DLTV Webinar

This afternoon I will be hosting a webinar for (DLTV) Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria on Google Apps for Education. This webinar draws upon some of the experiences and success that myself and our school have found to enhance learning with Google Apps.

The webinar is part of a professional learning series of webinars which are free for DLTV members.

The slides for the webinar can be found here or below:

Edit: DLTV have made a recording of the webinar available here or below:

Chromebook implementation

This term we have successfully set up 55 Chromebooks at our school for students in Years 1 – 4. I used Corey Aylen‘s enrollment guide. For those who are in Victorian Catholic schools, his guide will provide all of the relevant parameters to mitigate the often troublesome zscaler settings.

I have heard some negativity over Chromebooks particularly from technical staff who are not too familiar with the potential of Google Apps for Education. For me, the Chromebook is too hard too ignore for education. Some criticize that it is limited because essentially it is a laptop with just a web browser.

This is indeed true, but this is one of the best things about Chromebooks. It means it doesn’t require extensive hardware to run, which brings the cost down. Because the machine doesn’t need a fully blown operating system, it means it boots up quickly and operates with speed. In addition, most of our activity on the web is through a web browser anyway, and as technology develops, more and more is being achieved through the cloud and through the web browser.

Having said this, the Chromebook does not do everything. But it is an ideal product, for most students, for most activities, without the hefty price-tag of a machine that offers the whole kit and caboodle. Particularly for with schools who are already using Google Apps for Education, it is a winner.

 

The enrollment process

Setting up the Chromebooks was an absolute breeze (we went for this Samsung model). Once the network settings were provided to each Chromebook, the process was initiated and within a few clicks they were done. In fact, the most time consuming part of the process was unboxing the units! Having some students around to help this process was handy, not to mention enjoyable for them. I found that I had to plug in the chargers briefly to “wake up” each unit out of the box to get them on, but they had sufficient charge to complete the registration process. They were then fully charged and setup in trolleys before the first student use. We went for the PC locks Carrier 40 trolley.

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Integration with GAFE

Through the GAFE admin console, each device can be tracked and monitored for recent activity. Settings can be modified accordingly to suit your needs, and updates are carried out automatically when they are received (and don’t take forever unlike Windows updates!)

At the moment we have pushed out a few Apps from the Chrome Web Store to the students; Design Something, Build With Chrome, Mind Meister, Pixlr, and Typing Club. The pre-installed extensions we have selected are Speak It!, Google Dictionary, and Read & Write. Students are not able to install other apps or extensions from the Chrome Web Store.

Benefits for teachers and students

Teachers have already reported the efficiency improvements in the time taken to get students connected to the web, saving precious moments in the classroom. This is because the Chromebooks boot up in under 10 seconds, and the Chrome browser is ready at the user’s disposal once logged in. This has been a significant reduction in log on times compared to Windows 8 laptops / desktops, not necessarily at bootup, but more so in loading network policies and connecting to servers.

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To make the process even faster, we have numbered each Chromebook and assigned students to a particular machine. It does take a few moments to setup a user account for the first time and download all the pre-installed apps and extensions (this is why we have kept the pre-installed suite to a minimum). For each subsequent time users log on to a machine, they wont go through this process unless there are new Apps / Extensions to install.

Once students have logged on to the Chromebook, they are automatically signed into to their Google accounts, have their pre-installed apps, extensions and bookmarks at their disposal. Most importantly, they are connected to the web in moments with a lightweight, and fast device with a hard keyboard.

 

The Classroom of the Future

This week I have the privilege of presenting a series of lectures at a familiar place, Australian Catholic University in East Melbourne. Each year I am only to happy to oblige when asked to come back to speak to tertiary students. As a practising educator, I believe it is a moral and professional obligation to prepare our pre-service teachers in the best possible way that we can.

For fairly recent graduates like myself, and for the generation of teachers to come, we face a sticky situation. The students in our care are likely to see the end of this century, if not the next. How will our education system adequately prepare our students for a largely unknown world?

The title of the lectures will appropriately be called “The Classroom of the Future”.

The idea of any classroom of the future is a daunting prospect. Where will learning take place? Who will be involved in learning? What will learning be “defined” as?

One thing is clear. The only constant of the future will be change. With that, technology will continue to have an evolving impact on the world as we know it, and bring with it both positive and negative implications that are associated with it. One only needs to step back briefly and appreciate how quickly technology has developed in the last 40 years, to the technologies that are beckoning to us in 2014 to realise that it is almost impossible to predict the world and technology in the decades to come.

It is imperative that we start focussing on the rich technology available now and the opportunities that it provides, as well as sound pedagogies that maximise student outcomes and genuinely prepares them for an evolving world in which we can only dream about. Let alone the future, our current work force demands it of us. However, empty promises and lessons from the past teach us that technology as a tool does nothing by itself. It’s up to us, as educators of the future, to harness its true potential… and it’s time we started taking it seriously.

As part of this lecture, I have updated our school’s progress of Genius Hour after some recent work with Notosh’s Tom Barrett. I truly believe, that the Genius Hour model is just one way in which students are appropriately engaged with school, and fosters the cognitive skills required for the current and future work force. This reflects the ideas of Ewan Mcintosh, of developing problem finders and not problem solvers, Guy Claxton’s Three Rs and Three Cs on the point of school, and Dan Pink’s Autonomy, Mastery and Purpose of performance.

Both sets of slides can be found below

The Classroom of the Future

GeniusHour @ St. Mark’s Primary School

 

 

2014 DLTV Educator of the year

A few days ago, Digital Learning and Teaching Victoria announced that I will be awarded with the DLTV Educator of the year.

This has come as a wonderful surprise, and I have been very humbled to be awarded something of this nature.

Thanks must go to my principal, Lyn Watts (Educational Consultant) and Karen Swift (Leader of the STACCE13 tour) for their glowing references.

But most of all, thanks to all readers of this blog, my fellow colleagues from #vicpln and around Australia, and those abroad. Without your inspiration and dedication to the profession, there is no way I would be in a position to be receiving this honour.

I look forward to continuing to connect and share with you all!

Google Sites – Creation tips with Google Apps for Education

As part of my recent Google Education Trainer application, I created this 2 minute video which highlights tips and best practices when it comes to creating Google Sites in Google Apps for Education domains.

I used Camtasia to record the on-screen demonstrations, and Sony Vegas to produce everything else.

Another pre-requisite for the Google Education Trainer program is to have achieved the Google Educator certification, to which, I have attained. I found this process extremely valuable and useful for my own practice back at school. I would recommend anyone who is wanting to further their development and understanding of the mechanics of the various Google Apps on offer should study the comprehensive coursework and even take the exams.