theMolisticView

A new journey in education

Archive for the ‘Innovation’ tag

Chaplain’s versus Laptops

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The Digital Education Revolution is dead; its death will take place sometime in December 2011 when Kevin Rudd’s original promise is reached and all that will be left is 20 million dollars of support for infrastructure for a two year period. At the same budget reading we heard about a nation wide drive for Chaplains in schools. Where did we as educators go wrong? I have strong memories from 1985 at high school of scripture class as it was called at the time and the issues that caused for those students who did or did not attend. Why is it back and Federal supported and funded at what blatantly appears to be at the cost of future proofing the nation and my retirement?

The death of the revolution will hurt me and teachers who, like me teach Computer Science based subjects. We teach the students how to use the trucks (thanks to Steve Jobs for that gem) that drive the worlds computing. The revolution in NSW brought equity to schools and their students. In NSW the revolution saved me from having to win a fight with my English faculty over spending $20,000 on the full Adobe Creative Suite which I was never going to win. It provided my students with a computer that was not restrained by what is now a 10 year old operating system which is XP, which by the way still has a massive strangle hold on my region which I cannot explain when other regions in NSW already are running the same hardware on Windows 7 and they could take them home and continue to work and learn through complex problems. What makes it even more painful is that this years cohort where the most excited since the revolution began and realised from the start of the limitations of their new learning tool.

These fore mentioned trucks (destop PC’s) have continued funding under T4L and wont be disappearing anytime soon, the only question mark over the T4L is the extra software contracts NSW picked up as part of the revolution and what is their expiry date.

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My first Project Based Learning adventure-Part 2

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Before I go any further I wish to make it clear that I am by no means an educational expert or even a teachers teacher. Most traditional teachers leave my classes thinking how did this idiot get a job.

To start where I left off in the last post we actually need to travel back in time a little. I cannot remember the exact time when I first heard the term PBL used to describe project based learning, though I do remember who said it to me. I give much gratz to Dean Groom. He introduced me to PBL sometime last year I think, though it could have been earlier. When I first read a little about PBL my first reaction as a TAS/IA teacher was that’s what we do already. Students learn by doing projects and to some extent that is true. However when you delve deeper in to the structure of true PBL, it is so much more then an end product.

So as I wrote in the previous post, around week 5 holes were appearing in the work and structure assigned to both classes. It was around this time I first approached the approachable Mr Groom about what I could do. Dean immediately replied with a PBL project. At first I left the idea just sit there. Then I saw a tweet by Bianca Hewes, talking about her personal success using Dean’s suggested PBL.

By this stage I was becoming desperate at what I could do in a short time frame for the year 9 class while I was away at the SWSR conference, so I copied the work that had been set into a Google Doc to share again with the ever obliging Dean. Unfortunately for me Dean was also presenting an important Keynote at SWSR, so he was unavailable for the help I needed in the timeframe.

From the conference we now land on Sunday afternoon and my panic at seeing what I was being asked to teach. I decided to stretch my twitter generated friendship to the limit and posted in another Google Doc the basics of the work left with a begging help me please message. As you would expect on a Sunday afternoon everyone is busy with their lives so there was not much action on this front.

So I turned to my friend the Google search. I simply typed in PBL and got all kinds of stuff. The first of which I clicked like one of my students was Wikipedia, though as is the case these days the Wikipedia page had some doubts about it self so I dodged it and went looking for more. So I first ended up here http://pbl-online.org/ this lead to some free documents to download and read. I clicked further and was soon here http://www.bie.org/ plenty to read. Not to keen to sign up to something else I looked at the freebies and stole this page with Evernote http://www.bie.org/about/what_is_pbl for future reading. Then I moved on to the next result in my search http://web.mac.com/khoneycuttessdack/PBL_Lessons/Project-Based_Learning.html, which was full of examples and ideas. I grabbed what I thought I needed, printed off some reading material and quickly tried to grasp the behind scenes of PBL.

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April 5th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

My take on SWSR

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Firstly I would like to thank the organisers for such a great venue and the WiFi provided. 7MB down was awesome and i’m sure others like my self who do not have such luxuries took advantage of this.

SWSR at ANZ Stadium

SWSR at ANZ Stadium

One of the first things to catch my eye was that my tweets with the #inspire2011 tag were not showing on the big screen. I guess someone has blocked someone, some where along the line.

The four keynote speakers were awesome to say the least this year. For me I wanted to hear Will Richardson. Will was one of the first prominent educationalists I followed on twitter. Having heard both Will and Steve Haragdon speak I was a little miffed. I have friends who live in New York State and in Washington State in the US. When I speak to them they only talk of how bad education is in their local public schools. Repeatedly it is that they have none or limited funding, old technology computing systems which are virtually unusable, and old text books that everyone works from in crowded rooms and so on. Steve and Will spoke like they had full access to modern technology in classrooms, were they could blog, connect to people outside their education system and more to improve what their students were learning.

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April 2nd, 2011 at 3:36 am

2nd year of electronic exams

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In a recent blog post Darcy Moore titled Pen & Paper exams. At the time I commented on my personal experience last year when I chose to have my HSC Multimedia class answer their half yearly exam with a word processed document (http://themolisticview.wordpress.com/2010/03/).

This year’s HSC half yearly exam period at my school coincided with my recent trip to Sydney for the Adobe Refresh event, so I chose to have this years class complete their exam while I was away.

The way I have delivered this task in the past is to have the students open a BOS HSC exam as a PDF and answer the questions in a Word document, which when completed they email to me. This year though with myself being out of school I chose to use the classes  Edmodo page for delivery of the exam document with the assignments feature, which the students then upload their finished exam.

Unfortunately as it turns out I had decided earlier not carry my laptop to the city. My main reasoning for this at the time was because of the troubles I have been having with Vodafone’s 3G wireless network, so I would use my Edmodo app on my iPhone to keep track of proceedings back in the classroom. So with this in mind I had uploaded the exam and instructions to Edmodo the night before at around 2.30am.

Year 12 were due in class at 1.15 pm. Just as 1.05 ticked my phones email sound rang down George Street. 1 student it appears had jumped the class and gone in early against the instructions given them the day earlier. I received one more alert email just on 1.15 pm asking a question which could only be asked if the person had read the exam.

When I arrived at school the next morning my head teacher explained that even more silliness had ensued in the classroom. I down loaded and looked at several of the exams and noticed that the more reliable students in the class had been erratic in their responses to what would normally be easy to answer questions for them. On this evidence I decided that they would re-sit the exam the following Friday, I duly went the process of notifying all parties that the exam would be conducted again and what the rules for the exam were.

So Friday came and went and on the surface the majority of the class did as I expected from last years experience and answered more questions in more depth than they had in their Preliminary yearly exam by pen & paper. So given all the upheaval this year I am still committed to delivering my exams to my technology classes in this manner.

Looking to the future though, I will try to find more time to develop my own PDF version of exams which uses buttons to select multiple choice answers, text boxes for short and long responses and based on this year, only deliver the exam in person.

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March 23rd, 2011 at 9:26 am

XNA game studio at school

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Start this  at the start I guess.

Being a Play station user since the play station (one), and not into computers at the time I never really cared about the Xbox when I bought my PS2, or even early last year when I upgraded to the PS3. The first I had heard of Microsoft XNA Game Studio was in 2008 and it was totally by chance when having purchased the then new Microsoft Expression Studio. Microsoft Expression Studio came with 2005 Visual Studio. Now at the time I had only just been made a permanent teacher filling in at what is now my school and my position. I had at that time had little experience with computers except what I had to learn at University and what I had picked up during the many casual and temporary permanent positions I had, had since 2004 and had no interest in coding or  programming.

Fast forward to June 2010, I had spent the last 6 months trying to get year 10 into Flash games using their DER laptops. What a nightmare that was, the DET Lenovo’s struggle to power Flash projects, there is a constant issue with the Flash player plugin being out of date. So this quickly removed any enthusiasm the kids had. Around this time rumors of the new Windows Phone 7 started along with some of the then suggested capabilities of the phone. One of these was to play games, games that would be linked to an Xbox Live account. In one article that I read they linked to XNA Game Studio.  On arriving at that page I was amazed that this secret had been hidden away from me for so long. With a simple download you could make games for your PC or Xbox.

So immediately I download the development tools which were available at the time and then went in search of books which would help me in learning how to make games. I spent most of the school holidays reading through books and coming up with ideas for my multimedia classes.

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February 5th, 2011 at 5:23 am