Over the years that I have been teaching technology, I have always enjoyed using MS Office in my computer classes and although I have an iPhone and iPad, still use a windows based laptop and personal computer. Last year, I applied to become a Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator and was accepted into the program. As part of this profile, I was invited to attend the “Redefine Learning” conference in Brisbane, several weeks ago. Below is a summary of some of my experiences and learning at the conference.
Redefining Learning Conference
This conference organised by Microsoft was primarily for Microsoft Innovative Expert Educators and Microsoft Showcase Schools using the hashtag #redefinelearn on twitter.
Some of the standout learnings and quotes were:-
- Change can start with a conversation. A group can make that change happen. The emphasis was creating a network of innovative and passionate educators.
- If you want to make change look for someone who is doing it, copy/mashup/remix what they are doing.
- Developing a strong professional learning network with people who have similar passions and interests.
- Being exposed to some of the latest thinking in learning
- Having some exciting collaborative and interactive tools being released through MicroSoft including OneNote and Swayy
- Hands on learning experience in maker spaces with students – robotics, coding etc
A brief run down on some of the experiences and presentations
St Stephens School visit
The conference started with a school visit from a choice of two schools and this was one of the highlights of the conference for me. The principal of St Stephens showed us around. He emphasised that we are in a creative era – therefore learning spaces have become a personal passion his as they enable collaborative, interactive and blended learning. The use of technology and its affordability and what can be done is only limited by our imagination.
Open spaces, moveable furniture and tables of many different styles, glass walls etc feature everywhere and allow blended, collaborative and interactive learning. Regular PD has been provided for staff and learning spaces have evolved and been adapted for blended learning. Staff have seen the pedagogy needs and used flexible spaces to do this.
They use a young innovative architect. Building towards successful organisation wide blended learning as they are finding traditional classrooms no longer work. The pen or stylus is now being embraced with the surface pros by increasing numbers of teachers. Windows devices are the preferred device due to pen etc and common platforms etc. They commenced with a goal of achieving blended learning, then built the courses and added in content. 3 years later, staff build the course without realising they were moving to a blended learning environment. Majority of teaching is online, but artwork is done in a traditional classroom. Tutorials online teach staff and students how to use OneNote etc. Analytics show that students are logging on in great numbers on the weekends to make use of the online learning environment. As blended learning involves technology enhanced learning, devices are fully supported by 3 technicians (a vital factor for success).
Mark Sparvell, Worldwide Showcase School Program Lead, Microsoft
Innovative schools are focussed on happiness, citizenship, adaptive capabilities, active and involved citizenship but problems around managing change.
Transformation occurs one conversation at a time. Takes a community to make the transformation.
Edupreneur: Unleashing teacher led innovation in schools David Faulkner, Education Change Makers David encouraged us to share what “what is unacceptable……” for young ones today, but to then turn it into what we can do about it. He encouraged us to put together radical ideas – radical collaboration – copying from each other, collaborating together and creating a new direction in learning. There is a need to teach people how to innovate. Come up with 100 solutions to the problem. The first idea is often the worst. One idea in first 60 might be okay. Between 80 and 100 of those ideas come 5-7 real ideas for client. Some of the most ridiculous ideas build the best innovation and products.
Deanne Joosten, a teacher from Phoenix P12 School “Beyond 4 Walls”.
Consider the screen as a portal, not a window and innovate learning beyond the classroom. Very few people are crazy enough to teach drama or many practical classes via videoconferencing. In one year she taught 3 remote classes together with her face to face class. This involved 614kms 7.5 hours of driving. Teaching and learning through a screen makes you think of working in other ways – broadens the mind. Teachers have to work hard to make them feel like they are being there with us and students need to think outside the box. Deanne used a live skype linkup with one of her drama classes to demonstrate how it can be done.
Friday morning started with a series of Teachmeet style 5 minute presentations. These included:-
8 Mini presentations – 5 minutes each
||Bringing it all together with Docs.com
||STEM Project based learning initiatives in our makerspace
||Visible Thinking via SNIP and OneNote
||Positive Behaviour in the 21st Century with Red Critter
||The Magic of Mystery Skype
||Enhancing understanding through feedback, collaboration and a tiny robot
||Using OneNote to enhance differentiation and personalisation in the classroom
||Yammer for Social Learning
Participants were then give 2 x 15 mins to interact further with 2 of these presenters in round table style discussions.
|Megan Towns – The MS Educator Community
This session was aimed at helping us to get connected and stay engaged with others around the world. Profiles allow the sharing of personality, achievements, passions, interests and what you are doing.
Megan introduced many of the social media tools that we can use for networking.
Introducing Microsoft Classroom: A new experience in Office 365 with Ari Schorr, Produc Mardeting Manager, Microsoft.
Using MS Classroom and some of its finer features for collaborative learning, ease of assessment and
feedback to students etc
Students from Ormiston College, years 5 to 12, (and teachers) led us in a hands on STEM experience.
The session showed ways that students are integrating STEM into their learning at all year levels and across the curriculum at Ormiston College. We looked at some of their robotics, robots, coding the robots and using a number of software tools to code. An enjoyable and engaging session and one of the conference highlights.
The conference closed with a Microsoft Closing Keynote speaker and final words from Travis Smith encouraging us to redefine learning, continue to network and push teaching into new directions.