Developing Digital Citizens

The teaching of Digital Citizenship presents many challenges for all schools. Each faces slightly different challenges, and these challenges can quickly change and evolve in response to new social media products or features.

There are two main approaches that we have tried in the recent past. This blog has described the utilisation of outside experts and the deliberate ‘teaching’ of content to allow students to create resources for others within the College. While both of these approaches are beneficial and produce some, albeit potentially temporally, impacts on the behaviour of students, it has always been a particular challenge to find an appropriate, robust scheme of work that guides students through some of the myriad of issues and content that the internet and in particular Social Media produce.

In 2017 we have introduced a new Y9 course; Digital Literacy. All year 9 students spend 1 period a week with me, covering a wide range of topics such as computer knowledge and care, the O365 suite, and basic programming. This term has been dedicated to Digital Citizenship. Earlier this year, a P.E and Health teacher at our College, Mrs Nicola Richards, alerted me via twitter,to an Australian online Digital Literacy course developed by the Allannah & Madeline Foundation.  They have created a Digital Licence, an eight module course designed to guide students through a range of different topics:

  • Digital Devices
  • Protecting Privacy
  • Searching and Researching
  • Creating and Sharing
  • Social Networking and Gaming
  • Communicating Safely Online
  • Relationships and Reputations
  • Coins, Credits and Tokens

The licence has been in use in Australia for a number of years, with current estimates indicating that up to 200,000 students there have completed the program. There is a small AUD$10 charge per student, but in 2017 that charge is generously being meet by Google NZ for all NZ Y8 & 9 students.

Student Management

A great feature of the program from my point of view was the ease of enrollment. A simple CSV export from our SMS of each of my classes names was imported into the site – and usernames and passwords were easily generated. Students then go to the site and get started. With 8 different classes, it was important that it was easy for me to manage the module’s content, and track student progress easily; and the site delivered. It was simple for me to lock and unlock modules, and track student progress through the site.

Class progressPlanning and Task Development

For a teacher, each of the modules is well planned, and a range of suitable activities are provided, along with a number of links to appropriate video resources.

Protecting Privacy

Example of the planning section for the Protecting Privacy Module

Because I only see my Year 9 students 1 period a week, I was pretty restricted in the amount of time that I could invest in each module – so I adapted the suggested tasks and videos to be a more discussion based teaching method. Ideally there is the potential to make each of these modules a weekly focus to add a little depth and context to the course.

Assessing Student Progress

Perhaps my favorite feature of this course are the engaging quizzes at the end of each topic. Through a combination of basic animation and realistic examples, the completion of the quizzes became a motivating tool for many of my students. Each 10 question quiz has an 80% pass mark – and all 8 modules must be passed to enable a student to receive their Digital Licence.

Quiz screenshot

The quizzes are relatively difficult – so I have a couple of classes where students progress is quite varied, but I have turned this into an opportunity for students to buddy up to help each other with their progress.

Digital Licence Student Progress

Overall, I have been really impressed with this scheme of work. I feel that it has good coverage of the important issues facing Y9 students, and the site is well structured, really easy to use, and engaging for students. The level of difficulty is relatively high which I think is a positive, as it has lead to higher levels of engagement from my students. I would be happy to recommend this program to other schools, though I would encourage them to carefully reflect on the aspects of it that you wished to use.

Digital Licence Certificate

Introducing StAC’s new Director of ICT – Mr Dave Hart

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Mr Dave Hart

Since 2012 the StAC IT team had been led by Mr Sam McNeill. His resignation, to take up a role as a Senior Education Specialist at Microsoft, meant that our team needed a new leader. I am very excited to introduce Mr Dave Hart as that leader. He will become a contributor to this Blog as he continues the transformational progress begun by Sam, as our team continues the College’s commitment to ensuring both staff and students are equipped to maximise the opportunities presented by technology.

The interview below introduces Mr Hart and his role.

Dave, can you give an outline of your previous roles/experiences?

I have been working in ICT for over twenty years, and predominately within education in the UK. I started out in programming before moving to support and ultimately management and department head. My last ten years in the UK were spent at the University of Oxford, most recently as IT Director of Oriel, Corpus Christi and Merton colleges.

Although I greatly enjoyed my time at the university, I emigrated permanently from the UK to New Zealand in October 2015 for a new personal and professional challenge.  The latter came about quickly when I took up the position of Senior Project Manager at CPIT (now Ara Institute of Canterbury).  The former challenge came earlier when I had to convince my wife that we should sell our house, quit our jobs, pull our three daughters out of school and move to the other side of the world (not to mention shipping our dog out too)!  Happily, my family and I are very comfortable with the decision we made to emigrate and we love living and working in Christchurch.  Our dog has also yet to lodge a complaint.

What are the main aspects/responsibilities of your new job at StAC?

Before I joined, I was keenly aware of the College’s reputation as a leader in the area of the effective and transformational use of technology in New Zealand education.  To ensure that this reputation continues, a key element of my role will be to focus on looking externally and observing best practice and new technologies that will allow for the continued shaping of a progressive and innovative vision for StAC.

As you might expect, the role also includes oversight of the school ICT network and infrastructure, ensuring that it is fully operational and fit for purpose now and in the future, maximising benefits to staff and students.  To assist me in this, I am in the fortunate position in that I have inherited an extremely capable and customer focussed team.  This provides a wonderful platform upon which teachers, support staff and students can be assisted to use ICT successfully.

What are the main aspects of your role that you are most looking forward to?

From my very first visit to StAC I was struck by the feeling of community.  This is very much reminiscent of my days in Oxford colleges and I feel fortunate to be part of something similar here at StAC.  Those years at Oxford taught me to expect that every day at work to be different from the last and they would quite often not pan out at all as planned.  That variety is something I greatly enjoy and I am already getting to relish that same experience here.

I am looking forward to building relationships with others in all parts of StAC and beyond to ensure that we continue to use ICT as a tool to enable teaching and learning in an efficient and fruitful manner.

Other than technology and education, what are your main interests?

I am a family man first and foremost, so my main interests tend to be my daughters’ interests!  When time permits, I am keen spectator and occasional participant in a number of sports, but mostly these days can only get out for an occasional forest or beach run, or a round of golf.  I hoping to increase the frequency of my running over the coming year to the point that I can attempt some reasonable distances, however I am making no firm commitments at this stage!

Here at StAC we are excited to have Dave leading our team, and the experience and ideas that he will bring.

Introducing Wilj Dekkers – Head of Innovation and Information Services

Starting in 2017, 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 Head of Innovation and Information Services, has been filled by Mr Wilj Dekkers and reflects the College’s continuing commitment to ensuring both staff and students are equipped to maximise the opportunities presented by technology. Wilj has moved into this role from a position in the St Andrew’s College Preparatory School. He has been the subject of posts on this blog in the past, particularly this description of his implementation of Minecraft and this one which describes his exciting journey to Budapest as part of the Microsoft Innovative Educator Programme. wilj-dekkers

The interview below introduces Mr Dekkers and his role.

Wilj, can you give an outline of your previous roles/experiences?

I began teaching 19 years ago in a bilingual school in Mangere.  My interest with technology in education was quickly picked up on by the school principal who had me draw up plans to cable the old school buildings and network their Acorn computers.

From there the technology advanced and I became a teacher, network administrator and tech support in a new Apple school in Manurewa, eventually becoming an ICT facilitator working with a cluster of schools across Auckland where I worked with school Heads, teachers and students.

I returned to the classroom in 2003, teaching and running various departments in the United Kingdom until my wife and I returned to New Zealand towards the end of 2013.

I began teaching in the Preparatory School here at St Andrew’s College with the responsibility of eLearning Co-ordinator added to my main function as a Year 6 classroom practitioner.

Over the past three years my use and combination of technology to enhance and promote learning continued develop and I was fortunate to be selected as one of five Microsoft Innovative Educators to be sent to Budapest, Hungary for the annual E2 education conference.

What are the main aspects/responsibilities of your new role at StAC?

My new role in the College is as Head of Innovation and Information Services.  I will be running programmes and projects with students and teachers that involve everything from coding, robotics and 3D printing through to helping collegians use technology more effectively within their learning programmes.

What are the main aspects of your role that you are most looking forward to?

2017 will be an exciting time.  With the new challenge of also running the Secondary Library I am looking forward to working with the team to redevelop the space into a modern library technology centre.  This redefined learning space will become the venue for testing new technology before introducing them into the classroom, various coding and robotics programmes and will also be a variable learning classroom for Science and other departments to book as required.

The core library function will be enhanced with a more modern look with the library staff role altering to work more closely alongside subject teachers to support the curation of resources and to teach the effective use of information literacy skills.

Other than technology and education, what are your main interests?

Aside from my teaching and learning role with technology I also thoroughly enjoy running the Preparatory School Football programme.  Each Wednesday I am out on the Prep School field with 60 players ranging in age from 5 to 10 and in the winter months I have the pleasure of coordinating the Under 9 to 13 teams.  The last three years have seen football number continue to increase with the sport becoming very popular with both boys and girls.

It’s great to welcome Wilj more formally into our team, and it is exciting to hear of the developments he will be implementing. Wilj will become an occasional contributor to this blog so check back to hear of his progress!

Reflections from (near) the top of the SAMR Ladder

Earlier this year I blogged about my attempts to integrate a SAMR ladder effectively into a unit of work for Year 13 Geography. A couple of weeks ago my students sat their school examinations – the results of which were the first indication of the success, or otherwise, of this approach. Below are my final thoughts around this approach:

Upon completion of teaching, and assessing student performance in this standard it is an opportune time to reflect on the impact that the teaching changes implemented in this inquiry have been effective. This evidence will take two forms; first my own reflection, and secondly student feedback in the form of a short survey.

The original aim of this inquiry was to implement a clear SAMR ladder approach to the teaching of this unit. This happened to a certain extent, though unfortunately (as I think perhaps was to be expected) when the pressure off examinations arrived it was the redefinition task which was neglected.

Positives: The Spatial Variation component of this unit was particularly successful. Because students spent much less (almost zero) class time copying down note, I found that I could dedicate a week of class time to the activity. It was a great way to allow students to discover for themselves. I blogged about the success of this teaching here. In the student survey the class was asked “During the teaching of 3.2 you used Google Earth to investigate the Spatial Variation of TD in Queenstown. How effective was that activity?” Student responses are below:

  • very
  • Because we could keep this for our final exams and keep referring back to it
  • Yes it was very helpful for providing a physical representation
  • Was very effective. Helped to remember where everything was located
  • very effective
  • Really effective!!!!
  • very helpful visualises a better picture of qtown
  • it allowed us to clearly see how attractions and features were dispersed through the Queenstown region
  • yes as it is going to help me with my external study
  • Somewhat helpful, was good seeing the content at the time making it although have not found it incredibly useful in revision.
  • Very effective, clearly showed us the spatial variations
  • Effective, but I felt like if I got behind or missed one listen I would struggle to catch up.
  • Very effective

I think that this is very good feedback and shows the effectiveness of this activity. I was also encouraged that the other two Year 13 Geography teachers invited me into their classes to do the same thing with their classes, and gave positive feedback about the effectiveness of it, it also a positive.

Impact on assessment results:

The original aim of this inquiry was twofold. On the one hand I wanted to more deliberately implement the SAMR model as a ladder during a whole topic. As discussed above I believe that I partially fulfilled this aim.

Secondly, this standard has traditionally been one where there are high numbers of SNA and N grades in the school, and NCEA examinations. This was something I wanted to address. By actively incorporating the SAMR ladder more deliberately, I was hoping to engage students in the content, and have more time to actively prepare them to achieve to their potential.

Obviously, it is always difficult, and potentially misleading to compare academic results across years. the dynamics, prior experience, and academic ability are always different, and it is hard to get a clear control group, in most cases. despite this, I feel that the results of the students so far – even when compared to the PEP for the standard; my students have performed well.

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Although the Merit and Excellence grade numbers are lower than I would like – I feel very positive that there were no students who either did not attempt, or did not Achieve, the paper. It is these students who most often will choose to SNA the paper – so them tasting some success in the school examination should hopefully relate to a zero SNA rate in the NCEA examination later this month. As shown by the PEP below, this standard has relatively low rates of M and E anyway. (reminder than the SNA grades are not included here – so a PEP is always biased towards the performance of more able students.

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Future Steps:

In 2017 I think that this approach is worthwhile continuing with. I think that students in my classes are beginning to respond to meaningful use of technology to support their learning. Next year I will focus more on implementing the higher order activities, and I will attempt to implement some such tasks that are incorporated into the unit, rather than as a summary task. Being a summary task this year meant that it was realistically unlikely to be completed under the time pressures of the end of the academic year – it was simply easier to return to a more tried and true revision program.

Digital Image Manipulation in English

Earlier this year I was approached by Ms Tam Yuill Proctor, the Head of Department for English. She was interested in the potential for students to use digital image manipulation during their study of static images. I thought that this an exciting project to assist with, but immediately recognised that this is an area that I had very little experience in! What was particularly exciting is the potential to expose Year 9 students to the concept and then progressively up-skill them through to Year 13 where the requirements are obviously a lot more challenging.

static

Challenges in Digital Manipulation

My limited previous experience with students in their area has taught me that students primarily fall into two categories. In any class there will be a small number of students, typically 2-5, who have extensive experience, and interest in, digital manipulation of images. These students have typically used Photoshop, and are relatively advanced in their capabilities. The second, much larger, group of students have virtually no experience in this field – and they can often be intimated at the prospect.

Finding a tool

Here at St Andrew’s College we have a range of devices in each classroom as part of our 1:1 program. As an IT team we felt that there were three main criteria that any product we were going to recommend must meet:

  • Able to be used on Mac and Windows laptops
  • Be free to download and use
  • Be complex enough for Year 13 English students

Based on these criteria we decided to investigate the potential of GIMP as a platform for these tasks. gimpEarlier in this post I mentioned the two categories that students fit. The same is true of staff. I fell, very clearly, into the second category – totally inexperienced. It was great that here was a situation that was forcing me to upskill in an area, ready to help students investigate and apply the potential gains to be had using such technology to display their understanding of curriculum content. I found Gimp to be intuitive, relatively easy to use, and it was pretty easy to apply its basic manipulation tools.

“It was great that all students were using the same platform and that they had access to technical support.” – Mrs Helaina Coote – English Teacher

Year 13 Task

The focus of the Year 13 unit of work was for students to create a 8-10 minute presentation or visual essay that explores a theme from the film studies; in this case Tsotsi. Students were being assessed against the Achievement Standard 91477 ‘Create a fluent and coherent visual text which develops, sustains, and structures ideas using verbal and visual language.’

“This standard forces students to develop grit, resilience and perseverance. Progress does not always come easily or immediately.” Mrs Helaina Coote – English Teacher

In previous years many students were attempting to use Photoshop to complete this task, but were becoming bogged down in the detail of the product, with staff frustrated that they did not necessarily have the skills to assist. This year, the decision was made to directly teach students how to use the tool, and support them during class time to use it effectively.

Prior to beginning the task students were introduced to GIMP and instructed on how to use the basic functionality of it. An important part of this was giving students time to experiment with some of the more fundamental functionality of the product such as overlaying images, changing block colours and cropping images.static2

Having had an introduction students were then in a position to begin work on their production. What was particularly important here was that students, who may have no experience in digital manipulation, felt supported. I predominantly spent time in two classes; taught my Ms Helaina Coote, and Ms Phoebe Wright.

Once the students had created a number of different images most of them chose to import them into PowerPoint so that they could add music and animations to ensure that they met the requirements of the assessment task.

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For me personally what was particularly interesting was seeing the skill progression and increases in confidence that all students showed. It was also great to see the upskilling of staff as they learnt next to their students. This was echoed by both teachers involved:

“Teacher shows students willingness to learn. It is good for students to see that help is accepted. Students are supported to learn the tool.”

 

Future Challenges

This is a Challenging assessment task. On reflection there were some students who became a little engrossed in the details of each image, particularly as they we learning the tool. These students found it difficult to work fast enough to create the required number of images. Hopefully, the fact that a number of classes ranging from Y9-Y12 were also introduced to Gimp this year should hopefully enable those students to approach this task with more fluency as they progress through their English education.

This task is a perfect example of how eLearning is integrated into classrooms here at St Andrew’s College. I believe that as students add to their skill year year-on-year we will see further improvement in the complexity and quality of the digital images they are able to create. It is also a great way to support students, and staff, in learning a new tool.

Putting the Spark into Learning

As eLearning Integrator at St Andrew’s College my primary role is to encourage innovation in classrooms across the College. One aspect that I particularly like is when a staff member brings an idea, or new product that they have heard about, and want to implement it in their classrooms.Spark
On her return from the 2016 New Zealand Association of Language Teachers Conference one of our French teachers, Mrs Angela Marshall, introduced me to Adobe Spark.

‘I had not come across this product before, and I was instantly hooked on its potential to allow students to create great looking content easily, quickly and effectively.’ – Mrs Marshall

In the first weeks of term, Mrs Marshall found time to further investigate the possibility of using Spark in class. She remained impressed.

‘I was excited by how easy-to-use it was; particularly the speed in which a good product could be produced, the quality of the sound recording, and the sheer number of photo resources that were available for practically any subject’

Canva vs Spark: Easy Web Creation

Only a few months earlier I had been introduce to Canva, and it quickly became my favourite content creation tool. It was not without its limitations, however, particularly around the quantity of images available for free use.

At the Term Two Teachmeet, hosted here at St Andrew’sI gave a presentation, tellingly made with Spark, in which I compared the merits of Canva and Spark. I concluded, that in a classroom setting, I felt that Spark was the best product for teachers to use with their students.

Spark in the classroom

While I have not had the opportunity to use Spark in my own classroom yet, it was pleasing to see that Mrs Marshall’s enthusiasm towards Spark continued into a classroom setting. She set both her Year 9 classes the task of creating a 30 second narrated video that explained 8 prescribed aspects of the life of a person they admire.

Students were given 1 1/2 periods of class time to complete this activity. This class-time included finding the information to include in the presentation, mastering the pronunciation and vocabulary necessarily, and learning how to use the presentation tool. Mrs Marshall was pleased with the results. Pleasingly, students too could clearly see the benefits of using this great tool.

‘This task went smoothly – Spark exceeded my expectations. It was really easy to add images and text, and the microphone clarity was good’ – Jack

‘Spark is like PowerPoint, but with better options. It was particularly easy to use and I could add music, change the layout. I will definitely use it again!’ – Hannah

Spark – A tool I recommend

In the same way that I finished my Teachmeet presentation, I will end here with a strong recommendation to teachers to investigate Adobe Spark. It is a great tool that you, and your students, will enjoy.

 

 

 

Fostering Lifelong (e)Learning in Staff

Earlier this year I profiled Ms Donna Jones from the English Department. One aspect of that profile was a mention of her embarking on a Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital and Collaborative Learning). She is the first staff member at the college to be enrolled in this qualification, so as she nears course completion, it is a perfect time to catch up with her regarding her progress.WIN_20160816_14_23_01_Pro

Collaboration with colleagues

One of the most pleasing aspects of the course for Donna has been the ability to collaborate with colleagues from a variety of different schools, and teachers of other year levels. These opportunities for collaboration are an important aspect of educational postgraduate study like this, as Donna describes:

‘It has given me a much clearer understanding of the big picture educational landscape across Canterbury. Engaging with teachers from all sectors has been both enlightening and inspiring.’

A second aspect of the course that Donna has particularly enjoyed is the hands-on time that is spent learning through technology. Donna has thoroughly enjoyed working with stop-motion, robotics, and AR. This increased awareness has manifest in a new-found interest in the potential of concepts such as gamification to help raise engagement and achievement in her English classes.

Finally, she has gained a greater understanding of the theories of leadership, particularly Transformational Leadership in 21st Century Learning.

Applying Learning in the Classroom

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Students making stop motion

Whenever staff attend Professional Development courses, one measure of success of the applicability of that development, is the impact that the new learning has on classroom practice. One particularly pleasing aspect of Ms Jones’ participation in the course is the immediate applicability of her new learning.

She has already been able to develop different ways of assessing existing concepts. An example of this is the use of stop motion as a way of assessing understanding of theme within a novel study. She has recently done preliminary work to investigate the use of an ‘Escape Room’ with Year 9 students which complements her implementation of a cross-curriculum project solving real-world problems; used last year.

‘The course has been a reality check and reminder that if we as teachers don’t engage with 21st Century technology and integrate these into ou programmes, we are not providing students with the correct preparation for their future. The pace of change in classroom technology is both exciting and frightening.’