapshot of what each ‘flipped’ video can contain!

This amazing resource is well worth a look see!

4. Book Creator Application – iPad

When i first had a play with this it reminded me of the iBook Author software for my Mac. This is a great App for eBook creation right on the iPad itself. Now, there are other eBook creation type app’s for the iPad, yet i found this one to be easy to use, effective and most of all, student friendly. Create great eBooks in minutes, as i did at Slide2Learn! A very worthwhile app. Once created, students can read their eBook directly in iBooks, or email and share their creation with friends. The app gives a lot of features for students to be able to edit the content they include, which of course, is very important. Cost: $5.49… App linked here.

5. Posterous – Online Sharing

Like a lot of online tools and sites, i had heard of Posterous, know of people using it, but never had a chance to see it in action properly. Now i have, and i can say i am glad i did. One of the first questions i am asked re: our 1:1 iPad Trial at my College is the whole sharing work of an iPad scenario… Connecting to a server? Printing work? Etc… Currently, we use email being a Google K-12 App’s College. This works great for us and our setting. We also ustilise Dropbox and using these extremely well also! In saying all of this, i have not yet had a chance to use, or play around with Posterous, yet from what i did see and have heard, it looks to be a winner. In my eyes anyway.

Posterous looks to be along the lines of a Dropbox type scenario, yet it also appears so much more! In a few words… students create an account. Then they have a ‘wall’ or space so to speak. Once they have created on their iPad device, they email it to their Posterous Space. Rather than displaying as a link or attachment, the actual document or file is displayed. How easy is that! How good is that! Spaces can be private, public, limited to a select few, etc… and this is a great thing about Posterous. I am excited to have a greater play with this to see if it would be a great fit for our students.

Lastly, Posterous supports a wide range of file types so the uploading/sharing of created content by students is a no brain-er. Posterous will also automatically re-size and convert image and video for optimum viewing via the Spaces that the dos’c are going to. Impressive.

So… I hope you find the above 5 tools useful. They may be great for you and your students, they may not, but definitely worth a share. Thanks to the Slide2Learn team and Simon Shaw from Apple for giving me a great insight in to these applications and tools!

 

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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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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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P.L. Workshops!

Screen shot 2010-11-08 at 9.02.44 PM

This evening at my College we ran our first ever Professional Learning Workshops in replace of our more traditional staff meeting, and from what staff were saying afterwards, it was appeared to be a great success!

Staff were given the option to attend two half hour workshops, which were being presented by other staff who wanted to share their own knowledge in particular areas. We had workshops covering all major curriculum areas such as ICT, Numeracy, Literacy, PBS (Behaviour management) and Science just to name a few. Staff were asked to access a Google Doc in which they were to choose their preferences. This doc also told them what the PL Workshop was about as well as who was presenting.

On a personal level, I decided to share with staff one of the fantastic breakout sessions that i attended at Ulearn10 in Christchurch two months ago, the Apple sMACdown! All things, and several not, Apple related! I ran through with staff exactly what the presenters ran through at Ulearn and you yourself can see all of this excellent teaching and learning content here at the sMACdown site!

It was great to able to show my staff great tips and hints to use on their MacBooks and see them putting these in to action. Simple tricks such as zooming in on a screen (hold Ctrl+scroll up with two fingers) and taking selected screen shots of anything that is on the screen (Command+Shift+4) were great tools which were new to most staff! It is great to watch the thrill that adults get out of learning new things and doing them right away!

As the presenters at Ulearn were sharing their great hints and tips, those attending were also required to share their great tools and knowledge as well via Wallwisher, the sMACdown wall can be found HERE. Feel free to add to the site if you wish! The more teaching and learning ideas the better!

The second session that i attended was based on Web 2.0 tools. This session was ran by to colleagues, kate and Sam, who also went to, and presented at, Ulearn with me. Kate and Sam have created a Blog based on all things Web 2.0, titled Web20hyeah!

Kate and Sam took us through several great Web 2.0 tools which they are currently using within their class such as AMAP, Jog the Web, Wallwisher and Simple Diagrams.

If you have not ran a Professional Workshop session like this at your educational setting, i strongly encourage you to do so, or at least, push those who have control in doing so… in to doing so! It is an excellent way for staff to choose what professional learning suits their needs as a teacher.

I will certainly be keeping you all posted on how staff have further responded to these sessions in the coming days!

Thank for reading!