In the last week of Term 2 I had the opportunity to present at the NZ Tech Advance Education Technology Summit hosted at Massey University’s Albany Campus. Key topics and subjects discussed include:
- Inquiry | Creativity | Collaboration – The role of technology in modern learning
- Developing teacher understanding and encouraging implementation of collaborative and digital learning methods
- Integrating and encouraging digital technology adoption in curriculum and classroom
- The new narrative: IT training and computational thinking
- Building technology into the curriculum – lessons, challenges and what we’ve learnt along the way
- Collaboration at the forefront of today’s teaching environment
When preparing what I wanted to share at the 40 minute session I had been given, I decided on using the Key Competencies from the New Zealand Curriculum to explain why some examples of eLearning from four St Andrew’s College teachers had been successful. Additionally, I wanted to use authentic student voice to highlight this – fortunately, having been blogging on this site for over two years now there was plenty of examples I could draw on.
If you are interested in an independent view of my session then you can see this micro blogs from Nathaniel Louwrens here and this brief reflection from Andrew Corney here. You can download a full copy of my slides from the presentation from this link on dropbox.com.
The Key Competencies are at the heart of great teaching and learning in New Zealand and are the bedrock upon which effective eLearning can be built on.
The Key Competencies from the NZ Curriculum
It’s worth reading over the entire descriptions of learners who demonstrate the 5 Key Competencies but some highlights I pulled out to share at the conference included:
- Thinking: is about using creative, critical, and metacognitive processes to make sense of information, experiences, and ideas … Intellectual curiosity is at the heart of this competency … [Students] reflect on their own learning, draw on personal knowledge and intuitions, ask questions, and challenge the basis of assumptions and perceptions.
- Using Language, Symbols and Texts: Using language, symbols, and texts is about working with and making meaning of the codes in which knowledge is expressed … Students who are competent users … can interpret and use words, number, images, … and technologies in a range of contexts … They confidently use ICT to access and provide information and to communicate with others
- Managing Self: This competency is associated with self-motivation, a “can-do” attitude, and with students seeing themselves as capable learners … It is integral to self-assessment.
- Relating To Others: Students who relate well to others are open to new learning and able to take different roles in different situations … By working effectively together, they can come up with new approaches, ideas, and ways of thinking.
- Participating & Contributing: This competency is about being actively involved in communities … They may be local, national, or global. This competency includes a capacity … to make connections with others, and to create opportunities for others in the group.
I started the session off by highlighting the fact that often ICT is talked about in terms of risk. This can come from security breaches, budget blow-outs and ICT project cost overruns, not to mention distracted and off-task behaviour when using technology. I then posed the following questions:
I wanted to highlight how some of the best examples of effective eLearning from teachers at St Andrew’s College was firmly rooted in Key Competencies. I chose examples from the following four teachers:
Combining OneNote & MineCraft To Create Pick-A-Path Stories:
This example is explained in more detail here and the basic Learning Outcomes are displayed below with the relevant Key Competencies included:
Learning outcomes from this unit:
- to produce interactive pick-a-path adventure stories
- KC: Using Languages, Symbols & Text
- to work collaboratively online to produce an end product
- to create stories to share online with a wider audience
- KC: Participating & Contributing
As mentioned above, I wanted to use authentic student voice as much as possible so I included an abbreviated version of the following video so that the audience could hear students articulating their learning and the impact that technology had made:
An insightful quote from the student called Harry was:
The goal was not to just make something pretty in Minecraft, it was actually to improve the quality of your writing … after writing the story, the idea was to look back in Minecraft and see how you could improve the writing you had already completed.
To assist teachers at St Andrew’s College with integration of technology into their teaching and learning, we have adopted the SAMR taxonomy that you can see on the left.
This is a really useful way for teachers to conceptualise how technology might assist the learning outcomes for their students as well as provide them some aspirational goals for extended use of technology. Tom Adams, our eLearning Integrator, has recently written in detail about effective use of the SAMR model which is definitely worth reading if you are new to it. During the presentation, I introduced the audience to a relatively new product from Microsoft called Pulse. This enables the audience to provide real time feedback on a session as well as allowing the presenter to push out questions for quick polls. I asked the audience “What level of SAMR do you feel the Minecraft/OneNote example was operating at?” and below is their response:
Using Microsoft Pulse for instant feedback from the audience
Inspiring Creative Writing Through Constructing Digital Worlds:
The next example I shared was again around creative writing, this time from the High School instead of a Year 6 class. The full reflection can be found here, however the high level overview of the task was as follows (with Key Competencies inserted):
Learning Tasks For This Unit:
- Write a short story of ~600 words with a theme of “conflict”
- KC: Using Languages, Symbols & Text
- Students Must produce at least 4 “drafts”
- Drafts must be shared with peers for feedback/feed-forward & act on appropriate advice
- KC: Participating & Contributing
What was different about this activity is that students had to build their digital world before they started their writing and use it as a source of inspiration and planning, not just as a reflective tool for editing. Settings were constructed in Sketchup, Paint, Minecraft and the source engine of the game Counter-Strike. Here is a student Ralph talking about his world which I again shared with the conference audience:
Again, I find the language used by the student here informative, with some of his comments being:
- “I wanted readers to grasp that the bombs had come from the bank itself”
- Clearly, the reader’s experience is at the forefront of his thinking when he is designing his digital world.
- He blended his natural enjoyment of the game Counter Strike with his school work and learning – a win/win situation!
- Ralph talks about adding a backstory to the real events of the London Bombings, demonstrating a wider awareness of global communities
- “As I was designing the level I was constantly thinking of ways I could make the story more interesting.”
- This was not just technology for the sake of it – it was clearly shaping and informing his understanding of the creative writing task that was the key learning outcome here.
- This was manifested through his drafting process where he removed a lot of the dialogue to improve the narrative flow and added more descriptive text such as the sound of the gunfire
This impressive learning came on the back of an earlier, easier task where the students in the class had leveraged an existing digital world (Google Earth) rather than having to create their own. Through the lens of the SAMR scale this makes perfect sense – the students build their knowledge and experience of digital toolsets in the lower levels of SAMR and once mastered they can progress to more difficult tasks. Here is a write up of the earlier task where students had to explain the significance of setting in a film, and this is a student talking about their comprehension.
Again, it’s important to pick up on the student’s language – the technology is integrally linked to the learning outcomes, it is not merely there for entertainment or distraction. By requiring students to record their personal reflections in this way, students are using a number of Key Competencies.
Communicate Musical Intention By Composing An Original Piece of Music Inspired By Art:
The final example I shared with the audience came from Level 3 Year 13 Music. On the first day of the conference I had been asked to be part of a Q&A Panel about integrating technology into schools and one question from the audience was essentially around what are real world examples of great technology usage in NCEA subjects. The heart of the question was around the challenge of adapting existing assessments to be technology rich and I answered it by a brief description of this example from Mr Duncan Ferguson our Head of Music.
- Using AS.91419 (3.4)
- KC: Using Languages, Symbols & Texts
- Students are required to reflect on their composition and explain the connection with the art that inspired them
- These are largely independent projects that the students need to work on themselves
Here is the video of the student reflecting on their learning:
Flipping The Maths Classroom:
I wanted to allow some Q&A at the end of my session so I ran out of time to share this example from Mr Ben Hilliam, so I’ll briefly reference it here. In this example, the key learning outcomes included:
- Year 9 Maths: solving Linear Equations
- KC: Using Language, Symbols & Text
- Students were required to watch the instructional videos and then attempt the practice questions
- Students needed to regularly complete check lists indicating their progress
Here is an example video made by Mr Hilliam:
What I most liked about this example is that students were not left on their own to just work through it, the teacher is still involved through the process, despite the availability of the instructional videos. The following screenshot is from a OneNote Class Notebook showing how the student has completed their progress reports and the teacher has provided feedback:
I used MS Pulse to ask the audience whether they personally felt that using a “flipped classroom” genuinely created more opportunities for differentiated and personalised learning during class time. Their response was overwhelmingly “yes!”
An alternative way to show poll results from MS Pulse
I concluded my session with the following thoughts:
I really enjoyed the opportunity to present at the NZ Tech Advance Education Technology Summit and was fortunate enough to receive some positive feedback from the session: