The Five Best Practices

     
During the holiday period I was fortunate enough to attend an Education Summit in Adelaide. I always find conferences inspirational and this one certainly was. This was a different sort of conference as it brought together the leadership of schools from across Australia and New Zealand that have been recognised as Apple Distinguished Schools. The conference was not at all about products, which we were all using in various configurations. The focus was clearly and coherently on our common interest of education / pedagogy.

One of the things I realise when I mix with other educators, leading change and innovation, is that there are some truly extraordinary people doing some truly exceptional things. These meetings and collaborative opportunities help to feed our vision. I often walk away realising that there is much, much more to do. This conference was no exception. Here assembled were many schools with mature dynamic 1:1 learning programs. Educators with clear vision and deep understanding of teaching and learning. They were representing schools whose teachers have been empowered through powerful professional learning commitments and where students are using technology as a natural part of their school life. The schools gathered were eclectic from across a wide spectrum of systems. This I think always enriches a conference because the models, challenges and solutions expressed are so diverse. There is always something new and unexpected and brilliant. There are perceptions and perspectives which always challenge our own narrow point of view. 

Through a series of workshops, we explored Five Best Practices relating to visionary leadership, innovative learning & teaching, ongoing professional learning, compelling evidence of success and flexible learning environments. Each of the workshops encouraged us to look at ourselves objectively and to interact with the other educators. While we might consider that we are making great strides in integrating technology, taking this time to reflect and learn from the experience of others was really beneficial. It fed directly to vision and brings clarity to future planning. It was all about connection and self appraisal.

The Five Best Practices concept is really worth a close look. It extends on criteria going beyond the Distinguished classification, looking at how schools can aspire to achieve Exemplary and Transformative descriptions.

Clearly we are on a continuum and being able to better articulate where we are on that continuum is essential to future planning e.g. while we are integrating and creating impressive workflows are we creating truly authentic learning experiences? How can we become more focussed on providing personalised opportunities for our students? How can we do better in providing formative feedback to teachers? How can we reinvent our learning spaces to really match the needs of students?
Materials and resources were all provided efficiently via iTunes U and we were pointed towards many of the great resources being produced by educators and available in the iTunes U Library. Of course the evolution of iTunes U with 3.0 has revolutionised the possibilities as it is now possible to provide direct feedback to students. https://www.apple.com/au/education/ipad/itunes-u/

  
A great highlight, for me, was speaker Tim Jarvis who provided compelling insights into leadership in extreme circumstances. He spoke about Shackleton’s Expedition to the Antarctic and about his own expedition to retrace the impossible Shackleton journey. It certainly put our own struggles into perspective. Here I have to add that intertwined with this extraordinary tale was a deeper message about global warming and the subsequent environmental issues. Here is Challenge Based Learning in the extreme. You can learn more about Tim Jarvis’s journey here: http://www.timjarvis.org/speaking/video/

 Another highlight speaker, educator Craig Smith, impressed with his passion and commitment to improving learning experiences of Autistic students. His creative use of technology to improve outcomes was inspired e.g. Using Minecraft to create digital representations.

    

 

Rising to the Challenge

We are constantly challenged to remain current in the fast changing educational landscape. Leveraging knowledge of others is crucial and much of what we have been able to achieve has been as a result of interaction with the broader educational community. This is a landscape where the possibilities offered by technology are outstripping pedagogical practices.This statement by Thornburg in 2004, surprisingly, still holds currency.

“The notion of educational practice as the impartation of a (largely decontextualised) body of information to be regurgitated on examinations is dead. It has been dead for a long time, although vestiges of it seem to have survived. But consider this: this model of education is experiencing its own demise simply because it is inadequate for the educational needs of young people entering a dynamic workforce where lifelong learning and creativity are among the few certainties for success.” (Expectations, 2004, Thornburg Center)
  
Exploration of literature makes it abundantly clear that some systems are harnessing technology and pedagogy with greater success. Certainly we are seeing innovation occurring in Asia and Scandinavia. If we take PISA assessments as a litmus we must believe that some systems are working more effectively than others. 

“An in-depth report by the Grattan Institute on the successes of four of the top five territories—Hong Kong, Shanghai, South Korea and Singapore—found that the success of the East Asian ‘tiger’ countries in PISA is likely to be connected to reforms that have developed the capacity of teachers.”(Ben Jensen, Catching Up: Learning from the Best School Systems in East Asia (Melbourne: Grattan Institute, 2012)

“No education system in East Asia that participates in international tests ranks below the international average. Such outstanding performance has led to the perception that East Asian education systems, particularly Shanghai, Hong Kong, Korea, and Singapore, exemplify practices and policies worthy of emulation worldwide”(Jensen, 2012) (OECD, 2011, 2014; Tucker, 2014, 2011) (Miao & Reynolds, 2014). (Ref: Zhao, Y. (2015). Lessons that matter: What should we learn from Asia?, Mitchell Institute discussion and policy paper No. 04/2015.)

There is a strong perception that the strength of these systems, and I must include Finland here, is that these systems are actively evolving to embrace pedagogical practices which better prepare students for a 21st Century World. To continue our evolution we should look beyond the traditional conferences and courses. We need to look at regions that are innovating differently and importantly are perceived to be succeeding. We should see what can be learned from the innovators in Asia.

“Outside observers have largely neglected or misunderstood these reform efforts, either failing to address why and how East Asian education systems have engaged in continuous reform over the past three decades or mistakenly treating some of these reform efforts as reasons for outstanding performance on international assessments. As a result, many of the popularly promoted lessons drawn by outside observers relate at best to the recent past of education in East Asia, while these systems have been actively working to create an education of the future.” (Ref: Zhao, Y. (2015). Lessons that matter: What should we learn from Asia?, Mitchell Institute discussion and policy paper No. 04/2015.)

And finally this comment, while reflecting on the UK system, is relevant here too. 

“Success will go to those individuals and nations that are swift to adapt, slow to complain and open to change. The task for UK policymakers is to help its citizens rise to this challenge.” (Andreas Schleicher is deputy director for education and special adviser on education policy to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Secretary General.)

Here I have included links to a couple of conferences occurring in Singapore and Hong Kong later this year which look worthwhile opportunities. (Wish list items)

https://asia.bettshow.com

http://www.ltexpo.com.hk/expo/who-will-visit/

Readings:

http://www.mitchellinstitute.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/Lessons_that_matter_what_should_we_learn_from_Asias_school_systems.pdf

http://grattan.edu.au/wp-content/uploads/2014/04/129_report_learning_from_the_best_main.pdf

https://www.tes.co.uk/article.aspx?storycode=6301764

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/28/finland-education-overhaul_n_6958786.html

A Journey Filled With Connections

The last month has been filled with rich moments. I have travelled to Melbourne and Canberra and have participated in events locally too. This has really been a journey of connection. 
  
I attended the Association of Independent Schools ICT Conference in Canberra. This is a great opportunity to connect with educators from across Australia. There are also a wide range of vendors attending so it is a great chance to learn about current trends and to ask deeper questions about possibilities. There were some excellent speakers including Jeff Utecht, Dr Jane Hunter, Nas Campanella & Colin James. 

Two of the presenters Dr Jane Hunter and Nas Campanella were of particular interest to me.
Dr Jane Hunter is a teacher educator in the School of Education at the University of Western Sydney (UWS), Australia. She has received five teaching awards for Outstanding Contributions for Student Learning in universities and is now on an international team of educators providing Technology Enriched Instruction around the world. Her doctoral thesis developed a new model for technology integration in learning in schools; titled High Possibility Classrooms. 

Dr Hunter’s presentation sparked particular interest for a couple of reasons. I am very interested in evolving pedagogy and enabling teachers to open the learning opportunities through integration of technology. I am also interested in gauging improvement in non traditional, technology rich environments. 

I really enjoyed listening to her ideas and in a subsequent workshop there was some great discussion. I am looking forward to reading her book which I hope will further inform our own vision. http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9781138781337/

A later discussion with her via Twitter regarding The SAMR Model resulted in a wide exploration re TPACK, SAMR and RAT. This resulted in finding another really excellent article 

https://idea.library.drexel.edu/islandora/object/idea:4534/datastream/OBJ/download/UBIQUITOUS_COMPUTNG___SYSTEMIC_TRANSFORMATION_TO_21ST_CENTURY_TEACHING_AND_LEARNING.pdf

This article strongly references TPACK and SAMR and provides some excellent tangible recommendations founded on the research conducted by the author regarding the development of 21st Century schools. 

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Nas Campanella a journalist and newsreader for the ABC and Triple J. 26-year-old Nas is blind and has a medical condition which prevents her from reading braille.

Nas discussed the challenges of navigating life with a disability and of facing discrimination as well as the positives and negatives of technologies that helped her at school, university and in the workplace. 

Her tenacity, in the face of adversity, was truly inspiring and her capability is extraordinary. It underlined, for me, how crucial it is for schools to persevere with challenges that appear and how important it is for educators be open minded in resolving the needs of students. In Nas’s circumstance at one point there was a disconnect between support being provided and her real need. Understanding her need and then supplying a credible solution was vital and ultimately opened a world of possibilities to her. Clearly great schools and great educators are the ones who can really make a difference by being aware and responsive. We certainly should personalise our approach to our students. I have included a graphic which was created during her speech at the conference. It summarises the key points from her speech. Thanks to Rachel Dight for the great graphic.

  Graphic by Rachel Dight 

If you’d like to learn more about Nas this short video via the ABC provides some insight. 

  
https://t.co/WjFFEHAcu1

In Melbourne I attended a “Stile” conference day. I enjoyed listening to the two excellent speakers Andrew Douch (The Tools of Engagement, Redefining the Classroom) & Georgina Pazzi (The power of online differentiation,The Differentiated Classroom in Action). We have certainly seen the possibilities around engagement and differentiation, individualisation and personalised learning blossom with ubiquitous technology in our learning environment.

The conference also provided a chance to meet with many educators who were using Stile actively in their classrooms. Victoria seems to be further ahead on the innovation curve. When we were considering our iPad trial Victoria and Western Australia were already rolling iPads into their classrooms and the Victorian Education Dept had embraced the innovation. We were able to leverage their experience to help enable our roll out. Similarly Stile has a strong base in Victoria (Stile’s home state) while in New South Wales it is just starting to gain a foothold. Here I must add that I also really love the rich content that Apple has and is producing via iTunes U. There is no reason why Stile and iTunes U can’t work well together in a school environment. The particular benefit, for us, of Stile has been the easy ability of teachers to deliver content, for students to return work and for easy, direct, formative feedback. Where it has been employed actively in our classrooms, in tandem with our iPad Program, it has revolutionised the teaching/learning environment. Discussions that I had with Stile educators provided insight and opened conversations around broad educational innovation. I was also privileged to spend a little time with Dr Alan Finkel AO, the Founder and Chairman of Stile. His interest in enabling educators to be more effective in their work and his commitment to STEM initiatives identifies him as an innovation leader. The fact that he made time to connect and really listen to educators showed his real commitment to making a difference at “the coal face”. 

  
I also attended an Open Morning hosted by CISCO at North Sydney. This too was a chance to meet with other educators. The CISCO presenters were very polished and knowledgeable. We have a CISCO wireless infrastructure so I was interested to look at where wireless is headed. Remaining current in a fast changing landscape is important. Two quick takeaways – yes wireless speed is much faster with the new standard Ac and CISCO’s new generation access points enable easy upgrade via an interchangeable component.

CISCO also have some fabulous conferencing hardware and software. As we reinvent our learning spaces bringing some of this into the mix would be great, but cost may be a factor for smaller schools like ourselves. I wasn’t convinced that a typical teleconferencing space would be the right fit for all schools. I can see that the possibilities for virtual excursions and interactions across the world will become a common part of our modern classrooms. I was interested to see that CISCO are putting energy into classroom design as they recognise the changing classroom dynamic. I hope we can leverage some of this in our own reinvention. 

I participated in an Apple Integrators Group which was held at the Apple HQ in Pitt Street, Sydney. It was good to have a chance to share and exchange ideas with other Apple oriented educators. Here too we met with some great Apple personnel who provided information about Apple support and provision. A Development Executive K-12 Education from Apple facilitated discussion and considered the factors which enable technology in the school environment. He also discussed tools which could help evaluate the capability of teachers and leadership in relation to their capacity re the SAMR model. The meeting was enabled via iTunes U which worked really well and some great learning resources were highlighted in iTunes U and in iBooks. We were shown resources that were developed by students and teachers and which were available to experience and download in the public domain. Being able to provide students with an audience, and an authentic reason to publish, is a very powerful motivator. Certainly something that we could leverage more extensively. 

These were my excursions. We also have had several incursions where we have shared experiences with visiting educators. These too have provided rich collaborative opportunities. It has been a very busy few weeks and we have learned a great deal which will help to improve our learning environment. 

Teaching Gen Tech – a response to questions posed by “Stile”

Recently I attended a conference day with Stile – Teaching Gen Tech  http://blog.stileeducation.com/events/2015/5/1/stile-learning-community-conference
  
The organisers posed some questions. Below I have provided a few thoughts in response. I hope to have reflected attitudes of my teaching colleagues here to some extent.

1. What are some of the challenges your teachers are faced with in the classroom?

Student engagement, surface learning rather than deeper learning due to the demands of a crowded curriculum. Challenging students with authentic learning tasks is key. 

Teachers feel the pressure of time especially. They are contending with a new Curriculum with all the demands that that brings regarding reinvention, construction of new programs etc.They are also finding increased exposure to parents via digital connection and expectations for immediate response. Teachers are also being asked to be more proactive in their formative assessments of students and in improving their own practice. Much of this is positive and works towards improving student outcomes, but on mass places teachers under increased pressure. 

Certainly for Year 3 and 5 the narrow confines of NAPLAN testing creates a conflict with the idea of a rich engaging curriculum.
2. What’s the single most exciting thing happening in education right now? 

The easy access and possibilities offered via technology in particular the open source – learning e.g. Moocs, iTunes U, eBooks, movies,  Kahn Academy etc. and easy access to data / information e.g Google, Wikipedia, news outlets etc.

3. How have student expectations changed in the last five to ten years?

There is a sense of immediacy and an insatiable need for purposeful activity. Students can be more motivated than ever. Technology when teamed with authentic, challenging and exciting learning opportunities can be a catalyst for deep learning and student engagement. Ideas around project based learning, design thinking, challenge based learning can be powerful ways to engage and enable students. 

4. How is technology improving learning at your school? Is it there yet? Where do you want to get to?

Technology is enabling individualisation and differentiated learning. 

It is empowering teachers and students to do things differently and creating opportunities to do things that were difficult, impossible or even unimagined a few years ago. 

Because of the easy access to (enabled) mobile devices in our classrooms the children are able to: 

Record their learning easily and powerfully. 

They can use applications to create. They have rich open ended applications such as iMovie, GarageBand, Explain Everything, Book Creator, Popplet, Comic Book, Puppet Pals and Pic Collage which can work alone or be teamed together to create rich workflows, 

They can curate information, images and data. They can create surveys and graphs and reflect on the information and data.

They can communicate and collaborate within and beyond the local environment. 

Teachers have tools such as Evernote to record learning of students.

They have Stile which enables easy delivery of content, media, and which can provide a canvas for student production. Stile has revolutionised our ability to easily track students, provide feedback and assessment. Where it has been used well it has revolutionised the student teacher interaction. 

Our aim for technology is more about enabling teaching and learning than it is about the technology itself. We should always be seeking to do things better. There isn’t really an end point to our journey. 

5. Could you give us an example of how you’re using Stile? 

In our classrooms Stile is used to direct, inform, engage and challenge students. Stile is used across the curriculum and it has enabled students to easily deliver a diverse range of activities and assignments – a few examples are listed below.

Book trailers

Audio

Movies

Texts

Scripts

Discussions

Assessments

Drawings 

Mind-maps

Completing visible thinking strategies

Responding to teachers videos

Stile is enabling:

Flipped learning

Receiving feedback written and oral

Working in groups to collaborate on tasks

Completing differentiated, individualised, personalised tasks

Gathering and reacting to formative assessment

Work collection 

Curation of student data

Stile: http://www.stileeducation.com/

@ The Future Schools Conference

  

 About twenty of our Year 3 and 4 students had a wonderful experience at the Future Schools Conference on 11th March and 12 March. The students participated in two full days of rich, Curriculum linked, learning with various forms of innovative technology.

Datacom, one of our professional development / technology partners, had arranged this extraordinary experience as a part of their involvement as a Future Schools Conference Sponsor. Furnware, another participant, provided a range of innovative furniture for the students to use while completing the various activities.

 “Furnware are thrilled to be part of the Future Schools Conference and the opportunity to join forces with Datacom who provided the perfect platform for the student’s to participate in an exciting, collaborative and flexible 21st century learning space.”  (LW, Furnware Pty Ltd.)

 Datacom arranged for the students to work in small groups of 3/4 and rotate through the activities throughout the two days. 

  

Day one – Year 3: The learning activities for the year 3 students were based around their current History unit of Community and Remembrance. 

Students investigated signs and symbols of community groups through internet research. They collaborated using a OneNote Document to record their findings through written, drawn and video/audio recordings. Students then provided feedback to each other through a shared OneNote Notebook highlighting learning and asking focus questions.

Students created designs and symbols that represented themselves. Students brainstormed things that were important to them and how they can be represented symbolically. They used these patterns/symbols/colours to decorate clothing and/or cars on the “Design and Drive Sketch Book” and “Fashion Design Sketch Book” from Crayola. The students then scanned their creations into the corresponding app which turned their designs into 3D models they could manipulate on their iPads.

 Students designed and created a pendant which symbolised themselves or their family.  Students learnt about 3D printing. They designed a pendant/model to represent themselves or their family based on their knowledge about community symbols. They drew their designs on Furnware’s whiteboard table. Using the Maker’s Empire 3D modelling app the students built their designs into a 3D model and had it printed out on a 3D printer.

  

 Day two – Year 4: The learning activities for the year 4 students were based around their current History unit – Early Settlement (My Place).

 Students imagined they were on the First Fleet. They discussed what it would have been like to arrive in an unknown place – how different it would have been and the journey they took to get there. They brainstormed their ideas in text and pictures on Furnware’s whiteboard table. They then created a 3D model of something that the early settlers would have seen/experienced when they first arrived in Australia.

 Students investigated famous Australian explorers. In a shared OneNote Notebook students brainstormed all they knew about a variety of Australian explorers. Each student contributed their own knowledge to each page of the OneNote Notebook. They used both text and drawing to record their knowledge. Then students researched one of the explorers on the internet to find out something that wasn’t already known (already recorded on the page). When they found the additional information, the recorded it on the page as a voice recording (so as to avoid cutting and pasting information). 

Students took on the role of explorers at the Future Schools Expo. Students discussed how the early explorers would have found out new things and reported their findings back to their home country. They worked together to solve the Datacom treasure hunt through working out a series of clues around the expo. These clues came up on their iPads when they were at the correct booth. Students took pictures of interesting technology they saw at the expo and used these to put together a report to take back to school indicating why this type of technology would be good for their learning.

 One of the other Conference sponsors commented

“Future Schools is a great chance to see the current innovation that is taking place in education and to have the teachers who are driving that change in the one place. The Visiting students were a big hit at the expo. They were thrilled to be there and to be able to learn and participate in the wonderful learning activities provided by the Datacom educators.” (JR, Stile Education

  

Broadening Our Horizons

Last week we were asked to share our 1:1 iPad student experience at an Enterprise Conference at Sydney’s Intercontinental Hotel. One of our teachers Mr B and his Year 3 Maths class attended.

This is Mr B’s account of the event, to over 100 participants, from some of Australia and New Zealand’s largest companies .

“At the end of my 15 minutes presentation, I said ‘You know, I could stand up here all day and tell you about what we do with iPads and Education, but instead why not show you?’ It was a great reveal as the whole audience turned around and then to their surprise, the doors opened and in walked my Year 3 Maths class looking super happy and confident. It was really a great moment! They interacted with the audience and illustrating their creativity, proficiency and capabilities. Many people were amazed at the competency of our 9 year old students. The feedback received from the delegates was overwhelmingly enthusiastic. At the end, the audience made a huge tunnel and cheered us out of the room which I know made the kids feel like true rock stars.
It went incredibly well. The presenters said on multiple occasions that it went better than they ever could have imagined, so it is a huge testament to our students.
It was a fantastic event.”

(No picture available at this time)

Throughout the year we have hosted several “in school” visits of both local and International educators, but this was the first time we had participated in an external event of this nature. Managing and facilitating such moments involves considerable time and energy on the part of all involved, but the benefits are also great.
*Our students gain confidence, esteem and they love to showcase their work
*Our teachers feel empowered and more connected
*Our school gains affirmation and gathers momentum for meaningful change
*Our community recognises that we are striving to be the best we can be
*And we, of course, hope that sharing our experience benefits others

Two Days in Brisbane – Edutech 2014

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I attended the 2014 Edutech Conference in Brisbane again this year.

In the past I have really enjoyed this conference. The calibre of the speakers is always excellent. This year was no exception. The lineup included Sir Ken Robinson, Sugata Mitra, Ewan McIntosh, Ian Jukes and many others.

The overarching message was about enabling learners.
#The constant theme, which was continuously articulated by the various keynote speakers, centred around the idea that education needs to change from the old industrial model, with a focus on content, to a model which develops creative thinkers.
#That individual’s needs need to be accommodated more actively in the learning process.
#That the teacher needs to get out of the way and facilitate and enable rather than hinder the learner with old instruction models. Ideas like Flipped Learning, Project Based Learning, Design Thinking, SAMR are potential enablers.
#With the advent of achievable 1:1 implementations schools need to be harnessing the opportunities which the technology brings.

Sugata Mitra’s insights into learning and how digital capacity can enable learning even in remote, backward regions of India was compelling. He stated that research has proven that threat is an impediment to learning and that testing can be threatening. Instead he argued for a Curriculum of questions, peer assessment and certification without examination. He spoke about creating Self organised learning environments (SOLE) arguing that the idea of regimented learning wasn’t the goal, but that collaboration, engagement and admiration were key.

I am always impressed with the ideas presented by Ewan McIntosh. He spoke about agile leadership and the need for schools to be responsive to change. He argued that it is OK to fail. He described FAIL as First Attempt In Learning. He talked about contradictions, tensions and surprises and that agile leadership is about taking these and using them.

Ian Dukes spoke about education in the age of disruptive innovation. He presented a passionate case which focused on the changing nature of the world and the need for schools and education systems to change. He argued that students of today need to be prepared for a very different tomorrow. Jobs will be increasingly global and will be much more about thinking and creativity. He cited the decline in industrial and service jobs and the growth of jobs such as app creation, jobs which will require collaboration and creative thought.

Sir Ken Robinson was very engaging in person. He is a compelling speaker any time and it was great to hear him speak twice during the conference. He argued that just as farming is moving to organic so too should education. He recognised the challenges that schools face from politicians, but was adamant that politicians are just passing through and that the responsibility for change lay with the educators. He told one of his great stories about the farming family who after generations of eking out a poor living on a farm learn that great wealth, in the form of nickel, lay just below the surface. Obviously the intent here is to point out that often schools fail to realise the full potential of their students.

I enjoyed the various presentations that I attended. A couple of the leadership team from Margaret River Primary School told a compelling story. Their presentation started with a parody which set the mood for their entertaining presentation. The learning environment that they have created, at Margaret River, was really engaging and exciting. Their simple incorporation of Caves, Waterholes, Campfires and Mountain Tops as a natural part of the learning environment was impressive. Some great ideas from these inspired educators.

Another speaker Greg Whitby, Executive Director of Schools, Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta also had some great messages. He insisted that schools must innovate to improve outcomes for the individual learner and that we need Curriculum for the individual. It shouldn’t be one size fits all. He argued that Innovation is not experimentation and that we must base decisions on the best we know. He argued that schools should aim to create a positive environment for teachers and build teacher capacity. He sees teachers as entrepreneurs and the drivers of innovation. Learning spaces need to be collaborative, agile, personalised and have ubiquitous access to technology.

It was interesting to see where other schools are in their respective journeys and my impression was that most schools have either geared towards 1:1 or are moving in that direction. This being said a model which isn’t entirely 1:1 may be desirable as it enable greater collaboration (as Sugata Mitra’s work attests to).

It was I thought quite interesting to see where the clusters of interest were in the exhibition hall. I think that that gives some insight into where educators are and where they are headed. Certainly cloud based applications were extremely popular. Office 365, Google Apps, Stile, School Box and MyEd seemed to attract interest. This I think ties with our own needs. Being able to seamlessly move all sorts of data to and from various devices and platforms is a crucial enabler. My school will trial Stile (an Australian cloud solution) next term.
There was interest in innovations such as 3D printing, robotics and alternative furniture and in generalists such as Datacom (Here, I must say, it was refreshing to attend the Datacom Workshop because the presenter was talking insightfully about educational solutions rather than product).
It was interesting that this year wireless solutions, which were popular in previous years, were less of a focus this year. Perhaps many schools have invested in wireless upgrades already.

It was also great to see TeachMeets taking place in the exhibition area at the conference. The TeachMeets certainly added to the atmosphere and added great value to the event.

On a light note, I was catching a Taxi to the airport after the conference and I offered to share my taxi with a fellow traveller. It turned out that she was a delegate at the conference and that she had won the “Grand Prize” – which was a car. Hoping a little of that luck rubs off.

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Impressions – Technology K – 12 National Congress 2012

Link to Congress 2013

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At the end of May I attended the Technology K – 12 National Congress. I think this is one of the premium events in my PD calendar. This was my brief overview from the first day.

This week I am attending a two day K-12 national conference at Darling Harbour. The focus of this conference is around technology and is being attended by 1500 delegates from across Australia.

As I am writing I have just listened to presentations by some international speakers. Alan November and Stephen Heppell. Both of whom spoke about the trends in education across the world and the need to change teaching practice. To not only equip students with essential work skills and behaviours, but also to engage students. To make them more effective learners. To change how classrooms work and to leverage technology along with current best practice to improve outcomes. One of the common threads from speakers today has been to recognize the ability of technology to individualize learning and to move towards less teacher centered classrooms and towards student centered learning. There is also a strong sense that iPads and other mobile technology has shifted the range of possibilities for schools in general.

It was also interesting listening to Barry McGaw, Chairman, Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). He spoke about the structure of the new National (digital) Curriculum and the inclusion of technology as a Key Area as well as becoming an integral part of all other subject areas. The roll out of the National Curriculum is already occurring in some States. In NSW its roll out has been delayed until around 2015. Barry McGraw also recognized that the current Naplan testing isn’t reflective of the Curriculum and needs revision. A digital online format for the Naplan test is in development. This test is also expected to be adaptive and will be focussed around the Curriculum.

I also attended a series of workshops which looked at specific areas of interest. Topics explored were around virtualization, 1:1 tablet programs and Digital Curriculum.

At the end of this first day Sir Ken Robinson, who is regarded internationally as a leading proponent of educational innovation, delivered a wonderful live online session to the packed auditorium of delegates. The discussion with Sir Ken centered around creativity and tapping technologies to drive transformation. He was a very compelling and engaging speaker.