July 25, 2013
by rcrellin
1 Comment

Minecraft for Learning at Doveton College

Link to Doveton College Minecraft Blog

Guest Blogger – Gene Geoffrey

Doveton College runs a program titled Doveton Live Minecraft which currently involved 20 grade 5 students a term working in a students as teachers program. Each session we run has explicit goals and at no time do students get “free play” using the software. Our term course is designed around building co-operative team work.  At the start of each class students set and re define goals before moving into Minecraft making sure every student has a task and is participating. At the end of each class the students reflect on the team’s outcomes and efforts.  The current project is to devise a language and skills to teach Grade 3 students to use Minecraft.  We are now in the second term of this programs.

Next year it is our intention to roll out a Minecraft Inquiry based project across the G4-6 teams (180 students).  The project as we are discussing at the moment will involve students exploring a problem they devise and using Minecraft as a tool in the answer.

We are also planning to run a test experience for a vertically integrated group of students from G4 to Y9 which will hopefully involve a project with students from schools in Sydney, Indonesia, Singapore, New Zealand and PNG.

July 17, 2013
by rcrellin

Learning in one of the World’s Biggest Classrooms – ISTE13!

Guest Blogger – Anne Mirtschin

The 2013 ISTE conference #iste13 was held in June in beautiful San Antonio, USA. The following statistics give some idea of the size of this conference:-

  • 13,100 registered participants representing 74 countries with 1855 international attendees
  • 373 virtual participants using Access ISTE and
  • 4500 exhibitor personnel showcasing the latest in ed tech from 49 companies
  • 1,100 presenters
  • More than half a million pieces of digital content were created during ISTE 2013

Its sheer magnitude meant that this conference can exemplify an ‘innovative and ideal’ classroom. Customized learning, catering for differing learning styles eg choices of lectures, hands on, networking, interaction, conversations, small groups, peer to peer, virtual can take place. Personal choice over the best space for learning – from lounges, cafes, ballrooms, formal classroom settings to quiet reflective spaces were provided. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) was evident with every conceivable mobile device being used by attendees. There were doctors in the house for technical problems. Short concentration spans were catered for by IGNITE sessions where there is a high turnover of presenters and topics within the hour. Play time was allowed for in the numerous Playgrounds, Learning Station sessions on offer etc.

The keynotes set the scene for the conference. Two notable ones included the opening keynote with a leading speaker on games and the application of game-design to education, Jane McgonigalLearning is an Epic Win and the closing keynote by popular perennial ISTE presenter, Adam BellowYou Are Invited To Change the World. Jane mentioned the 10 positive emotions of playing games  (see image below) and shared some highly successful social games that included Evoke and Find the Future – game to encourage the young people back into the State Library of New York.

The trending themes/topics this year (from my perspective) were:

  • Games in Learning or Gamification of Learning
  • Mobile Learning
  • Transmedia storytelling
  • Augmented Reality
  • Flipped Classroom
  • Google glass

Some of the trending tools and apps included:

My favourite learning spaces included the Bloggers Café, the Interactive Playgrounds (interactive videoconferencing, mobile learning, digital storytelling, digital media) and the Learning (Poster). Sessions where I could interact, network, ask questions, learn on a personal basis, share conversations and enjoy ‘hands on’ activities with mentors, experts and fellow teachers.  Other favourite sessions included: 

Networking is an important element of attending a conference and there is something very special about being in the Bloggers Café, sharing conversations with many people who are brought to Australia as keynote speakers, meeting a professional network face to face and making many new friends etc. I was proud to be able to share personal involvement in global education at the Global Education Summit Global Projects for Beginners and the Flat Classroom Learning Sessions, Birds of a Feather “Global Education in the Flat Classroom” gathering and the #flatiste13 Spotlight presentation “Do You Co-create at the elementary level – Flat Classrooms Do.”

There was a strong contingent of Australian educators present and on many occasions I would mentally compare education in Australia, particularly Victoria, with that in other countries.  It is always satisfying to note that teachers in Victoria have high and ready access to technology; the teacher laptop program; the EduSTAR image for staff and students, a 1:1 policy amongst many schools and a supportive DEECD Digital Learning division with a commitment to embrace immerse technology in innovative and ‘cutting edge’ ways. Many of our teachers are using technology at the leading edge, sharing their work online and all Victorian teachers have ready access to blogging campuses, virtual classroom and conferencing software. This sets us on a par (or at the lead) with the most other countries. Centres like Quantum Victoria are at the forefront of innovation in using robotics, 3D printing, games based learning etc.

The work of our Victorian Virtual Learning and the Virtual Wimmera School is commendable. Many rural and remote schools in the USA have videoconferencing facilities. These are used to provide access to specialist subjects, expert speakers, virtual excursions etc. There did not appear to be a centralized distance learning centre with a teacher and subject base. In Victoria, most rural schools have been provided with videoconferencing equipment. There are many districts in the USA where classroom access to computers and technology is sadly lacking. The emphasis on data driven learning is of high concern to many US educators (as it is with many of our Australian educators).

Attending ISTE13 was a great opportunity, providing many networking opportunities, exposure to the latest trends in learning, technological devices, cutting edge thinking etc. Learning at ISTE13 was the theme of this week’s Tech Talk Tuesday webinar. Listen to the recording 

July 10, 2013
by rcrellin

Australian Bureau of Statistics Education News

Australian Bureau of Statistics Education News (May 2013)  highlights the latest curriculum related teaching resources, student activities and statistical tools that have been developed by ABS Education Services as well as other ABS resources that are useful for schools.

 Some interesting statistics from the ABS Census@School 2012 Questionnaire

  • Boys are nearly three times more likely to be gamers than girls.
  • Using the Internet to share music and photos held equal interest for boys and girls (30%).
  • Communicating with friends and family using email is of less interest to both boys (9%) and girls (15%) compared to social networking.
  • Since 2008, access to the internet and reducing bullying in schools are the only two issues on which students have placed increasing importance.
  • By ranking these issues in order of change, reducing bullying comes out way on top, increasing 265 points from 2008 to 2012.

Also see ABS Education Services for resources to assist educators in communicating to students the importance of using quality statistical data to inform and critically analyse their research.

July 2, 2013
by rcrellin

Ultranet contract

It was announced this week that from 1 January 2014, NEC will assume full responsibility for provision of the Ultranet and schools that wish to use the service will do so on an individual user-pays system.

Many people believed that the Ultranet could be a system to bring all schools together to improve student learning, it is disappointing that our vision did not come to fruition. Over the weekend two blogs were published– Mel Cashen pointed out how the ‘walled’ community was a great starting place for her students and how collaborative the #ultranet twitter community has been. Steve Seddon highlighted all that he learnt and can take forward. Both are really great reads.

For us in at central office, the people we have worked with and teachers we have met over the last few years have been amazing. This is really a professional and supportive community who care about using ICT for student learning and development – not just the latest digital gadget to show off. Through this blog we hope to continue to collaborate because our vision to open up learning through technology has not changed.

From the Digital Learning Team

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