Guest Post: Arduino Adventures

This is a guest post written by three Year 8 students from the Preparatory School: Imogen, Archie and Marshall.

ArduinoLast week, twenty students from Year 8 were part of an Arduino day run by FutureInTech. Arduinos are open source microcontrollers that can be programmed to do various things. The fact that they are open source means that anyone can use the software and hardware for whatever they want, as long as they follow the license.

There were five tutors from Airways, Dynamic Controls, Allied Telesis and Meridian Energy: a computer scientist between four, working in pairs. We took turns programming and plugging into the microcontroller. Our first project was to make a LED flash. From that, we progressed to making the LED flash at different speeds, using a button to make the LED flash, and connecting a buzzer. In the end, some of us had managed to make a doorbell: when you pressed a button, a LED would light up, the buzzer would go, and on the screen would appear “Someone’s at the door!”

detail 2 (Small)

Overall, we had plenty of fun on the day and learnt some new skills. We would definitely like to do something like it again if we had the chance.

Guest Post: Digital Disruption – A Millennial’s Perspective

This guest post first appeared on iStart – Technology in Business (please click through to read the preface by Ben Kepes) and features an insightful summary by Year 10 student Yonni Kepes on the impact of technology in society today.

Yonni

Yonni Kepes

“As the world goes through a digital transformation and disruption, we must remember what will actually be changing. For me digital transformation means changing from an old manual way of doing things to a new system that uses technology to do business in new ways. Jobs will be replaced by new, different applications of technology and it will be my generation that will be filling many of these posts.

“I think the biggest challenge for us will be understanding the extent of the transformation. For example, we weren’t around when taxis were one of the main types of transport for hire, so we never saw the industry fully function with no Uber to challenge it. And although we are in this transformation we will never see the end result – it is part of an unprecedented, continual and rapid change. I believe that makes it a lot harder for my generation to understand the changes and to know where they should look for and find good jobs which are secure. A good company attracts good employees to enjoyable jobs. Employees who are flexible and like learning new skills, and employers that support them are what make a good place to work. If my generation wants to still be employed in jobs like these, then we need to learn these new technology-based skills and use them as best we can. It is also important that customers get to have a say when looking at business. Since my generation is the future consumer, we can offer great advice that will help shape the future of businesses.

Future-technology-300x200“I also believe that as we slowly transition in to a digital world of some sort we will have our lives changed a lot by digital innovation. People now have too many “devices” in their homes, with the average number per person at nearly five. It’s a worry that more household items will be swapped for more devices with some sort of transmitter in them. The reason for my concern is because the devices will ‘take over’ people’s lives. Although having more devices per person is, in my opinion, a bad thing, they do have their benefits. These devices can now stay in contact with their owners and tell them, for example, when dinner is ready, what’s happening with the washing, or the temperature of the bath; little things in isolation, but with the potential to completely change our lives when combined. If this is happening now, then what will be happening in 20 years’ time?

“I think the biggest challenge for us will be understanding the extent of the transformation.”
Yonni Keeps, 15-year-old millennial

“It’s interesting that my generation is so fixated on what sort of phone we have but we don’t even stop to consider what digital disruption is doing to some businesses and what this could mean in terms of the way we live our lives. I believe that when my generation does see what digital disruption is doing they will simply pull a weird face, as they don’t understand it or what it is doing to the world since we will be viewing it from inside the middle of the transition. Then again, digital disruption will offer opportunities for us to look at companies and say ‘I think I can do better than them’. From there we will be able to build businesses taking advantage of other people’s lack of technological understanding. This will help to build a better system for future business.

Yonni & his father Ben Kepes who chaired the conference in Melbourne on Digital Disruption

Yonni & his father Ben Kepes who chaired the conference in Melbourne on Digital Disruption

“I believe that once my generation actually sees what is transforming then this world could turn in to a place where lots of different concepts will be used to make our life a lot easier.

“I’m very excited as this will offer many new opportunities which weren’t afforded to the generation before. I believe that with a good mindset my generation can use digital disruption to our advantage and make the world a much better place.”

Student’s Sharing their Digital Citizenship Learning

An important part of the Year 10 pastoral programme at St Andrew’s College is Te Waka. This innovative programme involves students working in a small group with a mentor teacher as they focus on the journey into adulthood through a focus on resilience, respect and responsibility. This programme, introduced in 2014, has proven very successful with staff and students alike. You can read more about the programme here.

While the Te Waka programme has strong, common themes that all groups address, there is the opportunity for groups of students to spend time investigating issues that are of particular interest to them. One such group, led by their mentor Mrs Richards, wanted to investigate issues around digital citizenship. Having spent some weeks discussing the particulars of such issues, the group were keen to share their learning to a wider audience; through a website.

Website banner

The great website 8 Te Waka students made about Digital Citizenship

 

The eight students in the group were randomly paired up, and each pair was assigned one of four topics; Digital Footprint, Cyber Bullying, Social Media and Texting. Each pair of students worked independently on their area of the website, with a little guidance from their mentor.

The aspect of this work that was particularly impressive was that the content of the site was entered, proofed, and published within two periods. What this success also indicates is that other staff, who may be thinking about the possibility of creating such a resource with their students, can be very confident that the learning curve is not too great for our students and that there are clear benefits for student learning.

Sharing the Learning Further

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Year 10 Te Waka students sharing their learning with 8C

When shown the result of the learning, the College’s Director of IT Sam McNeill suggested sharing the website with a class in our Preparatory School. One of our great Year 8 Team, Mrs Preston, jumped at the chance and recently 5 of the Te Waka group presented their website to 8C. It was really pleasing to see students speaking about their learning, and be able to articulate their learning to a different audience and respond to their lines of questioning.

Mr Hilliam Attends Microsoft Educator Exchange E2 Conference

Ben at MSAt the start of this term, Mr Ben Hilliam, flew to Seattle in the United States as a guest of Microsoft to attend their Global Educator E2 Conference. His attendance was based on his earlier selection as a Microsoft Innovative Educator for 2015 and his outstanding use of MS technologies in his classroom, including flipping the classroom with OneNote and Office Mix and his trusty Surface Pro 3.

The conference ran between the 27th April and the 4th of May and was attended by 200 delegates from over 80 different countries with only five being selected from New Zealand to go. During the conference a number of inspirational Keynote messages were delivered that focused more on the possibilities of technology in the classroom than on immediate practical implementation for teachers.

The members of the Challenge Group Mr Hilliam worked with

The members of the Challenge Group Mr Hilliam worked with

Some of the “how” was covered in the breakout sessions which included workshops on specific programmes such as Office365, OneNote and Sway (a relatively new feature from Microsoft that is a web based visual presentation tool). Another activity was the Challenge Groups – Mr Hilliam was grouped with teachers from Sweden, Georgia, Korea and Columbia and they were tasked with creating a learning activity based around 21st century learning ideas. They then had to pitch this to a number of judges and present a schema for the learning.

Being the only native speaker of English in the group this was certainly a challenge and Mr Hilliam acknowledged the conference was likely to evolve over the coming years – 2015 being the inaugural event. I was interested in any observations he had gained in terms of how his teaching practice with technology, and indeed the wider staff at St Andrew’s College, compared to what was happening in other countries. He noted:

No one else there was flipping their classroom in maths in the way a number of our teachers are at St Andrew’s. There was a teacher of French Literature who was using OneNote similar to how Jac Yoder and the English Department are, in the sense that they were using audio recordings for feedback and directly annotating into the NoteBooks.

The conference delegates from New Zealand

The conference delegates from New Zealand

Whilst St Andrew’s College has embraced Office365 and the cloud based flexibility it offers via OneDrive, Mr Hilliam did not see many US based schools setup in this way. Some were still using local on-site Sharepoint servers for OneNote synchronisation, meaning students could not get updates when at home. To this end, he felt that the work by teachers at our College was quite close to the leading edge, a view reinforced by the parents feedback at the recent Year 10 parent/teacher interviews, where a number commented how widely OneNote was being used across the school:

The ubiquity of OneNote in our College makes it quite easy for our students to get a handle on how to use it. It’s largely just fallen into the “background” of their usage. Students have stopped thinking about how to use OneNote and instead it is simply a tool to help them with their learning.

Interestingly, this view was echoed by Mr Tom Adams, the College eLearning Integrator, who mentioned:

Students don’t think they’re doing any special using OneNote now – they just get on and do it.

He went further by suggesting that because the College has focused on only two main tools of Moodle and OneNote, students are not being bombarded by a wide range of different tools and platforms from teachers. This has allowed them to quickly grasp the fundamentals of each and use them efficiently in their school work.

One the highlights for Mr Hilliam at the conference was the chance to ask Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella a question:

Mr Hilliam ask Satya Nadella for advice for Kiwi kids interested in working in the ICT sector

I am really pleased to see our teachers getting recognised outside of St Andrew’s College for their great work authentically integrating technology into their teaching and learning. Moreover, to hear that the students are becoming increasingly familiar with this technology and starting to leverage it intuitively to support their progress is outstanding. I wrote in this earlier blog post, 

Whilst the phrase “ubiquitousness of technology” is over used, this lesson did demonstrate that when used effectively, the technology is not at the forefront of the lesson. It was not gimmicky or flashy, instead it provided functional improvement to what was already a great lesson.

It seems that we are progressing well along this path of embedding technology into the background of the learning and this is a fantastic tribute to the hard work of our teachers.

Reflections from the AIS NSW ICT Leadership & Management Conference 2015

AISI have been fortunate to attend the AIS NSW (Association of Independent Schools of New South Wales) ICT Management and Leadership Conference over the last few days and I thought I would share a few reflections on it here. As this post will be quite long, you can see the various sections I’ll touch on here as an index and you can skip to what you may find relevant:

  • Keynote from Dr Jane Hunter: High Possibility Classrooms
  • Jeff Utecht – The Continuum of Digital Citizenship
  • Matt McCormack – ICT Security – Making the most of what you have
  • Various Presenters – 7minute Tell Sessions
  • Rose Elsom – Continuous Online Reporting with Moodle and Sharepoint
  • Northern Beaches Christian School – Student Media TV Crew

Introduction:

Hosted in the Canberra National Conference Centre, the organisation of the event was top notch, co-ordinated by the very useful app from GuideBook.com. This app (available free on iOS, Android, or the web – click here) provided all the necessary information at the touch of a button, including any last minute changes to sessions or venues – all updated automatically for conference delegates:

Screenshots of the GuideBook App

I can see plenty of potential uses for an app such as this, where the co-ordination of complex events (conferences, Centenary celebrations etc) can be easily achieved and all delegates or visitors can be confident of having the latest information to hand.

UPDATE: The GuideBook app is only free for the first 200 downloads. If you need more than 200 downloads then the cost is around US$1700.

Keynote from Dr Jane Hunter: High Possibility Classrooms

high possibility classroomsDr Jane Hunter is an educational researcher who presented on her research into High Possibility Classrooms. This was a very interesting session to start the conference with and it was encouraging to see very recent academic research into the impact of technology in education. It is worth noting that this research looked at “exemplary” teachers, those that were already very proficient with technology and used it daily within their classrooms. You can read in detail about Dr Hunter’s research here:

One of the exemplary teachers that was used in the research used an interesting inquiry model based on the acronym QUEST:

  • Question;
  • Uncover
  • Explain
  • Share
  • Together

It’s a simple idea that could be very useful in a range of classroom contexts. Another concept that she introduced was the TPACK model in eLearning. It’s similar to the SAMR model that we have explored previously on this blog and put simply, TPACK is:

Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) is a framework that identifies the knowledge teachers need to teach effectively with technology

TPACK-new

Jeff Utecht – The Continuum of Digital Citizenship

Jeff Utecht presented on Digital Citizenship in an engaging and interactive session that was broken up by his encouragement for us to quickly discuss our own experiences with the people around us. He started by posing the question “What is the biggest challenge with Digital Citizenship?” before suggesting:

Many schools are simply paying lip service to Digital Citizenship, but are not actually integrating it effectively into their curriculum.

Throughout his presentation he presented information from this section of his website and provided a few interesting statements such as:

  • The average age a child touches a device in a classroom in the USA is 6yrs old – why then are we waiting another 3-5yrs before we start teaching Digital Citizenship?
  • Peer to peer cyber-bullying is a far greater threat than encountering an anonymous online cyber predator.
    • He suggested a new study found that a child has the same level of risk at being picked up at a public park than being approached online by an anonymous cyber predator
  • The current school age generation is living “public first, private second” – in other words, they are sharing their lives online with others immediately.
  • In the USA, most children by the age of 5yrs old have had around 3000 photos of them shared online – by the parents and wider family.
  • 85% of universities in the USA google prospective students before offering them a position.

His session was interesting and in places quite challenging, particularly around how he sees the need for schools to engage with social media (for example, he proposes all schools should have an online community / social media manage position – he even wrote a job description for it). Continue reading

Online Ticketing A Great Success

PatronBaseAt St Andrew’s College there are a lot of ticketed events showcasing student talent and performances, from the annual Preparatory Ballet Show through to the Senior Production. On top of these, there are fundraisers, guest speakers and the upcoming Centenary celebrations in 2017, all of which require ticket design, printing and selling.

Historically, these tickets were designed in-house by our Communications team, bulk printed and then sold via the reception desk in the Secondary School. Whilst this worked, it tended to be inflexible if people wanted to change the night they were attending and it was also time consuming for reception staff showing students and parents what seats were still available and then processing the purchase of tickets.

In 2014 the College re-examined online ticket sales as an option and partnered with PatronBase, a Christchurch based company with customers throughout Australasia, the United Kingdom and Spain. We had some clear goals in mind to improve our sales of tickets to events, including:

  • The ability for students, parents and wider community members to see what events were happening at St Andrew’s, choose their preferred seats (where allocated seating was being used) and to purchase tickets online.
  • The ability to pay for tickets online using Visa or MasterCard.
  • Customers to be able to print their tickets at home and for reception staff to be able to print tickets on a “as needed” basis.
  • Event organisers to be able to see very accurately how many tickets were sold/remaining
  • Accurate reporting at the conclusion of an event for reconciliation of payments and disbursement of funds.

The team at PatronBase worked hard to help create a custom skin that accurately matched our College branding and also supported the technical requirements for connecting with BNZ’s BuyLine product for processing online credit card payments.

The PatronBase hosted solution for online ticketing accurately reflects the St Andrew's College branding.

The PatronBase hosted solution for online ticketing accurately reflects the St Andrew’s College branding.

guys and dollsA decision was made to trial the PatronBase system with the 2014 Senior Production of Guys and Dolls with tickets being available for sale online for the first time ever, as well as via the “Box Office” in the College reception. The ability to sell tickets both online and via the reception was a real advantage over the previous ticket system used and reception staff were confident that tickets were never going to be accidentally sold twice.

Furthermore, because tickets could be re-printed as needed, it did not matter if a customer changed their mind about the night they wished to attend a performance, because the tickets could easily be transferred with new tickets being printed and the original seats being released for other customers to purchase.

The “Box Office” view on the left used by Reception staff to see status of available seats and the corresponding web view to parents at home allowing them to choose their preferred seats.

As can be seen from the above images, the seating layout from the College Theatre could be recreated in PatronBase allowing allocated seating to be selected by students and parents. However, after the initial success of online sales for Guys and Dolls other events in different venues were also sold via the new ticketing system, including:

Parent response to the new system has been incredibly positive, such as this unsolicited feedback we received:

The new ticketing system is really great. It is great to be able to purchase with a credit card and to have a choice of whether to print or collect tickets.

When booking shows in the theatrette it was fantastic to be able to choose your own seats and it was very easy to use. It really was great to be able to see exactly where you would be sitting.

Keeping the self print tickets simple is good. I have had to print out tickets from other places before and they have wasted so much ink printing fancy pictures. 

Your ticketing system is excellent.

A selection of shows through PatronBase with the online sales clearly proving popular

A selection of shows through PatronBase with the online sales clearly proving popular

The ease and convenience of purchasing tickets online is evident from the table on the right, and this encouraged the College to explore other possibilities with PatronBase such as sales of the fundraising recipe book “Recipes From The Tartan Kitchen“. This book, sold to raise funds for the new College Chapel, was launched in late 2014 with the accompanying promotional video:

Since then, 150 copies of the book have been sold through the PatronBase system, often by Old Collegians overseas who wish to have the book couriered directly to them.

A more recent form of fundraising online came after the devastating Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu. A full blog was written about this that you can read here, and at the time of writing donations during the sale of tickets to UrineTown and Style at StAC are approaching $1000 for Onesua Presbyterian College in north-east Efate,Vanuatu.

Finally, the Old Collegians Association of St Andrew’s College, having seen the value of online ticket sales, will soon be using PatronBase as well for all their ticketed events and reunions. A custom theme is being developed to match the branding of the Old Collegians and then tickets will be available for all events.

With an eye to the future, having run over 15 ticketed events through PatronBase over the last 12 months, the system will definitely be used for managing ticket sales for the 2017 St Andrew’s College Centenary. It is pleasing to be able to deliver an improved service to students and parents that makes the purchase and attendance of ticketed events at the College so much simpler and easier.

Students Catch The Blogging Bug

Isla Evison and Harrison Cooper (creator of the blog for the trip) at Brockenhurst

Isla Evison and Harrison Cooper (creator of the WW1 European Tour blog for the trip) at Brockenhurst

The StAC eLearning Blog is now over 18 months old, something that I find amazing when I pause to reflect on all the incredible stories we have been able to tell about innovative and engaging eLearning happening around the College. One thing that I am especially pleased about is the increasing number of “tip offs” I get from teachers – suggestions to go and chat with other teachers they know that are doing amazing things in their classrooms with their students. Additionally, more teachers are now telling me they regularly check out the posts and find they are motivated and challenged to try new things in their classrooms too.

In the last week of Term 1, Mr Simon Williams (Head of Television and Media) mentioned that he had been sharing this blog with some senior students who were about to head away on a WW1 Commemorative Tour of Europe in the holidays and he asked if I could help them set up a blog to record their journey. Excited by both the nature of the trip and also the possibilities of students engaging with their co-curricular learning via blogging I met with Harrison Cooper to discover more of what he was hoping to achieve.

Together, we settled on using a WordPress blog (similar to this blog) and we discussed the various themes and how some would potentially engage the readers more than others. We agreed that whilst some of the fancier themes were very cool, with menus that minimised completely to avoid distractions, some of the readers of the blog might not be able to navigate as easily around the blog. This was going to be important, because I taught Harrison how to use category pages within his menu structure, so that posts could be dynamically filtered based on the different locations they visited e.g. Gallipoli, France, Belgium etc. Here is the end result:

Note the names of locations under the main image - these are dynamic pages filtering and displaying blog posts only from those locations.

Note the names of locations under the main image – these are dynamic pages filtering and displaying blog posts only from those locations (click the image to visit the blog).

The other conversation we had was around image ownership – whilst there are many photos on the internet from WW1 that would serve as an excellent banner image, most were copyright and could not be used. This was an excellent chance to discuss Digital Citizenship and link back to one of the three core values in our Digital Citizenship policy:

Respecting the ownership and intellectual property of content they find online by accurately referencing the owner or site they obtained content from and by not engaging in piracy of software or other digital media

creative commons licenseTogether, Harrison and I did a quick google for images that were licensed by Creative Commons and quickly found websites such as the Wiki Commons WW1 Images and a Flickr WW1 Gallery from Oxford University that was licensed under the CC BY meaning the images could be shared or adapted provided appropriate credit was given. I left it up to Harrison to find the final images that he wanted for the blog, along with showing him how to use tags to help label each blog post by author and topic. I mentioned to him that once his blog was ready, I would put it on the front of the College Moodle site to increase the visibility amongst the students at St Andrew’s.

A number of students have contributed blog posts whilst the trip has been ongoing and even our Rector, Christine Leighton, has written a reflection on the trip as well as thoughts on the moving memorial at Brockenhurst a site in south east England where 21,000 wounded New Zealand soldiers were cared for during WW1. This visit was picked up by TV3 News and you can read the full story here and see a video of this here:

Click the image to load the TV3 news site and video

Click the image to load the TV3 news site and video

The WW1 tour blog quickly gained over 80 followers, who would receive an email update each time a blog was posted, and showing just how engaging the content was for readers, it has received a number of comments for the various posts. This one shows how appreciative readers are of the student’s blogging about their trip:

Thank you for the various articles and photos. It is a great way to follow the trip and also share your travels and observations with my family and friends. We are all very impressed by the way your group is representing our country and remembering those brave men and women who fought in WW1.

The WW1 European Trip blog is not the only blogging that has been happening by students at St Andrew’s College over the Term 1 holiday break. Twice a year, students head to Cambodia as part of the College’s commitment to community service and for the last few trips, students have been blogging about their time in Cambodia:

Cambodia

The students take turns co-authoring a blog post in pairs, providing an overview of what activities they have participated in and seen as well as personal reflections – some of which are very moving, an example being reflections from the trip to the Orphanage:

The orphanage was one of the biggest highlights of the trip, and a day that has been highly anticipated by the group … During the day, we as a group witnessed how little we had to do, to make one of these kids smile … As we said our goodbyes and headed onto the bus, hugs, handshakes, presents and tears were exchanged through the windows. The experience was amazing, tiring, emotional and rewarding. The only downside was that we didn’t get to spend more time with them.

It is pleasing to see these two examples of student-led blogs reaching a wide and authentic audience, providing a platform for students to meaningfully reflect on their experiences. There are other teachers who are encouraging their students to blog as well and based on the success of these two, I anticipate more teachers may explore this as an option for student writing as well.

Developing Connections with Business Mentors

Callum StewartAfter a lifetime of interest in Computer Science, and a more recent involvement in online forums with people from communities less privileged than his own, one St Andrew’s College student has an idea that he hopes will provide a platform for small investors to fund small start-ups in the Third World through a web-based business, tentatively called uEarn.io

Year 10 student, Callum Stewart’s enthusiasm for the cause caught the eye of his Business Studies Teacher, Steve Aldhamland. Quickly identifying the potential benefit, for Callum, of a Business Mentor Steve contacted Robyn Frey, the ‘Head of Special Projects’ at the Young Enterprise Trust. Robyn kindly put Steve in touch with an Alumni of the Trust, Josh Daniells. Josh is currently the Head of Platform and Investor Growth at the successful equity crowdfunding platform, Snowball Effect.

Capture

A screenshot from the Skype session Callum and Josh had, hosted in the Boardroom at St Andrew’s College

Earlier this week, to initiate this mentor relationship, Josh and Callum participated in a Skype session. This session allowed Callum to speak to someone with industry experience and Josh was able to give the young entrepreneur some valuable advice about potential regulatory barriers and the importance of balancing interests between investors and companies.

Reflecting on potential future mentoring within Business Studies

Mr Aldhamland immediately saw the benefits for Callum of this session. The main positives were that it was a medium that allowed each party to see and respond to the body language of the other throughout the conversation. I believe that this was a factor in Josh quickly identifying that Callum has genuine entrepreneurial potential and that he is deadly serious about his business idea.

He is also excited about the future potential of using Skype more regularly in Business Studies, with the ability to connect with business mentors nationally, and even globally.

Reflections on a Term of Integration

As the first term of the school year draws to a close, I find myself increasingly reflecting on the first ten weeks as the eLearning Integrator here at St Andrew’s College. Due to the fact that this position was newly established at the College, there was always a bit of a sense of the unknown.

Hitting the Ground Running

Almost immediately, I was struck by the willingness of the College’s staff to embrace change in their pedagogy, and the overwhelming acceptance that eLearning has an important part to play in this development. While, obviously, staff are at differing stages of their experimentation all have been extremely welcoming and responsive to whatever assistance they have received.

OneNote in the Classroom

By far the major focus for staff has been the continued use of OneNote in their classrooms. With a compulsory 1:1 laptop programme now covering all Year 9 and 10 students the majority of secondary staff have been extremely keen to use OneNote in their classrooms. Feedback from staff has been overwhelmingly positive and success with its use to manage and improve student feedback in English and the potential of student collaboration have already been blogged about this year.

By far the most significant development for staff, has been the launch of the OneNote Classroom creator tool. Numerous staff have mentioned to me how they have appreciated the streamlined organisation that this tool facilitates.

The other major developments that has impacted on our student population are the improvements to the complexity of the OneNote app for Mac. Approximately 65% of our students are using Apple laptops and, although the functionality of the app is still not equivalent to that of the Windows Client version, the improvements have helped to raise the engagement levels of students with the software.

Skype developing

A second area of growth within the school has been the use of Skype. Within the senior syndicate of our Preparatory School especially, Mystery Skypes have been popular. Teachers have found them a great way to make initial conact with students in other areas of the world and also as a valuable way to investigate questioning strategies – not to mention they are great fun!

This term has also seen us experiement with other ways to utilise Skype in the classroom. On World Read Aloud Day 8C jumped at the opportunity to connect with a children’s author, Jennifer Swanson via Skype. SwansonThis session was really motivating for the students and it was great to see them having the opportunity to ask their own questions to an experienced author.

“I think that it’s pretty cool that although Jennifer Swanson is so far away we felt like she was right there in the room thanks to Skype. I think that the whole class enjoyed this experience and we all want to do it again!” Elena, 8C

A final development has been the number of staff in the Senior College beginning to experiement with the potential with Skype to supplement the learning occuring in their classroom. A Year 13 English Teacher, Tam Yuill Proctor, is teaching a course based around James Bond. As part of this I am endeavouring to confirm an academic from the Film and Media School at Aberysthwyth University to join the class in an expert capacity. A second example is from our Commerce department who are beginning to develop relationships with business mentors through Skype. Stay tuned for a future blog post highlighting this!

Staff redefining their own boundaries

Elsewhere in the school, it has also been pleasing to see a number of staff experimenting with other aspects of eLearning. Examples of this has seen Google Earth being used to effectively study setting in English, and Excel being used in conjunction with OneNote in the Preparatory School. It has been really rewarding for me to see increasing examples of staff developing the confidence to conceptualise, develop and implement such tasks in an increasingly independent manner!

Fundraising For Vanuatu – New & Old Approaches

Damages from Cyclone Pam, Vanuatu. Creative Commons: UNICEF Pacific, 2015

Damages from Cyclone Pam, Vanuatu. Creative Commons: UNICEF Pacific, 2015

UPDATE March 30th: New photos have been supplied from Onesua College – scroll down to see them.

Over the weekend of 14-15th March 2015 a Category 5 cyclone cut a path of devastation across the Pacific, with the island nation of Vanuatu experiencing some of the worst damage from this massive storm.

St Andrew’s College has a strong relationship with Onesua Presbyterian College located on the north-eastern side of the main island of Efate, having sent annual Community Service trips there for over a decade. Onesua is a boarding school with around 350 students and suffered extensive damage from the storm:

With the 2015 Community Service Trip to Onesua College scheduled to depart in the first week of the Term 1 holiday break, the timing of this Cyclone resulted in the cancellation of this trip. The leadership team at St Andrew’s College reached out to Onesua immediately to see where we could help and heard from their Principal, Mr Kalmar a week after the storm:

Onesua is badly hid by the cyclone, a lot of classrooms lost their roofs and also staff houses. My office and house roof also flew away. The students are all out of school. Water and food will be a problem. I thank God that not even a single soul was lost during the cyclone at Onesua. We were all safe.

At the moment the school is out of telephone and internet services. I am emailing from Port Vila.

We immediately explored how we could channel existing fundraising approaches to help our sister school in Vanuatu.

UPDATE March 30th: new photos from Onesua College:

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Online Donations:

We setup an online donation option through our existing ticketing and donation platform from PatronBase.com which allowed our community members to make a credit card payment directly to the funds being collected for Onesua:

Online credit card donations for Onesua College via PatronBase.com

Online credit card donations for Onesua College via PatronBase.com

Online Ticket Sale Top-ups:

St Andrew’s has been selling tickets to College events online for 12 months now, and currently both the Senior Production (Urinetown – The Musical) and Style At StAC have tickets selling fast. We were able to include the opportunity for our community to “top up” their ticket payment with a donation for Onesua College:

An option donate to Onesua is provided during the checkout process with ticket sales for St Andrew's College events

An option donate to Onesua is provided during the checkout process with ticket sales for St Andrew’s College events

Mufti Day & Disco:

More traditional approaches to fundraising were also undertaken which included:

  • A mufti-day where students in the Secondary School could come in tidy non-uniform attire. For this event, the College encouraged students to go beyond the usual gold coin donation, and instead gift “folding money” towards Onesua College.
  • Preparatory School Disco. This is the annual fundraiser organised and run by the students going on the annual Community Service Trip, and aimed at students in Years 4-8 to attend a tropical themed disco.
  • Collection raised at the Middle School Chapel service

Total Donations So Far:

By combining both new and old ways of collecting donations, particularly with the ease of online credit card payments, we have been able to reach a wider section of our College community who have been incredibly generous.  Today, St Andrew’s College was able to transfer NZD$10,000 to Onesua Presbyterian College to help them rebuild their damaged school and replace their destroyed teaching resources.

With a number of remaining smaller fund raising activities running into Term 2, there will be a second payment of the remaining funds raised gifted to Onesua.

A huge thank you to our entire community for contributing so generously. In his latest email Mr Aldo, Principal of Onesua, said:

Thank you very much for this much needed support. I thank God that Onesua has build a relationship with STAC.

The Onesua community has set up a working group  consisting of teachers and ancillary staff and carrying out rapid response operations in the college.

This means that they are putting up temporary classrooms and staff houses and dorms to gather for the classes next week. We are all eager to begin classes though we lost a lot of materials.

We will start with what we have available hoping that support will definitely come. Please thank all your community for your support sincerely.