Bringing together digital resources

Increasingly teachers are utilizing a variety of online tools to help facilitate learning in their classrooms. While the dominant platform in our college remains OneNote most of our teachers utilise a variety of other tools including Quizlet, Kahoot, Moodle, OneDrive, eTV, YouTube and ClickView. While it can be advantageous to use a variety of tools, it does have the potential to lead to a disjointed experience as multiple logins, URLs and passwords can be difficult for students to manage. A second aspect that must be managed is the NZQA requirement regarding the digitization of Internally Assessed work. In recent years we have used moodle for any online assessment handin, but with our declining use of Moodle in classrooms, we have recently decided to investigate alternate solutions. This has led to us actively investigate the potential of Microsoft  Teams.

Teams is described by Microsoft as the hub for teamwork in Office 365 that integrates all the people, content, and tools your team needs to be more engaged and effective. In a classroom situation Teams gives a teacher the ability to organise the digital aspects of their classroom.

One teacher currently investigating the possibility of using Teams in her classroom is Mrs Nicola Richards. Mrs Richards is part of our Physical Education and Health department, and she is currently trialing the use of Teams with her Year 13 Physical Education class. Setting up the team was managed through the creation of a Group within SharePoint, a process that we will eventually automate, through our Active Directory.

Mrs Richards’ class currently utilises a wide range of digital resources each week such as Listly, My Study Series, Scoopit and her OneNote Class NoteBook. An obvious initial benefit of the new Team is the ability to have all such resources centralised and visible for students.

The initial setup was intuitive and one of the first features that Mrs Richards utilised was the class OneDrive that Teams generates. This makes available to students a range of files which previously would have been either emailed, or distributed through the class notebook. Whilst these two methods are perhaps appropriate in the initial weeks of the year, as time passes the organisation of such files can become increasingly problematic for students and staff. A dedicated OneDrive for each Team is a great feature.

As described above, the ability to distribute, manage and collect student work using the Assignment feature was one of our initial reasons for testing Teams. By running a small-scale trial allowing students the chance to have a low stakes attempt at using this feature, students’ potential anxiety levels were reduced. Mrs Richards instructed her class to hand in a written paragraph, in preparation for a hand-in of an internally assessed piece of work a few days later. Anecdotal feedback was that students found it really easy to upload the work in the required format, and it was particularly easy for them to find the feedback provided to them by the teacher.

The management implications of online assignment hand-in can be an intimidating prospect for some staff; particularly a reluctance to mark student work onscreen. Mrs Richards acknowledges these concerns, and is sympathetic to them. However she found that marking from a teachers point of view was logical and she particularly liked the fact that she should type feedback separately or within the document.

Example feedback

From the students perspective, there were very few barriers to their enrollment in a team, and many students appreciated the easy of access to feedback. The success of this, largely informal, trial is reflected in the fact that over 50% chose to hand-in their final internal work using Teams.

Having conducted this small-scale trial with Teams, Mrs Richards now identifies the need to continue to embed Teams as the initial landing the point for students each lesson, whilst continuing to utilise the main benefits of the platform.

In the coming school holiday break our IT support team will automatically generate a Team for every class in our Secondary School. This will allow our trial of Microsoft Teams to gather momentum, and I am looking forward to investigating and learning how a variety of staff see the benefit of bringing together their digital resources.

 

Developing Digital Citizens

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

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

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

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

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

Student Management

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

Class progressPlanning and Task Development

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

Protecting Privacy

Example of the planning section for the Protecting Privacy Module

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

Assessing Student Progress

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

Quiz screenshot

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

Digital Licence Student Progress

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

Digital Licence Certificate

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

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Mr Dave Hart

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

The interview below introduces Mr Hart and his role.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Introducing Wilj Dekkers – Head of Innovation and Information Services

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

The interview below introduces Mr Dekkers and his role.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Technology Supporting Gifted Students

This post was written by Ms Ellen Hampson and Mrs Kelly McBride and was originally posted in the GiftEDnewz e-newsletter from the Professional Association for Gifted Education

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?

the-anthropocene-era

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.

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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

St Andrew’s College Dedication of the Centennial Chapel 25th October 2016

Welcome to the livestream of the St Andrew’s College dedication of the Centennial Chapel – it starts at 10:45am on Tuesday 25th October.

This is not a traditional blog post, however there has been a huge amount of technology and student input into making this livestream happen so we trust that you enjoy it.