A Snapshot of Technology Integration

  

  

  We started using iPads in our classrooms in 2011. Since our adoption of our 1:1 iPad Program K – 6 ,  in January 2013, we have focussed on using the SAMR Model  as an underlying scaffold. We have also tried to look at ourselves through the Apple lens of The Five Best Practices.

The journey is very much an ongoing one and while we have been delighted to see an amazing evolution take place there remains a sense of untapped possibilities. We are starting to imagine an environment which brings STEM / STEAM into play more inventively, more authentically, more naturally. 

Our iPad devices are amazing in their versatility and their power to enable almost anything. 

The iPad environment has pushed us in many new directions and has grown our capacity and capability. When I think back to the difficult environment pre iPad and the narrow possibilities on offer via the standard laptop environment I cringe remembering the difficulties and limitations. Our classrooms then were places where technology was much less an enabler and much more a challenge to implement effectively across a large group of children. 

I am often surprised when educators and those running technology programs in schools insist that they need more powerful laptop devices. For our Primary School classrooms iPads provide more than enough capability. There are those odd remnants of Flash which elude us e.g. Scratch and some fully blown environments such as Minecraft, but these can be catered for with a few additional ancillary devices or via a rich range of iPad app options. I shy away from returning to the clunky laptop form factor when such great, powerful portability is available in the iPad form. Certainly in our Primary classrooms portability is key for so much which is occurring. I am also surprised at fixations that some have for keyboards. With the way technology is evolving I wonder whether hardware like keyboards will become as odd to us in the future as floppy disks have become.

Our iPads are actively used as tools for capturing learning, communication, creation, collaboration, curation and research. All our learning programs are benefitting from the infusion of easy technological capability and certainly iPads have delivered this brilliantly.

Recently we had a visit from a couple of schools interested to see how we are integrating technology. As an early adopter of iPads, in a 1:1 context, our school attracts a few visits each year. From my point of view these are great opportunities for us to benchmark ourselves and also to interact with other educators. When the schedule for visits is devised our intent is to show real activity as it is occurring naturally in classrooms. There is never a change to our timetable or to the activities on display. 

Here is the schedule for this particular visit. A snapshot of activity across the school.

Visit Thursday 17 March

  

9:30 Meet and greet – (Primary/ ICT) – overview of the iPad Program

9:35 Year 1 Maths – Patterns and Algebra, Seesaw

9:40 Year 6 – G&T group – flipping learning within the classroom

9:45 Year K – Literacy groups – QR Codes, Maths – Explain Everything

9:55 Year 6 Science (PBL) – Chemistry – student designed experiments – recording and reflecting on learning – various apps e.g. Greenscreen, iMovie, slow motion, time lapse etc

10:05 Year 4 PDHPE – Stile interaction – Anti Bullying

10:15 Meet The Principal – morning tea – The Vision

10:35 Meet Librarian – Aurasma, QR Codes, eBooks, and our Apple Distinguished Educator – flipping learning, PE (physical education teacher) – looking at biomechanics / visual feedback apps on an iPad 

10:55 Year 5 – (Year 5 Teachers) sharing experience – Book Creator recording learning in Science, Comic Book narrative of learning HSIE

11:10 Year 3 Maths – Multiplication / Division – various apps Stile, Book Creator, Explain Everything

11:20 Year 2 Maths – Patterns and Algebra, Matific and other apps

11:40 Year 5 – using iPads to learn another language – oral learning – Quizlet and Stile

11:50 End

Snapshots from some previous visits:

A visit in 2015

A visit in 2013

A visit in 2013

It is interesting to compare and contrast the experiences and consider whether the learning program has evolved. What is not clearly apparent, in this brief snapshot, is the  increased sophistication via applications such as stopmotion, green screen and the integration of many other applications – along with the power that Stile has brought to enable the exchange between teacher and student (iTunes U offers some similar capability). Nor apparent is the increased sophistication and engagement of the users both students and teachers. 

Change is our constant and as I have already suggested a shift towards the real integration of STEM / STEAM is already underway and I hope that this shift will become apparent in the sorts of experiences in play across the school in future visits. Here I am alluding to a maker culture which leverages technologies, thinking and skills – incorporating robotics, coding, Minecraft, 3D printing etc. All of these capabilities can be accommodated and enhanced in a dynamic iPad environment.  

Authentic learning opportunities are also a major focus. PBL is already a natural part of what we do in our classrooms and we are pushing ourselves towards Challenge Based Learning across K-6 and towards publishing and interacting with broader audiences.  

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Tomorrow The World! – Future Schools 2016 

  
Recently we had a group of our Year 6 students participate at The Future Schools Expo at the Sydney Technology Park in Redfern. This great experience to participate in a Makers Playground was provided by Future Schools organisers in conjunction with Datacom and various supporting sponsors.
Our involvement wasn’t haphazard. Student activity commenced last year months before the actual event. Our students, then in Year 5, participated, identifying a number of authentic problems to solve (educators provided by Datacom lead this process). Four of the problems were selected by the students as authentic challenges for the Future Schools event. A series of videos were then created by the children outlining the problems to be addressed.in the Makers Playground, at the Expo. These videos can be viewed at http://www.futureschools.com.au/makers_playground.html

Much of the equipment provided by sponsors in the Makers Playground, at Future Schools, would be new to our students so a little time on lead up was provided to develop familiarity with various maker space technologies. This proved to be valuable and it was interesting to see how intuitive the children were in working with the different technologies. We are starting to build resources ourselves and this was a great opportunity to see possibilities that these new technologies might bring. 

Types of resources provided in the Makers Playground included: Little Bits, Spheros, Arduino, Edison robotics, tablets, Laptops, Scratch, Craft resources, Activity mats etc.

The conference delegates experienced authentic learning in a “Makers” environment. Delegates were able to interact with student teams working on the solutions for the four challenges. During the sessions, Datacom’s Professional Learning consultants (Maker Mentors) played the role of ‘teacher’ in supporting student Makers in using the range of technologies / resources to design, build, record and report on solutions in this dynamic, just-in-time learning environment. For both the delegates and the children the experience was really a rich one. Our students certainly worked effectively, productively and collaboratively. It was great to see the students interacting with delegates sharing their experience. Our teachers accompanying the children were also actively involved recording, supervising and more importantly in experiencing / learning. 

While this was not a competition, evaluation and feedback plays a big role in any Makers project. FutureSchools provided a great opportunity to model this with each team presenting their solution to a panel of experts (Maker Magistrates).

1. How well did the solution address/solve the problem? 

2. How innovative is the solution? 

3. How well were the ideas presented? 

4. How well was the technology used? 

The resulting solutions were a great testament to the making process. I will post more about the process and the solutions produced in response to the challenges in a seperate post.

  
I often attend conferences and as adults we browse around asking questions and looking, but rarely do I see adults really doing “hands on” experiences. The Maker Playground provided that sort of experience for the delegates. 

Interestingly I took a small group group of students around the various exhibits. The children were all about “hands on”. They touched and played with everything (thanks to the generosity of the exhibitors). It was such a different experience looking at the vendors displays with the children. They gave everything a work out and judged quickly the value and productivity of resources. For the children it was like the ultimate “play” arcade. For me it was a great way to really see the possibilities of otherwise relatively static displays.

What did the students engage with the most? 

Virtual reality goggles 

The NAO robot

The Romo Robot

The live reptile exhibit

The Promethean multitouch interactive panel 

  
Another component of the Makers Playground experience was the parent / student activity. This was conducted late on the first day and was open for parent and student participation. About twenty families from our school joined in to do an “Edison” maze challenge. Again this provided a great collaborative and powerful learning opportunity for all involved.  

For any school interested in developing STEM capabilities the Future Schools Expo is a must. Looking forward to 2017. This year too we are sending several teachers to EduTech which is being held in Brisbane – very worthwhile when the opportunity for real immersive professional development is so great. 

Learn more about The Future Schools Expo here:

http://www.futureschools.com.au/pdf/NationalFutureSchoolsExpo_2016_Brochure.pdf
Learn more about EduTech here:

http://www.edutech.net.au