Back in March this year I was incredibly excited to hear that Microsoft had finally released a version of OneNote for Apple MacBooks running OS X. However, it became immediately apparent this was “OneNote Lite” with heavily restricted functionality and I blogged about my frustrations here.
Early this morning I saw a tweet showing that Microsoft had released a crucial update that would bring the long-awaited functionality to Mac users, on both OS X and iOS platforms:
In some ways this free update helps close the circle of functionality for our College – whilst not enjoying complete parity, MacBook users now have far greater ease of access to OneNote which is a tool that increasing numbers of our teachers are using in their classrooms.
A neat feature to see added to the iOS versions of OneNote would be inking – the ability to use a stylus within OneNote on the iPad or iPhone. Here’s hoping this is not too far away!
Throughout Term 2 there had been whispers around the College of an ambitious media project being planned by Mr Simon Williams (Head of Media) that would involve collaboration between his Year 12 media students and a group of students from the Preparatory School.
The end product was called Fusion, and involved 19 Year 12 students, 42 Year 6 students, 8 TV cameras, 3 recording studios and an Outside Broadcast van to co-ordinate it all. Filmed over the course of a single day, the show incorporated a number of live acts alongside three children’s television items planned, filmed and edited earlier that were to be assessed along with the live show. Together, these formed the major NCEA Level 2 assessment for the Year 12 students of:
AS91252 (2.5) Produce a design and plan for a developed media product using a range of conventions
AS91253 (2.6) Complete a developed media product from a design and plan using a range of conventions
For a number of years now the Year 12 Media Studies class had produced a children’s programme for this assessment, but this year Mr Williams decided to see if the Preparatory School wanted to be involved in a collaboration of the actual making of the show, rather than just being the intended audience. After talking with Mrs Di Cumming and Mr Wilj Dekkers, it was quickly decided that the Year 6 students would be willing participants and that the theme of the live show should be based around China, a unit that the Year 6 students had recently been studying.
This theme was met with initial resistance by the Year 12 students, however they quickly came around to the idea as it would provide an authentic context within which their individual programmes could be incorporated through the live broadcast. These individual programmes would reflect the areas of learning of the Preparatory students and included:
The 42 Year 6 students were divided into four groups, three groups working individual programmes as part of the show and the remaining ten students helping out with the recording and broadcasting aspects of the production.
Recording The Show:
Whilst recording live studios is regularly done at St Andrew’s College, it is normally managed from within the one studio in the Secondary School. To make this a truly collaborative project with the Preparatory School, Mr Williams decided to run a second studio from within one of the downstairs open learning spaces in the Preparatory School that you can explore here (the recording was done where the chess pieces are visible):
To co-ordinate this venture, Mr David Jensen (who helped record an early Mystery Skype by Year 3 students) was parked in the Outside Broadcast van giving directions to the various camera operators, floor controllers and presenters of the different studios. To further support the show, a number of Old Collegians with experience in the Media Studio returned to support Mr Williams and the students, further highlighting how collaborative projects like this can truly engage the community and generate very authentic learning opportunities for our students.
Throughout the recording of the show, there were a number of challenges that required the students to think on their feet and try to resolve the problems themselves. When some turned to Mr Williams for advice, he encouraged them to make decisions, reminding them that they had more information as floor managers and presenters of their various programmes than he necessarily did at that point in time. A number of the Year12 students commented afterwards that they did not think they had worked so hard in their lives, yet they thoroughly enjoyed the experience of creating a live production.
Fusion – The Show:
Some short cuts to different sections of the show are below:
As you can see, not all of the transitions between the various components of the show and studios worked seamlessly – however it is precisely this type of live show that allows students to learn and understand the teamwork required to produce a quality live performance.
Reflecting On The Show:
Mrs Cummings provided some reflections from the Preparatory perspective as well, commenting that:
[The] children were incredibly excited about just working in the secondary school itself.
All children thoroughly enjoyed working with the year 12 students… this [is] beneficial in breaking down any anxieties about these ‘big people’. We often take for granted that because we are all on the same site that this will occur almost through osmosis but it does need to be planned for too.
The children were absolutely exhausted afterwards … I cannot recall a time when we have all been so tired. This reflects the intensity of what occurred and how involved the children were.
The children had to cope with change due to the nature of the live broadcast.
It provided very real purpose to the learning and children knew they were working to a deadline with their inquiries.
Many of the positive outcomes were those we could not have planned for – the feelings of urgency, the degree of collaboration, the opportunities for leadership, etc.
Mr Williams also commented that:
Most schools simply study films for their Media Studies classes. A real point of difference at St Andrew’s College is that students can actually be involved in making live shows such as this one – it is realistic, fun and gives them experiences that make them want to continue studying Media and potentially working in it when they leave school.
During Term 4 2013 we ran a full day training session for those teachers that would have Year 9 classes in 2014 – our first fully BYOD cohort. From these sessions a number of classroom posters were requested that would help students and teachers discuss the concepts of Digital Citizenship and appropriate usage of devices in the classroom.
The Deputy Rector (Mr Roland Burrows) specifically addressed the THINK poster in the final assembly of Term 2, 2014 and so I thought I would post these here.
Designed to encourage students to pause and THINK before posting content online.
A key message that we try to impart to students is that once they have posted content online, they are no longer in control of that image or text. Pausing to consider whether they really want that message “out there” is a critical step and may help to avoid future problems.
A simple poster that can be referenced during the class to help students know when device usage is appropriate or not.
A concern from a number of the teachers that emerged during the sessions last year was whether students would know when to shut off their devices. Having a poster like this allows for visual cues to be used, either through pointing or a comment such as “we are in orange for the next 20 minutes as I primarily want you focusing on discussion, not research.”
Very simply – students are encouraged to ask three other students before the teacher.
This poster stemmed from the debate on whether teachers would be “technically savvy” enough to be able to show students how to do everything on their laptops. A common theme that emerged was that students are great at helping each other with new concepts on their devices, so why not just encourage the students to ask at least “3 before me” to figure out how to do something on their computer.
A summary of what it means to be a good Digital Citizen at St Andrew’s College.
This Digital Citizenship poster is less targeted for regular student reading on the classroom wall, but more of a promotional summary of attributes we look for that make up a good Digital Citizen. It also contains our vision for eLearning at St Andrew’s College
Learners connecting confidently and actively within their communities
Introducing these ideas to students is never a “once and done” approach, but something that needs regular reinforcement from all levels of the school. These posters will be used in both our Secondary and Preparatory schools.
The basic task I was trying to accomplish was sharing a “template” OneNote Notebook with students who could take their own copy of the NoteBook and then edit it, either within the desktop version of OneNote (for students with Windows 7 or Windows 8 computers) or via OneNote Online (for students that had an Apple Mac). This shouldn’t have been too difficult, but given the reduced functionality in the browswer based version of OneNote, it was proving challenging.
OneNote Online did a great job of helping Darrell and I understand what the real issues were, but then we wanted to extend this further to trying practical work around solutions. He sent me a Lync Online meeting request where his screen was shared and rather than just typing and sketching within OneNote, we were able to talk directly with each other as well.
Over the course of 40minutes we established what the issues were and some potential work arounds. During this, Darrell recorded the Lync session and later published it privately on YouTube so that Ben and Marjoelein could review it later (by this stage, both had gone to bed because of time zone differences).
Testing the theory that uploading OneNote export packages might be the solution
Signing into Office365 as part of our experimentation
Screen sharing from my MacBook Air (all powered through a browser plugin)
Screen sharing during our Lync conversation – note the OneNote notebook in the background
Sharing a couple of screenshots of the Lync session does not do justice to the power of this tool. Keep in mind I was doing it all through a web browser on my MacBook Air – there was no desktop application involved.
With a possible solution in place, I went away to do some more experimentation, and then created a screencast tutorial of what definitely worked. This was aimed at my students so they could carry out the task at the start of Term 3, but also helped solidify my understanding and meant I could share it with Darrell, Marjolei and Ben easily.
Sharing the Success With Yammer:
Earlier this year a New Zealand Microsoft New Zealand Educators Yammer group had been created and it has quickly resulted in a number of experts and enthusiasts sharing information. Given the significant input I’d received from Darrell, I knew I had to share the results of our collaboration wider, and so I posted it into this Yammer group:
My post and screencast in Yammer
This got a couple of replies:
In the end I got what I wanted – a relatively straight forward way to share a format-rich OneNote Notebook with a class of students so that they could edit their own individual copies. It’s not as straight forward as it probably should be, but there is simply no way I would have achieved this outcome without the significant contributions from people all over the world.
I also doubt whether we would have been able to collectively understand the details of the issue without the use of technology like OneNote Online and Lync. Sure, Twitter connected us and Yammer allowed me to share the successful outcome with others, but the bulk of the “heavy lifting” of this collaboration was all achieved through typing, drawing and eventually talking, over Lync and OneNote.
A big part of teaching is encouraging students to be resourceful and to collaborate with a wide range of people to achieve a successful outcome. It’s important that as educators, we can model how this can look in “real life”. I am passionate about education and the role that technology can play to facilitate this and I think this example demonstrates how easily expertise from all over the world can be accessed to achieve a great solution for our students.
Already a proficient user of Moodle and OneNote in his classes, he contacted me asking if I could help set up a dedicated Moodle page that he could keep updated throughout the Commonwealth Games. Due to the strict social media policies in place by many of the teams competing at the Games, Mr Shaw could not blog on a publicly accessible page, or use social media such as Facebook or Twitter either.
However, by setting up a password protected Moodle course here that requires students to enter an enrolment key, he would be able to keep students and staff updated and provide a unique “behind the scenes” view of life as an athlete at a world class sporting event. I was keen to support this as it ties in with part of our wider strategy of creating globally connected Digital Citizens of our students. The Moodle course has two forums in it currently where students can:
Ask questions of Mr Shaw (or other athletes he may be able to track down) of what life is like at the Games, and
Send messages of support to the BlackSticks and other teams that Mr Shaw can pass along.
Live updates from the @BlackSticks Twitter handle that will give game scores and results.
I always like to see Moodle being used for non-academic purposes as it highlights the versatility of this Learning Management System, and we have a number of co-curricular courses such as this one being used now. Here’s wishing the Black Sticks and Mr Shaw all the best at the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games!
A selection of eBook titles available through OverDrive with St Andrew’s College
I took the opportunity in the last week of Term 2 to sit down with Cathy Kennedy, the Library Manager at St Andrew’s College, and discuss the implementation of eBooks in the College libraries. Having personally used various eBook readers, from Kindles to iPads, I was keen to learn more about the journey to arrive at the current solution in place.
Due to the length of this post you may want to skip down to the various sections below which include:
Benefits of OverDrive
Uptake amongst students
Promoting eBooks at the College
Since around 2010 Cathy had been closely watching the development of eBooks and was always keen to introduce them to the students here at St Andrew’s, however it was not until OverDrive came to Australasia and offered a package targeted at schools that it became truly viable. Prior to this, there had been other vendors but they were too expensive and their solutions were still really in their infancy and not easy to implement. OverDrive was an obvious choice because:
It already had massive market share in the public library sector
The option existed to form a “consortium” with other schools and combine your respective eBook libraries to increase the size of the total collection
It combined with our existing Library Management System “Oliver” from Softlink meaning that there was only one platform from which students could access all their books, in both paper and electronic formats.
Audiobooks were supported and could be accessed by our students in the same way as eBooks.
Fantastic support materials, both technically and from a promotional perspective, with posters and videos to help our students use the system easily.
After enquiring about other schools in Christchurch that might be interested in setting up a consortium and sharing eBook collections, Cathy found there were no equivalent Year 1-13 schools keen to partner and so she decided to go it alone in Term 3, 2013.
Deciding on a “soft launch” first, the new eBook library was introduced to staff only in Term 4, 2013, before students were given access to the full collection in Term 1, 2014. Now six months on, Cathy is satisfied with the decision to go it alone and not partner with another school, as it has allowed her greater control over the selection of titles in the growing library. Interestingly, she did comment that:
For smaller schools, the appeal of a consortium must be very high, as the price of entry into eBooks is not cheap. To be able to quickly grow your catalogue with another school would make it significantly more affordable.
Benefits of OverDrive:
A shot of the interface used by the Library to help identify potential new eBook Purchases.
One of the biggest drawcards for using OverDrive is the wide range of publishers that are supported, allowing the library to select from a massive number of titles. The pricing model is based on an annual subscription, half of which covers the support of the platform itself, and the other half is credit towards eBook purchases for that year. I thought this was a rather smart “hook” by OverDrive to guarantee a minimum number of eBook purchases by schools each year, whilst it does meant that the students benefit from a continual supply of new titles.
To assist with the selection of new titles, the interface used by the Librarians shows a “Top 200” titles in various categories that we currently do not own (see screenshot on the right). From this, it’s easy to sort through Young Adult, Fiction, Audiobooks etc to locate popular titles that could be added the collection.
OverDrive supports two formats for eBooks
OverDrive Read: allowing a user to read the eBook directly within the web browser on their device
ePub: one of the more established eBook formats on the internet and supported by apps on tablets and smart phones and requires the use of Adobe Digital Editions
Additionally, OverDrive eBooks can be read on most common eBook readers including iPads and Nooks, with the major omission currently being the Amazon Kindle. This is being supported in the Northern Hemisphere and Cathy is hopeful that support for the Kindle may be available in 2015. Student laptops can also be used to read eBooks on as well.
As mentioned earlier, the integration with Oliver was crucial as this makes it easy for students to find any title, printed or electronic, from the one platform. An upgrade is planned to support “ezread” which will allow students to borrow eBooks directly from Oliver, without the need to be redirected to OverDrive.
Logging into OverDrive from an iPad and being asked for standard username/password
Furthermore, both Oliver and OverDrive support Single Sign On (SSO), allowing students to use their existing username and password to authenticate to the systems to borrow books. This allows us to restrict younger students from accessing content intended for senior students, as our students are grouped by Year Level.
This level of integration is becoming an increasing requirement for third party products that we look to deploy into the College, as it allows for centralised management of student data and avoids issues of students forgetting their passwords and being dependent on a third party to reset and provide to them.
One of the biggest challenges being experienced is the need to continue to provide new titles in both formats: paper and eBook. Students and staff have not yet fully accepted that a title may only be available in one format or the other, meaning that new titles are effectively being purchased twice. Cathy’s end goal is very clear however: for borrowers to be comfortable reading a title in either format, meaning she only needs to purchase it in one format or the other. Continue reading →
A staff member from Jorvik Viking Centre in York, role playing as a Viking woman called Toba
This morning our Year 3 students had a very early and exciting start to their school day, as they quietly filed into the Preparatory School Theatre at 8am, to be met by Toba a Viking woman from Jorvik (York).
Mrs Jane Radford and Mrs Jane Egden, our Year 3 teachers, were concluding a unit on Vikings and this session was going to be a chance for the students to ask a number of questions, as well as learn some additional information from a “real” Viking woman.
I had arranged this on their behalf 3 weeks ago (after a tip off from Skype in the Classroom), and the Jorvik Viking Centre had kindly agreed to a later session (9pm York time) to enable our students to have this wonderful learning opportunity.
Students listening to Toba from Jorvik
It was an engaging and interactive hour long session, with Toba asking our students a number of questions, to which they could answer many of them, demonstrating some excellent learning had already taken place as part of this Viking unit. Toba showed a number of tools and weapons that were used by Vikings, with the swords and axes drawing excited “oohs and ahhs” from our students.
When it came to discussing personal hygiene, we learnt that the Vikings were very cleanly people, especially when compared to their contemporary Saxons who only bathed three times a year! When it came to dealing with nits and lice they had special combs for this and would also wash their hair in urine to kill the lice (to squeals of “that’s so gross” from our students!). You could tell who had done this as their hair turned very blonde!
Asking questions of Toba from Jorvik
Towards the end of the hour, our students still had a few remaining unanswered questions, which Toba kindly answered, including this one of “who were Vikings afraid of?”
As a group of teachers, we were very impressed with the quality of the session, it was informative, fun and engaging for the students involved. We got to see and learn about lots of different Viking tools, traditions and daily life. What was also pleasing was a number of parents stayed along to watch the session and be involved in the learning – porridge was even being prepared for afterwards!
Building on from our Mystery Skype earlier this term, it is great to see teachers looking for ways they can bring experts into the classroom through technology and present authentic learning experiences for their students.