How often do you want to access the internet but can’t because your device is connected via Wi-Fi to the classroom projector? It’s one or the other … but not both. St Andrew’s College has worked with Epson to find a way to do things differently.
“Epson gave us some sample units, and we trialled some existing units in our preparatory school before we did a major upgrade,” said the College’s Director of ICT Sam McNeill, noting the units were in place for six months. “We wanted proof of the concept.”
By Term 4 last year, the College had rolled out 35-40 Epson EB-535W short-throw projectors.
“One of the key drivers for upgrading to networked projectors was our use of OneNote,” explained McNeill. “We’re gradually becoming a compulsory BYOD school and the majority of teachers now choose a Microsoft Surface Pro 3 or 4. Because we use OneNote, everything that goes up onto a projector screen also gets automatically saved for later in the students’ notebooks.”
Two underlying needs for a projector upgrade were also present, the first being teachers wanting not to be tethered to a projector by a VGA or HDMI cable. The second, more importantly, was St Andrew’s experiences with other technologies.
“We’ve played around with WiDi and Miracast devices, and had varied results.
“The Netgear Push2TV worked okay but still had interference issues because we had 30-40 devices in a classroom,” recalled McNeill. “The ScreenBeam dropped out from time to time, and had some security issues. Also, the pairing process between Miracast and a Windows 8.1 or 10 device was challenging for some teachers.”
Epson’s EB-535W projectors are networked and have their own IP address which is displayed on the projector’s screen, and a signal is received from a teacher’s Surface Pro via the school’s wireless network. Rather than going from one device to another (point-to-point), this allows for a highly stable connection, not unlike live internet streaming.
St Andrew’s separates all projector traffic on to a separate VLAN (with a dedicated switch), meaning it was isolated and would never affect general school-wide Wi-Fi speeds. All installation of the projectors was done by the in-house ICT team.
Enticingly, Epson’s projectors did not require a network upgrade, they could be used on the existing wireless infrastructure.
“We wanted to be able to use them for the internet and project the teacher’s screens at the same time. What we like about the Epson is, you don’t have to fiddle around with the Windows configuration. It has its own standalone software (EasyMP), and it just works.
Just one downside has come with the roll-out of Epson’s projectors.
“The trade-off in all of this is that video frame rate is reduced,” added McNeill. “If a teacher wants to play a movie, they’ll need to connect through HDMI for an optimal experience.”
St Andrew’s is using Epson’s advanced networking solutions with its projectors in various ways.
“We have the central management software, which allows us to see how the projectors are running, when bulbs blow, and see how teachers are connecting, all from our ICT office. We even have a scheduled off function, in case teachers forget to turn theirs off.”
Currently, the projector network is only accessible by teachers, not by students.
“It is possible, under moderator control from the teacher, but we haven’t had the teacher demand for it at this stage. Perhaps when they become more fluent and familiar with using wireless projectors, they’ll see the value in students’ BYOD devices projecting to it.”
St Andrew’s College is in Merivale, Christchurch. With a roll of 1,350, it’s a fully-independent, co-educational school for pre-school to Year 13 day and boarding students.
2014 was a year that saw significant increases in usage of Microsoft OneNote at St Andrew’s College and there were a number of factors that contributed to this, including:
Continued promotion of OneNote by earlier adopter teachers such as Mrs Jacqueline Yoder which led to uptake amongst her fellow teachers in the English Department and beyond. Her story was eventually published in the College quarterly magazine in an article entitled OneNote To Rule Them All.
The transition from Microsoft Live@Edu to Office365 that occurred at the end of 2013 allowed for tighter integration of cloud hosting of OneNote notebooks, thus increasing both the access to notebooks from any device as well as promoting true collaboration between students and teachers.
The ongoing trials with the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 highlighted the benefits of a pen / touch interface when using OneNote, with teachers committing to using OneNote more effectively in the classroom, in anticipation of getting a Surface Pro 3 in 2015.
The release of the OneNote Class Notebook Creator tool finally showed an easier way to create notebooks for teachers where every student could easily see and share content. Prior to this tool, teachers were receiving up to 27 shared notebooks from students per class making it unwieldy to manage class notebooks.
Ongoing professional development sessions were being offered to staff both formally and informally, allowing them to learn how to use OneNote in their classrooms more effectively or for collaboration with other teachers in their Departments or Syndicates.
Whilst the above reasons have all contributed to increased usage of OneNote amongst staff and students I believe that one of the biggest reasons for the success of OneNote is the interface. The layout is reminiscent of a traditional ring binder folder with coloured tabs that all students and teachers can relate to. Additionally, the “blank canvas” approach to the notebooks means users are not confined to dimensions of a page and can arrange content, text, images, hyperlinks and comments anywhere they choose. This freedom is appealing, whilst still being supported by optional page templates and the ability to insert lists, to-do items and other organisational elements. As Mrs Yoder noted for her English students:
“I didn’t want a place just for storing documents. I wanted kids to interact, not to struggle to use their devices, and to have a ring binder in the sky.”
Curriculum Areas Where OneNote Is Being Used:
St Andrew’s College is the equivalent of a K12 school and one of the most pleasing aspects of the Office365 deployment has been the uptake amongst our Preparatory School. Whilst this has mostly been in the Years 5-8 classes (students aged approximately 9-12yrs old), some of the usage has been incredible. Below is some examples of OneNote usage across the school in different curriculum areas:
Mr Wilj Dekkers joined the College in 2013 and immediately embraced the benefits of using OneNote with his Year 6 students both in class and also for their home learning (homework). I was talking to some of his students in late November after nearly a year of using OneNote and their ease and confidence in using the programme was evident. A student called Hamish commented:
OneNote is really good because we can all go on it at the same time – we have even done debates on it!
Another called Izzy noted that whilst the other Year 6 classes were using traditional exercise books for their home learning, they weren’t:
We have not done one piece of home learning in a book all year – it has all been completed in OneNote.
Mr Dekkers did take time to help the students setup an individual OneNote notebook at the start of the year which they then shared with him. He could then see all students’ notebooks and his planning directly within OneNote on his computer.
Titles in red have been added to highlight different features of the ePortfolio
With the platform in place, students were then able to use OneNote as a planning and collaboration tool in a variety of different learning areas such as writing “choose your own ending” stories within OneNote. Below is a video showing a student reading his story and also navigating through a virtual world in MInecraft he created based off his OneNote writing:
You can read the stories they wrote directly in OneNote Online since they shared them with guest access – Desert of Terror, The Black Death Maze and Island Adventure. There was a strong focus on effective editing throughout the creation of these stories, with students using the highlight feature in OneNote to indicate passages they had reworked (often through visually “seeing” their world they had created in Minecraft). Similarly, students were encouraged to share their drafts with their classmates so they could receive feedback and suggestions on the development of their stories.
What impressed me so much about their use of OneNote was:
Using “Tasks” that could be ticked off when each job was completed – this meant they knew exactly who had to do what.
Having the “show contributors” turned on so the initials of each group member was alongside their work, meaning they could see who had contributed what to the research.
Storing images in the notebook as examples for when they started to build their Minecraft theme park.
Use of highlighting – key words / concepts were highlighted to ensure they would be include in the theme park and oral presentation.
Using their iPads and OneNote to read their notes from during the actual presentation.
Mr Dekkers writing feedback directly into their OneNote notebook during the presentation so by the time they finished they would see his comments.
To watch a video of the students sharing their Kiwiana Minecraft world and reading their presentation from OneNote on an iPad click here.
Corrections and comments on student work via OneNote
In many ways, the English Department have been leaders in OneNote usage at the College, with a number of teachers tightly integrating it into their classroom teaching. The Rector of St Andrew’s, Mrs Christine Leighton, commented that it is exciting to see how teachers at the College are embracing opportunities through e-Learning.
“Teacher voices are really powerful and to be able to share that voice with other teachers, as well as parents and greater numbers of students is very effective. Teaching is not staying enclosed in a classroom.”
It is precisely in these areas of collaboration and sharing that OneNote excels, with Mrs Yoder saying It started as a way to help her students organise their notes, but she quickly found that Microsoft’s OneNote had a lot more potential.
“It has an extensive collaborative capability which allows students access to all my folders, and lets me see their work … My two English classes don’t have books they only use OneNote – that’s their method of storing all of their work and assessments.”
She also does all her marking online making her classroom effectively paperless.
“The students hand in nothing. I do a lot of colour coding in my feedback so they get back a far more visually enhanced assignment. I am also experimenting with oral feedback.”
This involves inserting a video into her feedback providing a medium for more detailed analysis. It’s a different way of marking and works for students who struggle with English and find it difficult to read a marking schedule. For her work with OneNote, Mrs Yoder was named a Microsoft New Zealand Innovative Educator (along with Mr Ben Hilliam from the Maths Department) and in the following audio clip she explains how OneNote has helped her students:
Another teacher in the English Department making extensive use of OneNote is Dr Jeni Curtis who set herself a goal with her Year 9 students in 2014 to be completely paperless by using a combination of OneNote and Moodle. She found that through using OneNote her students’ engagement and enthusiasm for writing actually increased. Her use of recording video and audio comments directly into the notebooks of the students was particularly well received, especially from parents with one taking the time to send her the following the feedback:
I must congratulate you with using OneNote for marking the children’s writing. Callum showed me the video clip commenting on one of his assignments. It was really impressive and useful. It is such a great use of technology and had helped Wayne and I appreciate the use of technology in classroom environment … I have seen [Callum’s] shifts of interests from not liking writing to enjoying writing in the last 2 assignments, which is wonderful.
As any teacher will confirm, receiving unsolicited feedback like this from parents is both rare and extremely gratifying and was a great encouragement at the beginning of the year for Dr Curtis to progress with her “paperless classroom” goal. Continue reading →
Earlier this year Microsoft advertised the availability of nine positions throughout New Zealand for teachers interested in being recognised as innovative educators in their use of Microsoft products. St Andrew’s College was the only school to have two staff members selected into this programme:
Ready to share your passion for Microsoft with peers, both face to face, and through social media, blogs and videos
A creative, innovative technology advocate
An educator interested in developing strategies to benefit and share with other educators
Energised, with a friendly and outgoing personality
Able to work autonomously and within a team
Display confident and articulate presentation and written communication skills
Full-time educator in Y1-13 or in a higher education faculty of education
#1 fan of Windows devices and services – 3+ years’ experience on a Windows device using Microsoft Office and other key Microsoft applications
A training session in Microsoft’s Sydney Offices
Each applicant was required to submit a written application, and those short listed were interviewed via Skype and needed to present a 5 slide Powerpoint. Having been selected, Mrs Yoder and Mr Hilliam were presented with a new Surface Pro 3 to keep, along with a number of other rewards, including an all expenses paid trip to Sydney, Australia for an intensive weekend with other Innovative Educators from around New Zealand and Australia.
It is amazing that there are so many incredibly passionate teachers out there who are showing incredible competency in how to become more competent! These teachers all know they need to continually update their practice and push the boundaries to improve the success of their students …
I had a wonderful time, met some wonderful people and was left inspired by some wonderful ideas. I can’t implement everything all at once, but I will start with something small.
Mrs Yoder added:
It was incredibly exciting to attend the forum with a group of teachers who were constantly seeking out innovation in their teaching practice through collaboration and embracing new ideas within e-learning.
As part of the weekend they were able to tour the Microsoft offices and see their flexible working environment:
Judging by the search engine queries related to teaching with a Surface Pro 3 that end up on this blog, there appears to be significant interest in the wider education sector in how teachers are using these devices in the classroom. We started a trial of 5 teachers with Surface Pro 3 tablets across Years 6&7 in our Preparatory School and the Maths and English Departments in our Secondary School on the 1st October and today I asked them to meet and discuss how it’s working out for them.
I’ve broken the feedback down into a few main areas:
Student Interaction / Feedback
Explorations into the Windows 8 App Store and other software being used
Ongoing issues / challenges
Changes to pedagogy being explored
Student Interaction / Feedback:
A number of students have been asking our teachers whether the Surface Pro 3 would be a good device for them to buy – both for those coming back to school next year and those heading to tertiary study in 2015. They are attracted to the combination of both typing and handwriting and the demonstrated use of Microsoft OneNote by the teachers and the ease with which they file notes.
Students in Year 11 English have commented about the increased movement of the teacher around the classroom as they are “freed up” from using resources on a computer that is connected to a projector. The wireless use of Miracast has given the teachers more freedom to roam, whilst still having the key resources available.
In the Year 6 class the teacher commented that when he is not personally using the Pro3, his students are – they are writing directly into their own OneNote Notebooks which have been shared with the teacher so he can access them.
He gave an example of the students working on a decimal place exercise via BBC Bitesize Math – they were solving the problems with their pen and paper but were passing the Pro 3 around to allow them to enter results into the website to progress to the next problem, whereby the next student could enter the results (all shared on the classroom projector via a ScreenBeam Education Pro Miracast device)
Our Year 7 teacher trialling the Pro 3 mentioned the speed at being able to turn it on/off to accomplish small tasks is seeing her use it more frequently but for shorter periods of time, compared to setting up her laptop and working on that.
Explorations into the Windows 8 App Store and other software being used:
We are fortunate at St Andrew’s College that there are a number of teachers that are “flipping the classroom” in various ways and using a number of different technologies to support this. Examples already blogged about include:
This relatively new product is a free plugin for Microsoft Powerpoint that allows you to record your screen, voice and video all at the same time. Additionally, it allows your Powerpoint to become interactive, with students able to complete quizzes directly within a slideshow.
The key feature that appealed to Mr Hilliam was the recording of his screen in full, native resolution and the ease with which he was able to launch recording. Whilst the older Community Clips also allowed you to select a section of the screen to record, this is far easier in Office Mix:
(As an aside – the above screenshots were all taken on a SurfacePro3 using one of the handy features – double clicking on the top of the pen/stylus automatically takes a screenshot and places it in a OneNote notebook).
Because Office Mix records native resolutions the files can become quite large – it’s not unusual for these to get up to around 400MB for a 10minute video clip. However, because most of the teachers at St Andrew’s College subsequently upload them to YouTube.com the size is less relevant. YouTube automatically streams the best quality video that the user’s internet connection supports, so those with high speed can comfortably watch in HD.
I recently asked Mr Hilliam to demonstrate this combination of Microsoft OneNote and Office Mix recording to a visiting delegation of Principals and Senior Leaders from the Independent Schools of New Zealand and this is the video he made on the fly:
Basic example of solving algebraic equations
One of the downsides of using the SurfacePro3 is the noise recorded by the sound of the pen writing on the glass – for best results, a firm connection is required and this noise is picked up by the microphone and audible in the recordings of Office Mix. Additionally, if the SurfacePro3 is flat on a desk any movement of it sliding around on the desktop sounds very loud.
These noises could be alleviated using a headset and microphone, although none of our teachers have progressed to this set up to date. When recording during class, Mr Hilliam typically holds the tablet and wanders around the class using Miracast to wirelessly beam his screen through the projector for the class to see. Here is a good example:
Year 9 class solving algebraic problems
St Andrew’s College has interactive whiteboards in every classroom in the Preparatory School from Years 4-8 and these are used widely by the teachers and students. However, these units, projectors and associated software are expensive to purchase and install.
It’s intriguing to see how alternative configurations can deliver equivalent functionality, but also extend on it in two important ways:
The teacher is not “tethered” to the front of the room – with Miracast technology they can roam around the room, allowing students to write on a tablet and have that displayed on the “whiteboard” at the front of the room for all students in the class to see.
Through shared OneNote notebooks, all students get a copy of the examples, working and dictation from the teacher (if the Office Mix recording is uploaded to YouTube and the link shared in the Notebook).
We have also pre-ordered a number of ScreenBeam Pro for Education miracast units. These units have additional security enhancements for classrooms, and also come with a VGA / HDMI converter so existing older style VGA projectors do not need to be replaced immediately.
From what we have seen these units also hold the wireless connection more reliably and are easier to connect to than the existing miracast units we currently use.
These technological advancements are definitely contributing to a smarter, and more evolved version of the traditional whiteboard.
I had wanted to sit down with him and see how his videoing of the teaching moments in his lessons had evolved from when we chatted in October 2013 and took the opportunity to do so after the #edchatnz conference. It transpires that in someways he has stuck with the successful recipe he had developed in 2013.
Mr Nicoll still remains the primary blogger for his classes, sharing the content, notes and videos on the class blog. His rationale for this was simple:
I am still traditional enough to want to retain control over the quality of the key concepts and ensure that they are being explained correctly. The big win, however, is that the students don’t need to write notes in class meaning they can spend more time on the activities.
Two obvious positives from this are:
More time is spent in class discussing the quality of the answers e.g. what does multi-structural thinking look like compared to relational thinking (in terms of the SOLO thinking taxonomy)
Students benefit from this because their understanding of the SOLO taxonomy, which is used widely at St Andrew’s College, is deepened and their ability to explain their answers improves.
Despite being the Year 9 Dean and the associated workload that comes with that role, Mr Nicoll has found that keeping up the blogging and recording of his lessons has not added to his work. If anything, he believes it has allowed him to gauge where his students are at more accurately, since there is more time spent discussing the learning, than copying down notes. Student workbooks (or computers), are used primarily for writing down ideas, notes or discussions they have had in class – not for copying content off the whiteboard.
Separating suspensions using filtration
Computers are used in class, mostly for research and communicating overall answers for a lesson – shaping the learning into a formal reflection. Again, choice is provided to students – they could use MS Word, Powerpoint, OneNote or a graph in Excel for example. Because the “nuts and bolts” of the lesson are covered off in the form of comprehensive, quality notes on the class blog, students can simply:
Think like a scientist. Investigate like a scientist.
Mr Nicoll’s blogging and recording practices extend to his NCEA classes as well, and he states that this allows him to better gauge where his students sit in terms of Achieved / Merit / Excellence in the respective standards they are working towards:
If a student is struggling to remember facts, I direct them to the blog where they can review the content. If they are struggling to articulate answers at a level required to move from Merit to Excellence, then I engage them in discussion.
Gone from using an Android smartphone to a Microsoft Surface Pro 2. This has allowed the uploading and editing of video content to become much easier as it is all on the one device. Being physically larger than a smartphone has also allowed the student recording the lesson to hold the device steadier, meaning the quality of the video footage has improved.
Approximately three times a week he will record 8-12minutes of teaching and experiments and upload them to his YouTube Channel
When away from classes for an extended period of time, such as Winter Sports Tournament Week, he pre-records teaching concepts for his students. He then books laptops for the lessons if required, emails his students to bring their headphones along, and they can watch along in class.
Combining oxidation and reduction half equations to give a balanced overall equation (example video left for students during tournament week)
Matt has been increasingly requested to share his methods in different forums including at the #edchatnz conference which he had helped co-ordinate, and also to visiting Senior Leaders and Principals from the Independent Schools Senior Leaders Forum that toured the Christchurch independent Schools on the 16th September 2014. He summed up his approach to blogging and videoing his lessons with the following definitive statement:
MS OneNote projecting onto whiteboard via MS Surface Pro and Miracast
This morning I was invited by Mr Ben Hilliam to sit in and observe one of his Year 9 Math classes. I was keen to do this as I knew the Maths Department had been experimenting with the combination of MS Onenote, a Microsoft Surface and a Miracast device to wirelessly broadcast the screen of the tablet through the classroom projector.
The following video is a screencast of Mr Hilliam’s first 6 minutes of the lesson. He is writing on the Surface Pro directly, and using MS OneNote to record his voice and handwriting in the background:
All students in this Year 9 class have read only access to this OneNote notebook so they can revise at anytime, and in this instance the lessons were being recorded for a student that was absent for the week. Once uploaded to YouTube, the link is inserted into the Notebook for student access.
The various technology components involved in this lesson
What impressed me about this section of the lesson was the ease of the technology – it essentially existed in the background and in many ways, it was a direct substitute for the role of a whiteboard. Mr Hilliam was still asking students questions back and forward and they were still coming up and pointing to places on the graph on the projected image on the whiteboard to indicate their answers. The big difference however was that this was being recorded digitally for later revision.
The teaching in this Year 9 Math class falls clearly in the augmentation range – the teaching is not obviously different however the technology operating in the background provides massive functional improvement. Students, both those absent and physically present in the class, can all revise the concepts being taught at anytime.
Here are some photos of the students at work practicing the concepts that had been taught:
A student reviewing the MS OneNote content recorded moments earlier by Mr Hilliam, and then practicing in his exercise book.
Students around the room making using of their laptops to review / rewind the concepts as taught and recorded from the start of the lesson
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.
I am excited to see how other curriculum areas make use of technology like this in their classrooms and will blog about these in the future. As the Director of ICT it’s important for me to support initiatives like this that trial how new technologies can be used in the classroom. On my recent trip to Edutech 2014 I trialled a MS Surface Pro 3, some of the only demonstration units outside of the USA, and was very impressed. I have pre-ordered one for our staff to trial once it is released and am interested to see at what point in the future touch screen devices like this may replace the traditional laptops given to staff.