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

  • Innovative-Education

    Technologies Promises to Education


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

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

    personalizing learning reimaging textbooks
    scaling teachers social networks

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

    Bill Gates, NAIS Conference, March 2012

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

    Now when am I going to get my hovercraft car!

  • Innovative-Education

    ChronoZoom – Making big history real


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

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



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



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

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

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



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

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

    Learning to teach Big History



  • Innovative-Education

    DeforestACTION- Live Event


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

    Take a closer look with your student soon….

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

    Register now:

    How does this project actually monitor deforestation?

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

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

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

    Earth Watchers

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

    Here's how it works.

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


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

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

  • Innovative-Education

    Explore the stars with WorldWide Telescope


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

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

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

    Where can I find out how to use it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Where do I get WorldWide Telescope from?

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

    • Innovative-Education

      Trouble understanding exactly what PISA is?


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

      EDUconnect PISA Video
    • Innovative-Education

      DeforestACTION Webinar - June 6th 2012


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

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

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


      Register now

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

      Click Here

      This webinar will have two sessions:

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

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

    • Innovative-Education

      PALnet Professional Learning Opportunity


      What Happens when you CONNECT learning-leaders


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

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

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

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

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



      Local time

      Time zone

      UTC offset

      Adelaide (Australia - South Australia)

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


      UTC+10:30 hours

    • Innovative-Education

      DeforestACTION–Get involved…..


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

      Webinar 1: Introduction to DeforestACTIONdeforestaction

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

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

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

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

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

      This webinar will have four sessions:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Webinar 2: DeforestACTION Master Class

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

      This webinar will have 2 sessions:

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

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

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

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

      Register now to participate!


    • Innovative-Education

      Our first post......


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      The four key areas for focus are:








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

    • Innovative-Education

      Upcoming Palnet Event


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

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

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

      Event Details:

      Presenter:Dr. Tom Hoerr

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

      Date:3 May 2012

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

      Event Type:Online Webinar                           Setup instructions for first time users

      Forum: Session Q&A

      Does Performance Pay Work?

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

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

      Teachers are evaluated in five key areas:

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

      New City School is a charter school which aims to develop

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

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

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

    • Innovative-Education

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


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

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


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

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

      You can download Cliplets here

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

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