This blog is read by a wide audience around the world but is also targeted at our own teachers at St Andrew’s College. Occasionally, we post information that is not related directly to eLearning stories coming out of our College but would still prove useful to our teaching staff.
The conference ran between the 27th April and the 4th of May and was attended by 200 delegates from over 80 different countries with only five being selected from New Zealand to go. During the conference a number of inspirational Keynote messages were delivered that focused more on the possibilities of technology in the classroom than on immediate practical implementation for teachers.
The members of the Challenge Group Mr Hilliam worked with
Some of the “how” was covered in the breakout sessions which included workshops on specific programmes such as Office365, OneNote and Sway (a relatively new feature from Microsoft that is a web based visual presentation tool). Another activity was the Challenge Groups – Mr Hilliam was grouped with teachers from Sweden, Georgia, Korea and Columbia and they were tasked with creating a learning activity based around 21st century learning ideas. They then had to pitch this to a number of judges and present a schema for the learning.
Being the only native speaker of English in the group this was certainly a challenge and Mr Hilliam acknowledged the conference was likely to evolve over the coming years – 2015 being the inaugural event. I was interested in any observations he had gained in terms of how his teaching practice with technology, and indeed the wider staff at St Andrew’s College, compared to what was happening in other countries. He noted:
No one else there was flipping their classroom in maths in the way a number of our teachers are at St Andrew’s. There was a teacher of French Literature who was using OneNote similar to how Jac Yoder and the English Department are, in the sense that they were using audio recordings for feedback and directly annotating into the NoteBooks.
The conference delegates from New Zealand
Whilst St Andrew’s College has embraced Office365 and the cloud based flexibility it offers via OneDrive, Mr Hilliam did not see many US based schools setup in this way. Some were still using local on-site Sharepoint servers for OneNote synchronisation, meaning students could not get updates when at home. To this end, he felt that the work by teachers at our College was quite close to the leading edge, a view reinforced by the parents feedback at the recent Year 10 parent/teacher interviews, where a number commented how widely OneNote was being used across the school:
The ubiquity of OneNote in our College makes it quite easy for our students to get a handle on how to use it. It’s largely just fallen into the “background” of their usage. Students have stopped thinking about how to use OneNote and instead it is simply a tool to help them with their learning.
Students don’t think they’re doing any special using OneNote now – they just get on and do it.
He went further by suggesting that because the College has focused on only two main tools of Moodle and OneNote, students are not being bombarded by a wide range of different tools and platforms from teachers. This has allowed them to quickly grasp the fundamentals of each and use them efficiently in their school work.
One the highlights for Mr Hilliam at the conference was the chance to ask Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella a question:
Mr Hilliam ask Satya Nadella for advice for Kiwi kids interested in working in the ICT sector
I am really pleased to see our teachers getting recognised outside of St Andrew’s College for their great work authentically integrating technology into their teaching and learning. Moreover, to hear that the students are becoming increasingly familiar with this technology and starting to leverage it intuitively to support their progress is outstanding. I wrote in this earlier blog 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.
It seems that we are progressing well along this path of embedding technology into the background of the learning and this is a fantastic tribute to the hard work of our teachers.
However, as the internal assessment season ramps up in 2015 a number of teachers have approached Tom Adams and I about how to “lock” OneNote notebooks to prevent students modifying content after the submission date. Whilst there are some work arounds, such as password protecting sections or moving them to a “read only” section in a teacher’s OneNote notebook, these are not always easy or intuitive as I explained in this post comparing the strengths and weaknesses of Moodle and OneNote.
Together, Tom and I thought about a better workflow for teachers and students to use and settled on the following simple process:
The teacher creates an “Assignment” task in Moodle setting the due date to be when all students need to have the assessment completed and handed in by.
The option to allow “late” submissions exists within Moodle too, clearly showing to the teacher in red how many hours/days overdue the submission was. This could be useful in scenarios where students were away for legitimate reasons.
The student exports either their page, section or entire OneNote Notebook into a PDF file on their local computer.
The student goes to their Moodle course, clicks on the assignment and then drag ‘n’ drops the PDF file for upload and submission.
The teacher can optionally include to have all students “sign” the authenticity agreement by clicking the “accept” each time they submit an assessment.
Once the due date is reached, the teacher can bulk download all of the submissions for offline marking, moderation storage purposes or printing and returning.
The ease of this process is outlined in this six minute video showing all of the above:
By using this process, a number of things can happen:
There can be no dispute about when the assignment was submitted
There can be no “losing” the submission because it’s stored on Moodle
All assignments are stored in one place with a single click to download all assignments into a folder for marking / moderation.
This also reduces the need for the Teacher to “harvest” the submissions from a variety of sources that students may have submitted by e.g. email, printed and left at the teacher’s desk or office etc.
Moodle supports the use of http://turnitin.com/ – an online tool for verifying the authenticity and originality of a submission. Whilst this costs, it would allow students to improve their work before a final submission and also support teachers in ensuring the submission is the original work of the student.
On the St Andrew’s College website we share a number of reasons why we use technology in our classrooms, with one of them being preparing students for tertiary study and the workforce. The vast majority of tertiary institutes now require students to submit assessment online – by teaching our students to manage their time and to become accustomed to this form of assessment submission, they are being prepared for life beyond St Andrew’s.
At this stage, there is no formal requirement for students to only submit their assessment via Moodle in this way. However, with the obvious benefits outlined above, along with the potential to include Turn It In to further assist in the originality and authenticity of student work, it is an idea that we presented to the combined Heads of Department meeting this week. There will be further discussion over the coming weeks and it may be something that we trial later this year.
I have been fortunate to attend the AIS NSW (Association of Independent Schools of New South Wales) ICT Management and Leadership Conference over the last few days and I thought I would share a few reflections on it here. As this post will be quite long, you can see the various sections I’ll touch on here as an index and you can skip to what you may find relevant:
Keynote from Dr Jane Hunter: High Possibility Classrooms
Jeff Utecht – The Continuum of Digital Citizenship
Matt McCormack – ICT Security – Making the most of what you have
Various Presenters – 7minute Tell Sessions
Rose Elsom – Continuous Online Reporting with Moodle and Sharepoint
Northern Beaches Christian School – Student Media TV Crew
Hosted in the Canberra National Conference Centre, the organisation of the event was top notch, co-ordinated by the very useful app from GuideBook.com. This app (available free on iOS, Android, or the web – click here) provided all the necessary information at the touch of a button, including any last minute changes to sessions or venues – all updated automatically for conference delegates:
The homescreen of the iOS app for GuideBook for the AIS NSW 2015 ICT Conference
The first few sessions on Day 1 of the Conference
Screenshots of the GuideBook App
I can see plenty of potential uses for an app such as this, where the co-ordination of complex events (conferences, Centenary celebrations etc) can be easily achieved and all delegates or visitors can be confident of having the latest information to hand.
UPDATE: The GuideBook app is only free for the first 200 downloads. If you need more than 200 downloads then the cost is around US$1700.
Keynote from Dr Jane Hunter: High Possibility Classrooms
Dr Jane Hunter is an educational researcher who presented on her research into High Possibility Classrooms. This was a very interesting session to start the conference with and it was encouraging to see very recent academic research into the impact of technology in education. It is worth noting that this research looked at “exemplary” teachers, those that were already very proficient with technology and used it daily within their classrooms. You can read in detail about Dr Hunter’s research here:
Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) is a framework that identifies the knowledge teachers need to teach effectively with technology
Jeff Utecht – The Continuum of Digital Citizenship
Jeff Utecht presented on Digital Citizenship in an engaging and interactive session that was broken up by his encouragement for us to quickly discuss our own experiences with the people around us. He started by posing the question “What is the biggest challenge with Digital Citizenship?” before suggesting:
Many schools are simply paying lip service to Digital Citizenship, but are not actually integrating it effectively into their curriculum.
The average age a child touches a device in a classroom in the USA is 6yrs old – why then are we waiting another 3-5yrs before we start teaching Digital Citizenship?
Peer to peer cyber-bullying is a far greater threat than encountering an anonymous online cyber predator.
He suggested a new study found that a child has the same level of risk at being picked up at a public park than being approached online by an anonymous cyber predator
The current school age generation is living “public first, private second” – in other words, they are sharing their lives online with others immediately.
In the USA, most children by the age of 5yrs old have had around 3000 photos of them shared online – by the parents and wider family.
85% of universities in the USA google prospective students before offering them a position.
His session was interesting and in places quite challenging, particularly around how he sees the need for schools to engage with social media (for example, he proposes all schools should have an online community / social media manage position – he even wrote a job description for it). Continue reading →