August 27, 2014
by rcrellin

What is computational thinking?

Computational thinking is a problem-solving method that is applied to create solutions that can be implemented using digital technologies. It involves integrating strategies, such as organising data logically, breaking down problems into parts, interpreting patterns and models and designing and implementing algorithms.

Computational thinking is used when specifying and implementing algorithmic solutions to problems in Digital Technologies. For a computer to be able to process data through a series of logical and ordered steps, students must be able to take an abstract idea and break it down into defined, simple tasks that produce an outcome. This may include analysing trends in data, responding to user input under certain preconditions or predicting the outcome of a simulation (from

Here are some DLTV resources to help you:

Algorithms: an algorithm is a description of the steps and decidsion required to solve a problem


Digital Technologies – Algorithms In Plain English from Digital Learning & Teaching Vic on Vimeo.

Decomposition: to separate a complex problem into parts to allow a problem to be more easily understood.









Digital Technologies – Decompose In Plain English from Digital Learning & Teaching Vic on Vimeo.

Source: Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria


August 20, 2014
by rcrellin

National Literacy and Numeracy Week

National Literacy and Numeracy Week is running from 25 – 31 August in 2014. It is an Australian Government initiative that runs in partnership with state and territory governments.  During this week many schools run a range of fun activities for their students to help them explore literacy and numeracy.

At Huntly Primary School students are using technology to support their writing by publishing narratives, explaining concepts and peer assessment.

Some useful links:

Literacy Resources

  • FUSE packages for Early ChildhoodPrimary and Secondary students provides resources to learn about the future of books, writing and reading, create and share poetry mashups or tell people what you think, or find out what others have read.DigiPub maths
  • DigiPubs link to English resources, software, apps and classroom ideas.

Numeracy Resources

  • FUSE packages for Early ChildhoodPrimary and Secondary students will get them engaged with interactive and real life maths.
  • FUSE eBookBoxes contain lesson plans, interactive resources for AusVELS F-10 and VCE
  • DigiPubs link to Maths resources, software, apps and classroom ideas.
  • 8 Math talks to blow your mind. Mathematics gets down to work in these Ted talks, breathing life and logic into everyday problems. Prepare for math puzzlers both solved and unsolvable, and even some still waiting for solutions.

Conference – English, Arts and Technologies: Literacies for Lifelong Learning

The Australian Literacy Educator’s Association, Victoria and Australian Centre for the Moving Image annual one-day multiliteracies conference is on Friday 12 September 2014.  The conference will explore authentic learning and contemporary teaching strategies that draw upon multimodal resources and tools – from traditional multimodal texts such as picture books through to user generated moving image texts – along with some of the grammar, or codes and conventions needed to become proficient speakers, readers, viewers, writers and creators.  Find out more and register.

August 12, 2014
by rcrellin

Mystery Skype

Our guest blogger this week is Erin Jackson from Kennington Primary School

What is Mystery Skype?

Mystery Skype is a game played through Skype between two classes. Each class aims to work out the location of the other class, by taking in turns to ask yes/no questions. The winner is the first class to work out the location of the other.

Students take on different roles while playing the game. There are many websites that list different roles that can be undertaken, but I like to keep it simple. I have:

  • 2 scribes, who record information on a whiteboard
  • 2 speakers, who sit in front of my laptop, asking and answering questions
  • Researchers – all other students use their iPads to research and come up with questions to ask.

The Benefits

The first, and probably most obvious, benefit of playing Mystery Skype is the improvement in students’ geographical knowledge. It has helped to improve my students’ mental maps of the world and to improve their understanding of where we are in the world. It has also helped them to develop their knowledge of different cultures around the world.

Secondly, there are many mathematical benefits, such as map-reading, directions and time zones. Playing Mystery Skype often highlights concepts that we, as teachers, may take for granted that students understand; for example, what the different lines on Google Maps represent.

Mystery Skype also lends itself well to the English domain. The game naturally requires students to listen attentively to the questions and answers, whilst building on their comprehension, research and visual literacy skills. They develop their ability to ask ‘good’ and ‘follow-up’ questions, as well as whole-group and small-group discussion skills, such as negotiating.

Finally, my students have a high level of engagement when playing the game. My students often ask when we will have the next Mystery Skype and are always excited to come to school if they know we have one organised. They work together as a team and feel a real sense of pride and excitement when they are able to work out where the other school is.

Where to start

Start by creating a Skype account and joining ‘Skype in the Classroom’ ( Go to #MysterySkype and send out some messages to teachers you might like to skype. I usually send out about 5 messages with a given time and date, as not all teachers will reply or may have other commitments at that time. I also give the time in my time zone and convert to their time as well. Once a teacher replies, add them to your Skype account and you are ready to go! You might like to send them a message through Skype on the organised day to ensure the other grade are still able to participate in the game.

Some tips

For Grade P-2 students, try beginning by playing Mystery Skype with local schools or other schools in the same state. For Grade 3-4 students, try other schools in Australia or capital cities/major towns in other countries. For older students, use towns/cities outside of capital cities in other countries. I aim to choose places that fit with my Integrated Studies topics, such as Thailand when we were studying Asia for Geography or a school on the Ring of Fire when learning about earthquakes. You might like to prepare something to share at the end, such as 5 facts about your town.

For more information about Skype or other virtual conferencing in schools see the DEECD Virtual Conferencing and Skype in the Classroom webpages.

August 5, 2014
by rcrellin

Addressing the cybersafety challenge: from risk to resilience

This report, comissioned by Telstra, explores the unique behaviours and risks that face children, young people, adults,  seniors and parents in their online engagements. It identifies the most effective cyber safety strategies toTelstra cybersafety
specifically address each age cohort.

Key Findings:

Cyber safety is not limited to preventing cyberbullying or protecting children from online predators. Cyber safety includes minimising the risks of everyone’s exposure to: fraud, privacy breaches in credentialing, identity theft, malware, phishing and scams through to internet and device addiction, violent and sexually explicit content, security-compromised online gaming activities and ‘sextortion’ (extortion involving digital sexual imagery and distribution).

One of the most effective ways to be cyber safe is to be digitally literate. Digital literacy enables us to: navigate technology and adjust privacy settings, judge the quality and reliability of online information, and, understand the social norms that apply in online settings.

To date, most cyber safety initiatives have focussed on protecting children and young people but have largely failed to address other vulnerable groups including parents, adults, those over aged over 65 and small to medium enterprises (SMEs).

Those aged over 65 are commonly the least technologically literate and are often asset rich and therefore particularly appealing targets for those who engage in fraud, identity theft and dating scams.

While adults are active users of new communications technologies in Australian workplaces they are mostly computer literate but are not necessarily internet literate due to exposure to online technologies and applications often coming relatively late in their careers.

Many parents feel under-equipped to address the numerous and often complex safety issues their children might face online. 91% of parents claim they are aware of their children’s mobile phone and online usage, however teenagers overwhelmingly claim that this is not the case.

While young people aged 12–17 do not readily distinguish between ‘online’ and ‘offline’ activities, they often hold a lot of expert knowledge about new technologies. This makes young people the ideal candidates to transfer knowledge between generations to increase the rates of digital literacy across all age groups.

Many SMEs struggle to stay abreast of technological change, often due to limited time or financial/human resources, and find it challenging to move out of ‘self-preservation’ mode when it comes to managing online risks.

New technological developments have accelerated our exposure to risk as a consequence of our increased levels and frequency of online engagement. These trends include:

  • user generated content and content sharing platforms;
  • the uptake of mobile technologies and, in particular the adoption of smartphones;
  • cloud computing;
  • platform integration and single sign-on mechanisms; and
  • the rise of GPS and location based services.

We learn best by doing rather than by being told. A hands-on approach to learning cyber safety strategies is warranted and some exposure to risk is necessary to improve digital literacy. Increasing the rate of digital literacy and taking account the differing needs of all age groups is the best way to maximise cyber safety – as the risks and benefits of digital participation go hand in hand.

To find out more:

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