Digital Learning News

March 27, 2014
by rcrellin
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3D Printing

Guest blogger: Penny Rowe,  Digital Learning Branch

3D printing i3D printers 2s becoming a more widely used technology in schools, with the lowering costs and strong connections to science, engineering and maths.  Quantum Victoria is taking the lead in this area and offers cutting edge professional development and student programs to guide both teachers and students through the process of using the device.  From building to using 3D printers; students and staff develop a deeper understanding of 3D modelling and printing.

Quantum Victoria was established by the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.  With a diverse team comprising of highly skilled teachers and education support staff Quantum offers workshops and training which is innovative and tailored to enhance access and learning with technology.

On March 6 and 7th Quantum Victoria held a two day professional development workshop for teachers to learn how to use a Solidoodle 3D printer, which they were then able to take away with them to install into their prospective settings.  This was made possible through a partnership grant with DEECD.   Schools were invited to participate in this initiative with the hope that they would embed this new technology across Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics within their schools.

3D printer 1 During the training teachers were guided by the highly skilled team at Quantum.  The process started with learning how to set up and calibrate the device, connect and communicate with the computer, instructing the printer what to print.  We sourced 3D models from the internet on http://www.thingiverse.com, as well as being taught how to use a range of software packages to create our own 3D models.  These included MeshMixer, OpenSCAD, SketchUP Make, and Sculptris, all of which was free to download from the internet and required various levels of skill.

It was an excellent two days of training.  All in attendance, teachers from both primary and secondary school settings, rural and metro locations, went away excited and empowered to use this device to enhance learning in their school communities.  There was rich conversation and collaboration among the participants about how the device could be used in the classroom to enhance problem solving and thinking skills and make real world connections with their students which attributed to the success of the two days.  Teachers also have an opportunity to share their ideas and lesson plans with each other through the online community established by the Quantum team.

As part of Education Week, Quantum Victoria are running Modelling and 3D Printing sessions for Years 7-9 students on 20 May. See Calendar of Free Activities for this and other events.

To find out more information about 3D printers and the programs at Quantum Victoria please contact: Soula Bennett via email at: soula.bennett@quantumvictoria.vic.edu.au or for more general information on 3D printers the Digital Learning Branch.

While not related to Victorian education – this video shows the potential of 3D printing technology, in this case to create 3D prosthetic limbs.

March 12, 2014
by rcrellin
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Opening Learning to Parents

Anne Mirtschin is our guest blogger this week

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Technology opens up many doors, flattens classroom walls and enables involvement in learning in innovative ways, many of which are now only being pioneered. Distance, time, cost and effort are no longer barriers to the ability to attend classes, meetings and special events. Connecting, collaborating and communicating can take place anywhere and anytime as long as there is internet access.

Tools such as Blackboard Collaborate, skype and MS Lync; and high definition videoconferencing equipment eg Polycom mean that parents, teachers and students can attend meetings, lessons and professional development sessions provided there is access to the internet using either a mobile device or fixed hardware. Following are some of the ways that technology could be or have already been used to connect parents virtually.

Online Meetings:

Committee meetings –There is no longer a need to meet in a central location, participants can attend the meeting virtually from the comfort of their home and work place, by logging in to a virtual meeting room using Blackboard Collaborate, via a link provided by the moderator.  Alternatively, if Polycom equipment is available at a local school, parents can dial into the room and be part of a meeting via a large monitor, webcamera and microphone.  An app is now available for mobile devices to provide access to both Polycom and Blackboard Collaborate. Both types of virtual meetings can be recorded for members who can attend.

Parent Information Evenings – Hawkesdale P12 College trialled online nightly parent information meetings over a 4 week period. The first evening was held physically in the school library. Students and parents were stepped through the basics of virtual meeting rooms using the student netbooks.  One hour meetings were scheduled over a 5 week period. Parents were either emailed a link to the room or accessed it from the school blog, logged on from home, with their child supporting them and participated in a planned webinar with the chat feature being used for questions, feedback etc. A sample agenda:-

  1. Ice breaker (6 mins)
  2. From our Principal (7 mins)
  3. Assistant Principal (7 mins)
  4. Online exploration: Ms Murnane Literacy co-ordinator (7 mins)
  5. An e-guest from Darwin – Rachel Neale (7 mins)
  6. From the classroom – Mrs Gow   (Science/maths teacher) (7 mins)
  7. Mr Poynton (humanities teacher) – Education Week  (7 mins)
  8. Question time and student sharing (7 mins)

These webinars were recorded for interested parents who could not attend. Read more at Techno Parents (http://murcha.wordpress.com/2010/05/16/techno-parents-in-elluminate-transforming-educational-communities/)

Online school assembliesScott Duncan, is an innovative ICT teacher at a new school in Melbourne’s south-east suburbs. His school shares the site with the local secondary college and has limited access to the  gymnasium. This led to the introduction of broadcasting and recording of their school assemblies using web conferencing and Blackboard Collaborate. Classes, teachers and parents login and participate. Read more at Online Assemblies (http://mrduncan.global2.vic.edu.au/2012/09/10/online-assemblies/)

Global Student Summits

Parents have been invited to virtually join online global student summits with students presenting and sharing their learning across different countries. They are able to listen, ask questions in the chat and provide feedback to the student learning that is being shared. They become one of the classroom members.

eSchool Council Meetings

School Council Members from Hawkesdale P12 College and Apollo Bay College met virtually using Polycom videoconferencing equipment, to discuss the value and nature of using videoconferencing for learning.

Further ideas: There are so many ways in which technology can connect parents to learning. Further possibilities include bringing in expert speakers, virtual art exhibitions, online book character parades, book clubs, other special classroom activities, parent teacher interviews etc

What suggestions do you have? How have you used virtual meeting/classroom software or hardware to connect parents with learning?

 

March 12, 2014
by rcrellin
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Digital Technologies Curriculum

Technologies enhance and affect the lives of people and societies globally. Currently there is an accelerating ICT skills shortage, with declining numbers of higher education enrolments in computer science. This is also a concern in the school education system where computer science is taught primarily in upper secondary, and often as an optional subject.

The Australian Curriculum: Technologies describes two distinct but related subjects:

  • Design and Technologies, in which students use design thinking and technologies to generate and produce designed solutions for authentic needs and opportunities.
  • Digital Technologies, in which students use computational thinking and information systems to define, design and implement digital solutions. This is the focus of the MOOC outline below.

The Technologies curriculum is part of the review of the remaining Australian Curriculum learning areas. At this stage, it is envisaged the second iteration of AusVELS will, subject to approval by the Minister for Education, be released early in Term 3, 2014 for the purpose of school curriculum planning. It is expected schools will begin to report against the new achievement standards in these additional learning areas and general capabilities from 2015. More information VCAA Notice to Schools 9/2014

CSER Digital Technologies MOOC (F-6)
The CSER digital technologies MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) is hosted by the Computer Science Research Group, based at the School of Computer Science, University of Adelaide, and developed with the support of Google. This free and open course will explain the fundamentals of digital technology and computational thinking, specifically addressing the learning objectives of the Australian Digital Technologies curriculum (Foundation-6).  MOOC InformationMOOCStart date: 22 March 2014, the course will run for 8 weeks, with the first four weeks as one block, a two week break and then another four week block.  The expected time commitment is approximately 3 hours per week.

Module topics:

  • Module 1: Welcome and Introduction
  • Module 2: Data (Patterns and Play)
  • Module 3: Data (Representation and Binary)
  • Module 4: Digital Systems
  • Module 5: Information Systems
  • Module 6: Algorithms and Programming
  • Module 7: Visual Programming and Visual Programming Environments

DEECD Support: This MOOC is a self-paced and self-directed opportunity which is available without charge to schools.  Support will be provided by DEECD Digital Learning branch staff as they undertake this course alongside participants.  No CRT support is available for schools.

How to Register:

  1. Go to the CSER website to register. To participate fully in the MOOC experience, you will need to set up a gmail account, because the creators of the course are using a Google course builder platform on which to construct it.
  2. Please send the names of registered teachers and school to Penny Rowe, Senior Program Officer Digital Learning, rowe.penelope.m@edumail.vic.gov.au
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