Technology integration in education stories in Australia and beyond.....

June, 2012

  • Innovative-Education

    Gesture based technology - What can it mean for education?


    We all know or have seen (I hope) how Kinect enables the user to control their Xbox or PC and become part of engaging virtual environments with gestures, movement and voice commands. But beyond gaming, what exactly can this mean for education. In February 2012 the NMC Horizon Report - 2012 Higher Education Edition report was released and predicts gesture based technologies to be in the third wave of technologies to impact learning in four to five years time. However, gesture based technologies or Natural User Interface devices are in some of our classrooms today.minority-report

    Gesture-based technologies have the potential to be transformative technology because they have the potential to be used beyond just a medium for learning. They don't just replace one form of passive learning with another, i.e. the text book with an eBook but create endless possibilities as to how to engage the learner in a multitude of resource types and scenarios.

    Immersing a user in a virtual world, or gesture based browsing has the potential to change our attitudes concerning how we interact with computers in class, and promote active learning methods. We are no doubt in the midst of or the beginnings of a shift towards less passive learning techniques and styles. More active, student-centered approaches to classroom learning are becoming more common.

    According to Charlie Osboune on ZDNet,

    "What makes gesture-based technology unique in this respect is that it has the potential to allow collaborative efforts on a broader scale — more than setting up a classroom blog, or using PowerPoint to create a presentation, and can be used to further promote content engagement."

    The traditional classroom is no longer has to be the focal point of learning where we no longer rely on traditional passive learning techniques. In these classrooms it is more common for students to be actively participating in activities; whether through project work, media, presentations or team objectives. Gesture recognition technology is far more than using a an Xbox 360 Kinect to exercise – game environments can, and are being developed, to promote activities that improve social skills, involves team work, and allows users to solve problems through collaboration. Check out how Kinect is being used to engage these children with autism. No longer is the teacher the centre of attention (or not as the case may have been!).

    There is a world of difference between the options available. Microsoft’s Kinect technology and the humble VHS player are examples worthy of note. A VHS player is a tool in which to facilitate learning whereas Kinect can be a way of learning in itself. You don't just watch and listen, you explore, make decisions and ask questions to complete a lesson.

    Nobody doubts that every child has unique skill set and the expansion of the mediums, modes and technologies though which student can interact and engage in lessons and classrooms can only benefit teachers and learners.

    Now for a really nerdy bit……..

    What if you didn't even need the Kinect device? The Microsoft Research team in Redmond have developed just that. In a project that "uses sound to see," as they put it, they have enabled normal laptop or PC devices to be controlled by gesture and sound by utilising the existing speakers and microphone in the device.

    Using a very simple concept in physics (the Doppler Effect), developers have enabled run of the mill devices to interpret gestures to browse and explore the laptop.

    With no need for hardware such as a Kinect or a Microsoft Surface to use gesture based technologies. This shows that there is  potential to allow greater access to this immersive experience and in your classroom soon. Four to five years before gesture based technologies are prolific in education……perhaps not.

    To read more about this and a similar research project click here.

  • Innovative-Education

    Partners in Learning Alumni Forum 2012


    On May 24th and 25th past, 88 principals, teachers and curriculum leads from 40 schools across Australia met for the for the Partners in Learning Alumni Schools Forum in Melbourne, Victoria. This forum brought together the 2010 and 2011 Partners in Learning Innovative Pilot Schools Program from 2010 and 2011. The 2010 and 2011 programs focused on transforming teaching and learning practices in their schools and integrating technology appropriately to underpin these transformations. Participants have all demonstrated a commitment to change and an ability to integrate technology in their practices. By uniting both programs and enabling them to continue the relationships, professional learning and conversations participants are now part of a very unique national education community. 

    With an agenda focused on 'Shaping our futures together,' participants had a mixture of key note addresses, workshop sessions and breakout sessions. Wayne Craig, Regional Director of Education, Northern Melbourne Metropolitan region, opened the forum with an 'inspiring' key note address about the process of change that has taken place across his region in the previous seven years. Bruce Dixon, Director of Ideas Lab, followed Wayne with a more micro Microsoft PIL 350level look at the modern learner and how educators need to connect with them. Lawrence Crumpton from Microsoft closed the day with a look into the future with what/how technology is going to influence our lives and schools. Lawrence was joined by Matthew Ford and Kevin Gosschalk from QUT who demonstrated, for the first time, their product Skampa, an interactive immersive system that uses Microsoft Kinect to create a interactive play-mat with educational games for children.

    Through morning workshops and breakout sessions led by the Australia Partners in Learning Mentor and Advisor school, participants worked together to build relationships across the two program years and develop their professional networks across states and primary and secondary sectors. Breakout sessions focused on Learning Spaces, Innovation, Student Voice in teaching learning & assessment and Sustainability exposed participants to and engaged them in conversations about some projects, practices and lessons from the leading Partners in Learning schools in Australia.

    Microsoft PIL 149 

    To further the theme of seeing what and how their peers are accomplishing transforming their schools practices, day 2 of the forum focused on school visits to four schools in Melbourne: Wooranna Park Primary School, Dandenong High School, Broadmeadows Valley Primary School and Hume Central Secondary School. The Melbourne weather might have attempted to wash out the forum but participants were given invaluable tours of four fantastic examples of modern schools.

    Microsoft PIL 274 

    The Partners in Learning Alumni community will continue to grow with the inclusion of the 2012 Innovative Pilot Schools and will work and collaborate together online in the Partners in Learning Alumni online community. The Microsoft Partners in Learning Alumni community we hope will grow into a sustainable national professional education community that continues to include some of the best and most innovative schools from across Australia.

    For more information on Skampa, the schools involved or the program, please click on 'Email Blog Author' above.

  • Innovative-Education

    Technologies Promises to Education


    In a recent speech at the National Association of Independent Schools Conference in Seattle, USA, Bill Gates talked about technologies can help increase the impact of teaching and learning. There is no doubt that a lot has been promised, a lot is possible and perhaps all the dreams and promises have not been delivered but it is always interesting to get the perspective of someone who tends to have an idea or two about technology and education!

    The speech was called Fulfilling Technology's Promise to Education: How much can technology help us teach and learn. Click on the pictures below to see the four key trends in online learning that were outlined:

    personalizing learning reimaging textbooks
    scaling teachers social networks

    “There really is no limit to what teachers can do if they have the right resources. A decade from now, finding and using the best content and technology will be as natural as opening a book. Tablets and high-speed Internet access will be ubiquitous. Each student will have a learning map that helps chart their interests and learning path inside and outside the classroom. And the concept of the textbook will fade—replaced by easy online access to the best lectures and course materials available.”

    Bill Gates, NAIS Conference, March 2012

    Today, teachers and students have access to all these trends in some fashion. 1:1 computing is possible nearly everywhere in the world, resource banks such as Khan Academy is making access to high level content free and easy, online communities such as Ning’s, the Partners in Learning Network, Edmodo are enabling teachers to collaborate on, create and localise content together and extend the classroom beyond the 4 walls, and personalised feedback is becoming more and more common. Just where will all these elements be in 10 years time? Perhaps in a school like this. Have a look at how the NYC iSchool that has taken 21st century learning to it’s near ultimate develpment.

    Now when am I going to get my hovercraft car!

  • Innovative-Education

    Trouble understanding exactly what PISA is?


    Whether it’s at conferences, reading the newspapers or blogs such as this one PISA pops up on a regular basis. Sure we know that it’s a form of international bench marking that many seem to think is the only test score that matters but what is it exactly? Well if you don’t know for sure and have 12 minutes to spare, press play below.

    EDUconnect PISA Video
  • Innovative-Education

    DeforestACTION Webinar - June 6th 2012


    The DeforestACTION team will be hosting andeforestaction online event on June 6, 2012. Both new and returning participants alike are invited to participate in an exciting in-depth discussion on deforestation and global warming, lead by Professor Danny Harvey, PhD. Danny Harvey is both a graduate and professor at the University of Toronto specializing in global warming, the environment, and climate change.

    Join the team for this exciting discussion and show-case the exciting DeforestACTION projects your class has been working on and come see what other young people from all over the world are doing! Also find out where the Ecowarriors are now and what new developments are unfolding on the ground in Borneo as they wrap up their 100-day mission. Learn about the ways in which deforestation is occurring in your own community, country and continent and be inspired to find ways to combat this global environmental issue!

    It’s never to late to join this fantastic global collaborative project and get your class involved in global problem and help them make a real difference.


    Register now

    For more information on Professor Harvey's publications and research:

    Click Here

    This webinar will have two sessions:

    Session 1: Wednesday, June 6th - Best for Asia Pacific Region 
    - GMT/UTC 01:00
    - Jakarta - 08:00 
    - Hong Kong - 09:00
    - Sydney - 11:00
    - Aukland - 13:00

    Session 2: Wednesday, June 6th - Best for Americas
    - GMT/UTC 16:00 
    - Jakarta - 23:00
    - Calgary - 10:00
    - New York - 12:00
    - Sao Paolo - 13:00

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