Poster Sessions

The poster sessions were buzzing. 42 ‘tables’ (which in reality were a speaker at a counter with a board at a counter), sharing their experiences and attempts at empowering staff and students. So many different stories and such a variety of topics. Very interesting and informative.

Exhibition Hall

What an experience to be amongst so many exhibitors. Over 3000 stands, and very excited exhibitors, keen to show off emir wares. A huge variety of software, LMS, robotics, universities, hardware and security solutions. I’ve come away with a huge collection of goodies and leaflets of information – now just need some time to read through and absorb everything I saw.

Thursday Reflections

When we have a conversation regarding technology, why does it always come down to the platform we use? Surely, after at least a decade where many students have had the opportunity to be ‘engaged’ through technology, we should have caught on that technology should be used in a transformative manner and not as an additive to lessons.
With aspects including mobility (as opposed to portability), empowerment, and connectedness, students of today should be innovative, creative, creators of content, where the content is interactive and personalized for their specific learning needs and styles.
Students do not need to learn how to use technology; they need to use technology to learn. This is a mind-shift for many teachers, but one, that if applied well, provides the opportunity to empower students.
We, as teachers, need to be proactive in removing obstacles to learning. This includes the platform, interface and any technological ‘hang-ups’ that many of the non-social economy (those who have already left compulsory education) may have.
It has been interesting to be involved in numerous conversations over the last 4 days where these topics, and how technology is supporting good pedagogy, has occurred.

Microsoft Partners in Learning

Robyn Hrivnatz spoke about the 6 essential skills for todays’ workforce – problem, solving and innovation, ICT in learning, knowledge and construction, skilled communication, self regulation, and collaboration. These are mirrored in the 21st Century Learning model and we were shown the rubrics that teachers can use to monitor how well tasks and activities can meet these skills.

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Office 365 looks as though it can revolutionise how we can collaborate online and, more importantly, with others outside of our classroom. I’m looking forward to Microsoft setting up storage servers in Australia so that we can begin using these features.

New item: Office Mix. This will assist in ‘flipping’ the classroom. Available in Office 2013 and 365, this will allow teachers to write, draw and record anything. It can effectively turn your PowerPoint into a whiteboard. videos, webpage searches, quizzes can all be embedded and once uploaded to ‘your mix’ can all be shared with students via a shared link. Check out mix.office.com.

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Robyn also shared with us some useful apps for windows 8 devices. These included:

  • World wide telescope – this can be used via a browser or downloaded and allows student to use an interactive telescope of the solar system.
  • Physamajig – a physics tool that allows students to experiment with forces and other physics concepts.
  • Bing travel app – provides information on weather, flights, photos, panoramas, providing a virtual excursion of anywhere in the world.

A good conversation on what collaboration looks like in a modern classroom, and ideas for how this can be implemented.

 

The Urban School

The Urban School appears to offer a variety of teaching styles and methods that are student-centred. Their collaborative project for blended learning sounds like a positive move for them, and may lead the way for others to follow. An interesting conversation about how the school is making technological changes that processes they are putting into place to ensure success. 12 week courses, interim reports every 6 weeks, assessment based around a rubric, and reports that are for the students and not written for parents – I’ll keep an eye on how their project goes over the next 12 months.