Sharing with a Wider Audience

Girls Sharing by jasonstaten available via FlickrCC licence

Girls Sharing by jasonstaten available via FlickrCC licence

I’m very fortunate to be working part-time at the State Library of Victoria; I’ve been with their Learning Services area for nearly four years now. Besides introducing school groups to the wonderful history of Victoria and the extensive resources available to them at SLV, I find myself involved further and further with online learning projects including the VicPLN and  the Bright Ideas blog.

Bright Ideas is turning out to be a great place to share my professional learning and reflections; there is a wide audience and a generous community of Teacher Librarians and as well as other educators. So I think while I am regularly contributing to Bright Ideas I will temporarily put TL under Construction on hold. No sense in repeating myself!

Here’s a direct link to my posts on Bright Ideas. Many thanks to those I have been in touch with over the years. Please keep the conversation going!

 

Games-based Learning: My PD goal for 2012

Video games by Caitlan Monahan

Video Games courtesy Caitlan Monahan Flickrcc

I’m a big fan of play – it is one of the most authentic, engaging, rewarding modes of learning.

My old school (primary) was heavily into play-based learning but now I work in a high school. We have rules banning students from many online games and I understand some of the reasons why (time/task management issues, IT issues), but I want to bust through that rule and claim gaming as a tool for students and teachers.

I’m not a gamer; I don’t even know a lot about the world of online games except what I’ve watched (and ok, played a bit) as my sons grew up – they loved Runescape, WofW, Sims etc. and what I saw was good (apart from the odd blood splatter). They had to deal with online social issues sure, but even those were worthy learning experiences.

So this year I’ve made investigating and implementing some online games-based learning activities as my Professional Learning goal for 2012.

Step 1 has been about building knowledge and exploring the topic. Here’s a quick look at what I’ve been looking at:

What is Games-based Learning?

This great blog piece (click on the title above) helped me understand the different ways games can be applied to education/learning:

  1. Educational games apps to teach skills
  2. non-educational games to use in conjunction with a topic
  3. non education games that inspire or engage in a learning project

Favourite quote from the piece:

I see a great potential in what I call non-educational games becoming a learning experience for young children. When I explain this to others, I start by explaining all of those other events we plan for our early years children such as going on a walk, visiting the post office, hanging the washing out to dry… When we are performing these tasks, they are not educational. It is what we do as educationalists before, during and after the event that makes it educational.

Pedagogy always comes first!

Victorian PLN: Unit 11: Gaming in Education

The State Library of Victoria’s Learning Services put together a very comprehensive introduction to gaming in education as part of their PLN program. It’s definitely worth working your way through it even though the program is finished. It covers all the 5W’s. It also includes  a wonderful webinar that was put on by Paul Callaghan, games developer and the organizer of FreePlay Independent Games Festival. The webinar is available to watch and really filled some gaps in my knowledge

“Games in Education” Webinar

Paul covered the opic of how games of all sorts have shaped us, and talked about:

  • games as tools
  • games as culture
  • how games create a space for learning
  • games literacy (and how important it is)

I also subscribe to a Scoop.it stream called, Are You Game, curated by Judith Way (thanks Judith!). Judith is great at including all the current trends, research, news and educator’s blogs out there.

One of the articles I ran across has given me some real insight on directions and interests of the large players in the educational games arena.

For the Win: Serious Gamification: Gaming as an educational Tool

My favourite quote from this article:

Anthony Salcito (Vice President of Worldwide Education, Microsoft):

Anthony wants to lift the way in which technology makes a difference in the classrooms by looking at the motivation of the learner or player of the game. He says there has to be a platform of optimism making students feel they have an impact in their world and community so that learning becomes relevant to what they hope to achieve. Students who get an “F” on their papers conclude they can’t understand that subject whereas with a “Game Over” screen, gamers come back and try harder while learning from their mistakes. So the assessment models in schools are often not motivating while the language of games has an incentive for students to learn from their mistakes and move on.

However, I disagree with Mr. Salcito when he says teachers are saying students learn better by teachers teaching to the test. This is a system that is being forced on teachers, not chosen by them.

Step 2: is all about talking to members of the school community and strategic planning. I’ll blog about that in my next post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cyber Safety Summit 2012

On June 12th, I attended the National Cyber Safety Summit in Canberra with two students from the school.  They were select members from the Youth Advisory Group (YAG) who took part in online forum discussions to help inform the government on cyber safety initiatives.

The purpose of the Summit was to bring students, parents and teachers together with relevant industries and government sectors to discuss “how to keep young Australians safe online”.

YAG students this year made over 5000 suggestions and comments.  Discussions were based around the following themes:

  • cyberbullying
  • privacy
  • online gambling
  • reputation
  • digital citizenship
  • marketing

The summit was hosted by Project Rockit team members and  formally opened by Stephen Conroy, the Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy. There were also some special guests:

  • Winners of the first Cyber Defence University Challenge (from U of NSW)
  • Winners of the 2012 Stay Smart Online’s agent/ambassador competition

After all the announcements and speeches, parents and teachers split off from the students and we all attended presentation workshops.

Students attended a session on Managing Your Reputation Online led by Ruby Rose, MTV presenter and spokesperson for HeadSpace. They discussed steps they could take to protect their reputations, learned about the social and legal consequences of acts such as harassment, cyberbullying and sexting from the Federal Police and received a handout that the AFP provide to elite athletes to help them manage their reputations online. Teens also shared some opinions including the inconsistencies in dealing with bullies at school. They felt that some are dealt with less harshly than things like smoking. They also expressed that many of the resources used in schools to teach Cybersafety were not interesting, relevant or age-appropriate.

They then attended a session with ABC’s Good Game hosts, Bajo and Hex. The topic was Digital Etiquette and Gaming. The culture and nature of gaming was discussed including the bullies/trolls online and how its OK to block them. Teens shared that there is pressure to keep up with obligations to the team in online games. They also said that parents should take more of an interest in what’s going on in their kids’ gaming world.

Parents attended a separate session on Gaming with Bajo and Hex. They were surprised to hear that the average age of a gamer was 37 years old! There was much discussion about the language and bullying in games. They were urged to take interest in their children’s gaming, to keep lines of communication open, set limits and discuss online friendships. Above all the room agreed that its important to help kids understand that “its only a game!” and to not invest too much emotion in it.

Parents also attended a presentation by the Alannah and Madeleine Foundation outlining their eSmart Schools program, the framework used to achieve best practice and their eSmart School certification. The program is not free but Victoria Dept of Education funds this program for all schools in the state.

I think the afternoon panel discussion was the highlight for most participants. Some excellent questions/dicussions came out of the session.

Q.  Should teachers and students be friends on Facebook (or other social networks)?

The Facebook rep answered that there were lots of ways for schools to take advantage of social networking sites with out individual teachers friending students. Many are using the site as a resource site. Other panelists thought that this decision was really up to individual schools. Some expressed the opinion that teachers shouldn’t have to be available to students 24/7 and that Facebook should be for their private life.

Q. Should we stop under 13s from going on Facebook?

The Telstra crime investigation representative said that it was important not to demonize technology and social networking sites. The Facebook rep pointed out that they now have a new reporting dashboard and improved information on the status of reports. She also pointed out that it was important for people to include their true age as minors have added privacy/security on their accounts by default.

Q. Should kids be using technology as an emotional outlet?

Teens expressed their desire to keep journals and talk to friends about their problems online, often seeking support from friends on Facebook. Some though this was a reliable and instantaneous way to talk to someone. Ruby Rose said it was better to get in contact with a counsellor online from one of the support sites than to spill emotions onto a social network site. You can never get what you say back. Others pointed out that texting and messaging wasn’t a good way to communicate feelings, too often people misunderstand the message.

Q .What is the duty of care for teachers in cyberbullying incidents that happen outside of the school?

The Telstra rep said that cybersafety is everyone’s responsibility. Ruby Rose agreed and said if you know someone’s having trouble take personal responsibility and reach out! The representative for the DEECD stated that the Number 1 responsibility of the school is to provide cybersafety education.

Perhaps the show stopper of the day though, came from one of my own students. Her question/comment was that not enough was being done to educate young Australians about the mental health consequences of cyberbullying. She wanted to know why we don’t teach people that all the negative online behaviour (and bullying in general) leads to depression, self harm and suicide. She felt the statistics and incidents should not be taboo topics. The entire room was silent as she spoke about it.

I think all of us left the summit with much to reflect on and some excellent strategies and directions to take. I feel privileged to have been a part of the discussion and will be discussing several ideas with my Principal for new initiatives.

Toolbox: e5 iPad Apps

Next year the Year 7s at our school will be bringing their iPads to school. This is part of the plan to answer the Big Question presented to our teachers at the end of 2011 —

How does Vermont Secondary College better prepare its student and teachers to meet the challenges of the 21st Century?

The Year 7 iPad Program is also meant to significantly reduce the number of text books purchased by families as well as offer additional organisational options and creative tools to staff and students.

As a teacher librarian it is my role to evaluate and recommend resources of any sort to support high quality teaching and learning.  So I began to read blogs about apps for education, I listened to individual recommendations, I  uploaded and trialled hundreds of apps over the year but only passed on a handful to specific teachers. I began to question the quality of educational apps available (most seemed like gimicks, games or had limited use). Were we expecting too much too soon? I decided I needed to use a different approach.

I’ve followed Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano of  Langwitches Blog fame for several years and found her charts:

to be exremely clear and easy to use. It got me thinking …

The Victorian DEECD (Dept of Education and Early Childhood Development) recently introduced its e5 Instructional Model into schools and VSC has been trialling it for the past 12 months. My question became: How could I support teachers to implement the e5 Instructional Model via the iPad Program? Was it possible to create a chart that would be  easy to use and  could provide apps suitable for each of the facets of e5? I decided to take the DEECD up on their invitation to:

…  engage with the e5 Instructional Model as a framework for defining what high quality instruction looks like in the Victorian government education system.

And here is what I’ve come up with —

 As I worked through the model applying it to the apps I trialled, I had several things in mind:

  • to look for apps that were not specific to Key Learning Areas (not always possible)
  • to choose apps that could support teachers, students or both (not just students)
  • cost should be minimal
  • check the terms and conditions (especially with regard to age restrictions and ownership of uploaded work)

I found that:

  • many apps suited more than one of the facets of the e5 Model
  • there were many suitable high quality apps not listed in the educational section of  the iTunes Store
  • the apps I trialled and found suitable for the Engage facet of e5 tended to be subject specific so I sampled from different learning areas and included them

To make this chart more accessible I’ve turned it into a pdf file, you can click here to download. Any comments or constructive feedback would be greatly appreciated. I’ll blog again when I get some feedback from the teachers at the high school.

A Quick Entry from my Good Reads

Each year I join the general reading challenge on the Good Reads website. I’ve set my challenge at 100 books. I am of course including any I read for my professional reading challenge, my YA wide reading for school and the reading I do for teaching notes.

Dancing with Ben HallDancing with Ben Hall by Jackie French
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A charming mix of short stories from Jackie’s own family folklore and anecdotes of her encounters with wombats and other animals living on/near her property. She brings us closer to both with her intimate knowledge and descriptive abilities.

I am currently writing teaching notes for this book.

View all my reviews