Thursday, September 6, 2012

Expanding Learning Horizons in Lorne, Australia

In August, I attended the Expanding Learning Horizons (ELH) Conference sponsored by Computelec and held in the beautiful seaside town of Lorne, on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, Australia. Computelec is the leading educational technology company in Australia and is responsible for the implementation of many 1:1 computing programs in schools across Australia.

While I was quite busy giving four workshops in three days, I was able to attend a number of sessions. Donald Brinkman, a program manager for Microsoft, gave the opening keynote address on Structured Signifiers and Infinite Games: Serious Play for Lifelong Learning. He highlighted Microsoft's history with serious games and their Games for Learning Institute, as well as using badges as signifiers that have the potential to transform the way we learn skills and record experiences. An offshoot of the Games for Learning Institute is the Just Press Play project at the Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, NY.

The ending keynote was given by Jason Ohler, author of the book Digital Community, Digital Citizen. His presentation focused on how "new media and digital storytelling fit into the greater scheme of curricular objectives and the world of emerging technologies."

iTeach 2012 at the San Domenico School

It's been a busy summer and a while since I've updated the blog. So, here goes...

In June, I attended the iTeach 2012 conference hosted by the San Domenico School in San Anselmo, CA. San Domenico is a 1:1 iPad school.

Some highlights from the conference included sessions on creating powerful presentations with Keynote, an app similar to Powerpoint. As the speaker, Ted Lai from Apple, stated, "Edward Tufte once wrote, "Powerpoint is Evil." However, effective presentations can be made by focusing on design, content, and delivery."

Krista McKeague presented a session on interactive iPad textbooks for algebra and geometry. HMH (Houghton Mifflin Holt) FUSE is an iPad app, not an eTextbook which is simply a digital version of a printed textbook. 

On the second day of the conference I attended a session with tech leaders from various bay area schools regarding 1:1 iPad programs. Issues such as infrastructure (access points, bandwidth, saturation points, Apple TV...just how much does one want to manage?), video storage (YouTube for Schools, Safari Montage, Vimeo, Google Docs, and SchoolTube), and how to implement a 1:1 program were highlighted. The 

The overall impression I got was that going 1:1 with iPads should be a motivation to make curricular change in schools, to shake things up. At Exeter, we are in a position to begin implementation with a curriculum we are already proud of, one in which the learning is student-centered. But, a 1:1 program will allow our students to be more productive without any loss of critical thinking. Regarding the issue of iPads vs. laptops, the iPad allows for more individualism as opposed to a laptop, the iPad has a much lower profile at the Harkness table, central to our teaching and learning at Exeter, the iPad can be multiple learning tools - calculator, note-taker, music maker, art producer, language tutor, and textbook. 

Another important point that was made at the conference was that of parent education, specifically making parents comfortable with modern learning methods. Technology is ubiquitous in the 21st century and it is important that we guide students with best practices for using this technology, and keep parents abreast of what we're doing.