Tuesday, May 24, 2011

CEO SR Teachmeet

I am excited about doing a seven minute presentation at the Sydney Teachmeet that has been organised by the CEO Southern Region eLearning Adviser Simon Crook. I love the idea of teachers sharing what they are doing and am looking forward to the two and seven minute micro-presentations. I have already found some new people to follow on Twitter and the backchat on #ceoelearn and #ceotm I will be just as interesting as the presentations.

Teachmeets are 'unconferences' that began in Scotland in 1995 and have become a world wide phenomenon. There are no hard or fast rules but like anything need to have some organisation and thanks to @simoncrook, @jpilearn @artprintmedia and @pvlies, it was very well organised.

I will be presenting for seven minutes about using Game Based Learning to improve student use  of the Design Process in Information Software Technology (IST). The idea developed because I am not a tech-head, I don't believe I know more about technology than the average teacher; I can't know everything. The key to success however, is that I accept this and don't allow it to stop my students. My role as a teacher hasn't changed even though the tools have.


I saw Ian Jukes from 21st Century Fluency Project  present at the Technology in K-12 Education National Congress in Sydney and it reinforced for me that use of the design process is a vital aspect of being a digital citizen, what Ian Jukes calls the Fluencies.


But where I started however was earlier than this at an eLearning Coordinators meeting where Dean Groom presented a Keynote. He started me thinking that GBL didn't just have to be a one off or a small series of lessons like I had done previously (such as using the UN Free Rice in HSIE classes). Using Twitter I then came across an article about a school in New York that had initiated GBL to teach the process of game design and were seeing fantastic results in student engagement and achievement in all classes.


Again using Twitter I asked about online gaming platforms that could be used in class and from the responses decided upon using Gamestar Mechanic because:
  • there is a free version (there is a paid version if you want or need more control over student accounts)
  • no software to download
  • works with the College Internet connection
  • students' and my account could be linked
  • opportunity for online discussion
  • easy to use
  • curriculum materials available

Term 4 2010 with Year 9 IST was the best experience I have had with a class in term 4. The students were engaged, they completed all the set work, even the 'theory' which was based on Games for Change and game design. There was a new atmosphere of respect for peers, they were playing each others' games and marvelling at and commenting on what was being achieved.


One of the better moments for me was having Year 5 students from local schools visiting for a 'Curriculum Sampler' day and 10 Year 9s volunteered to help. They ran the Year 5s through the design process and helped them make and play games. They were brilliant! Their success with the younger students is evidence that they themselves understand the Design Process and see its value in helping produce solutions.


This year has provided more evidence that the class are immersed in the Design Process rather than just paying lip service like before. We are using Google Sites to complete portfolios that document the Design Process and this is working really well, even with students that struggled last year. Student engagement in class and work ethic has also improved as has the quality of work that is being produced.


Game Based Learning is engaging and it produces results.

The video below is my presentation materials for the Teachmeet in Sydney on May 26 2011.




video

Sunday, May 15, 2011

A Cloud in the Hand

While this blog started as a chronicle of my schools use of the cloud it has become obvious that this is too limited. It does the College and my colleagues as well as me an injustice. The cloud is really just a tool and for my reflections to be of any use to the brilliant teachers, support and admin staff I work with I have realised that I need to be a lot more broad.

Use of Google Apps has exploded at the College and I only need to look at the Sites Dashboard to see how many KLAs are making use if the technology. I am also extremely greatful that teachers who decide to make their Sites and Docs private are including me in their list...THANK YOU!
 

There are many staff at the College that have taken advantage of our employer's salary sacrifice scheme to purchase an iPad 2 and others that are using various self-owned mobile devices in the classrooom and for admin purposes. Hence my rethink that this blog is too narrow.

As part of my role as eLearning Coordinator at the College as well as my innate need to shout things from the roof top I have decided to also use the blog to spread the news about other mobile bits and pieces I find useful, including Apps. In keeping with this, my first post about mobile learning is targeted towards my colleagues who are searching for Apps to use at school.

I have three pieces of advice to get you started:

1. Use Twitter - there are some great people as well as hashtags (#) to follow. Checkout #slidetolearn, #mobilelearning, #IEAR, #EDAPP and #mlearning as a start and use this to also find people like @ShellTerrell, @ipodsibilities and @SNewco.

2. Frequent the site www.iear.org - an educational Apps review website. I have found many excellent resources here.

3. Use the Apps Store in iTunes - in the iTunes Store click on the Apps Store drop down menu and choose Education and browse.


 I can't wait 'till my iPad 2 arrives!