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:
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.
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.
Planning 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.
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.
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.
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.
This week I had the privilege to sit down with Ms Francesca Eathorne, Head of Communications at St Andrew’s College and hear first-hand the details about the new StAC Social Hub which is powered by Shuttlerock. This is a new digital channel that not only automatically collates content from various social media platforms and aggregates them, but also allows users to directly submit rich media content for moderation and publication.
While the content is mostly submitted from three key community groups – students, parents and Old Collegians – Social Hub is a StAC-owned media platform, meaning that once the content is published it can’t be removed if the original post is removed or account closed. This ability, along with powerful moderation tools, provides St Andrew’s with a significant amount of control over content retention and posting.
Ms Eathorne first learnt about the Shuttlerock platform more than two years ago via an existing StAC connection and immediately saw the potential for a greater sense of community participation with media content, particularly in the lead up to the College’s Centenary celebrations in 2017. The ability for user generated content was powerful and her research showed interesting developments in the owned-media space. Part of the communications’ strategy at St Andrew’s is to always innovate and be prepared to lead in the education space.
Like other social media platforms, you can share, comment on and ‘like’ content; however, it can also be used for competitions where users provide their own content, which boosts engagement.
Shuttlerock offers advert placement throughout the platform that is useful promoting events and competitions such as the above.
Recently the College ran a successful competition offering free return tickets from anywhere in the world for an Old Collegian to return home to join the Centenary Gala Weekend celebrations, 17-19 March 2017. The StAC community was encouraged to post their photos of Old Cols and nominate them to win the tickets, which were generously sponsored by Emirates and House of Travel Merivale.
Eighty-nine entries were received from around the world and the winner was Thomas Moore (OC 2009), who is currently living in the UK. Tom’s older brother Luke nominated him and so winning was a complete surprise to Tom. The competition saw lots of positive conversations on social media as Old Cols shared the posts and nominated their friends.
A sample of the many submissions to Social Hun as part of the “Bring an Old Col Home” competition run in conjunction with the Centenary celebrations.
Marketing Co-ordinator Ms Georgia Harvey who administrates Social Hub says,
“The ability to aggregate content from multiple social media sites to one ‘Social Hub’ is what sets it apart from other platforms. It allows for an easy upload process, with content automatically filtering through for review and publication to Social Hub direct from the creator of the content. This means content such as videos and photos are unique and genuine, and reduces significantly the resource required to otherwise source the same level of content.”
The ability to moderate content is essential within a school environment where some students have restricted use of their image, particularly in the online space. Shuttlerock easily allows this moderation and StAC’s policy is to ‘approve’ all content for publication.
The Social Hub was launched to coincide with the College’s 100 years centenary celebrations
The extensive customisation of Shuttlerock’s core product for the StAC Social Hub took longer than originally anticipated due to the complexity of the requirements of the College, including ‘boards within boards’, resulting in the deployment of an almost bespoke setup perfectly designed for maximum functionality and impact.
Ms Eathorne says,
“Shuttlerock continue to evolve as a company and we have been really impressed with the way they have learnt from our custom site build and how they are offering us solutions to continue to effectively manage the platform. We are currently rolling out a new website and the integration of our Social Hub streams into the website will keep content dynamic and fresh and really reduce workload for the team”.
The custom Social Hub icon developed by StAC staff
To further customise the experience, a unique social media icon was designed by the College’s in-house design team, and a decision was made to name the platform the StAC Social Hub, rather than refer to it simply as Shuttlerock. According to the team at Shuttlerock, StAC is the first customer worldwide to brand the platform with a custom name and social media icon, reflecting the College’s commitment to innovation and branding.
The content on Social Hub is collated into six main ‘boards’ as follows:
Within each board are sub-boards, similar to categories, such as the Sports board which showcases content from College sports events as diverse as the annual Athletics Day to staff teams competing in the Wanaka Multisport Challenge:
A selection of sub-boards within the main Sports board
It is this highly visual navigation system that is one of the strengths of Social Hub. Users are funnelled into areas of interest and then within those they can view photos and video content submitted either directly to Social Hub, or automatically collated from various social media platforms such as Twitter and Instagram through the use of designated hashtags such as #StAClife and #StAC100, the latter hashtag ties into Centenary content. It is precisely this ability to source user generated content from other social media platforms that allows for a variety of strategies depending on the targeted community group, for example:
Students: competitions for submissions of the best photo from an event, such as the 2016 Athletics Day. While a prize of a $50 voucher is up for grabs, this is a great strategy to connect students with the primary College branding as well. Students are now used to posting content on Social Hub and recently senior students approached the Communications team to see if they could run a ‘Random Acts of Kindness’ day competition using Social Hub.
Parents: one of the primary aims of Social Hub is to enable parents to easily share photos they’re taking of College events either through the use of hashtags or having parents directly submit to Social Hub. This worked really well with Winter Tournament Week this year where a lot of photos were received that normally the Communications team would never have had access to. It also helped to build a sense of excitement as students were competing all around New Zealand, plus a link to photos was included in the end of week newsletter ensuring that even more of the community could engage with the event and successes.
Old Collegians: are specifically targeted for photos from their time at StAC with this content being segregated into decade boards, allowing Old Cols to immediately find the most relevant content for them.
Old Collegians’ Co-ordinator Ms Kate Baker notes
“Social hub has been a great platform to allow two-way engagement between the College and our alumni. We can easily showcase images from the latest alumni events, campus developments, or even historic images so our alumni remain engaged with the College. The Social Hub enables our alumni to be contributors too, via Instagram, Twitter or email upload (appealing to a variety of demographics) they can share their own images and memories. Not only does this allow our content to expand, but it creates a sense of authenticity and supports our alumni to be active in their ongoing relationship with the College, which is really important in the lead up to our Centenary”.
The #staclife board is a great place to showcase the culture and general happenings at the College and is perfect for all those photos that don’t make it into the formal College publications or get profiled on the Facebook pages.
A screenshot of the #StAClife board with images submitted directly but also via social media using the #StAClife hashtag
Shuttlerock are getting global press too, recently winning a prestigious award with Facebook. Shuttlerock’s Executive Director Mr Paul Bingham says
Mr Hitesh Pratap from Shuttlerock with the Facebook award outside Strowan House
“Shuttlerock received the Facebook Global Innovation award for creativity; a real honour for a tech start up out of Christchurch. The award recognised Shuttlerock’s unique approach of collecting user generated content and allowing an organisation to use it effectively.”
“St Andrew’s has taken the lead in using the platform to collect a range of authentic photos and publish them on owned digital assets including the StAC website. In today’s online environment, the website is the only space a brand can truly own, and it’s where key decisions are made by customers. Its vital to keep authentic and up to date content as a core part of the user experience”.
St Andrew’s College has 12,000 Old Collegians, 1000 current families and 1450 students, all who have varying interests and needs within the social media space.
Ms Eathorne concludes,
“Our content simultaneously celebrates the diversity of events our community participates in and allows people to share their experiences. I anticipate it will take around 18 months to build a strong sense of engagement and for people to become really familiar with all the platform has to offer”.
Secondary School – overview of technology and current activity
Two concepts come to mind when contemplating Technology and its significance within education. Firstly, once hailed as the Holy Grail for its innovation within the communication field, Technological innovation increasingly holds the auspicious role of ‘global saviour’ when engineered by socially conscious citizens. Experts argue that we are now living in the age of the Anthropocene – the proposed epoch when humanity has irrevocably altered the planet’s geology and ecosystems. Can the youth of today, who will live in a world where the ‘internet of things’, ‘bio- wearables’ and ‘blockchain’ technology are the norm, turn our influence around and steer our global impact in a new direction towards a more sustainable future aided by innovative technology?
Marie Pellin, 2014
Secondly, technology (characterised by exponential growth) surely needs to be influenced by socially conscious citizens as eluded to above. For example, exponential growth of internet technology may be tempered by our socially aware youth favouring net neutrality. Equally so, it appears that technology is forcing companies to be better global citizens. “In the age of internet transparency, it seems corporates no longer have anywhere to hide – a spot of corporate social responsibility (CSR) whitewashing is not going to cut it anymore” (Lawson, 2016).
At St Andrew’s College we are aiming for continuous improvement as far as opportunities for ‘technology enablement’ and development of ‘computational thinking’ are concerned. Well-supported by our Technology Department’s academic expertise and our ICT Division (headed by Director, Sam McNeill, and e- Learning Integrator, Tom Adams) the additional support we offer GATE students includes: Coding Club, Neuroscience Learning Module with participation in the Australasian Brain Bee Competition for Year 11 students, Forensic Science and Astrophysics Learning Modules, Passion Projects where students have the opportunity to complete coding-based projects, online participation in the New Zealand Diplomacy Competition, attendance at University of Canterbury public lectures, such as the recent Black Hole lecture, meetings with University of Canterbury lecturers and access to technology-based opportunities and events such as the recent Singularity University workshop.
Students taking part in the Neuroscience module
Future strategies for 2017 include: offering Geographic Information Systems modules as part of the Year 9 and 10 Academic Extension and Enrichment (ACEE) Programmes, development of the Coding Club supported by Tech tutors drawn from industry, introduction of a comprehensive robotics programme to bridge our Preparatory School’s excellent programme, facilitation and guidance for students wishing to apply for the NASA Space School, potential visits to Auckland’s Stardome Observatory and/or the Mt John Observatory, online tech learning opportunities such as edX and Coursera [the top specialisations in Coursera are all technology-based], facilitation of Orion’s Evolocity Competition, and the establishment of further connections with Christchurch’s Innovation Precinct as part of the Christchurch Tech Sector Strategy [2015-2025]. In addition we will continue to punctuate our GATE calendar with further ‘SMAC’ opportunities for intellectual growth and sharing of minds such as expanding the classroom via e-meetings.
The St Andrew’s College Secondary School GATE programme has integrated Technology as a learning area with Philosophy, Sustainability and increasingly, Global Citizenship. Continue reading →
Three computer whiz kids in Year 8 are acting as technology mentors for the entire Preparatory School student body, and even quite a few teachers. Caleb, Cameron and Mitchell run twice weekly Fountain of Knowledge technology training sessions, with students able to book appointments on a sophisticated website set up by Caleb. “I took over the project from its founder Ward (now Year 10) when I was in Year 6. We have seven mentors including the three of us, and are training up some Year 6 students so they can run the sessions next year,” says Caleb.
The students help with everything from setting up the internet on laptops, phones and tablets, to installing anti-virus software, and helping students to get the most out of OneNote. They also teach students how to use the cameras and other equipment in the TV studio. Their teacher Ms Melissa Rennell says she sometimes has teachers knocking on her door seeking technical help from one of the boys, or asking for assistance with their Activboards. “They often go to these students first before the ICT Department.” Caleb has even rebuilt an old laptop from the Preparatory School and connected it up to an active board on which students can share their projects.
As they get ready to hand over the Fountain of Knowledge at the end of the year, Caleb, Cameron and Mitchell are thinking about which equally enthusiastic young technology experts they will pick as its new leaders, and are already training Year 6 student Nicholas. “We’re proud of the programme and have had a lot of support from Mr Dekkers, who will be the teacher in charge of it again next year,” says Caleb.
Cameron says he enjoys technology but isn’t planning on a career in the field at this stage. However Caleb and Mitchell hope to one day own their own technology companies, “like Apple, or Google”.
Note: this is quite a lengthy and, at times, technical post about configuring and deploying Minecraft in a school when choosing not to use the new Microsoft Education Edition. The following is the structure of the blog if you want to jump to a particular point of interest:
The Background Situation: existing Minecraft usage and identified problems.
The Opportunity: what we felt we needed to deliver to run our own Minecraft server securely and easily.
The Technical Setup:
Client Installation & Deployment
Where To From Here:
Minecraft, the hugely popular game with students of all ages, is described as:
A game about placing blocks and going on adventures. Explore randomly generated worlds and build amazing things from the simplest of homes to the grandest of castles.
Despite this initial success there has always been some problems with administering Minecraft, particularly around easily and securely allowing student interaction and collaboration in these virtual worlds. To date, teachers have had to rely on students using the Minecraft Personal Edition meaning it was essentially single player mode only, removing the ability to collectively work on a project together. To promote greater student engagement and allow the key competencies to be fully utilized in learning through Minecraft, alternatives needed to be identified.
In late September 2014, Microsoft purchased Minecraft for $2.5billion which held out the possibility of a deeper integration into Office365 and Microsoft’s wider Education strategies. It took just under two years before Minecraft Education version was released, during which time an alternative Minecraft Edu was essentially shut down and absorbed into Microsoft’s new Education version. This was a shame as the Edu version was very good, allowing the use of numerous custom mods (modifications to improve/customise the game play) and it could be run on a hosted server, not just on the student’s personal device.
There was no ability to host the game on a stand alone server – now it would be installed and hosted via the teacher’s laptop computer (this raised significant security concerns for us and ultimately was a show stopper).
There was no custom mod support whatsoever. Over time, it was the ability to modify and customise the game play that had contributed to the enduring appeal of Minecraft and without this, the default game play was less appealing.
The upside, however, was that licensing was incredibly easy to manage and, if you were prepared to overlook security concerns, deployment for a teacher in a basic network would also be simplified.
An example of students using Minecraft Pocket Edition in previous years
After the initial disappointment of realising we would not deploy Minecraft Education as soon it was released, Mr Wilj Dekkers engaged in a number of discussions with myself and Mr Joshua Harrison from the St Andrew’s College ICT Services Team to explore how we might progress forward with Minecraft. Very quickly, some key features were identified:
Teacher Control: teachers would need the ability to easily manage students within the game. Without this, the chances of students running amok and getting into mischief was very real. This would require third party mods to achieve and a strategic plan around how Digital Citizenship teaching could be included into the Minecraft worlds.
The Minecraft server needed to be hosted centrally so that it could be controlled by the ICT services team, whilst still allowing the delegation of in-game management to teachers and to those students identified as leaders who could be student administrators.
Teacher/Student administrators needed the ability to maintain / deploy approved mods and perform low level administration work e.g. restarting worlds, creating/deploying new worlds.
Finally, the issue of how to deploy a pre-configured client onto student BYOD devices in a quick and simple manner, without disrupting any existing installations of Minecraft they may have already installed.
The above list of requirements needed addressing if we were going to be able to build a sustainable environment for integrating Minecraft into the eLearning strategies at the College. Joshua decided he would explore various options based on his prior knowledge administering various Minecraft servers in his own time and see if there could be some suitable solutions to use at St Andrew’s.
For the proof of concept, we decided to use an existing HP Compaq 6000 that was spare. The specifications of this machine were pretty light weight, having only a Core2 Duo CPU and 4GB of RAM. It remains to be seen if this will be sufficient and we anticipate needing to increase the resources of this machine as more users and worlds join.
After exploring various different versions of Minecraft, Joshua settled on 1.7.10 1.10.2 (this version is required to be compatible with Sponge. The earlier version was needed for supporting Bukkit which we are no longer using – see below). To support the deployment of these mods, two frameworks were necessary:
Bukkit This has been replaced with Sponge due to a potential copyright issue; this has resulted in dropping KCauldron as well.
These are essentially APIs that allow other mods to run on the Minecraft server and normally a Minecraft administrator would use only one or the other of Forge or Bukkit. However, as will be seen, it was necessary to use both and to achieve this an additional third party tool called KCauldron was necessary to enable the use of different mods on the same platform to work nicely together. With the use of Sponge, there is no need for third party tools like KCauldron, as Sponge integrates directly into Forge.
Minecraft Server Dashboard
Another important tool was MC Dashboard which allowed Joshua to use a graphical user interface (GUI) rather than a traditional command line interface (CLI) to administer the Minecraft server. This tool provides easy oversight into server resource usage, connected users and other important information.
As mentioned earlier, it is really the mods that create the key appeal of Minecraft in schools, as it allows for customisation of the worlds and gameplay and, sadly, was something that Microsoft chose to remove from their Education edition. It’s easy to see why, however, because mods are also one of the trickier components and can easily lead to problems of version compatibility and contribute to a poor user experience. There are three key mods that Joshua has deployed for the StAC Minecraft server:
Multiverse: Project Worlds:(Project Worlds replaces Multiverse due to the changes above relating to Bukkit – everything following remains the same) This is a key one as it allows us to run parallel worlds on the same server, whilst enabling teachers and/or students to jump between worlds at will. Put practically, a teacher could create a world for a collaborative social studies project where students need to work towards an assessment or project, whilst having a separate world for “free play” and experimentation. Without Multiverse, projects would need to be separated spatially within the same world which would inevitably lead to problems, such as having to walk a long way to go from one project to another – it all takes time!
PermissionsEX:PermissionManager:(PermissionManager replaces PermissionsEX due to the changes above relating to Bukkit – everything following remains the same) This mod allows for differing levels of user permissions groups, and the following four were setup for school usage:
Student – a basic user who can only do the default game play such as build/place etc
Student Administrator – have slightly elevated controls such as the ability to move other student users around, freeze them and do other temporary modifications. These permissions are designed to support a Digital Citizenship component where students can be educated and entrusted to self-manage as much as possible within the game. The assigned permissions here were carefully selected by Joshua to prevent a student who had prior knowledge of how Minecraft administration works from being able to execute any command.
Teacher – has access to most of the Minecraft server administration, can create new worlds, can kill off users, teleport users between worlds and other main administration functions.
Administrator – aimed at superusers and, at this stage, reserved for ICT staff to support the server installation as necessary.
ICY Admin:The Minecraft Macro/Keybind Mod(This was used to replace ICY Admin due to the version change of Minecraft) This is the key mod to bring the above together into a user-friendly GUI allowing for in-game administration from a graphical menu for the above user groups. The available menu options in ICY Admin The Minecraft Macro/Keybind Mod have been built from scratch by Joshua and are controlled by a config file on the Minecraft server itself. Users access the menu system during game play by hitting the tilde key (~) and this replaces the need to execute console / CLI commands within the game. This makes it significantly easier for new users to engage with the game and reduces the barrier-to-entry for teachers who may wish to administrate but know none of the commands.
Some of the controls available via ICY Admin The Minecraft Macro/Keybind Mod include things such as “freeze” a user/all users in place (useful if you effectively want to pause the game for a break), teleportation of a single user / all users to a shared starting point or, for example, if you wanted them all to be in the same place to work on the same project. Additionally, environmental settings can be controlled in this way e.g. make it rain or snow, or set it to always be night time.
The control interface for teachers and student-admins when using The Minecraft Macro/Keybind Mod (which replaced ICY Admin)
These three core mods are what allows the overall setup and administration and, through conversations with Mr Dekkers, are probably sufficient to enable most scenarios of how Minecraft might be used at this stage. Two in-game mods specifically requested by Mr Dekkers were IndustrialCraft and ComputerCraft both of which allow for significant learning opportunities. IndustrialCraft supports things like electricity generation and storage through batteries and transferring into different parts of the game, whilst ComputerCraft is essentially a full programming language accessible by computers in the game.
Client Installation & Deployment:
Windows installation batch script
With the setup of the Minecraft server achieved, the final part of the solution was how to easily deploy this to the individual student BYOD laptops. St Andrew’s College has a choice within parameters for BYOD, meaning students can bring either a Windows 10 laptop or an Apple MacBook running OS X.
It was important that there was an easy, stress-free way for teachers and students to install this version of Minecraft onto laptops that did not necessarily need to involve the ICT Services helpdesk team at the College. Joshua was pretty confident he would be able to write some batch scripts for Windows and I suggested he check out OS X’s Automator as a way of scripting installation for the MacBooks. Interestingly, he found that he was able to script the installation on MacBooks with Automator in about half the time it took to write a batch file for Windows.
The tasks in the Automator script to install onto a MacBook running OS X
The key to making this happen was Minecraft MultiMC, an open source launcher for Minecraft that allows users to run completely separate installations of Minecraft with ease, meaning that we could confidently encourage students to install this version without affecting any other installation of Minecraft they may already have on their laptop.
Essentially, a student is provided with a USB key that has an installer launcher that copies MultiMC and a Java installation into a new folder, whilst setting up short cuts in their Applications folder so they can run the game.
Interestingly, Joshua opted to not include a copy of the Minecraft client application itself within this installer file, instead relying on students having to enter their own Minecraft credentials (linked with their personal paid licensed copy) which would then trigger the download of the client application of Minecraft. This way, we are not distributing any commercial software illegally and the download only adds 1-2minutes to the overall installation process. The key benefit, however, was that MultiMC is already configured to point the installation to the College’s on-premise Minecraft server meaning there was no additional configuration required for students. Additionally, Joshua set this up to run on a non-standard port so that if other students were using Minecraft at school they could not accidentally connect to the school’s Minecraft server and become a nuisance.
All up, it takes less than 5 minutes for a student to install this version of Minecraft from a USB key provided by the teacher.
Where To From Here?
I am always really happy when members of the ICT Services Team have an opportunity to use their prior experience or personal interests to contribute to the teaching and learning at the College in ways like this. It is one of the unique things about delivering ICT in schools compared to other environments and the ability to be involved in this way is enjoyed by the staff. Talking with Joshua he admitted to being a bit worried about how to deliver what needed to be a very simple solution that could be managed by students and teachers whilst still being secure and stable:
I had a huge sense of personal satisfaction with the finished solution because I was a bit worried about how I would be able to deliver all of this at the start, or even if it was possible. Ultimately, it was ICY Admin that made it all possible and this was something I found only through researching for this project. It’s nice to know that the hundreds of hours I’ve spent administering Minecraft servers in my own time have paid off and could be used in an educational context.
Mr Joshua Harrison
For me, it is pleasing to know that we have a secure, robust and extensible platform which teachers will be able to use relatively painlessly thanks to the efforts of Joshua in this area. It remains to be seen what interesting curriculum uses arise from this and I’ll certainly be posting a followup blog highlighting this.
Of course, as Microsoft continue to develop their Augmented Reality HoloLens solutions, then perhaps the future of Minecraft will be 3D as this video shows:
Recently I caught up with Finn Perring, Anna Bennetto and Grace Dephoff who are part of a wider group of students that make up the band Souldrop. Anna leads the vocals, Finn plays bass guitar and Fin Gilzean (St Thomas of Canterbury College) plays lead guitar whilst Elliot Millar (Burnside High School) is on the drums. Formed in April 2016, their first single Mill Bay was released in August with an accompanying music video shot and edited by Grace Dephoff and their 5 track EP will be available from the 9th September 2016.
UPDATE 25/9/16 The band’s self-titled EP is now available and embedded below via Spotify:
I was particularly interested in the technology the band used to record the track as well as edit the video, however to understand all of this it was important to learn of the various musical influences on the band.
Elliot is a jazz and big band drummer, representing Burnside High School in various musical competitions.
Fin learnt blues and classic rock guitar, mostly from his father
Anna has been performing for over ten years in musical theatre shows, as a jazz singer in various bands as well as one soul band.
Finn is a classically trained guitarist who plays Spanish flamenco guitar, but bass for Souldrop.
Recording & mastering the audio track:
Most of the audio track was recorded in the St Andrew’s College recording studio with the vocals, drums and bass all being laid down in this environment. The lead guitar parts, however, were recorded in Fin’s bedroom using Apple’s Garageband. Once finished, these guitar recordings were sent to the other Finn (Perring) to add to the other instruments and mix the recording in Apple’s Logic Pro X. To this end, the band never played the entire song together in the same room during the recording process, instead relying on the use of over-dubbing to achieve the best sound.
From a non-musicians perspective, I found this a fascinating way to craft a complete song, through the selective and judicious extracting of various takes of the song and merging them all together in an order that produces the best quality song. Additionally, the song was a very collaborative effort with the idea of the song first coming in a formative stage to Finn Perring around two years ago, before drummer Elliot and lead singer Anna co-wrote the lyrics for the song.
Recording & editing the music video:
Grace Dephoff filmed all of the footage for the video in a single afternoon using a Canon 70D camera with the 16-24mm lens and a 50mm lens borrowed from Mr Dave Jensen who works in the TV studio at St Andrew’s College. There was a limited script for the recording of the music video, instead a desire to keep it as natural as possible for the band members. One of the most clever features of the music video is the fact it is in slow motion, whilst keeping the music and singing in real time.
Grace Dephoff filming the band
This was achieved by having the band perform the song at 1.5x normal speed from speakers that they could hear to help them keep time, whilst Grace filmed at 50fps so that it could be later slowed down to 67% normal speed and still look smooth after this editing had taken place. The end effect makes it look like the band are in time to the song, even though they are in slow motion. Grace had learnt of this technique from a former guitar teacher she and the whole band were thrilled with the end result and how it looked.
To edit the hours of video footage, Grace used Apple’s Final Cut Pro, a tool she was largely self-taught in after graduating from using Apple iMovie for a number of years, including winning numerous prizes at the annual St Andrew’s College Film Fest. All up, she spent around 10 hours editing the footage and another 6 hours completing the colour grading in the video.
Distributing and Promoting the single:
The band are using a combination of word of mouth and social media to get exposure for the first single Mill Bay, combining messages on Facebook, Instagram and, of course, the YouTube channel itself. They have added a number of live performances as well, including lunchtime shows in the St Andrew’s College Quad, an assembly at Burnside High School and a performance at St Thomas of Canterbury College as well. There is a planned interview on 98RDU radio station as well on 14th September.
The song has been released through TuneCore which is a digital media distribution company which automatically publishes the song to the main digital music platforms including Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Shazaam and the YouTube channel the band have created as well. Anna and Finn’s focus at this stage is getting the song out to as wide an audience as possible and any revenue that is generated from the track being played is a bonus. TuneCore will send the band monthly statistics around the performance of the song on the various platforms.
In terms of copyright and protecting the song, the band have chosen to use the Creative Commons licensing platform. They recognise that this license might not stop another band from being able to sample their work, but they will be required to acknowledge Souldrop as the source of the original content for the sample.
The band are keen to keep gigging and playing as many live performances as possible to increase their exposure and improve as a unit. They are also thinking about recording another music video for one of the other tracks on the soon to be released EP.
I have been super impressed with the members of the band that I have met so far, both in terms of their musical ability but also their technical skills to be able to produce such high quality recordings and videos. It is always pleasing to see that skills that have been taught and learnt at St Andrew’s College are finding a creative outlet in the areas of student’s own interests such as being part of a band.
The wider Souldrop crew including Anna Bennetto (back row, second from right), Finn Perring (back row, far right) and Grace Dephoff (from row, first on the left)
This song and video highlight how technology has enabled students to create high quality, professional looking videos and promote them digitally to an international audience. When I pointed this out to Finn, Anna and Grace their reaction was a mixture of pride and nonchalance in the work they had created, highlighting to me just how natural the use of this technology is to students these days. Importantly, they had thought about using Creative Commons to copyright their work demonstrating an inherent understanding of the value of their music and video.
Finally, there is opportunities for this work to be credited against various NCEA internal Achievement Standards in some subjects (mainly English/Music) which would be a serendipitous outcome of what is essentially a passion project for these students. This is, perhaps, one of the biggest outcomes and reasons to pause for thought from this. If schools were able to recognise the creative output of students in areas of their interests perhaps we would finally see the flexibility of NCEA that is often talked about, yet rarely achieved.
The aim of this blog is always to share some of the things going on with technology at St Andrew’s College and, wherever possible, provide some ideas and inspirations for other schools as well. Some of these innovations take considerable planning and resources such as our work with PowerBI for Educational Analytics, whereas others like this post about online voting are relatively simple.
Recently, the College’s new Head of Senior College Mr John Ruge approached me about moving Prefect voting to an online system. Immediately, there were some questions around how to do his securely and fairly. Paramount in my thinking was ensuring:
Results were anonymous
Students and staff could only vote once
Restrictions could be placed on the number of potential Prefects one could vote for
Time limits could be enforced for when voting stopped.
A number of people recommended using something like Google Forms or Office365 Forms, both of which are excellent products when used for what they were designed for. The major limitation, however, was there is no way to ensure the voting would be both anonymous and limited to one vote per person. I decided to cast my net a little wider and utilise the excellent Techies For Schools NZ Google Group as well as the Australian MITIE Forum and see if I could crowdsource some alternatives. Some of these included:
It was the latter that caught my attention because it was suggested that using some of the more advanced features around emailing would achieve my main aims of anonymity and restrictions to one vote per person.
SurveyMonkey Setup For Prefect Voting:
We used a basic MS-Query to extract student and staff email addresses and first/last names from Synergetic, our Student Management System. We then loaded these into a CSV file with the first row indicating the header fields:
We needed to analyse votes from three different groups of people:
Secondary School Teaching Staff
Current Year 13 Prefects
Current Year 12 Students
Consequently, we decided to make three identical surveys, but have the different groups above loaded into separate CSV files. Upon setting these up in SurveyMonkey we needed to select “Send by Email” to ensure unique links generated for each voter, rather than a generic link that could be forwarded to people outside the intended voters, or used more than once by the same person:
Choosing “Send by Email” was a key part of achieving the defined aims of online voting.
When choosing “Send by Email” you are invited to submit users from a range of sources and we used the CSV file we had already generated:
You are then able to compose an HTML message to the voter that is sent by SurveyMonkey based off the information from the CSV:
Note the salutation: the use of variables [FirstName] and [LastName] will personalise each email based off the information from the CSV already loaded into SurveyMonkey
Numerous additional variables can be set, some of which we made use of because of our aims included:
Changes: Respondents can change their answers on any survey page until they complete the survey (alternatively you can allow no changes at all, right through to changes after it’s been submitted but before the cut off date
Anonymous Responses: exclude ALL respondent information (names, email addresses, IP addresses, and custom data) from your survey results (we chose this, but you can collect all of the above information if you wished)
Cutoff Date & Time: This was important to ensure timely voting:
The end result, when sent, provided a really smart looking HTML email that encouraged staff and students to vote for 2017 Prefect Leaders:
Note the personalised salutation, the HTML “Vote Now” button and the footer indicating the URL is unique to the recipient.
When votes are opened you can track in real time the number of votes completed, as well as email opens and partial votes, for example:
One of the final tweaks I learnt through this process was how to limit or restrict the number of choices a voter could make from a multi-choice question. This was significant as voters were allowed to select up to twenty student names from the long list of candidates. There were some help instructions available, but the key areas to check were in the options of the multi-choice question:
For this to work “Require an Answer to This Question” is ticked
You choose “at most” for number of choices if you want voters to be able to select up to but not exceeding a number of candidates
You can customise the error message if a voter chooses more than the allowed number of candidates when voting.
With voting completed, it was easy to export as a PDF the graphs showing the candidates with the most votes and allow the leadership team to analyse the data. Now that we know we can generate personalised, single-use and anonymous voting systems through SurveyMonkey I can anticipate we will use this in other areas as well.
This week St Andrew’s College has joined in the national celebrations of Te Wiki O Te Reo Māori with a number of different activities. For the first time, we decided to run a Digital Scavenger Hunt that was aimed at getting ākonga (students) and kaiako (teachers) engaging in the celebrations in a fun way through using technology.
This was achieved using a Digital Scavenger Hunt, whereby students had to complete a number of tasks that accrued points based on the level of difficulty or effort required. The following poster was created using Canva and posted around the College and also on the news stream of our Moodle LMS
A handwoven harakeke pikau was 1st Prize
Initially, I was unsure of the best technology to get students to submit their photos and videos to a central location easily, and without needing a specific app or account. I tried to crowdsource some suggestions through my PLN (Professional Learning Network) on Twitter, with ideas of using Padlet, Cluster, Instagram and Google Drive all being suggested. I also thought about setting up an open course on our Moodle site that students could submit photos and videos for the competition through, however the reality is that it is still not super easy from a mobile phone to do this.
In the end, I settled on using the relatively new “File Request” feature that is available free with a Dropbox.com account. The beauty of this is that it significantly lowers the barrier of entry for students as:
They did not require a personal Dropbox account themselves
They didn’t need a specific app on their phone – it worked through a mobile browser on any platform (we tested on iOS, Windows and Android). We used a QR Code and shortened URL to make it easier to type on a phone – http://bit.ly/stac-mlw
Any files they submitted were visible only to me as the Dropbox account – students could not see the entries of anyone else which was important.
Students entered their name and email address when submitting files, so all entries were easily identifiable and Dropbox emailed me as the account owner when a submission was made.
To assist students with how to submit their entries, I made an instructional video using ScreenFlow 6 and a nice new feature in version 6 is the ability to record the screen of your mobile phone. This allowed me to show what to do on the phone to upload photos and video, whilst simultaneously showing what it looked like on the Dropbox account as the files were submitted:
Video showing how to submit photos for the Digital Scavenger Hunt directly from your mobile phone
The competition proved most popular in our Preparatory School, with the majority of entries coming from Year 7 students. Here are a couple of example photos that were entered:
I had a chat with Mr Tom Adams, our eLearning Integrator, at the end of this competition and we both agreed that this is an idea that could be recycled easily for other purposes. Now that we know that Dropbox File Requests is an easy way to submit and receive files via mobile phones this could be used for other Digital Scavenger Hunts with a different theme.
One idea could be an orientation programme for new students, aimed to get them going around the campus to learn where different places/services are located. There are some specific apps aimed at doing this, such as Scavify, but building your own would probably not be too difficult either. In the end, this was a fun and relatively easy activity to build into our celebration of Te Reo Māori at St Andrew’s College.
At St Andrew’s College we are extremely fortunate to have two great staff manning the IT helpdesk; Joshua and Brodie. Frustratingly, as the College’s 1:1 laptop programme nears universal coverage, they continue to see students, and occasionally staff, whose computers have failed, often through no fault of their own. Too often the owners are faced with the, sometimes devastating, realisation that their data is potentially irretrievable. This can be particularly traumatic for students who lose part, or all, of an NCEA assessment.
The catalyst for action on the College-wide promotion of OneDrive as the cloud storage solution for Collegians was the opportunity to test the class-wide implementation with Year 8 students. In an earlier meeting, a Year 8 staff member had mentioned that there was some confusion within his class of what they should be doing, and the ins and outs of using OneDrive as a storage solution. Our solution was to approach all Year 8 teachers and request a period to install OneDrive on the devices of all their students.
With the stability of the Next Generation OneDrive Sync Client we felt that it was prudent to actively encourage students to use this service. Joshua and I gained access to the four Year 8 classes in a two week period – refining the process down to less than 25mins to install and activate the Client on all student devices in a class. There were certain challenges with a small number of students whose devices were set up to stop them installing software on their devices without parental permission – a situation that is understandable for Year 8 students.
The result of this action was that we were happy with the class-wide implementation of OneNote as a feasible way to gain traction within the Preparatory School, and perhaps class-by-class may in fact be the most effective implementation method for students of this age.
Year 9 usage survey
In the Middle School, and Senior College it is perhaps a little more complicated. With upwards of 1000 students it is difficult to find an efficient way to engage students in the process. In an informal brainstorming session it was decided to try a range of approaches in a short period of time to try to raise awareness of OneDrive as a potential secure, online data storage solution.
Poster created for Preparatory Students
To gain a bit more information about OneDrive usage in the school I initially surveyed a Y9 class. It was interesting to discover that, from a group of 26 students, only four were actively backing up their data to a cloud based service – two using OneDrive, and two using Dropbox. This behaviour was not due to ignorance of the risks however, as every student spoken to was able to articulate awareness that their data would be compromised if their computer was stolen, or damaged. This information further solidified my opinion that many of our students are aware, but essentially ambivilent to the risks of losing their data. This, in turn, consolidated my desire to produce a resource to change student attitudes and behaviour in this space.
As a result, Joshua and I have produced a series of four posters, and accompanying videos, to help students engage with OneDrive as a sensible online data storage solution. Because we are a Y1-13 school the posters have been designed to hopefully engage students of different ages, with one produced particularly for a Preparatory School audience and another for Senior College students. The remaining two are for a more general audience.
Example of a more generic poster
An important stage of the production stage was gaining feedback from students. It is important that these posters effectively inform students, and by showing early drafts to students of differing ages we were able to make some important changes, mostly around the clarity of the message, ensuring that it was obvious to the students what their next step should be. This feedback was gained from students who were in Helpdesk, as well as Joshua and I approaching students in different parts of the school asking for direct feedback.
Video resources have also been produced to guide students through both the installation process, and the basic usage of OneDrive as a tool. Care was taken to ensure that we produced videos for both Mac and Windows users. As usual these video resources were stored on the StAC eLearning YouTube Channel.
With the holidays quickly approaching, it will be week one next term when we launch these resources. I am planning a multi-platform approach, with printed and electronic versions of the posters in circulation, deans and tutors emailed, and spoken to, in an attempt to generate a conversation in class, and the instructional videos will be promoted to students via email and the front of the moodle site. I am hopeful that students will engage with this message, and ultimately the payoff will be fewer students in Helpdesk with lost work!
Last week John Parsons from Simulate 2 Educate ran 45 minute sessions with students in each year level of Year 9-13 at St Andrew’s College, along with an after school Professional Development hour with teachers. The day finished with an evening parent session, that included a candid outline of the challenges facing students and parents when it comes to cyber security and technology usage.
John’s presentations were engaging and humorous and he succeeded in connecting with the students at all year levels, whilst delivering an unflinchingly real message of the risky behaviour happening online. Pleasingly, this was entirely absent of any elements of judgement because of their age; instead he highlighted the fact that hundreds of thousands of dollars are being lost annually by adults making poor decisions or being duped online.
Idle curiosity and social engineering are powerful factors that drive decision making and both are exploited through risky online behaviour. John highlighted this with two examples:
If a student found a USB stick lying outside the gates of the school and they took it home, plugged it into the family computer and found a file on there named “click me.docx”. Curiosity might drive them to open that file which could lead to the installation of a keystroke logging app which would collect and send typed information allowing the original owner of the USB stick to receive confidential information such as online banking or Facebook usernames/passwords.
If a Facebook user received a message saying “You should see the picture that David has shared of you online, click this link to view”. The hook here is basically everyone knows somebody called “David” so it has an element of potential truth and instead of seeing the image they are redirected to a squeeze page which might solicit their first and last names, and either their cell phone number or email address. Worse still, it may include a download file/link to see the picture but all it really installs is a keystroke logger.
The reality for our students is that they are born into a super-connected world in a way that their parents never were. Typically, when adults think of privacy they generally mean or refer to someone else taking care of the security of information to prevent someone from accessing it inappropriately. John’s message to students was essentially that view of privacy is dead and now the responsibility is all around self-control where the individual needs to take complete ownership of the sharing of their personal details and manage this themselves.
Every single one of you in this room is going to be subjected to a Google search by a prospective employer … I know over 96 boys and girls who can not get part time jobs because of content that their friends have posted online about them.
John Parsons (Simluate 2 Educate)
For this reason, John said, a student’s real CV is their online, digital footprint. Therefore they need to control this as tightly as possible by not allowing people to capture and share photos that make you vulnerable. Interestingly, John shared three ways that individuals are profiled by businesses and these went beyond just being in a photo in a compromising way:
The pictures that people upload – do they lack or demonstrate empathy? Employers and Universities will ask this question of prospective employees/students. In other words, what kind of person would upload and share a photo that embarrasses or exploits another person in a vulnerable situation
How do people talk to each other and what kind of content are they sharing and promoting online? Does it lack or demonstrate empathy? This is a key message as it’s very easy to be a digital bystander who perhaps didn’t upload the original content, but by liking or commenting on it can make you complicit.
The company you keep – what sort of behaviour is going on in photos you are tagged in and what sort of people are you following and communicating with in your social networks.
John Parsons used this video to highlight the risks and attitudes to sharing highly personal content online.
Practical Steps Students Can Take:
A number of keys were provided to enable students to make better decisions online:
Stop communicating online whenever you receive a request or comment that makes you feel uncomfortable. If you stop responding to any messages you are taking control of the situation.
Screenshot the communication / request that made you feel uncomfortable in the first place. By collecting evidence of this you are again taking control of the situation.
Print or store the screenshots in a secure folder or location that can be shared with a trusted adult such as parents who can help students in this situation.
Don’t let technology, or the people that use it, erode the values that your family have given to you – you’re too valuable to allow technology to do this
John Parsons (Simulate 2 Educate)
This message came through time and again throughout the presentation: that the students are unique and too valuable to allow themselves to be exploited online. John further dared the students to care – to not walk past people who are in need (whether this is physically in person or online). He encouraged them to ask a student if they are ok and how they’re feeling if they had observed unkind or unhelpful things online directed at that student. Finally, he urged them to not cheapen themselves but to instead nurture and protect their identity.
These messages from John are timely and need to be consistently delivered to students, staff and parents on a regular basis because of the real risks that can be associated with content shared online. Making poor decisions in this area is not confined to teenagers, as evidenced by some of these high profile examples:
Whilst students increasingly have a “post first, think it through later” mentality when it comes to sharing all elements of their lives, the potential impact on their well being and prospective employment and study is significant.
Ultimately, Digital Citizenship is everyones responsibility and by following the advice of John Parsons and exhibiting self-control in what they share, students are taking the first step towards valuing themselves and their reputation.