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

  • Innovative-Education

    Game based learning


    In recent years computer Games Based Learning, or playful learning has started to gain more cohesion in classrooms as a powerful learning and teaching methodology. There are so many different games and ways to bring gaming into your lessons just like Alice Leung, the 2012 Microsoft Australia Innovative teacher winner, did with her science and physics classes. To check out how Alice has been using games check out the newspaper article from yesterday.

    Games based learning has always offered a lot of opportunity, and here in Microsoft innovations such as the Kinect is clearly accelerating innovation in this area. imageKinect is a console adapter for Xbox 360 and any Windows PC – it has a dual camera system that enables users to control software through their gestures. It’s an immersive experience, and learners can use their whole body– arms, legs, hands, and feet – to interact with software, and devices. Kinect for Windows has great potential to transform how we all interact with our computers and finally classrooms can have real interactive whiteboards! For anyone wishing to take Kinect a step further and begin to develop classroom apps and software, check out this curriculum download from Rob Miles in the University of Hull in the UK.

    There have been many different ways that teachers have implemented a Kinect into their classrooms but some real simple ways to integrate it into you curriculum are:

    • A bowling game used for numeracy – children counted how many pins were knocked down and how many were left
    • The creation of avatars to teach life-skills
    • Students used Kinect to conduct quizzes on eye and hair colour
    • Students developed their kinaesthetic intelligences through a dance game
    • Kinectimals was used to develop sentence construction and punctuation skills
    • Kinect Sports can engage individuals who have traditional not enjoyed physical education

    There are so many more examples of real integrations into lessons some of which are available in the links through this post.

    Kinecteducation is an educator-driven community resource for developers, teachers, students, enthusiasts, and any other education stakeholder to promote the use of Kinect applications in classrooms. Our goal is to transform classrooms to a 21st-century model of learning with accessible technology and they need your help!

    With KinectEDucation, you can freely:



    There is no doubt that there is an increased requirement to expose children to computer programming throughout K-12 schooling. Computer science, coding and programing have been traditionally seen as a niche area for specifically interested people. This is no longer going to be the case. Jobs in the future will increasingly look for computer coding literacy at least. As technology advances, so the skill set of users and developers must too. Kodu enables key concepts and ideas from coding to be introduced to children in K-6 by visualising the processes of coding and enabling the students to create their own worlds.

    Teaching with Kodu is not just about programming. It is a great way to develop a number of 21st century skills as it is perfect for focusing on cooperative learning and developing creativity.



    Ribbon Hero 2

    Even humble Microsoft Office 2010 or 2007 can offer a fantastic platform for game based learning. For anyone who remembers Clippy trying to help them in older iterations of Microsoft Office, well he's back and this time he's learned how to teach! Ribbon Hero 2: Clippy's Second Chance is a brilliant way to engage students in the core digital literacy skills of Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Discover all Office features by actually using them, with a hint button to fall back on in case you get stuck. Race for a high score with colleagues, classmates and friends, or even put your score on your resume to show off your Office skills!

    There is a multitude of information out on the web about Kinect and learning but below are some of the Australian projects and research that have taken place with Kinect, Kodu and game based learning.

    Happy gaming!

  • Innovative-Education

    Bringing Mathematics to Life


    Mathematics is commonly a subject that student engagement can be difficult to ensure and is certainly the cause of serious frustration to many students. Regardless of the constraints and difficulties of bringing a prescribed mathematics curriculum into a 21st century teaching and learning environment, there are ways to bring content to life and integrate technology into lessons very simply.

    Word and OneNote Mathematics Add-In

    With the Microsoft Mathematics Add-in for Word and OneNote, you can perform mathematical calculations and plot graphs in your Word documents and OneNote notebooks. The add-in also provides an extensive collection of mathematical symbols and structures to display clearly formatted mathematical expressions. You can also quickly insert commonly used expressions and math structures by using the Equation gallery.

    If you're a math teacher or student, check out this video where you can see how to solve equations and plot graphs using the Mathematics Add-In with Microsoft Word 2010. Or download this free Mathematics add-in and see for yourself.

    Microsoft Mathematics 4.0

    Example chart created by Microsoft Math 4.0Teachers often find it challenging to keep all their students at the same pace when learning new maths concepts. Microsoft Mathematics can help students visualise problems and provide extra help when they are reviewing maths concepts on their own.

    From basic maths to calculus, it can help you visualise mathematical concepts in a new way. It’s a free downloadable tool which includes step-by-step instructions and explains fundamental concepts. The wide range of tools to help students with complex mathematics includes a full-featured graphing calculator that’s designed to work just like a hand-held calculator and ink handwriting support to recognise hand-written problems.

    Microsoft Mathematics Graphic Calculator

    Includes a sophisticated graphing calculator

    Microsoft Mathematics has a powerful graphing calculator built in. That saves each student the cost of buying a graphing calculator and assures that they all have access to the same necessary tools.

    Microsoft Mathematics uses a Computer Algebra System (CAS) to help teachers share and solve more complex equations and functions. It’s capable of handling subjects including pre-algebra, algebra, trigonometry, calculus, physics and chemistry.

    Helps students by stepping through problems

    With its step-by-step approach to problem solving, Microsoft Mathematics shows the journey to the maths solution, not just the end point. For teachers, it’s like having a maths tutor available to their students when they get stuck on a problem. The step-by-step feature can help students improve their understanding of formulas and concepts as they do their homework.

    It’s useful for subjects such as pre-algebra, algebra, trigonometry, calculus, physics and chemistry.

    Where can I find out how to use it?

    There’s a full Microsoft Mathematics Teachers Guide, as well as a Step-by-step Guide that talks you through the whole software.

    Download Microsoft Mathematics from here.

    Maths Worksheet Generator

    Maths Worksheet Generator headerMaths Worksheet Generator creates anything from one to 1,000 equations on a worksheet from a single sample equation you enter. And it also generates the teacher answer sheet too.

    Do you spend a lot of time searching for worksheets with practice problems to give your students? Now you can easily create your own in just a few seconds with the Math Worksheet Generator. This is a tool that generates multiple math problems based on a sample, and then creates a worksheet that you can distribute. By analysing the math problem you provide, or one of the built-in samples, the generator determines the structure of the expression and provides similar problems.

    Create quick maths worksheets in Word

    The Math Worksheet Generator works best with Word 2007 and 2010. If you have that, then the tool creates a Word document and the expressions are editable. If you have an older version of Word, it still creates a document, but the expressions are small images that aren't editable. (This is because Word 2007 and higher has more built-in support for inserting Math equations.) If you don't have Word at all, the tool will create HTML versions of the worksheet and answer sheet.

    The tool supports everything from basic arithmetic through algebra.

    Where can I find out how to use it?

    Here’s a demo of the Maths Worksheet Generator in use, which shows how easy it is to use. Just download the video here.

  • Innovative-Education

    Canberra INSPIRES 2012 Innovative Pilot Schools…..



    The brand new INSPIRE Centre in University of Canberra hosted the first Partners in Learning Pilot Schools Program forum of 2012. I would like to thank all our participants and everyone involved in preparing and delivering for a very successful two days. Expertly lead by our facilitators Joan Dalton and Travis Smith, the 2012 Pilot schools have begun their journey of innovation. Over the rest of the year, the participants will be embarking on a journey to ultimately improve the learning and engagements in their schools. Throughout the program participants will develop a greater understanding of 21st century teaching, develop an understanding how to shift their practice to build capacity across their entire school, integrate technology effectively into teaching and learning and will collaborate beyond their traditional communities and develop meaningful partnerships with schools across Australia.

    The INSPIRE Centre provided the perfect location to for such a workshop with a combination of agile learning spaces and innovations such as Ideas Paint to enhance the collaborative nature of the spaces. Combining these elements with everyone collaborating n one single OneNote notebook and participants were immersed in a 21st century learning environment. This is certainly something that we will return to in this blog soon.

    Take a look at some photos of the workshops in action in the album below.

    From time to time over the next few months, every school in the program will be guest blogging here so you can read exactly how they are developing the skills they have developed in this forum. To learn more about each school, just click on the school names below to explore their websites.




    P.S. Sorry I couldn’t resist the post heading!

  • Innovative-Education

    DeforestACTION- Live Event


    DeforestACTION deforestactionis a project created and owned by young people from around the world. It is supported by a number of industry and NGO partners who strongly believe that old models of reform are not working and young people deserve the chance to have a say in the condition of the planet they are going to inherit. It is also a project to ensure schools have real examples of 21st Century Learning. The teacher resources, guides, virtual classrooms and collaborative spaces help young people to quickly work in international project groups, tackling complex projects, while developing hope, confidence, civic and global responsibility and creativity. To join this fantastic global movement and to find out more information visit

    Take a closer look with your student soon….

    On March 28th, join us for an exciting DeforestACTION live event! We will take you deep into the heart the Borneo jungle to connect with orangutans, hear from Dr. Willie Smits and the Eco Warriors about the work they are doing with the Masarang Foundation, and speak with other youth and schools around the world taking action to stop deforestation.

    Register now:

    How does this project actually monitor deforestation?

    DeforestACTION is a key exemplar of student directed problem based learning focusing on real world challenges. Student directed learning derives from the notion that when students are connected through technology and empowered to build activities in their own way, the learning experience extends far beyond the four walls of a classroom.

    Under this strategy, the 'classroom' becomes millions of students and schools interacting online with world-class experts in the field, sharing ideas with eco-warriors on the ground, and collaborating with people around the TIGed virtual classroom platform on how to solve global environmental problems.

    One element of the project is Earth Watchers software. Earth Watchers is a ground breaking new software tool to enable young people across the planet to monitor the forests and provide usable intelligence to stop deforestation. It provides a new approach for education by actually involving the students directly in the conservation effort by allowing them to monitor real data and to go beyond tokenistic project / lectures to have a hands on impact.

    Earth Watchers

    Over 75% of deforestation in Indonesia is illegal, and the difficulty in locating and identifying illegal deforestation is a major part of the problem. Through Earth Watchers, young people across the planet can expose the illegal deforestation early, allowing local authorities to step in and halt it. This new transparency and global awareness is made possible by technology developed by Geodan inc from The Netherlands.

    Here's how it works.

    • Each student is allocated a piece of land to monitor (hexagonal 1.6km2)
    • Each week a new image is provided by radar satellite data providers allowing students to compare images and look for changes / disturbances.


    • Students can report disturbances from within Earth Watchers and collaborate with their neighbours, who hold the land around their hexagon, to explore whether or not the disturbance is related illegal activity.
    • Intelligence is sent directly back to the data center, and illegal activity is reported an investigated in partnership with local authorities.

    Tune into the webcast on March 28th and get involved folks!

  • Innovative-Education

    PALnet Professional Learning Opportunity


    What Happens when you CONNECT learning-leaders


    Next week, Dr Maria Langworthy will deliver a free webinar via

    You can pose questions/ suggest direction ahead of time through a dedicated Palnet Forum and ‘post webinar’, you can engage with Maria and her research within the same offline space!

    ITL Research is a multiyear global research program designed to investigate the factors that promote the transformation of teaching practices and the impact those changes have on students’ learning outcomes across a broad range of country contexts.

    Maria Langworthy is a social scientist whose current work focuses on education policy research, leading the Innovative Teaching and Learning (ITL) Research project that is sponsored by Microsoft’s Partners in Learning. Maria will deliver an hour webinar around the key findings from the ITL Research, the implications of these on schools and also will introduce the tools that schools can access for free to reflect upon their own innovative capacity.

    I strongly encourage all those who can join PALnet, principals and aspiring leaders, to join PALnet and get involved in this discussion.



    Local time

    Time zone

    UTC offset

    Adelaide (Australia - South Australia)

    Thursday, 22 March 2012 at 8:00:00 AM


    UTC+10:30 hours

  • Innovative-Education

    ChronoZoom – Making big history real


    Today while looking around Microsoft Research, I came across a new product called ChronoZoom. This turned out to be one of the coolest eduction products I've found in a long time. ChronoZoom is a collaborative project from University of California, Berkeley and Moscow State University working in the relatively new field of Big History. Big History attempts to unify the past—all of the past, from the beginning of time, some 13.7 billion years ago, to the present—through the four major regimes: cosmic history, Earth history, life history, and human history.

    What, you might ask, is so wonderful about ChronoZoom? After all, history resources abound. There are thousands of digital repositories, collections, libraries, and websites full of images, videos, documents, facts, and figures. But the sheer volume and disparate locations of these resources confound researchers, educators, and students, who spend untold hours searching this information, seeking to better understand history and its lessons for our future. What if we had a tool that could bring all these resources together? ChronoZoom attempts to answer this question.



    Through an easy to use interface demonstrating the scale of cosmic history compared to human history, the user can click into any period in history and find resources, links and content to explain the period in question. Zooming further and further shows the the links and overlaps in different periods in history. Perhaps it's about time we stop looking at periods in history as single silos of events and individuals and can visualise historical timelines.



    What are the 21st century skills that ChronoZoom can help you with in your classroom?

    • Literacy: listening, reading, viewing, writing, speaking and creating visual and digital materials across disciplines to facilitate students ability to communicate confidently 
    • Information and Communication Technology competence: Use ICT effectively and appropriately when investigating, creating and communicating ideas and information at school, at home, at work and in their communities
    • Critical and Creative Thinking: Learn to generate and evaluate knowledge, ideas and possibilities, and use them when seeking new pathways or solutions. Learn to use reason and imagination to direct their thinking for different purposes embodied in activities requiring reason, logic, imagination and innovation.

    Check it out and see how you can join up science and the humanities.



    For more information on Big History check out the following links:

    Gates Notes - Big History: From the Big Bang to the Present

    Learning to teach Big History



  • Innovative-Education

    Rethinking learning environments


    Today, I accompanied a group of teachers around the Microsoft office here in Sydney to show them what a modern enterprise office environment feels like. Shared, common work spaces, numerous different types of meeting rooms and areas; lounge areas, board rooms, break out areas, flexible meeting areas and casual furniture to encourage discussion and team work, are all supported with technology that enables us to work more effectively than sitting together in our own siloed cubicles from 9 until 5. Why should this be any different in school environments?

    Classrooms were developed to produce members of the industrial revolution workforce. What are classrooms today producing? A slightly broader range of graduates than 150 years ago I would propose. Students today will be entering environments like our office in Sydney where there is an emphasis on sharing and learning from one another. If I want to sit beside legal (not likely!) then I can, nothing stopping me.

    Normal practice and design is to silo children into 7x7 classroom where they all sit facing the front and waiting for information to be delivered to them. We all know that this is not how we want children to be taught. In fairness, so many innovative schools and teachers have torn up the old rule book and have created real dynamic, engaging classroom environments where children and students are encourages to work together and develop their skills in a manner that suits them. We probably all know of, or are indeed are a, teacher who is using flexible or agile learning spaces to really make 21st century skill development happen and come alive for their students. But how can we change a normal classroom into a space that is more engaging and empowering for the tenants of these spaces. I think if 21st century skills are to be taught most effectively, the environment in which they are taught needs to be revolutionised.

    Some simple concepts and useful resources that I've come across lately around learning spaces are:

    Campfire setup

    The picture I've included, is certainly at the top end of the scale of campfire type classroom setup but don't be deterred by this. This setup can be easily achieved in any classroom. What it achieves is creating a more democratic feeling, engaging environment where all kids have equal access to the teacher, as he or she is presenting and teaching in the middle of them, and they all have equal access to each other for discussions and student led lessons.



    While in the INSPRIE Centre in the University of Canberra recently, this concept is probably one of the simplest yet most useful elements of a learning environment I've seen. The enthusiasm that workshop participant took to using the walls to write on for brainstorming and concept presentation was inspiring, excuse the pun. It's a simple concept but one that adds an element of fun to the at times difficult task of getting a number of people really collaborating in the classroom.


    Flexible Furniture

    As daily lessons and tasks change the size and members of class groups, the class environment will need to change to suit these needs. All kinds of agile class furniture can be purchased to make this flexibility easy.



    The Language of School Design - Book summary.

    There is a mass of great ideas in this book on a broad range of topics such as furniture, natural ventilation, connecting to the community, and home base and individual storage, to name a few. For anyone with a keen interest in school design, this is a fantastic resource and I would encourage you to purchase the complete book, now in a second revised edition.

    This is an issue that everyone is talking about now. There is no doubt that we need to move away from the lecture style structure of the past 150 years and develop learning environments that really encourage and enhance 21st century learning. To see how successful one school has been since developing these spaces throughout their school, watch the following video. I didn’t want to get into too much building and technology detail today, I just wanted to put some simple ideas out there to help enhance the classroom experience for your students. Why not change the layout of your room or get some mobile whiteboards to collaborate on, better paint a wall with IdeasPaint and see how the dynamic changes in your classroom.

    I'd love to get a collection of Australian innovative learning spaces so feel free to post links to pictures, videos and articles about local spaces that are really enhancing children's learning experiences.


    New Line Academy - Learning Enviornments

  • Innovative-Education

    Our first post......


    Welcome to the new Innovative Education blog from the Partners in Learning Australia team. From this week forth, we will be blogging on a weekly basis on all things innovative and exciting in the Australian and global education community. We aim to provide a mixture of local innovative education stories, examples of international best practice, highlighting new and useful resources and software for educators and stimulate debate about how to best utilise technology and change practices in schools.

    Starting today, we are aiming to develop a community of educators who contribute to and initiate debate around the issues highlighted here and elsewhere in the education community. The new Partners in Learning Network;, will provide educators with a place to initiate and contribute to all types of educational discussions. The PiL-Network is now the hub for all PiL resources which provide any innovative thinking school with the resources to begin their journey of innovation and change. To help generate conversations, we will also use the Twitter #pilaus when posting articles for debate and continue the discussions in the Partners in Learning Network.

    We will endeavour to provide informative, relevant, rich content to enable you as educators to develop innovative best practices to meet the challenges of todays classroom.  Over the course of the next few months, we will blog about great examples of developing 21st century skills in classrooms around the world. You too can contribute to the content on this blog. If you, your class or your school has undertaken an innovative teaching and learning project we would love to hear about it and welcome your submissions to guest blog right here.

    We will also focus on the integration of technology into teaching and learning. Technology is not the single answer to the challenges we all face in education but it is the medium through which we can begin to address these challenges. Check out this video to see how the challenges education faces in Australia, are no different to around the world:

    A fantastic blog to learn from education 'heroes' around the world is on Anthony Salcito's 'daily edventures' website. Here education heroes from around the world tell their stories of integrating technology into their teaching and learning practices.

    As Anthony says, "innovation in education is a worldwide challenge," so we can all learn from innovative education project regardless of where they are located. Katarina, in the article above, is a great example of someone who took something different to engage her learners. Has anyone ever used robotics in their classes? If so, we'd love to hear your story so feel free to comment below.

    Finally, perhaps we'll leave you with some homework! The Partners in Learning program has developed many useful, rich resources for teachers and education leaders. The InnovativeSchools Toolkit is a collection of such resources. The IS-Toolkit is a clear, accessible and practical guide for you and your school community to begin the journey of innovation. The toolkit is intended to be a starting point rather than a complete solution and it offers a process that can be customized based on your unique needs.

    The four key areas for focus are:








    The toolkit is a one stop shop with case studies, a knowledge library, workshop tools and structures, and a self reflection tool to provide school leaders with the knowledge base and resources to begin a jorney of innovation in their school. Check it out and see can it help your schools innovation journey.

  • Innovative-Education

    Measuring Innovative Teaching in your School


    As part of our focus on 21st century skills, where better to start than a measurement tool to measure your teachers and students 21st century skils practices.

    People all over the world are talking about the need to transform education to align with the realities of life and work in the 21stCentury. This is not just about the effective use of technology. It’s about developing kids who are deeply engaged in the learning process and taking the initiative to learn. But how do you make this transformation happen in your school and classrooms? How do you measure your success?

    Partners in Learning School Research helps schools understand what education transformation means in practice for them. It can help you establish a common vision for innovative teaching and learning within your school. It can also provide you and your school community with measures of that innovation.

    If you would like to better understand existing teaching and learning practices in your school, or recognize the need to measure new and existing teaching and learning practices in your school, learn more about

    Research clearly demonstrates that student performance changes in response to what educators ask them to do. To develop a student's 21st Century skills, educators must develop learning activities that require the use of those skills. Utilizing innovative teaching methods is the first step towards improving students' learning experiences and helping them build the skills they will need.

    Why do this survey?

    What can you hope to gain from this research?

    • Educators and education leaders around the world are looking for ways to improve learning and transform education to better prepare youth for the challenges of life and work in the 21st century. However, most schools and educators do not yet have common definitions of the new skills students need. More importantly, a clear understanding or examples of how to develop these skills in their students are currently lacking.
    • Partners in Learning School Research is a set of research tools that schools can use to get a data-driven, action-oriented report with concrete examples of how your school can develop its innovative teaching and learning practices to develop students’ 21st Century skills.
    • See a sample report

    More specifically, what is in it for school leaders?

    • Understand measures of innovative teaching and learning practices specific to your school.
    • Get a comparison of school leaders’ and educators’ perspectives on these practices.
    • Opportunities to examine your school’s scores relative other schools in your region or country.
    • Insights into how to make technology investments more effective for student learning.
    • Data to guide educator professional development and school investment decisions.
    • Examples of innovative teaching practices.
    • Basis for a common dialogue among educators, parents, students and other community stakeholders about transforming teaching and learning practices.

    More specifically, what is in it for educators?

    • Clear definitions and examples of what teaching 21st Century skills means in practice.
    • A common language for discussing innovative teaching practices and for collaborating with other educators and school leaders.
    • Ideas and examples to inform professional development decisions and actions.
    • Opportunities to use the surveys and data for your own research on teaching.

    Why is Microsoft’s Partners in Learning sponsoring this?

    • As a global technology company, Microsoft has a clear interest in helping education systems around the world understand how to use technology effectively to improve student learning.
    • Microsoft’s Partners in Learning is the organization that sponsors ITL Research and Partners in Learning School Research. The goal is to develop evidence and tools to support this kind of effective educational change.
  • Innovative-Education

    Explore the stars with WorldWide Telescope


    imageIf you could travel the stars where would you go? Let your students decide which planet they want to visit first using this online interactive planetarium.

    WWT is a powerful virtual telescope that helps students visualise and understand our vast cosmos. It inspires learners to explore, to ask questions, and to practice the scientific skills that astronomers use to build our understanding of objects that are literally across the universe.

    Young children can learn about the causes of night and day by manipulating the real-time model of Earth in our solar system. Middle school children can use it to understand seasons and Moon phases, as well as distance scales in the universe. High school students can learn how astronomers have pieced together the life cycle of stars by observing breathtaking nebulae, white dwarfs, and red giants. Tertiary students can explore important maps made by astronomers that help us to understand how gravity influences the shapes and structures we see in the universe. Every student can use it to tell and share their own stories of what they have learned about astronomy and space

    Where can I find out how to use it?

    There’s a WorldWide Telescope Ambassadors Program to enrich interactive learning. It’s an outreach initiative run by researchers at Harvard University, WGBH, and Microsoft Research. Ambassadors are astrophysically-literate volunteers who are trained to be experts in using WWT as teaching tool. Ambassadors and learners alike use WorldWide telescope to create dynamic, interactive Tours of the Universe, which are shared in schools, public venues, and online. Ambassador-created Tours are being made freely available and will ultimately form a comprehensive learning resource for Astronomy and Astrophysics. You can learn more at

    The other place to look is the Education page on the WorldWide Telescope website. Amongst other things, there is also a set of resources for classroom use, developed in the form of curriculum guides, lesson plans and additional resources to assist teachers and students launching into an exploration of the universe through the lens of the WorldWide Telescope. Since it uses the most current data taken from celestial imaging, users can easily pan and zoom into specific areas of outer space for fine tuned investigations. Images are taken from the Hubble Space Telescope, as well as numerous telescopes here on Earth.

      Want to go further in using it for teaching - you need a dome!

      imageThere is a do-it-yourself option for creating a planetarium for about a thousand dollars, using supplies from local office and hardware stores and a special first surface spherical mirror.

      Many students never have a chance to go to a bricks and mortar planetarium to learn astronomy, so the team created a virtual planetarium with WorldWide Telescope. However, outer space is still best experienced in an immersive environment like a dome, so they have published a set of plans that enable schools to build their own small planetarium that will allow 15-30 students at a time to experience a high-quality digital projection of space. The investment is less than $1,000 in building materials, plus a laptop and projector, along with some household tools and ‘sweat equity’ (ie there’s work involved!).

      One of the principal benefits of having an on-site planetarium is that WorldWide Telescope will allow students to create their own shows to share what they have learned with the rest of the school- completing the learning cycle. You can download the instructions to build your own here.

      Where do I get WorldWide Telescope from?

      WorldWide Telescope is available as a programme to download, or a web-based virtual telescope.   
      You can get both versions at the WorldWide Telescope website

    • Innovative-Education

      Partners in Learning Pilot Schools Program 2012 Launch



      Today, our first Partners in Learning Schools Forum of 2012 kicks off in Canberra, bringing together some of Australia’s most innovative schools and teachers to showcase their world-class teaching practices using  technology.  

      This is the first of three face-to-face forums for 2012 that Australia’s top public schools will be involved in over a 12 month period. Bringing together schools, teachers and Departmental leaders from each state or territory from across Australia, the forum fosters collaboration and learning between schools, providing a rare opportunity for education leaders to share ideas and network at a national level. 

      Twenty public schools from across Australia will be attending for their first time, having been selected by each State Department of Education to be involved in the Microsoft Partners in Learning for Schools Pilot Program. These schools have been selected through demonstrating innovative and progressive thinking about using technology in the classroom.  They will play a leading role in helping other participating schools and teachers  throughout Australia and the world develop best practices for incorporating technology into their classrooms. 

      My huge congratulations to the 2012 Pilot Schools and I would like to personally welcome each and every school to the program. I’m looking forward to a very exciting year ahead!

      New South Wales Victoria

      Chatham High School

      Strathfieldsaye Primary School

      Merrylands East Public School

      John Fawkner College

      Newling Public School

      Korumburra Primary School

      William Rose School

      Horsham West/Haven Primary School

      Western Australia Queensland

      Churchlands Senior High School

      Kedron State High School

      Leeming Senior High School

      Frenchville State School

      Quinns Beach Primary School

      Edge Hill State School

      Tasmania South Australia

      Hellyer College

      Gilles Street Primary School

      King Meadows High School

      Kidman Park Primary School

      Northern Territory Australian Capital Territory

      Manunda Terrace Primary School

      Gungahlin College




















      You can follow the conversations from the forum onTwitter by following us at #PILAUS.       

      For more information about the program see here                                                



      Jane Mackarell,
      Academic Programs Manager, Microsoft Australia


    • Innovative-Education

      dailyedventures blog features Joan Dalton


      For anyone in this years Pilot Schools daily edventuresprogram or have had the opportunity to attend a workshop or seminar delivered by Joan, you will understand how infectious her love of learning is. Joan is one of our leading thought leaders in the development of 21st century skills, developing innovative practice and ensuring that teaching is an engaging, enjoyable experience for teacher and learning. Today, Joan is the feature article in Anthony Salcito’s daily edventures blog. where you can learn all about her fascinating career and learn more about the different projects she is involved in. Click on the following link to read the interview and see why Joan is todays


      “Remember that you may be the only adult role model and positive doorway into the future that they have”

    • Innovative-Education

      Accessibility Resources for Education


      For more than 20 years, Microsoft has been committed to building accessibility into our products and services, and we are equally dedicated to providing accessibility resources for both students and educators. An estimated 186 million children with disabilities worldwide have not completed their primary school education. Microsoft believes accessible technology can provide educational opportunities to students with disabilities and learning-style differences. 

      The Trustworthy Computing (TwC) and the Partners in Learning (PiL) teams are working together to grow Microsoft’s commitment to accessibility solutions for education by listening to what teachers need, and then creating the relevant accessibility materials. In response, Microsoft recently published new resources including curriculum resources, a teacher training workshop, and a series of case studies and videos that illustrate success stories of students with special needs who are using Microsoft accessibility solutions in school.

      Students with disabilities and learning-style differences face unique challenges in learning and in life. Accessible technology can provide educational opportunities to students with disabilities. Accessibility and personalization features in Microsoft products and services ensure that all students have the opportunity to enhance learning with technology. Microsoft is dedicated to building accessibility into our products and services, and providing accessibility resources for educators.

      Below is a series of resources that Microsoft has developed to aid teachers and students address some of these challenges in the classroom. These is also a guide to accessibility and a training workshop for teachers which is a great resource for anyone who wished to lead an introductory session to accessibility in a PD day or evening. Before checking out the resources, please take a couple of minutes to watch this great story from Chile.


      Inspiring story from Chile


      Visit Microsoft Accessibility in the Classroom for the full range of resources available

    • Innovative-Education

      Upcoming Palnet Event


      ………..Palnet Events invites you to.…….

      Palnet will be hosting a very interesting discussion around performance based pay in schools with guest speaker Dr. Tom Hoerr from St. Louis, USA. This interesting and perhaps controversial topic is sure to be of interest to principals and leaders who believe that innovation is not replacing a blackboard with a whiteboard. Innovation is about taking a risk and looking at practices across different industry sectors as well as developing new approaches to certain practices. While the very concept may be quite alien to many in the education world, there are surely some lessons to be learned from such 'experiments.'

      Palnet events are built around pre and post session Q&A discussions so get involved in the discussion before Wednesday morning. Remember, you must join Palnet to attend these online events and discussions so join up here.

      Event Details:

      Presenter:Dr. Tom Hoerr

      Title:Does Performance Pay Work? A real-life example

      Date:3 May 2012

      Time:8:00am (SA Time)                                                               Timezone Convertor

      Event Type:Online Webinar                           Setup instructions for first time users

      Forum: Session Q&A

      Does Performance Pay Work?

      A real life example with Dr. Thomas Hoerr of New City School in St. Louis, Missouri USA

      Palnet Event guest speaker, Dr. Tom Hoerr is the head of New City School in St. Louis USA which New City School is one of very few schools in the country to use a performance-based pay plan for teachers.

      Teachers are evaluated in five key areas:

      • Knowledge of subject matter
      • Knowledge of child development and the learning process
      • Rapport and enthusiasm with students
      • Presentation skills and
      • Professionalism and collegiality.

      New City School is a charter school which aims to develop

      • Academic Excellence
      • Personal Intelligence
      • Diversity beyond Numbers
      • Joyful Learning

      A forum titled ‘Dr. Tom Hoerr’ has been established allowing for participants to post questions/directions for Tom ahead of the scheduled live event.

      To view, read or print all of the documentation supporting this webinar please visit Palnet Events at this link:

    • Innovative-Education

      Imagine Cup 2012 – Getting Creative…….


      "We get educated out of creativity"

      Ken Robinson

      I was looking back at some TED talks this morning and came across the rather hilarious talk by Sir Ken Robinson, 'Do schools kill creativity?' It got me thinking, surely this isn't always the case? Creativity is one of the 21st century skills that we all rhyme off but how many schools and teachers have the capacity to really create an environment the fosters creative thinking. Education systems around the world all basically teach to a standard test of some sort and this nearly always results in rote learning concentrating on Maths and basic humanities. The test rules and there is a set format for following. As student progress from K-12 their exposure to more creative learning experiences is reduced until ultimately they study in a prescribed format to sit a standard exam. Has the creativity been knocked completely out of them? Thankfully not!

      The Imagine Cup is the world biggest student technology competition. The beauty of this competition is that students are challenged to develop a solution that can address one of the worlds toughest problems. Last years overall winners (from Ireland I might add) developed an application that used driver and historical data to make driving safer. This year, Sydney will host the global finals in July and just this week the Imagine Cup Australian finals took place. The projects in this years finals were a fantastic list of creative solutions to tackle the worlds toughest problems. The finalists were all third level students who had to some degree (I suspect) gone through our creativity killing education system but were still able to come up with simply amazing concepts to tackle global issues. See, they still had some creativity left!

      Take a few minutes to check out the Imagine Cup Finalists in the link below and I think you will be amazed by the concepts and ideas that these students have come up with:

      Imagine Cup Finalists

      clip_image001What the Imagine Cup illustrates is that given the opportunity to create, students still have a fantastic capacity to develop innovative and inspiring ideas, concepts and ultimately products. That's great you're thinking but what can I do in my classroom on Monday morning……. Well simple brainstorming is perhaps one way that every classroom can begin to foster a creative environment.

      For group brainstorming to work well in the classroom environment, it’s vital to create a climate where students are not tied to, or judged by, the ideas they throw out off the top of their heads. Students have to feel free to contribute without fear of being judged negatively by their peers or the teacher. You never know what may turn out to be a constructive contribution. Seemingly ridiculous thoughts may spark a chain reaction that leads to a creative solution or innovation. So, teachers have to establish a non-judgmental climate. Hopefully, a non-judgmental brainstorming culture will eventually be established in the classroom and the need for teacher reinforcement of that attitude will be minimized.

      The ways to make creativity a central element of classroom activities is endless so below please see some concise resources that may help you develop creative projects (and will probably help you more than my ramblings!)

      Innovative Teacher Toolkit Creativity Guide

      Rui Lima's Creative Classroom Story

      Sir Ken Robinson : Why should business people care about creativity?

      Centre for Development and Learning : TEACHING FOR CREATIVITY: TWO DOZEN TIPS

      Queensland University of Technology Paper: Promoting Creativity in Education - From Policy to Practice: An Australian Perspective

      Oh and the winners of the Imagine Cup Australian finals were Stethocloud - Sure why couldn’t you plug a stethoscope to a smart phone to diagnose childhood pneumonia……. Would you have thought of that?

    • 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

    • 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

      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

      Microsoft Cliplets– Focusing on that one thing in a video…..


      A still photograph is a limited format for capturing a moment in time. Video is the traditional method for recording durations of time, but the subjective “moment” that one desires to capture is often lost in the chaos of shaky camerawork, irrelevant background clutter, and noise that dominates most casually recorded video clips.

      Microsoft Research Cliplets is an interactive app that uses semi-automated methods to give users the power to create “Cliplets” — a type of imagery that sits between stills and video from handheld videos. The app provides a creative lens one can use to focus on important aspects of a moment by mixing static and dynamic elements from a video clip. Check out a tutorial here.


      The following is an excerpt from a teacher in Wales who uses this piece of software.

      “At the moment I am teaching my year 7 classes about the Orchestra, I have taken a clip from You Tube and selected the conductor as the focal point, by using this tool I am able to help the pupils concentrate on the conductor by freezing the rest of the clip. I could do exactly the same if i was to talk about the brass section or even separating the 1st violins from the 2nd violins. This tool will make it easier for me to explain. “

      You can download Cliplets here

      If you are still not sure what sort of effects Cliplets can produce then keeping checking out the Bing home page, that often uses a still picture with a moving effect.

    • Innovative-Education

      DeforestACTION–Get involved…..


      This August, we're excited to announce a DeforestACTION Educator Webinar Series! We have two exciting sessions for you to join to learn more and hear from other educators already engaging with the program.

      Webinar 1: Introduction to DeforestACTIONdeforestaction

      During this session, we will share the global learning opportunities associated with DeforestACTION. By showcasing the various educational resources, social media and technology tools, you can learn more about this opportunity to help students develop global competencies through international collaborations. In particular, you will:

      - Learn more about the DeforestACTION virtual learning platform and educational resources that students use to engage in online, collaborative learning about deforestation with their global peers;

      - Become familiar with the online collaboration spaces used by the DeforestACTION community, which leverages social networking technology to allow students to collaborate and showcase school awareness and fundraising initiatives to a global audience;

      - Become familiar with Earthwatchers, which allows students across the planet to monitor forests via satellite imagery and provide usable intelligence to stop deforestation, and;

      - Watch clips of online events and student-produced videos that share accomplishments of schools around the world taking DeforestACTION.

      This webinar will have four sessions:

      Session 1: Monday, August 13th - Best for Europe/Asia Pacific Region

      - UTC+10 hours
      - Brisbane - 8:00pm
      - Jakarta - 5:00pm
      - London - 11:00am

      Session 2: Tuesday, August 14th - Best for Americas

      - UTC-4 hours
      - New York - 3:00pm
      - Jakarta - 2:00am (following day)
      - Brisbane - 5:00am (following day)

      Session 3: Tuesday, August 14th - Best for Europe/Asia Pacific Region

      - UTC+10 hours
      - Brisbane - 8:00pm
      - Jakarta - 5:00pm
      - London - 11:00am

      Session 4: Thursday, August 16th - Best for Americas

      - UTC-4 hours
      - New York - 3:00pm
      - Jakarta - 2:00am (following day)
      - Brisbane - 5:00am (following day)

      Webinar 2: DeforestACTION Master Class

      During this session, hear from other DeforestACTION educators currently involved in the program. The will be sharing their experiences on how they got involved, the projects their schools undertook, and the benefits of this type of program for teaching and learning. Ask questions, network with other educators, and become inspired to begin your DeforestACTION journey!

      This webinar will have 2 sessions:

      Session 1: Monday, August 20th - Best for Europe/Asia Pacific Region

      - UTC+10 hours
      - Brisbane - 8:00pm
      - Jakarta - 5:00pm
      - London - 11:00am

      Session 2: Tuesday, August 21st - Best for Americas

      - UTC-4 hours
      - New York - 3:00pm
      - Jakarta - 2:00am (following day)
      - Brisbane - 5:00am (following day)

      Register now to participate!


    • Innovative-Education

      Measuring ICT Competencies with the UNESCO CFT


      Ever looked for a tool that would tell if are your or your staffs ICT competencies up to scratch for the modern classroom? Ever wondered is there a specific weakness or strength in my staff's ICT competencies?

      Research shows that innovative teaching practices, supported by the use of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in the classroom strongly predict students’ acquisition of 21st century skills (Innovative Teaching and Learning Research, 2011) Part of Microsoft’s Partners in Learning professional development offerings, the Teaching with Technology Curriculum is online learning that supports an educator’s professional development in this area. This curriculum focuses on helping educators integrate ICT into their teaching and learning practice and is aligned to the global standards of the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers (UNESCO ICT-CFT), Technology Literacy Approach.

      Created to help set a foundation beyond learning to use technology tools, educators will develop a deeper understanding of how ICT integration can enhance the teaching and learning experience and enable 21st century skill acquisition via six e-learning Courses:

      1. Why Does the UNESCO ICT CFT Promote Technology Literacy?
      2. Selecting ICT Resources to Support Curriculum Outcomes
      3. How Technology and Pedagogy Mix
      4. Using Basic ICT Tools to Support Teaching and Learning
      5. Organize and Manage the Use of ICT in the Classroom
      6. Technology Literacy and Your Professional Development

      What makes this professional development offering unique?

      The Microsoft Teaching with Technology Self-assessment and Curriculum are competency-based and can be customized to meet each educator’s needs:

      • The Self-assessment helps educators identify the specific learning that they need.
      • Each unit of study stands on its own so educators can focus on a specific area of interest or need.
      • Using the Self-assessment can help with both online and offline study. By starting with the Self-assessment, educators can determine the best way to fill their learning gaps and then retake the Self-assessment to confirm progress.
      • Created by subject matter experts from around the world, the curriculum includes a range of learning scenarios. Whether a classroom has one computer or a laptop for every student, the educator will be able to apply what they have learned to their individual context.

      What is Competency-based professional development?

      The Microsoft Teaching with Technology Self-assessment and Curriculum are competency-based, which means they help build both skills and the ability to apply those skills to perform a particular job or task. Combined with the global network of educators found on the Partners in Learning network, they help provide six key components for effective competency-based professional development:

      1. A common set of competency standards defined by role or educational goals.
      2. Methods for identifying learning gaps.
      3. Help filling competency gaps with a rich and varied set of aligned resources, such as job shadowing, classes, workshops, and eLearning.
      4. Assessments, observation, or portfolio work that help verify improved teacher competencies.
      5. Peer support or mentoring to help teachers carry forward ICT use to the classroom.
      6. Ongoing refinement of teacher competency materials.

      What is the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers?

      Governments worldwide are striving to improve student outcomes and meet the challenges of preparing a 21st century workforce for a global, knowledge-based economy. The UNESCO Competency Framework for Teachers is a response to these challenges. In 2008, in partnership with Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, and ISTE, UNESCO formalized the UNESCO ICT Competency Framework for Teachers (ICT-CFT) with an aim to measure the ICT proficiency of teachers against a common international standard and to aid in their professional development. These standards were updated in 2011.


      How much time will it take?

      The amount of time required to develop professional skills using the Self-assessment and Curriculum depends on an educator’s learning needs. Having educators start by completing their Self-assessment allows them to target learning to their needs. The Self-assessment takes about 45 minutes to complete.

      How do I get access?

      Teaching with Technology content is available through the Microsoft IT Academy Program and soon educators will soon have access to this content in the Partners in Learning Network. For further information on this program and to find out how well the global pilots are being received, drop me an email or a comment.

    • Innovative-Education

      Pilot Program Spotlight–Manunda Terrace Primary School


      To kick off a series of guest blog post to highlight the 2012 Partnclip_image001ers in Learning Innovative Pilot Schools here in Australia, today we hear from Manunda Terrace Primary School in the Northern Territory. Having visited this school myself and experienced first hand the fabulous atmosphere Sally and her team have created, I am proud to say Manunda Terrace are a member of the 2012 program. Throughout this series of highlights, I hope to show that innovation and change in schools takes many forms; culture, technology integration, student empowerment, innovative learning spaces etc. are all different ways that a school can transform itself. The key is to understand where you are strong where you can effect change on a short term basis and understand how to enable whole-school change in the medium to long term.

      Manunda Terrace Primary School

      Manunda Terrace Primary School is a mid-sized, multi‑cultural, urban primary school catering for children from Preschool to Year 6. Twenty-two ethnic groups are represented in the school population. The number of students who come from a Language Background Other than English is 52%, with 45% identified as ESL learners who are monitored and assessed on ESL levels. Altogether 48% of the total school population identify as Indigenous. There are currently 233 students enrolled with 26 in the Preschool.

      There is a vision of excellence for our programs and the school motto, ‘Anchoring Our Strengths, Learning for Life' drives the vision of ensuring that all students are given every opportunity to reach their potential. As a school community, we are committed to making a difference and delivering on our overall vision of providing a high quality, relevant and culturally sensitive education.

      The School offers a range of programs, but at the core is the delivery of an uninterrupted literacy and numeracy teaching and learning program for three hours daily, with two adult staff in every class room. Additional programs include a comprehensive Community Engagement Program offering a Nutrition Program, Homework Centre, formal and informal family interest and educational forums, and a pre Preschool Playgroup. We have a small farm, an Outside School Hours Care Program, language, music, choir, state of the art library, excellent technology resources, and a commitment to environmental recycling.


      Technology plays a central role in the school with all classrooms equipped with a minimum number of laptop and PC devices. While there is this minimum specification, there is still the normal disparate nature of ICT skills across the staff. We continue to take the opportunity to avail of professional development in this area when possible and strive to continue to explore new avenues and possibilities in this area.

      The school is fortunate enough to have a new ‘innovative learning space’ for the school and community to enjoy. With library facilities, a computer lab and a flexible assembly/learning space, all staff have the ability to utilise a different learning space than just their home classrooms. Also, by hosting community events it allows the school to become a part of community life. Spaces like this can provide a new focal point in the school and shows that even in a traditional school setting, one can introduce flexible, innovative spaces for the whole school to enjoy.


      Our selection to the Microsoft: Partners in Learning Project has provided the impetus and avenue to continue to upskill our staff, promoting the use of technology to focus on reflective and continuous improvement in professional practice. Our year-long project has been on improving pedagogy through a coaching model, using Microsoft OneNote to create each teacher’s professional portfolio. Each teacher has self-rated against the criteria outlined in the Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership National Professional Standards for Teachers. Teachers have used OneNote to document evidence supporting their ranking. This has provided the content for coaching conversations, professional dialogue, collaborative practice and enquiry based approaches, where learning and teacher development is central. Whilst the project is midway, our goal is to create a sustainable professional culture where teacher learning and development will have a positive and real effect on student learning outcomes.

      Sally Winch, Lisa Hirschausen and Lesley Collins

      Manunda Terrace Primary School

      30th August, 2012

    • Innovative-Education

      Pilot Program Spotlight–Merrylands East Public School


      Learning, Learning Learning and Learning

      Merrylands East Public School (MEPS) is situated on traditional Aboriginal Dharruk land, near the main central business district of Parramatta. The student population is drawn from over 40 socio-cultural backgrounds predominately from Pacific Island, African, Middle Eastern and Asian communities. Eighty-four per cent of students speak a language other than English and around 10% have refugee experiences. The vast majority of students commence learning English for the first time when entering school at varying school years. English as a Second Language programs, a refugee transition program, and a parent English program support students and parents to access the school's curriculum.

      MEPS is a leader in sustainability programs. The school received the United Nations Association of Australia World Environment Award 2009 - a first for a NSW school. In the same year, the school received the Director-General's School Achievement Award for Leadership in Sustainability. Set on picturesque grounds, the school has 5 water tanks that harvest 100K litres of water for ablution blocks and landscaped lands, and a photovoltaic system consisting of 64 panels. In the same year, the school received the Director-General's School Achievement Award for Leadership in Sustainability.

      The challenge of working in a culturally diverse community and finding solutions to improving our students’ results has been rewarding but at times difficult. It’s very easy to be swept up with the rolled out trending packaged educational program with the notion that it will solve all MEPS’ issues. In fact, the opposite happened with staff easily becoming overwhelmed with the vast choice on the open market and within our public education jurisdiction.

      The inclusion of MEPS in Microsoft Partners in Learning (MSPIL) 2012 is unlike any other professional learning session that our school has undertaken. It’s not like, here’s a program for implementation and if you do it, then the results will come your way. Instead, MSPIL forums in Sydney, Canberra and Darwin have been an opportunity for collaboration with Australian educators and a pathway of self-discovery, reflection, challenge and evaluation of our school’s current policies, practices and most importantly, pedagogy.

      Merrylands East is undergoing four major areas of change with the knowledge gleaned from schools on the MSPIL and global educators.

      1. Learning Staff

      Traditional professional learning involves every staff member coming together and hearing the same message. While there’s an acknowledgement that all staff do need to be together for specific purposes, professional learning is about an individual’s improvement as a teacher to increase student learning and outcomes. What is improvement for one teacher is not necessarily so for another because individual teachers are at different stages of learning and work in vastly different contexts with diverse students even within MEPS. For this reason, Merrylands East is revamping professional development with a more micro team approach and utilising social media like Edmodo and Twitter to share readings, resources and strategies. Every Thursday evening, the power of social media is evident through the twitter chat #ozprimschchat. Topics are chosen addressing primary connections with educators making connections and learning from each other.

      2. Learning Spaces

      clip_image004The 15 rectangular tables and 30 chairs mentality has not changed too much in the last fifty years in NSW public schools. The only real difference has been the number of desks and chairs, and maybe the materials and colours. MEPS is undertaking a dramatic change based on information gleaned from a Microsoft Virtual University Webinar about learning spaces, visiting Microsoft Sydney Offices and through the sharing of ideas from leading academics.

      The Merrylands East Reform Innovation Team (MERIT) has been instrumental in identifying space around the school that historically has been wasted as a learning space and assisted in their transformation for students. Learning space is not about aesthetics but pedagogy. The changing of MEPS furniture to include funky furniture, whiteboard tables, round height adjustable and mobile furniture are all about the promotion of student collaboration and engagement.

      3. Learning Anytime and Anywhere

      Early in March this year, Merrylands East polarised the community with a front page major metropolitan newspaper story that indicated that our school had commenced a process of consultation about the change of school times. Talkback radio went into meltdown with callers ringing to express their views. Some callers made the assumption that if students were not at school, learning would not take place. How wrong!

      In the 2nd decade of the 21st century, students are learning from each other via social media and web 2.0 tools. Many of MEPS students are on line in the evening and sharing their work with class teachers using Edmodo. Cloud technologies and web 3.0 technologies will further enhance the mobility of learning as we progress in this decade.

      Returning to our school times, Merrylands East is looking at starting classes at 8am and concluding at 1:15pm. The MEPS context of culturally diverse parents and students enables our school to be in a very strong position to implement the change. After all, many of the OECD countries ahead of Australia in PISA currently have an early morning start time. School is no longer a start and finish time but a place for seamless learning.


      4. Learning Pedagogies

      a) Collaboration

      Collaboration occurs on many levels with teachers, students and schools working together in ‘real time’ from various sites around the globe to deliver exceptional inquiry based learning activities. MEPS has established a ‘country cousin’ relationship with North Star Public School (NSPS).

      clip_image006Thanks to some innovative programs, teachers are able to collaboratively plan rich learning experiences from various sites, whether it be the room next door or a classroom on the other side of the world, and deliver them in unison from their very own classroom, to their very own students at their very own level.

      Some MEPS teachers are using OneNote and SkyDrive to collaboratively create, alter, extend and critique classroom programs, with social media sites assisting in the frequent communication that is needed to build upon units of work so as to ensure they are engaging, exciting and relevant to their students. The ‘syncing’ of unit plans and day books has also enabled up to date tracking for teachers, assessments, further encouraging rich communication and the establishment of informal professional learning networks.

      Much groundwork has been done on investigating how to create collaborative partnerships, with the ultimate goal of sustained engagement, personal relevance and ongoing student engagement. In order to build rapport with NSPS, a joint blog was constructed and an array of games were created to build a competitive relationship, with Twitter Battleship and Twitter Chess proving to be very successful as icebreakers for both staff and students. This bond was further consolidated when students from both schools aligned to form companies as the basis of all activities. Each company needed to communicate regularly through Edmodo, Video Conferencing and emails to ensure that tasks are completed and decisions made about learning. Communication occurred anytime and anywhere, with many students collaborating on nights and weekends to complete set tasks. This is what is now considered ‘Learning Time’.

      b) Global Connections

      Using an array of multimedia tools and web 2.0 applications, the classroom walls were no longer seen as a barrier when discovering the world. Global connections have been made with schools at a local, regional and international level, to allow students to communicate with local experts who live and breathe the topic of choice each and every day of their lives. Students can now aspire to become experts in their field, using their acquired knowledge to guide and lead others.

      clip_image008At present, Yr 5 MEPS and Yrs3-6 North Star Public School have commenced a unit of work called ‘farm2fridge.’ Students investigate the journey that a chosen product undertakes from the moment a seed hits the ground to the moment it hits the palate. As both schools sit on either side of the food production and consumption process, the program aims to highlight and promote the different perspectives of the students and schools involved and the very different role they play in the process of food production. Each school has been tasked with investigating their side of the process and becoming experts in their respective fields. As the unit/process reaches the medium point, the expert knowledge has been called upon in order to assist the each other school to finish their learning journey.

      clip_image010Participating students have been tasked with displaying their progressive understandings by re-creating the entire process online using Minecraft, and recording their cognitive journey and thought process in OneNote. Using servers and calling upon all of their acquired knowledge, companies have worked together to investigate and build each step of the process, all the time having to justify and explain each decisions.


      c) Inquiry Based Learning

      The teacher is no longer the fountain of all knowledge. This was a difficult concept to digest and quite a transformational learning journey to undertake. Students are no longer needed to go through the teacher to access the world. Instead, they are doing it already in their own leisure and in their own context. Therefore, our lesson pedagogy had to adapt to such a change.

      Lessons are no longer scripted. There is ALWAYS more than one way to arrive at a destination and what students need is a highly scaffolded environment that is adaptive to change and open to learning tangents. What teachers need is a way in which to allow such learning to grow, yet still have adaptable assessment parameters in place to ensure students are monitored and assessed effectively. This is a journey we are still on.

      The MSPIL has been an extraordinary relationship that has provided the connections to reshape pedagogy at MEPS. The school staff have embraced the use of technology as a tool for learning for staff and students. However, MEPS is only part way through their journey as the school looks forward to the challenges ahead with additional school connections and shared learning.

      For further information on the blogs go to or and follow the links.

      John Goh and Robbie Ernsteins

      Merrylands East Public School

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