Innovation & eLearning at St Andrew’s College in 2015

2015 is shaping up to be another exciting year at St Andrew’s College, as we welcome a second cohort into the 1:1 Computing Programme that debuted in 2014. A number of things have been done to support the growing numbers of students with devices at the College including:

  • The creation of a new role called eLearning Integrator, that has been filled by Mr Tom Adams. Tom’s focus will be supporting teachers and students to use technology more effectively in the classroom and the role is a logical extension of the 1:1 Computing Programme that was first planned in 2012.
  • The hiring of an additional ICT help desk staff member, Mr Brodie Dickinson. Brodie joins the team from Adelaide, Australia and his appointment means there will always be quick and friendly ICT support for students and staff when they need it.
  • snapA second fibre optic internet connection has been installed, with support from our ISP Snap Internet. This means the College now has two diverse internet feeds available, so in the event of a fibre cut or outage, the College internet connection will automatically fail over to the secondary connection, ensuring almost seamless internet access for students and staff.

I can see that this year there will be a number of trends that the ICT team will focus on supporting in the classroom and growing the confidence and competence of a wider range of our teaching staff.

Creating An Environment Where Innovation Can Occur:

RectorOne of the themes from the Rector in 2014 was to help create an environment where innovation can occur and in her opening address in Regulus she noted:

I am always mindful that we cannot sit still and simply enjoy the benefits of success. William Pollard (Episcopal priest and physicist) wrote in the 1960s “Learning and innovation go hand-in-hand. The arrogance of success is to think that what you did yesterday will be sufficient for tomorrow.”

In this light, we have adopted the theme for St Andrew’s College in 2014 of Innovation and Collaboration – two qualities that are at the heart of 21st century learning.

To support that goal, a Research and Innovation Group was set up that has laid the groundwork for the 2015 Professional Learning Groups (PLGs) that will drive teaching staff Professional Development once again this year. Furthermore, to help create an environment conducive to innovative teaching practices certain things need to occur:

  • Innovators need to be encouraged, rewarded and celebrated. At St Andrew’s this has been done in a number of ways, including creating a new billboard area in the very busy pickup/dropoff zone celebrating teacher excellence. This is the inaugural poster in this area:

Jac and Ben

  • Innovators need to be closely supported – provide them with access to the latest equipment, software and professional development as it becomes available. Ensure that when they experience frustrations there is timely support, as the classroom can be a very lonely place for teachers when technology fails them!
  • Monitor closely what is happening at the “bleeding edge” of technology in education – what’s happening on the fringe today will quite possibly be mainstream in a number of years.
  • As a school, settle on “innovation within parameters” – there is now so much choice available, that there must be some rational decisions made about the broad direction a school is heading in. (I touch on this in my #CENZ14 blog post comparing the choice of Google Apps For Education vs Microsoft Office365)
  • Support innovation at all levels – even the aspirational “first steps” by teachers, and then provide a framework for them to grow their attempts e.g. the SAMR taxonomy
Explaining the SAMR model through coffee

Explaining the SAMR model through coffee

Pulling The Majority Forward:

Innovation Adoption LifecycleSt Andrew’s College is lucky that we have a number of teachers that are routinely trying new things in their classroom. We celebrate this in a number of different ways, including postings on this blog, whilst occasionally these teachers are also recognised externally for their innovative teaching practices. This was the case with Mrs Jac Yoder and Mr Ben Hilliam who were recognised for their innovative work with Microsoft products towards the end of 2014.

Additionally, we are now starting to get requests from other schools, teacher training institutions, subject association groups and other organisations for our staff to present or facilitate professional development in the education sector. Whilst this is very pleasing, the staff involved represent a relatively small subset of our wider teachers – as the diagram above shows, they would be seen as innovators or early adopters. Amongst the remainder of our staff, the early / late majority, most are very keen to try new things but may lack the confidence or support to try new things in their classroom, particularly when it comes to technology.

For this reason, our new eLearning Integrator has the goal of growing the size of our staff innovating and who could become early adopters of technology and best practice in the classroom. Sharing the successes (and challenges!) of these innovative attempts is imperative as it will encourage all of our teaching staff to give it a go.

Tools To Help With Innovative Practice:

An important point not to lose sight of: it's the teacher, not the technology, that makes the difference!

An important point not to lose sight of: it’s the teacher, not the technology, that makes the difference!

I recently saw the image on the right retweeted by one of our staff and it is a timely reminder that for successful learning outcomes the teacher and the student are the critical components in the process. Technology, as great as it is, merely facilitates the learning, as I mentioned in this earlier post:

Whilst the phrase “ubiquitousness of technology” is over used, this lesson did demonstrate that when used effectively, the technology is not at the forefront of the lesson. It was not gimmicky or flashy, instead it provided functional improvement to what was already a great lesson.

With this in mind, there are some tools that I expect to see heavy usage of from our staff this year, including:

  • Pro 3 WritingThe Microsoft Surface Pro 3building on our earlier trials, this year we will see over 20 staff using a Pro 3 as their primary device, no longer having a school issued laptop, but instead the excellent Surface tablet. I am personally excited to see what innovative practices come from this relatively new technology in the classroom.
  • notebook creatorOneNote Class NoteBook Creator – this is a big step for St Andrew’s as a largely Microsoft school, and is something I’ve blogged about before. What is especially pleasing is the responsiveness of the developers of this product who have now added the major feature requested by teachers: the ability to have multiple teachers sharing a class notebook.
  • moodleMoodle - freshly upgraded to the latest version (2.8.2) this will continue to be a key platform for teachers and students to access course content, share ideas and submit assessment.
  • Skype - Whilst a number of classes have now enjoyed skype_logothe fun of a Mystery Skype session, the call to Alabama and kapa haka to Singapore among my favourites, I would like to see more collaboration going on between these classes – the logical progression from simply connecting.

Invariably, other tools, websites, apps and services will emerge throughout 2015 as teachers at the College try new things. With the first Mystery Skype session scheduled for February 5th with a class in Oklahoma City, the year will be underway before we know it.

I am looking forward to sharing the stories on this blog for others to read and comment on, with readers having visited the blog from over 100 countries in 2014 (the top three being New Zealand, USA and Australia):

Map

Teaching the Teachers: A Visit From Microsoft Australia’s National Education Specialist

This post was guest written by Mr Ben Hilliam after St Andrew’s College hosted Mr Travis Smith, Microsoft Australia’s National Education Specialist in December 2014.

In December 2014, St Andrew’s College had the privilege of hosting Microsoft Australia’s National Education Specialist, Travis Smith. He spent a week touring New Zealand talking to educators from primary through to tertiary sectors about how they can use technology to improve learning outcomes. Although this sounds like an arbitrary topic for a speaker from Microsoft, Travis focussed continually on how improved learning takes place and the technology was very much an accompanying instrument to this drive.

Travis SmithThe Power of The Pen:

Travis spoke very broadly at first about how we need to target where we want to see innovation in using digital technology, otherwise, schools’ pedagogical progress can be flapped about by what any particular teacher wants to focus on at any time. The challenge is to get 80%+ of your educators being actively innovative in their practice. A hurdle that Travis identified to this goal is the way we educate our educators.

As teachers we can be quite innovative with the way we teach content and facilitate inquiry for our students, but ask us to do the same for our co-workers and we get into lecture mode. Travis suggests that when it comes to getting educators to become innovative in their practice:

  1. They first need to become familiar with the technology they are going to use.
  2. Secondly they need to develop a skills base with that technology.
  3. Then finally, they need to have be given the time and opportunity to implement it into their learning/teaching processes.

That three step process seems simple, however, most school professional development opportunities miss out steps 1 and 2 and jump straight to 3.

The technology that Travis spoke at length about in his presentation, is one dear to my own professional development: The Power of the Pen. We have been in an era of digital technology for 40+ years now. Computers have been in schools in some way or another for well over 30 years. For the last 20 years every high school student by the time they have left school has spent quite some time using a computer. And now probably the majority of schools run some kind of BYOD or 1-1 computer programme. However, for certain aspects of learning, digital technologies have made very little progress on changing or adapting the way they are taught. My subject area, Mathematics, being one of the main unaffected areas. The reason for this is because many types of thinking are best supported by pen and paper. Travis cites this research in support of this.

Personal Reflections On Using A Pen In Mathematics Teaching:

I would like to reflect on how my innovation process worked with my adoption of the pen (or stylus) and Microsoft SurfacePro when incorporating digital technologies into teaching and learning:

  1. Becoming familiar with the technology: As I sit and write this post at my parents-in-law’s house during my summer break, it is here where three years ago, my brother-in-law showed me his iPad with a stylus. I had a play around with an app called Paper. The stylus was quite good with the iPad, but had the drawback of not working when your palm rested on the screen. However, it was enough to whet my appetite and I could immediately see the advantage of a digital canvas in a world with cloud sharing. I convinced my school to let me be a forerunner with this technology and after I put the case to them, they invested in an iPad and stylus for me to use in my classes.
  2. Building skills with the technology: My iPad became my new whiteboard and notebook. I could cast my screen to my projector, deliver my content that way, and still have a copy to share with my students afterwards. I still had the frustration of having to have a magazine between my palm and the screen, but I felt I was moving in the right direction and feedback and marks from my students did not contradict me. I moved to a new school (St Andrew’s College) which was Microsoft only, so I needed to adapt. They provided me with a SurfacePro and I continued as I had with the iPad with some added advantages: I could now write naturally with my palm on the screen, my notes were always live and organised through Microsoft OneNote and I had a fully-fledged computer at my fingertips. Here is an example of how I used it.
  3. Implementing technology into my teaching and learning process: I am now able to approach 2015 running, with three of my classes now in a 1-1 computing environment. My students can have their learning their own way, either my “chalk and talk” projected in class, or watched again afterwards having been recorded and posted using OfficeMix or in some cases watch content in advance. On their own devices they all have a communal OneNote along with their own personal OneNotes that I have access to as well. And for those students also with a stylus enabled device such as a Microsoft SurfacePro or a Lenovo Yoga, they can toss their paper books aside.

As I reflect on how this process has played out for me, I can see I have built an innovative practice into my everyday pedagogy and it is now embedded. However, this whole process has taken around two years and required support from my successive HOD’s, senior managers and IT staff. If schools want to emulate this process they first need to create an environment where these things can all come together.

Further Information:

To watch a similar presentation to the one Travis presented at St Andrew’s College, watch the YouTube clip below:

Introducing Tom Adams – eLearning Integrator at St Andrew’s College

StAC Logo WhiteStarting in 2015, St Andrew’s College has created a new position to support teaching and learning with technology both in and out of the classroom. This role, called eLearning Integrator, has been filled by Mr Tom Adams and reflects the College’s continuing commitment to ensuring both staff and students are equipped to maximise the opportunities presented by technology.

To ensure this happens, Mr Adams will be teaching a single class (senior Geography) and using the rest of his time supporting teachers and students both in and out of the classroom. The interview below introduces Mr Adams and his role.

Tom, you have joined St Andrew’s College from Christchurch Girls High School. Can you provide an overview of how your role there supported eLearning initiatives?

My role at CGHS was twofold. The first aspect of the job was to oversee the continued development of a strong infrastructure; both wired and wireless. We all know the futility of trying to make meaningful progress with e-Learning without this aspect falling into place. The second aspect was to oversee the actual teaching and learning aspect of e-Learning. The main initiative predominantly involved the conceptualisation and development of a Moodle site which has, pleasingly, became relatively engrained in the teaching and learning programmes of most staff and students.

Of the various initiatives you introduced at CGHS, which were you most pleased with and why?

On reflection it would have to be the way that the Moodle site became ingrained in the learning culture of both staff and students. Our average hit rate of over 1000 site visits daily was evidence that students and staff were using it as the basis of their online learning needs. Early in 2015 the site will record its 2 millionth site visit!

You have experience with both Google Apps For Education (GAFE) and Microsoft’s Office365 (which StAC uses). Do you have any thoughts on the relative strengths and weaknesses of these products and how they can assist teachers and students with learning in the classroom?

I feel that this is an area that a number of schools are going to really struggle with over the next few years as both GAFE and 365 continue to develop their competitive capabilities in this growing market of eLearning. I personally feel that GAFE currently has certain advantages such as its ease of use and smooth integration between its complementary products, however, the new developments within 365 in the last 18 months have certainly brought that package into line, and 365 now offers greater functionality and the incredibly exciting potential of OneNote in an education setting. OneNote is a product that GAFE currently does not match. With 365’s impressive, recent developments it will be interesting to see GAFE’s response in 2015!

StAC has seen massive uptake amongst staff of Microsoft OneNote in the last 12-18 months. Some schools are now using this as their Learning Management System, whereas St Andrew’s remains committed to using Moodle as the primary LMS. Can you share your thoughts on the value of Moodle to both teachers and students?

I believe that the separation from 365 that Moodle allows is an important aspect. By using the Sharepoint platform as your LMS there is the risk of becoming insulated, self-congratulatory, and ultimately too reliant on 365 to provide a one stop e-Learning platform. Using 365 in the classroom should only be one aspect of a teacher’s e-Learning commitment. By having an intermediate platform, itself with many great features, allows a teacher, and their students, to have a central platform to feed other learning experiences into. It also allows the school to more fully involve its wider school community in the e-Learning process by making use of the public functionality of Moodle, as appropriate, to help give a more personalised feel than is provided by most school websites.

You’ve come to a few events hosted by StAC over the last couple of years and have had a chance to see how the College is resourced and the direction we are moving in with respect to eLearning. What excites you the most about this role? 

This potential of this role is incredibly exciting. I am in the privileged position to be at a school that is committed to offering effective e-Learning to their students, and a school that is willing to create a position such as mine. The fact that, in the position, I have been allocated the time and freedom to really help shape the future of e-Learning in the school is something which I am really looking forward to!

The College is quite different from other schools you’ve worked in, being co-educational and also Year 1-13. What are some of the personal goals you’re hoping to focus on when you start?

The ability to work with staff and students Y1-13 was one aspect of the job that really attracted me to it. I have so much to learn about teaching at a primary level and that will be great fun. The other aspect of the position that will be an initial goal of mine will be to gain the trust and confidence of as many staff as possible, as quickly as possible! This will be a massive undertaking as it is a privilege to be allowed into someone else’s classroom, and it is not something that all teachers are comfortable with.

Finally, what other interests do you have outside of technology and teaching?

I am currently enjoying the pleasures of having a young family. Cait and I have two boys, Ollie (4) and Sam (1), who currently provide the entertainment at home. Outside of my family, I am an absolute sports tragic. As well as passionately supporting a number of, predominantly unsuccessful, teams across a few different sports I am a lower grade cricketer (who is a bit susceptible to an early straight delivery), and an ageing, and slowing, central midfielder for a local football club.

Moving forward, I anticipate Mr Adams will be posting blogs directly, sharing some of the eLearning stories emerging from his work with staff and students at St Andrew’s College.

Using Stats App GameChanger To Improve Performance

GameChanger_logo

Summary stats for the Beach Bash tournament

Summary stats for the Beach Bash tournament

I am currently with the St Andrew’s College Senior Boys Basketball team in the USA, playing in the Corona Del Mar High School annual Beach Bash tournament. It has been a big learning curve for the team coming up against some very high quality teams from around Orange County. Although we have not played them, the tournament includes the #12 ranked high school basketball team in the USA, Mater Dei (who interestingly also use GameChanger to record stats).

As part of my role with the team, I have been taking statistics during each game on an iPad, recording important information such as:

  • Shot attempts (both made and missed)
  • Rebounding (offensive and defensive)
  • Assists and turnovers
  • Blocks
  • Individual and team fouls.

I’ve used a number of different apps over the last two years to record this information but have settled on GameChanger has it provides a really good overview during the game revealing three critical stats:

  • Points off turnovers (very valuable in this tournament as the defensive pressure from the American teams has been significantly higher than what the boys are used to)
  • Second chance points (when the opposition scores after getting an offensive rebound)
  • Shooting zones for both teams – identifying where/how the opposition are getting their points (close shots “in the paint” or outside three pointers for example).

This is the overview for the last game we played against Sage Hill:

White is St Andrew's College and Green is Sage Hill

White is St Andrew’s College and Green is Sage Hill

Aside from the first quarter, this ended up being a very close game, with the difference really coming down to the very high percentage Sage Hill managed to shoot the three pointer.

Shot zone for Ben, our starting centre.

Shot zone for Ben, our starting centre. As you’d expect for a centre, most of the shots are close to the hoop.

One of the other great benefits of this app is that parents and supporters who are not at the game can follow along live online or via an iOS app with the GameStream feature, and also get game and season statistics for each player. From a coaching perspective, it is invaluable to be able to show each player where their shots were made/missed, allowing them to reflect on what were high percentage shots to keep taking, versus lower percentage shots to try and eliminate. Two other useful features are the shot chart for the game and the Game Flow (similar to the “worm” in a cricket run chase). Below are the Game Flow and Shot Chart for the last game against Sage Hill:

A unique feature of this app is the “Recap Story” automatically written after the game is completed based on the statistical data recorded. On Thursday the St Andrew’s team beat local team Westminister and this is the write up generated by GameChanger:

  • St Andrew’s College Beats Westminster
  • St Andrew’s College were victorious against Westminster 56-51 on Friday with the help of Tullen McGuinness, who scored 16 points. On a three-pointer from Will Hollings, St Andrew’s College locked down their lead in the third quarter. St Andrew’s College pulled ahead early with a 19-point second quarter on the strength of an 11-3 run, eventually claiming a 27-23 lead by halftime. McGuinness led the charge for St Andrew’s College’s offense, scoring 16 points, with nine points during the fourth period. He also contributed five rebounds and one steal. Jayden Chan (9 points) and Hollings (6) each sunk multiple three-pointers. Also contributing for St Andrew’s College were Ben Cushing (8 points, 8 rebounds, 1 block),Amosa Faitua-Nanai (6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal), Theo Van Hout (6 points, 2 rebounds, 1 block), Jono Trail (2 points, 2 rebounds) and Sam Cockram (2 points, 1 rebound). St Andrew’s College finished the game with 35 rebounds (eight offensive/27 defensive), three blocks and seven steals.

These Recap Stories are written via technology by Narrative Science and present a succinct summary of the game. My only request would be that these recaps also reflected some of the performance of the opposition, rather than being so obviously focused on the team recording the stats.

Whilst the GameChanger app is not perfect (it is missing some useful stats such as +/- and EFF), it is very intuitive to use and provides the best “in game” reporting at a glance making it very valuable. The GameStream feature, streaming in realtime the scoring of the game, is a great feature as well.

This blog post is a little different from the usual eLearning stories that I write about, however I find it really interesting that technology like this is now available at a high school level, whereas it was previously only accessible at a College or Professional levels. It reinforces that technology is helping learning across all spectrums, both in the classroom, as well as the sports environment.

Guest Post: Year 6 Mystery Skype With Alabama School

This post was written by a student in Year 6SD after a Mystery Skype session in Term 4.

On November 21st 6SD was involved in a mystery skype with another Year 6 class.

As soon as they spoke we knew that they were in America, so we had to guess what State they were in. To make it more interesting and more challenging, we were only to ask yes, no questions. We were allowed to use our devices to check information and it didn’t take long for us to ask if their State had a starting letter between A and L.  We asked if their capital city was Montgomery and they replied yes. We found out on our devices that they were in Alabama.  Ben played on his electric guitar, Sweet home Alabama and they told us we were right!

They found out we were in New Zealand. After we both knew what Country/City each other was in, we asked them questions about Alabama, like what their favourite sports teams were. We found out some very cool facts about Alabama like that they get to wear mufti every day while we had to wear uniforms all the time and also that at 9.10am on Friday morning it was only 2.10pm on Thursday for them.

Overall it was a great experience and we would love to do it again.

By Henry

This post was also displayed for students to see on the College Moodle site

Creative Writing With OneNote & MineCraft

Harry reading his story and showing the world he created in Minecraft

Creative writing can be a topic that even the most competent students find challenging. For the children of Mr Dekkers’ Year 6 class, added motivation was provided by the introduction of “Pick a Path” stories as the format for their creative writing. For those unfamiliar with this genre, the reader is regularly presented with a choice at the bottom of a page – depending on which option they select, the outcome or ending of the story can be quite different.

I was pretty excited by the idea of using Microsoft OneNote to create these stories ever since I had stumbled across the idea in October on the Partners in Learning Network which outlined the learning objectives of this activity as:

  • to produce interactive choose your own adventure stories
  • to work collaboratively online to produce an end product
  • to create stories to share online with a wider audience

I shared the link with a few teachers who I knew would be interested and the timing was perfect for Mr Dekkers’ Year 6 students who were embarking on creative writing as part of an English unit. Already competent OneNote users, the student did have to figure out how they were going to hyperlink between pages in their notebooks, and with this problem solved, the writing began.

Hamish made this cover image using Paint.Net and merged three different images.

Hamish made this cover image using Paint.Net and merged three different images.  CLICK IMAGE TO READ THE STORY

To encourage his students to reflect on their writing and be as creative as possible, Mr Dekkers asked them to draw a picture of a scene or the world they were describing, or alternatively to recreate it in Minecraft. In doing so, the students could literally visualise what they were writing about. Their editing from this process was reflected in their OneNote Notebooks by highlighting changes made as a result of their picture or Minecraft world.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Due to the ease of sharing NoteBooks in OneNote, students were able to read and comment on the progression of the stories and provide feedback to one another or suggest ideas for the direction of the stories.

Desert of Terror

Harry’s story Desert of Terror. CLICK IMAGE TO READ THE STORY

With the writing complete, the class had the opportunity to read them all and then voted for the three stories they enjoyed the most. Izzy, Hamish and Harry’s stories were chosen and I had the pleasure of hosting them in the Board Room in Strowan House for a reading of their Pick a Path stories.

 

Izzy's Pick a Path Story called The Black Death Maze. CLICK IMAGE TO READ THE STORY

Izzy’s Pick a Path Story called The Black Death Maze. CLICK IMAGE TO READ THE STORY

It was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, albeit very challenging to complete the stories successfully without coming to a gruesome end by choosing the wrong path! I do encourage you to click on the cover images on the left and read the stories yourself. This is possible because the three students shared their stories in read only mode in OneNote.

When I queried Harry about the reason for using Minecraft he said:

The goal was not to just make something pretty in Minecraft, it was actually to improve the quality of your writing … after writing the story, the idea was to look back in Minecraft and see how you could improve the writing you had already completed.

Their ease and confidence in using OneNote was evident and so I took the opportunity to ask them about how they found using this tool in their learning in general.  Hamish commented:

OneNote is really good because we can all go on it at the same time – we have even done debates on it!

Continue reading

Teaching The Teachers: St Andrew’s College Staff Delivering Professional Development

StAC Logo WhiteThe end of the academic year is a busy time in most schools, but also a time that many teachers engage in professional development. It is no different at St Andrew’s College where three hour, small group sessions were organised for all secondary teaching staff as a refresher on eLearning. This professional development was run by Arnika Brown, an eLearning Integrator from Cyclone Computers who has previously worked with teachers in our Preparatory School.

This year has also seen increasing requests by other schools and organisations for our teachers to deliver professional development in the area of eLearning and technology use in the classroom. An example of this is earlier this week our Assistant Head of English Ms Tam Yuill Proctor was invited to deliver a keynote at the Dunedin English Big Day Out conference. The title of her message was “Putting the “E” of E-Learning into Teaching and Learning” and as a summary reflection of presentation she recorded a terrific Office Mix overview (click the slide below to view):

Tam Office Mix

The topics covered in the keynote included:

  • Teaching and Learning: knowledge building, learning communities, practice
  • Office365: Office Mix, OneNote and OneDrive
  • Inquiry Learning: putting it into action with Year 10
  • Blogs and Twitter: effective use of these in professional development.

Other examples of our staff delivering or facilitating professional development in eLearning recently include:

It is excellent to see teachers from St Andrew’s College being invited to share their expertise and experience with the wider teaching community, as it highlights the value our own students are receiving in their tuition. As well as requests to speak at events, the College has hosted numerous staff from other schools on visits to see eLearning in action in our classrooms.

To build on this momentum, St Andrew’s has created a new position starting in 2015 called eLearning Integrator. This role will focus on supporting innovative and best practice in eLearning amongst our teachers and I am confident this will lead to even more teachers being asked to speak at future events.