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

  • Innovative-Education

    PiL Innovative Schools Forum–Perth November


    The 2012 Partners in Learning Innovative Schools program was brought to a close in Perth with the third and final schools forum of the year. The forum, hosted in partnership with Western Australia Department of Education, was opened by David Axworthy, Deputy Direct General, Schools in the Department of Education and Cheryl Robertson, State Director Microsoft WA. Finishing the program in Western Australia proved rather apt as two schools from previous years in the program, East Butler and Waggrakine Primary Schools were announced as Partners in Learning Worldwide Mentor Schools demonstrating how WA Schools were continuing the journey beyond the national program and taking their place on the global education stage.

    At the first forum in Canberra each school was tasked with completing a project for Perth that focused on reform/innovation/a meaningful improvement and transformation of learning for kids and teaching practices and was structured to enable whole school conditions that support scalability, i.e. beyond 2012. The projects were aimed at tackling one key challenge in the school and was not meant to be a PhD. What was delivered by each of the 20 schools astounded all present and provided brilliant scope for discussion between school teams. The benefit of the projects were summed up perfectly by Gus Napoli, "even if I got nothing else from today, I have 20 school problems, solved in 20 different ways that are all relevant in some way to my school."

    I encourage anyone with an interest in actual school and classroom innovations to read and watch the 20 projects in the following links.


    Once the schools were able to relax know the presentations were over, it was time to get back to the Joan and Travis show and finish this year's program journey. Focusing on how to keep the community alive and engaged beyond this year program, the cohort have provided fantastic feedback on how we reengineer the schools forum and I look forward to sharing the program format from 2013 onwards. A big thank you to the group for their valuable input and ideas. Ireland for the next Australian Schools forum is my particular favourite.

    Once again at a schools forum, we were lucky enough to be joined by Wayne Craig, Regional Director of Melbourne Metro North Schools who was able share with us the truly fascinating system wide transformation in Melbourne North.

    As the forum and the 2012 program has come to an end, I want to extend a public thanks to everyone for making it a fantastic program to be part of. Stay tuned for 2013!

    p.s. For what really happened in Perth just search for #pilaus.


  • Innovative-Education

    Teacher Competencies for a Rapidly Changing World


    "Is the teaching profession prepared for a rapidly changing age of digital learning?"

    Greg Butler, Senior Director – Strategic Education Partnerships in Microsoft has recently written a paper looking at teacher competencies. As different 1:1 models evolve, certainly here in Australia, and the pressure on teachers to deliver and create content in a increasingly digital age, this is a rather timely publication. This paper address the growing shift in focus and requirement in education from providing access to technology to equity of this access and how this will contribute to creating skilled members of the future work force.

    The focus in this paper is on developing the core competencies that teachers require to be successful educators in an environment where it is recognised students need to develop 21st century skills. Interestingly, the author points out that we are still attempting to define 21st century skills "12 years into the century." This lack of coherent definition has not meant that there is a lack of key research in this field. Projects such as ACT21S & ITL are working to define the needs of teachers and how to effectively integrate 21st century practices in classrooms. The author has a contention with the concept of '21st century skills' and instead proposes 'Deep Learning Competencies' as a more aligned nomenclature. The concept of 'deep learning competencies is expanded in the following diagram.


    Regardless of the term you place on the needs of students, the issue is summed up very clearly in the following:

    “Think of it in this way – over the last 10 years the music industry has been fundamentally changed because of the impact where new technology has required a whole new set of thinking and talents for success. Education needs to think of such a transformation through the lens of new pedagogies and processes that have students creatively apply technology to lead the learning and teachers to be active partners and coaches, for all learners.”

    By examining teacher competencies for a digital age and asking the question 'are countries keeping up with their teaching standards,’ the author demonstrates that there are resources and projects addressing this deficit. However, it appears that many of these projects are stand alone or just papers published by different boards of national standards that fail to address the core requirements of developing deep learning competencies. This is probably not a surprise to anyone who has worked in 'innovative' projects in technology and education - the lack of coherent, centralised focus to scale the fantastic work being carried out on the, at times, periphery of education.

    To read the full paper download it here

  • 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

    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

  • 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

    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

    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

    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

    PiL Program Spotlight – Quinns Beach Primary School


    Quinns Beach Primary School (QBPS) is a level 5 school situated 15 kilometres north of Joondalup. Students attending the school are characteristically from the suburb of Quinns Rocks. There are currently 680 students enrolled from P-7. The school is a member of the 2012 Partners in Learning Innovative Pilot Schools program and RUMA network and is the 2012-2013 host school within the network. As a school we are committed to pioneer the use of technology to improve student learning. The school’s vision includes the words inspire and engage the digital learners of the 21st century. This is the story of a school’s 21st Century instructional practice. This article is for interested educators who might benefit from the reflective practice thus far.

    quinns beach1


    QBPS opened in 2001 as a lighthouse ICT School with a strong focus on innovation and e-learning. As part of the innovation the admin (PC driven) used Hoblink a unique piece of software from Germany which allowed interaction between the admin and curriculum. Students at this time were typically able to establish a web page within minutes, 45% of the parents were connected to the school through ICT and the learning facilitators’ implemented project based learning programs.

    Providing reliable infrastructure

    The need to work within the department capabilities has been a consistent intention for the leadership of the school as the ICT journey can be a slow and frustrating one at times. In 2007 the opportunity to access greater expertise, support and services through the department came with the Learning with ICT (LWICT) 100 schools project. The ability to utilise the strengths of the ICT teams within the department is seen as an essential component for ongoing growth and development of both infrastructure and professional learning within the school. The improved learning opportunities for students utilising ICT resulted in a focus on enhanced student engagement in the learning processes as well as raising student competence through online student learning. It was seen as a way for the school leadership to support and harness the capacity of teachers experience in the use of ICT in teaching and learning.

    Personalising and extending student learning

    By 2008 QBPS teachers were maximising the use of online resources and able to create lesson plans, store and share with one another online. This further enabled a collaborative approach which included other teachers, curriculum leaders and parents. Audio and visual teaching resources were included and the installation of IWBs saw students interacting with technology tools for information and data in all learning areas individually, with instruction and co-operatively. Teachers were able to monitor and provide feedback where needed. Through innovation and use of other online tools students were able to work cooperatively on projects giving relevant peer feedback during online tasks. This was accessed through the Online Teaching and Learning System (OTLS) of which we were a participant.



    Connecting learning beyond the school

    As successful students QBPS students are able to competently use technology to assist their learning. The need to ensure our students have the ability to ethically use technology is critical in this dynamic, connected world of communication and learning. Cyber safety pamphlets, parent information/quizzes and students completing home studies in which they apply ethical and social practices online are all seen as safe cyber strategies utilized by the school. In 2009 we began to explore the possibility of utilising ICT as a tool to support deep learning. The increased number of laptops in classes for students required the installation of new switches to each block to ensure a more reliable connectivity. As a way to connect learning beyond the school we became part of the Parent Portal trial later Connect. Teachers were encouraged to post objects for parents similar to a class noticeboard. Planning and consultation for the new school website was completed and launched in 2011. We are now available on

    Support professional learning

    As a further commitment to innovation and ICT, a third associate principal Innovation/ICT was appointed in 2010 which coincided with QBPS being selected by the Department of Education and Microsoft as one of Australia’s most advanced users of technology in the classroom. The initial phase of the project selected the principal and two staff members to commence face to face events across Australia. As an innovative pilot school for Microsoft Partners in Learning we have;

    • measured key elements of the ITL Research Model, including the extent of innovative teaching practices educators use in the school
    • held discussions and reflection within the broader community
    • transferred the findings which have informed strategic planning and professional learning
    • participated as a school in the PILSR international community of educators

    The current capacity to trial new products through the Early Adapter Program includes the Web.2.0 tools, Microsoft OneNote 2010 for teachers’ interactive lesson planning, by students as e-portfolios and recording and self-reflection tools. Training of teams to use software is rolled out through face to face, online and blended learning opportunities during TeKnowledg-e-Tuesday cafés and staff development days. Staff access professional learning through live and recorded seminars with global thought leaders via Virtual University Webinars anywhere, anytime. In addition, our collaborative teams are able to create their own professional communities on Connect and the Partners in Learning Network


    Enabling leadership

    The 21st century skills committee (the early adapters) meets regularly to review innovative practices, the school vision and planning using the innovation framework outlined in the Innovative Schools Toolkit. ( As a further enabler an integral commitment from the senior leadership team to build their own capacity to lead innovation has developed a sense of professional practice and connection beyond the school and into other communities. Tools for online PLN include Connect, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Ning and Windows Sky Drive.

    We can be followed on Twitter @QuinnsBeachPS, @RumaNetwork and through your request be added to the PLN

    The training of an accredited ICT coach this year will further develop shoulder to shoulder support and enable staff to personalise and extend student learning. Leading curriculum change at QBPS involves teachers reviewing and incorporating the ICT General Capabilities in English, Maths, Science and History where possible. Student achievement is mapped on the QBPS ICT continuum with identified student leaders- known as the HOTT team (helping others with technology team) currently utilising their own capabilities to instruct and coach within the extension program of the school.


    Providing reliable infrastructure

    The current hardware provision is 160+ devices mostly laptops with 30 more to be purchased in 2012. A lease arrangement for Year 4 students to purchase their own laptops will commence in 2013. The 28 classes have IWBs installed and the school is networked with CAT-5 cables. The wireless reliability is still presenting problems which can deter some teachers from confidently using technology on a daily basis. We are therefore currently looking at an upgrade with extra WAPs and a WLAN controller partly resourced by the department through LWICT program. To support maintenance panel integrator is now engaged on a yearly basis.

    Knowledge building

    The schools’ research project using innovative teaching practice and learning activities is looking to see how younger students engage and improve in oral language. The inquiry is based on the assumption that through story telling student engagement with ICT tools including; flip video cameras, USB microphones, digital cameras, a closed YouTube channel and a global project will result in positive outcomes. The use of ICT, student centred learning and extension beyond the classroom is seen as innovative practice. This research project will be shared within the broader Partners in Learning Network in December, 2012.

    Innovative teaching

    Progress for QBPS as a school is viewed from the perspective of building a culture of change, with each of us observing those changes in teaching practices and then engaging through dialogue and deeper reflection to improve learning. The collaboration within the school community will continue to find ways to expand innovative teaching practices. An example is the student digital photographic competition whereby students explore their surroundings and communities looking for an altered perspective. By harnessing the innovative capacity of staff and providing the opportunities to put their ideas into effect, QBPS students will achieve the improvement in student performance we are seeking. In this way QBPS teachers work to support student skills for life and work today by providing the learning experiences in the 21st Century.

    Aileen Jones; Principal, Bhavneet Singh; Associate Principal, Bec Bentley; Senior Teacher

    Published article in Words, Volume 32, No.2, June 2012, a West Australian Primary Principals’ Association Inc. publication, a journal for school leaders.

  • 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

    Microsoft selects two Western Australian primary schools Global Mentor Schools


    Microsoft has today announced that two primary schools in Western Australia have been recognised as two of the world’s most advanced users of technology in the classroom. The schools will represent Australia in Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Schools Program as Mentor Schools, two of only 32 worldwide at the top tier of the program.

    As Mentor Schools, both schools have been acknowledged as demonstrating that they are passionate about technology and not only have a strong vision for transforming their learning environment, but have actually made these changes and are leading technological innovation in education across the global.

    “East Butler Primary School and Waggrakine Primary School were invited to join the program as Mentor Schools because they have achieved a level of change within their education systems and are viewed as leaders in their countries and regions. Their innovations have a global interest and are replicable models that other schools can follow. Australia has a history for embracing technology in all streams of the curriculum, and the work that both schools are doing highlights this perfectly,” Sean Tierney, Academic Programs Manager, Microsoft Australia, said.

    East Butler Primary School and Waggrakine will both be taking on additional responsibility with the appointment, as Mentor Schools are also responsible for mentoring five Pathfinder Schools over a 12-24 month period. Mentor Schools receive technology expertise from Microsoft, development tools and educational models, and online and in-person training to support their efforts.

    Denise Jeffs, deputy principal, East Butler Primary School in Western Australia, said on the appointment, “We pride ourselves on giving students the best opportunities for the future and providing them will those valuable digitals skills needed to succeed. To be recognised by Microsoft as a Mentor School and as a global leader in using technology in education is a fantastic achievement for us. The program gives us the opportunity to encourage other schools to implement and use technology in a meaningful way in the classroom, and learn from other Pathfinder and Mentor Schools around the world.”

    East Butler Primary School places huge emphasis on technological innovation in the classroom, and its student leadership committee. One of the best practice examples that the school has implemented is a student-run monthly broadcast news report that sits on the Intranet for students, teachers and parents alike to access. Focus on technology in Drama Studies is also key, with the students having access to green screens and movie-making software to express their ideas in a paperless learning system.

    Elisabeth Turner, principal, Waggrakine Primary School in West Australia, said, “Being recognised in this way and taking our status on the Partners in Learning Innovative Schools Program to the next level is a fantastic accomplishment for our school. Technology in the classroom is critical in helping to support opportunities for teaching the children the three R’s through the four C’s of creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication.”

    At Waggrakine Primary School, one of the key best practice examples is the emphasis that the school places on engaged learning beyond the classroom. Through this, students take learning to new places, with new people and new ideas, allowing them to develop skills they need to flourish in the digital world. In addition, students are given a voice at the school in the planning and direction of their learning, highlighting the importance of student engagement throughout the education experience.

    See the following links more information about both schools.

    Waggrakine PiL Network Profile

    Waggrakine Website

    East Butler PiL Network Profile

    East Butler Website

  • 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

    PiL Program Spotlights – Horsham West / Haven Primary School


    By Brendan Bush, Craig Amos & Ben Miatke, Horsham West-Haven Primary School

    Our school is a dual campus P-6 Primary School located on the western fringe of Horsham and at Haven, which is 5 kilometres south of Horsham. Approximately 580 students attend the Horsham West campus and approximately a further 70 attend our Haven clip_image002campus.

    School Values

    • Honesty,
    • Persistence,
    • Responsibility
    • Respect

    School Goals

    The school strives to meet the needs of our school community by:

    • Extending each student’s individual potential by encouraging, recognising and rewarding achievement and effort.
    • Recognising each student’s strengths and utilising them for continued learning.
    • Providing an environment that is well maintained, safe and secure.
    • Developing in students’ qualities such as responsibility, communication skills, independence, creativity and problem


    Habits of the Minds

    The school has adopted Professor Arthur Costa’s Habits of the Minds as a framework to educate our students to behave intelligently and perform well in school and everyday life.

    Art Costa is Emeritus Professor of Education at California State University. He studied successful people from many walks of life and recognised and defined 16 qualities as being central to intelligent thought and reasoning.

    The Habits of Mind are integrated within the school program, with awards presented to successful students each month.

    Restorative Practices

    Through Restorative Practices we seek to enhance relationships between students, teachers, and parents, so as to nurture our sense of community at the school. The Restorative Practices philosophy and behaviour management, provides HWHPS students with the opportunity to develop self-discipline and positive behaviours in a caring, supportive environment.

    A positive school climate, in which young people feel connected, is the best environment for learning.


    The Aims of restorative practices are:

    • Educate students towards self-directed correct behaviour.
    • Promote, nurture and protect healthy relationships among members of the community.
    • Enable students to be accountable for the real consequences of any wrongdoing.
    • Develop empathy for others within our students.
    • Become more positive, supportive and contributing members of their community.


    Information Communication Technology

    The school believe it is essential to use information technology to enhance student learning. Competence with information technology will also be an essential skill for all children to be effective citizens in our information rich society.

    In 2010 the school implemented a Netbook program where every child from Year 4 to 6 lease a small laptop. The cost for parents will be $150 per year in 2013, which includes warranty, technical support and shared insurance. We therefore have 270 netbooks used daily by our senior students.

    Each classroom has an electronic whiteboard, facilitating a broader range of teaching strategies in the classroom. With the help of our Parents’ club this investment is adding a new dimension to our classrooms.


    Specialist Classes

    Students participate in a number of specialist classes each week. The specialist program includes Art, Music, Resource Based Learning (Library), Physical Education and German. Students from the Haven Campus travel to West to participate in specialist classes each week.


    Support Programs

    There are a range of support programs designed to assist students with learning difficulties. Reading Recovery, Multi-Lit, Speech assistance, and our language support program assist students with greater needs in literacy and language. Quicksmart Numeracy is a program that targets students in Year four to help with their understanding of numeracy.



    The school has various programs that promote physical activity, participation and representation at State level competitions. The school has an Active After School program three nights a week which enables students to learn about a variety of recreational activities and sports. The school’s teams regularly make the State finals and compete at the highest levels.


    Microsoft Partners In Learning Program

    In 2011 we were invited to participate in the program by the e-Learning branch of the DEECD. This reflected the role the school had played in integrating ICT within classrooms and supporting regional schools to enhance their ICT capabilities.

    Global Awareness

    The focus on 21st Century Capabilities in the PiL program dovetails with one of our goals in our new Strategic Plan. In our Strategic Plan we outline the goal of increasing the global awareness of our students, which links directly to the one of the 21st Century capabilities. Through professional learning workshops with our teachers we have promoted utilising ICT to increase connectivity and collaboration with people outside the four walls of the classroom.

    The development of the Global Schools Blog by one of the staff members participating in the Microsoft PIL program has made the process of connecting our classes around the world far simpler and efficient. With approximately 60 worldwide partner schools already signed on to this blog our global network has certainly expanded. We recommend checking out the blog to see if it suits your school. Go to for further information.

    Work thus far through this program has focussed on up-skilling teachers to use a variety of ICT methods to take learning beyond the four walls of our classrooms. Email, blog posts, video conferencing, Skyping, participation in online collaboration events and sites (example:. DeforestACTION, Global Children’s Challenge, Prime Minister’s Olympic Challenge) have all enabled our students to gain a greater awareness of the world beyond our school and their classrooms.

    Digital literacy

    In 2012 we were successful in gaining a grant through the CASS Foundation to implement an animation project for Years four to six across the school. The project involves the teachers learning about digital animation from Dave Jones a digital artist.

    For the first three terms Dave worked at the Horsham West Campus. The students in Year 4 completed stop motion animations in term 1. In term 2 the Year 5 students completed Kahootz 3d animations and the Year 6 students used Pencil to create digital storybooks. In fourth term Dave will work with the Years 3-6 students at our Haven Campus.

    The goal of the project is to enhance the digital repertoire of our teachers and students. To enable information, knowledge and understanding to be synthesised and communicated through animation.


    clip_image008LinkedIn Profile

  • Innovative-Education

    PiL Spotlight: Edge Hill State School



    Edge Hill is a primary school situated approximately 8km from the centre of Cairns in Far North Queensland.

    The school has a proud tradition of providing innovative, quality education to students from P- 7. With an enrolment of over 1000 students and a teaching staff of 50+, our school is a bustling, thriving learning community.

    Our students come from a multitude of different cultural backgrounds with many Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Japanese families living in the area. As an Education Queensland international school we also service a growing contingent of international students from many countries including Japan, Korea, PNG and South Africa, choosing our school as a place for their education.

    Our School Vision:

    At Edge Hill State School we will educate the leaders of the future in an environment that endeavours to challenge and support them, to prepare them to be healthy, confident young Australians, living and working in a global society and economy.

    Our Curriculum

    Historically Edge Hill has been known for innovation with regard to teaching and learning, particularly having been a part of the New Basics Project which included development of Rich Tasks used for student assessment.

    During 2012 Edge Hill State School will begin implementation of the new Australian Curriculum for English, Mathematics and Science. This is a huge undertaking for our teachers and students but provides us with a powerful opportunity to explore and enhance our school wide pedagogy and in particular our digital pedagogy.




    Our Charter for Excellence

    Edge Hill State School believes challenge leads to personal growth - it provides motivation for positive change. Support helps to ensure successful adaptation to meet the challenge.

    •Our teachers will challenge our students with high expectations while supporting them by developing meaningful relationships and providing for individual learning needs

    •Our curriculum will challenge students with high expectations whilst supporting their intrinsic motivation to learn with differentiated learning

    •Our school will challenge students with high expectations for social and emotional learning while providing them with whole child support

    •Our school leaders will challenge teachers to improve performance while supporting their professional growth

    •Our school will challenge students to become adaptable and flexible, contemporary learners by supporting them with a rich and diverse digital pedagogy.

    ICT@ Edge Hill


    The school’s eLearning plan encompasses 4 focus areas:

    Working Digitally:

    Focuses on how the school uses digital technology as a way of moving from traditional to transformational ways of working. Planning for this requires consideration of community, student and staff their access to and purposeful use of digital technologies.

    Enabling Learners:

    Focuses on establishing the effective learning environments necessary to address the needs of learners in a complex changing world. Considerations here include implementing consistent, school wide standards for and making use of online learning environments to optimise students opportunities to use ICT for learning at school.

    Developing Professionals:

    This focus area addresses development of teacher and leader capabilities necessary to deliver quality teaching and learning, including teacher acquisition of minimum standards of competency with ICTs and developing teachers’ knowledge and understanding of embedding ICTs as tools to enhance learning outcomes for students.

    Harnessing the Enterprise Platform

    Focuses on the processes, systems and practices necessary to develop and maintain effective learning productivity. This domain covers management and enhancement and investment in infrastructure, devices and software and ways to leverage these to personalise learning and extend it beyond the classroom.

    Our Microsoft Partnerships in Learning Project Plan

    Our PiL Schools Research data showed us that one 21st century learning capability that we could be doing better with is “Skilled Communication”; Connecting our community with student learning is also a regional priority; therefore our PiL project focuses on developing our students and teachers as skilled 21st century communicators.



    The PiL project has been opportunity for us to look at our practice around 21st century teaching and learning and move forward with an agenda of enhancing our digital pedagogy to enhance learning outcomes for students at Edge Hill State School. The powerful networking opportunities and learning it has provided have allowed us to expand our thinking and contemplate an educational horizon so much wider than we might otherwise have been able to imagine.



    Thanks to Kirsty Edwards, Paul Campbell, Cecelia Brook; Edge Hill State School Partners in Learning Team for this guest post.

  • 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

    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

    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

    Partners in Learning Schools Program 2011 Report



    “Come to the edge, he said. They said: We are afraid.

    Come to the edge, he said. They came. He pushed them and they flew.”


    pil for schools_pic

    Abstract & Summary

    The Microsoft Partners in Learning schools program brings 20 of Australia’s best government K-12 institutions together into a virtual and real-time innovation hub with opportunities for sharing best practice and formal professional learning. The program, in its current format, has been in place since 2010 – and has been working in collaboration with the Australian public sector state and territory government jurisdictions since its inception.

    Participating schools and colleges are selected because they are already showing leadership in the application of learning technologies and are undergoing whole school change and reform.

    The goal of the program is to take these school leadership teams and work with them over the year to build their capacity as educational leaders.

    In 2011, the Microsoft Partners in Learning schools program encouraged 20 leadership teams to engage in deep discussions around the creative integration of technology into the learning space, in order to personalise and contemporise pedagogy for an evolving educational and social milieu.

    It also challenged them to address change management; that is, facilitating the move to productive and effective teaching through the artful application of ICT tools and resources. This meant the outcome of each school’s work was twofold: It aimed both to strengthen the quality of learning for students and strengthen the teaching efficacy of the educators who deliver it.

    The participants were then asked to document and demonstrate the efficacy of their pioneering work and that of their staff. They were asked to verify better ways of teaching and, in doing so, deliver more successful, more engaging learning.

    Malcolm Gladwell (2000) calls that new orthodoxy ‘the tipping point’, and those who have not adopted or embraced the new way of living or working become identified as laggards, resisters or not in keeping with contemporary standards. For the majority of practitioners, the new behaviour, idea, product or process has ‘stuck’.

    In this case, Microsoft invited teams of influential leaders who could encourage that tipping point. They were people who could have maximum impact over the whole school community; people who understood the systems, the culture and the people that formed the school. These leaders were the key to leading a school over the edge of the known and traditional craft of teaching, into a new world supported by deepened understanding of learning, assessment, cognition and technology.


    How the Partners in Learning schools program worked

    The 2011 Microsoft Partners in Learning schools program had a number of elements. The core program was delivered over three two-day workshops in Melbourne, the Gold Coast and Sydney respectively. The theme of the 2011 workshops was student engagement and self-direction. The teams looked at ways to help students exercise their voices, discover personal entry points into learning, co-construct learning pathways, and use technology to present and showcase that learning in new ways.

    Participants were encouraged to network formally and informally in and between the sessions. Guest presenters from previous programs, international speakers, Microsoft staff and other presenters all worked together to help them become inspirational leaders driving 21st century reform and innovation.

    There were also opportunities to visit schools that had undertaken significant work on pedagogy and integrating technology into their teaching and assessment processes.

    Most importantly, the program gave the school leadership teams some focus. With quality time to think about their work, the teams could take in the wider educational context and start to see what was important and what was possible in 21st century pedagogy.


    Drivers towards radical reform

    The following drivers are the elements of a multi-level push that will assist in achieving a school-wide pedagogical approach that enables each student to work at their personal best with a range of new resources that facilitate richer access to learning, as well as a more creative execution of that learning.

    These drivers are as follows:

    • Students and teachers will be inspired by best practice experiences. They need to see and experience best practice in high-quality, personalised learning in an atmosphere of challenge, trust, mutual obligation and responsibility for learning design and activities. Students and teachers see examples of high-quality learning programs that draw on a range of new technology resources that assist students to undertake their learning and assessment in rich and challenging ways.


    • Standards and processes encourage educators to be their best. There is strong, explicit and shared leadership around contemporary learning. This is based on research and inquiry, with high expectations for meeting contemporary standards of teaching performance, guided by strong processes for monitoring and improving teaching.


    • A whole school strategy fosters a culture of best practice. The strategic planning work of the school or college drives learning improvement, curriculum development and fosters a culture of skilled teaching – based on agreements about best pedagogy for the learning context and the needs of students. It embeds these agreements into the culture of the school, as well as its standard operating procedures for all staff.


    • There is skilled dialogue to achieve a school-wide, shared understanding of what constitutes quality pedagogy for the 21st century student and
      high expectations for achieving widespread teacher buy-in for more productive pedagogy across the school against a set of indicators of quality teaching.


    • Curriculum guidelines, unit plans and program guides all focus teachers and students to work within an ordered and scaffolded learning program with appropriate explicit teaching sessions, guided projects and personalised assessment.


    • Authentic assessment is an integral part of the planning and negotiation for learning as well as of learning, and is a process that is continually moderated in staff teams for consistency and efficacy using state-of-the-art technology applications for the capture and analysis of student learning progress.


    • Teachers work together to co-construct a new vision of what constitutes the real and virtual learning spaces, putting the protocols and arrangements in place to enable students to access the 21st century classroom safely and successfully. Risk management and social responsibility in relation to learning in the networked world are part of the explicit curriculum and behaviour codes of schools and colleges.


    • Parents are educated and engaged in the reform work of the school, with information, programs and communication systems deepening their engagement with the school and giving them a much more intimate understanding of their own children’s learning, capacity and progress.


    • Staff engage in skilled and rigorous research methods that produce compelling evidence that the new pedagogy is effective, engaging and gets better results for all students. Colleges and schools abandon the habit of ‘jumping on bandwagons’ and embrace a more peer-moderated approach to instructional effectiveness.


    • Democratic and empowering relationships are developed between teacher and child based on personalisation and mutual negotiation, while remaining characteristic of the culture of the school or college.


    • Students are able to engage with community organisations, other people and resources outside the school as members of the global community, forming the characteristics and capabilities of responsible, culturally aware and open-minded citizenship.


    • Technology and other learning resources are readily available and accessible to students as they negotiate their programs, equipment is in good order, and is maintained and stored in ways that allow easy access, just-in-time training for use, security of use and fitness for purpose.


    • The administration, communications systems and professional learning programs of the sites demonstrate the leading edge of information and communication technologies and are used to demonstrate applications and resources in creative ways.


    • There is a breakthrough in understanding that technology in teaching is not about every student having a computer; rather, that technology permeates every aspect of school and classroom life and is to be exploited creatively.


    • Curriculum is defined in both content and process terms, with the development of a set of explicit learning capabilities as an integral part of the core that allows students to develop and demonstrate capabilities for learning as they form themselves as highly skilled learners.


    • High expectations of teachers are actively called for and supervision and support are in place to ensure that every teacher is able to demonstrate that their pedagogy is state-of-the-art, effective and engaging for students.


    Reform does not mean a simple rearrangement of timetables, a redesigning of the types of learning activities undertaken or a more liberal approach to the way students are able to present their work for assessment. It is a deep shift in school culture, relationships and power, applied with new awareness about authentic learning, cognition and the assessment of that learning in ways that allow students to work towards their own personal achievements and demonstrate their capabilities.

    Genuine reform demands intensive specialist knowledge and rigorous professional learning, not only about programs, tools, resources and equipment, but also about the process of teaching in a vastly more sophisticated learning environment with students who are much more skilled and able to use the resources around them than we as educators ever anticipated.

    Equally, reform requires a new level of personal and professional understanding on the part of the teacher, the student and the parents. It demands a new level of professionalism in the relationships between those partners in learning. It calls for a new level of sophistication in the way teachers work with each student in order to tailor their learning to maximum potential. All of these things involve intelligence, rigorous routines, discipline and finely nuanced explicit teaching on the part of the teacher at a level that has never been demanded before.

    Once the tipping point is reached, teaching and teachers move into a high-performance zone that students will expect and demand from all teachers thereafter. There is no retreat from the new learning frontiers required in the technological age.


    Reform is not a choice.


    To read the full report please go to the Partners in Learning Network resource here . Projects submitted at the end of the program will be uploaded shortly so join the network to explore these resources and experiences.


    Microsoft Partners in Learning 2011 schools

    Australian Capital Territory

    Erindale College

    New South Wales

    Albury Public School

    Campbelltown Performing Arts High School

    Sydney Distance Education High School

    Tuggerah Lakes Secondary College (Tumbi Umbi Campus)

    Northern Territory

    Rosebery Middle School


    Coomera Springs State School

    Kirwan State High School

    Stanthorpe State School

    South Australia

    Charles Campbell Secondary School

    Lockleys North Primary School


    Campbell Street Primary School

    Princes Street Primary School


    Belmont High School

    Buckley Park College

    Mooroolbark College

    Somerville Secondary College

    Western Australia

    Esperance Primary School

    Hamilton Senior High School

    Tom Price Primary School


  • Innovative-Education

    PiL Program Spotlights–John Fawkner College


    John Fawkner College is a small 7 – 12 secondary school located 18km from the CBD in Melbourne’s Northern Suburbs. Approximately 450 students are enrolled at the college with approximately 120 of these students participating in the off-site Sports Education Development Australia (SEDA) program. The college has a Student Family Occupation (SFO) index of 0.73 and therefore receives significant funding for disadvantage. Over 60% of students come from English as an Additional Language (EAL) backgrounds.


    To provide a dynamic learning environment that engages students who work to achieve their personal best in an atmosphere of mutual respect and cooperation.

    School Motto  clip_image001                                 

    Aspire and Achieve                                      

    School Values

    Respect, Commitment, Integrity


    In 2009 the college, known at the time as Fawkner College underwent an external diagnostic review. The review identified that the school had a history of below standard outcomes, falling enrolments and not being valued by the local community. Data indicated that approximately 700 secondary school age students living in the enrolment area were bypassing the two local secondary colleges to attend school elsewhere.

    clip_image002As a result of the review the Department of Education and Childhood Development (DEECD) and Northern Metropolitan Region made the decision that John Fawkner College and another local secondary college would become part of Project Excellence, a unique initiative based on the Fresh Start Program in the United Kingdom.

    As part of Project Excellence:

    • Fawkner College was closed at the end of 2009 and reopened at the beginning of 2010 as John Fawkner College
    • All staff were named over entitlement and asked to reapply for their positions if they wished to remain at the college. This process resulted in a 48% change in staff.
    • A new Leadership Team was established
    • Additional resources were provided through National Partnership funding which included two Leading Teachers (Literacy and Numeracy), Teaching and Learning Coaches (Literacy and Numeracy), an Executive Officer to support the Principal, funding to upgrade the facilities and support from an educationalist from the United Kingdom who acted as a critical friend.

    After nearly three years there is no doubt that Project Excellence has been an outstanding success as evidenced by the significantly improved data - NAPLAN, VCE, VCAL, student, staff and parent surveys and school generated assessments.

    A new school culture has been established based on a focus on continuous improvement, teachers working in teams, improved teaching and learning practices, consistency between classrooms, high expectations, an orderly learning environment and authentic student voice.

    A key element in the school improvement agenda has been the strong commitment of the college to the Northern Metropolitan Region strategies, Achievement Improvement Zones (AIZ), Powerful Learning and Curiosity. These strategies provided a clear framework to improve teaching and learning and reduce variation between classrooms.

    Consistent Teaching and Learning practices

    clip_image003The strong focus on improving teaching and learning and consistency of practice has had a profound impact on student outcomes. Consistent practices now include:

    • A common approach to student management
    • The use of an agreed whiteboard structure to inform students on what they are learning
    • Students being aware of the learning intention and success criteria in every lesson
    • Regular feedback to students to support their learning
    • The use of the High Reliability Literacy Teaching Strategies (Getting Knowledge Ready, Vocabulary, Reading Aloud, Paraphrasing, Identifying Questions the Text will Answer, Summarising, Review)
    • Teachers working in teams to plan and review curriculum and monitor student progress
    • Strategic ongoing professional development of staff on agreed practices.



    The college has strong partnerships with business and industry which have been invaluable in linking students with the world outside of school, providing them with a wide range of experiences, connecting them with mentors, developing their knowledge of the vast range of clip_image004vocational opportunities open to them and building their confidence and communication and interpersonal skills.

    The support of organisations such as Minter Ellison Lawyers, Australian Business Community Network (ABCN), Melbourne Heart Soccer Team, Netball Victoria, Moreland City Council and the Local Learning and Employment Network (LLEN) have benefited students in all Year levels of the college.


    Information Technology

    The college has a strong commitment to the use of information technology to enhance student learning.

    A relationship with Promethean has resulted in the installation of interactive whiteboards in eighteen classrooms and the Library. Staff have participated in professional development to develop their skills in the use of the boards. Feedback from students and staff on the impact on teaching and learning has been extremely positive.

    In 2011 all students in Years 9-12 were provided with a Netbook computer. A number of class sets of Netbook computers are available for the use of students in Years 7 and 8. Netbooks are used every day by every student.

    clip_image005A room with a bank of desktop computers was included in the recently built Language Centre to support ICT specific subjects such as VET Multi-media.

    The college recognises the power of ICT in supporting student’s learning but is well aware that a great deal of work still to be done to ensure that students and staff have the knowledge and skills to maximise its potential.



    Partners in Learning

    During 2010/11 the Principal and Executive Officer participated in a program matching them with a business leader. As chance would have both worked with a representative from Microsoft Australia. A follow on from this association and the success of Project Excellence was that the college was invited to participate in the Partners in Learning Program.

    A key belief at John Fawkner College is that student learning is enhanced through enquiry, collaboration and effective feedback. This is the focus of our Partners in Learning Project. The goals of our project are to:

    • Develop student’s ability to work collaboratively and provide them with the opportunity to work regularly in group situations
    • Develop student’s understanding that learning is enhanced through sharing knowledge and challenging others thinking
    • Encourage students to develop knowledge and understanding and apply their learning through an enquiry approach
    • Use One Note to enhance collaboration, challenge thinking, apply knowledge and provide feedback to promote student’s higher order learning

    A small group of teachers worked closely with a local primary school which was implementing an enquiry learning approach called Self Organised Learning Environments (SOLE) promoted by Professor Sugata Mitra, Professor of Educational Technology at the School of Education, Communication and Language Sciences at Newcastle University, UK. SOLE was to be the basis for our project and therefore it was important that teachers fully understood the associated theory and practices. Our project involved students using ICT in their enquiry and specifically OneNote to challenge theirs and other’s thinking, support their collaboration and provide feedback to each other on their learning.

    John Fawkner College has just begun this exciting journey however we look forward to the challenges ahead as we strive to provide our students with the knowledge and skills required to be successful in the 21st Century.

    Glenn White, Gus Napoli and Jess Sartori

    John Fawkner College

    18th October 2012


  • 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

    Microsoft names Queensland school as a Global Pathfinder School


    Microsoft has today announced that Kirwan State High School in Northern Queensland, has been recognised as one of the world’s most advanced users of technology in the classroom. The school will represent Australia in Microsoft’s Partners in Learning Schools Program as a Pathfinder School. Kirwan State High School is one of only 60 Pathfinder Schools globally in the initiative, which has been implemented to assist teachers and students to effectively use information communication technologies (ICT).

    As a Microsoft Pathfinder School, Kirwan State High School has been recognised as a school which has demonstrated they are passionate about technology and have a strong vision for transforming their learning environment. This program offers students and teachers the opportunity to further enhance their use of ICT tools with high levels of engagement, communication, collaboration and leadership opportunities. In addition to this, the school will have access to a shared learning community, where they are able to share best practice examples with other schools around the globe.

    At Kirwan State High School, one of the key best practice examples can be seen by students studying humanities, who are using technology based solutions to investigate real world issues focusing on the United Nations Millennium Development Goals. Students have created education campaigns to raise awareness of Human Rights issues internationally and domestically. The school’s Vietnamese charity partner, Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, has now implemented these initiatives on a large scale.

    “It’s fantastic to see Kirwan State High School apply digital solutions to global problems. What’s important is using technology to better educate the kids, get them engaged and excited about learning and make a contribution to society. This gives not only the school, but the community a great sense of achievement and something to be really proud of”, Sean Tierney, Academic Programs Manager, Microsoft Australia, said.

    Further enhancing the school’s focus on best technological practise, Kirwan State High School has introduced intranet based programs into their curriculum and all initiatives are based on the promotion of student advocacy through ‘Student Voice’, and engaging local students in service learning projects with global partners.

    Executive Principal of Kirwan State High School, John Livingston, said, “We are very excited to have been selected as a Pathfinder School. We hope to develop authentic learning networks for students and staff and the opportunity to collaborate and innovate on a large scale. Not only can we encourage other schools to implement and use technology in a meaningful way in the classroom, but to also learn from other Pathfinder and Mentor Schools around the world. We want to promote North Queensland as a leading district in eLearning, to up-skill all educators in purposefully using Microsoft ICT for learning.”

    See the following links for more information about Kirwan State High School.

    Kirwan State Website

    Kirwan State PiL Network Profile

  • 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

    Microsoft names New South Wales school as Global Pathfinder School


    Microsoft has today announced that Campbelltown Performing Arts High School in New South Wales has been globally recognised by Microsoft as one of the world’s most advanced users of technology in the classroom. The school will represent Australia in Microsoft’s 2013 Worldwide Partners in Learning Schools Program, an initiative to help teachers and school leaders use technology in teaching and learning more effectively, and is one of 60 Pathfinder Schools worldwide.

    As a Microsoft Pathfinder School, Campbelltown Performing Arts High School (CPAHS) has been recognised as being passionate about technology in the classroom and having a strong vision for transforming their learning environment. This program offers students and teachers the opportunity to further enhance their use of ICT tools with high levels of engagement, communication, collaboration and leadership opportunities. In addition to this, the school will have access to a shared learning community, where they are able to share best practice examples with other schools around the globe.

    CPAHS uses technology in all streams of their curriculum and is a school firmly committed to enhancing learning outcomes for students, and more importantly, to equip the students with 21st century skills, enabling them to reflect deeply, think critically, work creatively, and collaborate effectively.

    “Australia has always embraced technology in the classroom and it’s great to see schools like this incorporate technology into its vision for learning in such a fun and positive way, giving the pupils the best start for their future in the digital society. It is critical for our leaders of tomorrow to immerse themselves in the smart tools available,” Sean Tierney, Academic Programs Manager, Microsoft Australia, said.

    Stacey Quince, CPAHS Principal, adds, “We are absolutely thrilled to have been selected as a Pathfinder School. Our vision over the next 3-5 years is to meet the learning needs of every single student in our school through personalised and differentiated learning, primarily delivered via technology”. Adding that, “Students at our school are engaged in inquiry-based learning that challenges them and rewards them. We want our students to be stimulated into thinking creatively and we encourage them to take supported risks and see the school as providing opportunities for learning to occur outside the boundaries of the traditional classroom”.

    To embrace this philosophy, the high school has adapted its resources to ensure the focus on learning is underpinned by technology. Every student (Years 9-12) and teacher has been given laptops, every faculty has an interactive whiteboard (IWB) and the school is fitted with 10 technology labs, with wireless internet access throughout.

    At CPAHS, one of the best practice examples includes students (dance, music and circus) using webcams to create video and audio files of their performances or musical compositions, which are then embedded into their OneNote notebooks. Peer assessors and teachers can then provide written feedback or make notes and juxtapose/tag their comments to the key points in the student’s video files. Students then use this feedback (visual, auditory and digital) to inform and develop their performance pieces, in particular, prior to final assessment.

    Stacey Quince concludes, “All teachers at the high school are deeply committed and engaged in helping improve the school and this status elevation is a very exciting development for us. It was only last year that we were selected as one of twenty schools nationally to join the Microsoft Innovative Schools Program.”

    See the following links for more information about Campbelltown Performing Arts High School.

    CPAHS Website

    CPAHS PiL Network Profile

  • 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

    PiL Program Spotlights–Kedron State High School


    Established in 1956, Kedron State High School is one of the most successful multi-cultural high schools in Brisbane. Located in the northern metropolitan area, the school’s hard working staff and dedicated students achieve outstanding results in academia, music and sport. The student population of just under 1200 students originates from some 50 different primary schools and a similar number of different nationalities are represented. The school welcomes 50 international students and 300 English as a Second Language (ESL) students each year and encourages optimum performance, reflected in the school motto - ‘To Strive is to Shine’.

    In 2009 work began to create a vision for the school in terms of the use of technology for teaching and learning. As a traditional, academic, disciplined school with a proven academic record, it was important that we maintained the teaching expertise developed over years, and complemented this with the opportunities that access to new technologies afforded both staff and students. The marriage of these two methods of delivery is called “Blended Learning” and after extensive research and the experience of the teaching staff at Kedron, it is the preferred model of delivery for our school and our eLearning vision was formed.

    Kedron’s Vision for eLearning

    Our vision is to create a dynamic learning community where the use of ICTs is integral to the learning of every student. Through authentic engagement and involvement with their learning, we are striving to equip our students with the tools and skills for their future world.


    Research has shown that 1to1 programs – where there is a computer for each student– are most effective when students have a computer that is theirs. Indeed, when the personal use of the device is a given, teachers can get on with teaching, and students with learning, without access to the technology becoming a disruptor. Currently, all students in years 9-11 have their own Laptop (close to 750 devices) to access the curriculum. Next year this will be extended to include year 12 also.

    Kedron’s High was both honoured and excited to be chosen as one the 20 Australian schools for the 2012 Partners In Learning Program. Kedron was mindful of the fact that there was an important role to be played in ensuring that students were provided with the skills needed to navigate the world as they are experiencing it, not as previous generations have. Much has been written about 21st Century skills of the workplace and beyond, and 24/7 access to a learning tool such as a Laptop would provide the balance between Kedron’s established traditional modes of learning and new ways of learning.  The Partners in Learning Program has provided many opportunities for the school to reflect on the work it had already undertaken through the lens of the framework and ongoing support from Microsoft. The Partners in Learning program focus on sound pedagogy has enabled learningful conversations (Senge, 1990) between teaching staff.

    Teaching and non-teaching staff have been working to develop their understanding of digital pedagogy – using technologies to complement and improve the teaching and learning in their classrooms – and the use of technology within school to improve overall effectiveness of systems and administration. Structured programs have been developed for staff to access training and professional learning opportunities to develop their skills in the contemporary classroom.

    As part of the PIL program project at Kedron the whole year 11 English student cohort submitted a draft of their assignment in OneNote; they were then given oral plus visual feedback. Teachers invested their time and effort into two feedbacks on the draft which the syllabus allows – this was done by combining Community Clips and OneNote. The English Department had those papers marked off-site by a marker. When the marks were returned, Year 11 teachers reviewed the results the marker had given and rather than giving back the students their criteria sheet they created a podcast for each student.  This allowed students to identify their strengths and weaknesses. Students were then asked to make a judgement as to what they thought their result was before actually seeing it. The process allowed students to reflect on their mark and to determine what they need to do to improve in future.

    The process saw an improvement in outcomes and whilst these results didn’t follow strict research methods outcomes compared to the same assessment task last year show clear improvement across the group.


    The OneNote project is one example of the reflection in practice that involvement in the Partners in Learning program has seen across the school. Most importantly this involvement allows Kedron to provide the best learning opportunities for both students and staff, along with the chance to connect with other members of the Microsoft global learning network.



    Thanks to Myron McCormick, Steve Lang, & Chrissie Coogan - Kedron Senior High School Partners in Learning Team for putting writing this post.

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