This week’s guest blogger: Lisa Wilson Harston Primary School
On 21May in North-Western Victoria we had over 240 students from 14 small rural schools and heaps of elephants reading together via Polycom as part of National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS).
At Harston Primary School, we were about to have our Polycom unit installed and thought NSS would be a great way to start using the unit. I sent the invitation out to our local cluster as well as other schools close by.
Schools registered with the NSS website and received a pdf of the book and other support resources. We set up a google doc for contact details and organised which pages each school would read. On the day each school read a page to the other schools.
Many of the schools extended the learning opportunity by having elephant jokes and trivia, as well as making elephant masks as an Art activity. At Harston, our senior classroom, used Google Maps to locate each of the other schools and to calculate the distance between the schools.
The great thing about the Polycom unit was that students could see and hear classes from all the other schools. We also received support from Virtual Conference Coaches Jo Tate and Gary Schultz who showed us how to use the units and helped run the session on the day.
Feedback from the schools has been very positive. Many of them had not used the Polycom before. Some have indicated that they now have joined or organised small events for the next couple of weeks. We all want to know what we can come up with next!!
National Simultaneous Storytime is an annual campaign where a picture book, written and illustrated by an Australian author and illustrator is read simultaneously in libraries, schools, pre-schools, childcare centres, family homes, bookshops and many other places around the country.
Want to find out more about Virtual Conferencing in your school?
Schools who don’t have a polycom can also still do heaps of online activities via Blackboard Collaborate, Lync and Skype. You can also log into polycom meetings via Lync.
An online professional learning program related to using a range of digital tools in the classroom has been developed to meet request from schools.
Focus areas will include:
Beyond classroom walls – Web conferencing (2 sessions)
Social media in teaching and learning (2 sessions)
Mobile devices across the curriculum (1 session)
You can choose one or two focus areas or take part in all 5 sessions.
Online sessions will be held on Blackboard Collaborate and will be 45-60 minutes in length. Each focus area will run for approximately two weeks and will encourage teachers to link in with other professionals to share experience and ideas.
Participants will need to book sessions using the link below before the 20th of May, 2014.
To register for one or all of the courses click here.
These sessions will support teachers to use web/video conferencing tools such as polycom, Lync, Skype and Blackboard collaborate and connect with other teachers outside of your school community.This course would be very useful to those schools that have recently received a Polycom unit and would like to learn how to use it better.
These sessions will explore how social media can support and enhance teaching and learning.This course will help teachers to develop a better understanding around using social media safely with students, exploring some of the concerns and misconceptions.It will also help teachers who are unfamiliar with social media to learn about how it can be used for tasks such as professional networking and information gathering.
This session will explore using mobile devices, such as iPads, in the classroom in creative ways.We will consider the value and use of various apps across all curriculum areas including video, animation, recount, storytelling, and augmented reality.There will be opportunities for discussion around how to overcome barriers such as the transfer of data, connecting, creating a multi-device environment and implications of particular apps.
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.
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:-
Ice breaker (6 mins)
From our Principal (7 mins)
Assistant Principal (7 mins)
Online exploration: Ms Murnane Literacy co-ordinator (7 mins)
An e-guest from Darwin – Rachel Neale (7 mins)
From the classroom – Mrs Gow (Science/maths teacher) (7 mins)
Online school assemblies – Scott 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?
Our guest student bloggers this week: Liam, James, Riley, Macoy, Zali, Finn, Seth, Tom , Brigitte, Harry, Stacey, Poppie, Ella, Meg and Samantha.
Thanks to Sally Walsh for pulling it all together.
We have a fabulous school concert band with lots of excellent musicians. Many of our musicians are also very interested in technology, particularly mobile devices. One day our teacher played her iPad by blowing into the microphone using the Ocarina app. Our clarinet and flute teachers played too. It looked like a lot of fun, so- the Boneo PS iPad Orchestra was born! At present we have 20 members in our i-Orchestra. There are lots of music apps for iPad. We already had Garage Band and were looking for instrument apps that matched the instruments we play in our concert band. We researched lots of apps and came up with the following list to use.
Garage Band: Turns your iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch into a collection of Touch Instruments and a full-featured recording studio — so you can make music anywhere you go. Use Multi-Touch gestures to play pianos, organs, guitars, drums, and basses.
Real Piano: A full 88-key piano app that brings you realistic grand piano sound, smoothly moving and zooming, customizable key labels, and professional tuning & transposition functionalities.
Woodwind instrumentSS: A music application packed with 12 different woodwind instruments such as the flute and the clarinet.
Viola: Play Viola on iPhone, options are smooth performance or bowed and pizzicato sound
Ocarina 2: Blow into your phone, play the notes, feel the magic as Ocarina 2 responds to your breath, touch and movement. Turn your phone into an ancient flute-like instrument.
Drum Kit: is the fastest and most realistic drum app in the App Store. It blends in cymbal sounds like a real kit, a feature that isn’t available on any other drum app.
How it works: Each group plays their own part together – keyboard players, then guitarists, flautists, etc using the apps we chose. Then we try to play two groups together, adding parts until we are all performing together. When we first started we had problems because we couldn’t hear what other people were playing, but then we bought mini hamburger speakers to each iPad. That solved the problem.
Opportunity to collaborate:
Would you like your class to collaborate with ours for music lessons? Join in the fun at Boneo PS online. All you will need is a data projector or IWB and a computer. Lessons are at different times of the week, covering all primary grades and lots of different activities. No experience in either music or technology necessary!
Administrators are widening their scope regarding the value of online classes to include learning opportunities for administrators, teachers and other support staff in addition to students.
Virtual, blended and flipped learning teachers are using more digital content with their students than other teachers.
Online learning teachers see significant value in the role of digital tools and resources to improve student success as well as their own personal productivity.
Parents who have taken an online class for their own work or job training have high expectations for their child’s school to provide similar learning opportunities.
Students are increasingly seeing online learning as a gateway to a new education paradigm where they are in control of the learning process.
What’s happening in Victoria?
The 2013 Trends in Online Learning describes flipped learning as students watch videos of lectures or read content as homework, and class time is spent on project-based learning and personalised remediation.
‘The sign of a great student centred activity is that all students are actively discussing the concept in their own words – Verso definitely hit the mark here. As a teacher being able to see each student’s original post and comments also offers a visibility of their learning – you can almost watch it happen!’ Steve Seddon
Steve Seddon from Noble Park Secondary College has been using online video to engage students as well as make more effective use of classroom and homework time. He has recently trialled Verso – a web based app that creates opportunity for student collaboration and discussion around a stimulus question, video, images, files or websites. Read Steve’s blog post for more information.
Virtual learning allows students to connect, interact, share and learn with others outside of their classroom and school using virtual conferencing tools such as Polycom, Blackboard Collaborate, Microsoft Lync and Skype. Virtual learning can be synchronous where all students log in at the one time in a virtual classroom, or it may be asynchronous and involve students accessing recordings of a session to access in their own time.
Blended learning is where instruction is a mix of online and face-to-face with a teacher. In the Victorian context this refers to the planned implementation of a learning model that integrates student-centred, traditional in-class learning with other flexible learning methodologies using mobile and web-based online (especially collaborative) approaches in order to realise strategic advantages for the education system. From Blended learning, A synthesis of research findings in Victorian education 2006-2011
The Digital Learning News Blog may feature outside resources. Teachers are advised of the need to check the terms and conditions, privacy, and age restrictions of digital resources before using them with students. Teachers need to be aware of how and where their students’ information and content is used and shared by the digital technologies they plan to use. Parental consent must be obtained to use a student’s personal information to generate accounts and provide access to online services. Non-identifiable information should be used by students working online.