Archive for the ‘Innovation’ Category

I recently read an interesting article on the topic of signs that a teacher is making a difference. As I read the article I was struck at how much I agreed with the points raised and how I have often been rendered speechless when many of these have happened to me. I have extracted the 20 major points raised from the article and re-ordered them below. If you wish to read the original article, which I recommend, please click this link to the original by Saga Briggs.

  1. You’ve let your passions (and interests) show through in your lessons.
  2. Your students are asking questions, not just giving answers. (This is the reward of creating curiosity)
  3. You’ve tried new things. (with mixed success)
  4. You’ve improvised. (and taught to suit the change of lesson flow)
  5. Your shy students start participating more often without being prompted. (They come to you with questions and ideas)
  6. You have used your authoritative role for inspiration, not intimidation. (The students feel empowered to share and collaborate)
  7. You have listened as often as you have lectured. Another lesson in authority. (An important element of Academic Care)
  8. You’ve been told by a student that, because of something you showed them, they enjoy learning outside of class (and looked up their own interests and shared them with you).
  9. A student you’ve encouraged creates something new with her talents. (Then they share it with you)
  10. You have taken a personal interest in your students. (More Academic Care)
  11. You’ve made your students laugh. (This should go for your colleagues too)
  12. You have cared–and shown that you cared. (Students appreciate a teacher being human. This is important when considering the practice of Academic Care)
  13. Your student asks you for a letter of reference. (For more than an application to further study)
  14. You’ve made students understand the personal relevance of what they’re learning. (And helped them to develop a love for how to learn)
  15. You have helped a student choose a career. (well at-least listened to their questions, thoughts, interests and concerns)
  16. One of your students becomes an educator.
  17. A parent approaches you with kind words. (Always floors me as often comes at unexpected times)
  18. Your students visit you when they don’t have to. (Even after a few years out of school)
  19. You can be a mentor when you need to be.
  20. You practice strength and patience. (Arguably the most important life skill for an educator)

There are many more points that I could add to this list. Maybe you add some more of your own?

Recently I have been shown examples of the amazing performances from this marching band.  Their performances alone are awe-inspiring, but it was the underlying research and use of technology that I was most impressed with.  To describe it in brief, some students from the band recognised financial and environmental impact that the constant development and use of paper-based was having.  From here they pursued a project to use digital technologies, iPad’s, to replace the paper elements of the band’s music, marching performances and choreography.  The clip below provides an outline of the process that was undertaken by the students, the band and other aspects of Ohio State University that were involved.

Where I find this particularly interesting is in how I could use this case scenario to promote and stimulate students in my classrooms.  The biggest use I can see here is in how I can get students to explore how they can find and utilise technologies (in time to make technologies) both existing, like Apps, pad-based technologies and smartphones, then on to emerging technologies, such as making solutions to identified problems that function on existing devices.  There are many more ways to examine this scenario in education, just be creative.

I am always amazed by the innovation that emerges from MIT and this one called ‘inFORM’ from the ‘Tangible Media Group’ is sure to promote imagination and questioning. To describe my thoughts is hard but to start I would say it is like a smaller interactive display device (IWB) on steroids. As a tool to promote learning and understanding I see that there are an endless number of uses. From modelling mathematical and scientific equations, to developing fluid artworks through augmented reality, and through to all aspects of computer science.  So back to the title of this post, imagine this amazing technology as learning desks in your classrooms.  The creative use of them would be limitless.

(Image Source: Google Images)

As a person who likes gadgets and watches I have been actively keeping an eye on the developments of smart watches. I am fascinated by the simplicity, yet function of the Pebble, but am intrigued by the integrated aspect of the Galaxy Gear. Many of the reviews I have read have given mixed opinions and more recently I have read articles that have explored the potential success of the devices. I am not sold yet on their function, nor their longevity. I believe that for a smart watch to be successful it has to possess a few qualities. These include; keep accurate and accessible time, being affordable, having a degree of function that exceeds current devices, have overcome their Achilles of battery life and be a learning device that is truly smart in function to the changing needs of the owner. A quote I recently came across sums my view up well:

“Any reduced technology like a watch will have to be smarter than our normal computers—our normal smartphones, even—because they are highly intrusive,” says Lars Hard, founder and chief technical officer of the artificial-intelligence company Expertmaker. “If it’s sitting right on my arm and it can wake up at any time giving me information, then it needs to be extremely good at what it presents.”

Beyond the aesthetic and function of the devices is the potential that they may pose in educational circumstances. I can remember when the old Casio Calculator Watch was the bee’s knees of fashion and school yard accessories. I can remember talking with friends as a kid fantasising what could be done with one in the future. Even the cool, tuff kids had them and joined in. Imagine the potential of a school smart watch club where the students took charge of developing apps and programs to assist their learning, tutor others and help with school administration tasks. The options are endless.


I am posting this one as I stumbled across the article earlier today and thoughts that it is just cool. To sum my understanding of these up is that unlike Google Glass that displays on a screen you look through, this one projects straight in and onto your retina. Talk about a cool concept for exploring Augmented Reality. C/NET were the source of the image below and of an article about the glasses. There is also an article on the Digital Trends website. Have a look and see what you think. I will be showing these to my students and getting them to explore the prospects and implications of future developments.

Earlier today I was asked to think of my view of what Digital Literacy means to me. As a result I thought I would just type down some raw thoughts.

Digital literacy is more than just acknowledging the ability to use current software technologies to perform tasks. Digital Literacy is the ability to inherently know and understand how to create, access, use and manipulate digital data regardless of the contextual circumstance. To break this down further, it means that regardless of the subject area, the class or curriculum content or the requirements of the situation a person is able to freely utilise digital techniques to accomplish what is required.

For the teaching of students it means that the students have to be shown how to use skills and techniques taught in one subject area in another. As adults it is easy to assimilate/integrate skills and knowledge, but I have found that for students taught in separate educational locations, singular areas of subject content, it is much harder to automatically associate the use of skills taught in other situation. Students have to be taught in all subject areas to use all skills. This can mean using IT/digital skills in all other subject areas. Eg:

  • English – word processing, data analysis, presentation, cloud storage, online collaboration, video/movie production, audio engineering, researching skills, desktop publishing, etc…
  • Maths – calculations, data representation, presentation, problem solving, computational logic, object design, analysis, charts/graph, plotting, video/movie, cloud computing and storage, etc…
  • Science – Graphic, plotting, recording, cloud storage and collaboration, graphing/charts, video/movie, photography, image editing/enhancement, word processing, spreadsheets, 3D animation, modelling (physical not spreadsheet), Computer assisted design/computer aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM), desktop publishing, etc…
  • Music – Audio engineering, word processing, data basing, video, animation, recording/editing, presentation, staging and prop design, midi interface, etc…
  • PD/H/PE (Physical Education) – analysis, presentation, video/movie, research, word processing, measurement, plotting, etc…
  • Etc……

The final piece of digital literacy is that it requires the people/person involved to understand and know how or where the data is stored, used and accessed. This includes data about themselves and others. It includes an awareness of the impact of the creation of digital content and the ramifications of its use, both positive and negative. I acknowledge that this final piece is also an element of Digital Citizenship but I believe that it is vital to digital literacy.

Here is a little something I found a few weeks ago that I am potentially going to explore for implementation into my KS3 Scope and Sequence. Some aspects of this are like Scratch on steroids making Android Apps. Still a long way to go in my head but am seeing possible Year 8 or 9 Sequences of Work and project outcomes.

Feel free to share any ideas on this topic.