Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Come and hear the Minecraft:Education Edition Guru, Stephen Reid, keynoting and presenting at the SchoolNet Conference

We are so looking forward to having Stephen Reid at the SchoolNet SA conference taking place at Brescia House School on 5 – 7 October 2017. Stephen will be doing a keynote about “Emerging Technology in Education” If you haven’t booked your spot yet, be sure to register HERE,  -http://www.schoolnet.org.za/conference2017/, by the end of August to secure the early bird rate.

If you are a Minecraft: Education Edition fan you’ll definitely want to attend some of Stephen’s sessions. He is the Minecraft Guru from Ireland who presents on Minecraft: Education Edition all over the world. Across the three day conference, Stephen will also be offering a number of breakaway sessions including the Problem-Based Learning Course which encourages students to think more critically and to work collaboratively through being faced with solving ill-structured, open-ended, messy problems. Minecraft novices and experts will also have opportunities to explore Minecraft: Education Edition and the “Small South Africa” world which Stephen created for use by teachers and learners who want to build solutions in Minecraft that relate to a South African context.

Recently at the E2 Conference for Microsoft’s MIEExpert Educators in South Africa Stephen presented sessions on problem-based learning. The #MIEExpert Educators and the other invited guests completed a problem-based learning activity in groups using Minecraft: Education Edition as a tool to demonstrate how they would solve the problem they had identified. This was a great learning experience.  Let's take a look at how one of the groups experienced problem-based learning under Stephen's guidance.

What is problem-based learning?
Problem-based learning is a great way for everybody in the group to learn together. It facilitates active learning, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. Dr Preetha Ram says “Problem-based learning enables students to embrace complexity and joy in their learning, and enhance their capacity to make creative contributions to real-world problems." Learners in groups come up with a problem you have observed in the real world and they work on creating solutions for this problem. At the E2 the groups used Minecraft: Education Edition to demonstrate their solution.

The task
This was the task at the E2: "Come up with a problem you have observed in South Africa and demonstrate how you will solve this, using Minecraft: Education Edition. Present your solution on a Sway or as an Office Mix."

The tools
They decided to use:
a) A shared online OneNote notebook to work on. OneNote is very suited to problem-based learning as you can share content, images, videos etc very easily if you have a good Internet connection.
b) Then there was Minecraft: Education Edition which they used to demonstrate their solution. A Minecraft world had already been created for the E2 by Steven Reid.
c) The final product was to be presented on a Sway or an Office Mix.

Step 1: Identifying the issue

As a group they brainstormed problems in South Africa. Of course there were many! They then narrowed it down to three and eventually voted for one - under-resourced schools in the country.

Step 2: Create the driving question
The next step was to create the driving question related to their enquiry. A driving question is one that captures the heart of the project by providing the purpose of the enquiry and by using clear and compelling language. The question should drive the participants to discuss, inquire, and investigate the topic. 

Step 3: Brainstorming
This step involved brainstorming what they would include in their under-resourced school to provide the needed resources. Here are some of the ideas they came up with and discussed these at length.

Step 4: Using Minecraft: Education Edition to demonstrate the solution
Now it came to the part of building using Minecraft; Education Edition to demonstrate their solution.

Steven had taught the E2 delegates some of the basics so that they knew how to move around their Minecraft world. 

Each group could only see their group’s work and each group member appeared as little characters in the Minecraft world. So the group could see what each one in the group was doing at any stage.

The group divided up the solutions they had thought of, and each one in the group built theirs. They had to take screenshots of the different objects that they built as proof of their solutions. 

The group then created a video of what they had done using Minecraft: Education Edition and one of the members embedded this video into the group PowerPoint. Here is their video.


Step 5: Presenting the solution

The important thing when you present solutions in problem-based learning is to have some relevant role players present – even the people who could make this solution happen if that was possible. These people could even be invited in via Skype.

Step 6: Giving the project a final title
This group decided on the title of ‘A self-sustaining school.’
This problem-based learning activity was a great learning experience. Group members felt that they were starting to understand Minecraft: Education Edition and its potential in the context of education. Stephen Reid proved to be an exceptional presenter
So, if you would like to experience something like this and learn from the amazing presenter, Stephen Reid from Ireland, consider registering for the SchoolNet ICT in the Classroom Conference on 5-7 October in Johannesburg  http://www.schoolnet.org.za/conference2017/. . 

Friday, 18 August 2017

Useful Google in Education links this week #106

After looking through all the Google posts that were shared to various subscriptions recently, these are a selection that look useful for teachers https://goo.gl/QJ8C8p. (The link to previous posts can be found here https://goo.gl/CNO3M2)

Ollie Bray from Scotland confirmed as keynote presenter for the SchoolNet SA ICT in the classroom conference 5-7 October

We are thrilled to announce that Ollie Bray from the UK, has been confirmed as a keynote speaker for the SchoolNet SA conference.

Ollie's career in education spans over twenty years. During this time he has been a teacher, head of department, senior government adviser and school leader. In recent years this has included a four year secondment to the Scottish Government as their National Adviser on Emerging Technologies for Learning. He is currently Headteacher at Kingussie High School located within the Cairngorms National Park. He is also a Member of the Board of Management at Inverness College: University of the Highlands and Islands as well as well as serving on several other advisory boards including the BBC’s Educational Broadcasting Council for Scotland. Under Ollie's leadership Kingussie has been rated one of the most improved schools in Scotland. At a systems level, most recently, he has been responsible for co-designing the deployment of 22,000 Chromebooks across his education district. For over a decade Ollie has worked regularly in schools and school systems around the world advising about whole school improvement, technology for learning and learning space design (both digital and physical). When he is not working he enjoys riding his bike (very long distances), paddling his canoe and wandering in the mountains.

In his keynote Ollie will reflect on new trends in learning, teaching and school leadership and talk about how technology can improve outcomes for children and young people by transforming the learning landscape.

Register here, on our Conference page, for the SchoolNet SA conference – taking place at Brescia House School in Bryanston, Gauteng between 5-7 October 2017. If you register before 31st August you qill qualify for the early bird rate.

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Ideas for using Canva in your classroom this term...

Submitted by Fiona Beal
Canva (canva.com) is a graphic-design tool website which has both free and paid elements. It is web-based and is available for iPads and Chromebooks. You can also use it as a Chrome extension when using the Chrome browser. After spending some time exploring Canva I found that it has an easy to use drag-and-drop interface and provides access to over a million photographs, graphics, and fonts. There are free and paid elements but I found there are sufficient free elements for one to use the program very creatively. When you explore Canva for the first time a feeling of great delight comes over you! You suddenly realise that Canva could be great to use in the classroom for various design projects. There are so many useful free Canva tools available. In this post I will give you some classroom ideas.

What can you do with Canva?
As I looked around Canva I found so many ways I could bring it in to my teaching. You can create professional presentations, posters, multi-page documents, invitations and cards, infographics and so much more. There are just so many different templates. 

Popular design types



Blogging and e-books

Social Media Posts

How do you  access Canva?
But first, how do you access Canva in the classroom? The process is simple.
  • Sign in with your Google account. 
  • Select one of the over fifty-six categories shown above such as presentations, posters,greeting   cards, infographics, cover pages and more..
  • Replace the text and images. Optionally change colors, size, layering, and more.
  • Alternatively create your own project with a blank template. 
  • Save/publish/share.
My students signed in with their G Suite accounts. Recently I read in a blog post that you have to be 13 or older, but we never saw any restrictions when signing in. Perhaps with my younger students I will create one school account for the class and let them all sign in to that.

Here is a Slideshare on how I used Canva with a class for the first time:

Ideas for the classroom
Students will be used to creating presentations using PowerPoint, Google Slides or Keynote. Canva also has a great presentation tool and students could use it to create really attractive presentations on the topic they are working on in any subject. They could show their presentations using Canva's present tool. Get some ideas from this post: How to Make a Presentation With Canva

Often one wants students to use tri-fold brochures for their classroom projects and Canva can assist here with a six-sided brochure template/

Greeting cards
Students love to create cards for their family and friends. They could create and download attractively designed cards using Canva.

Posters and fliers
Poster-making in class is a long time favourite with teachers. Posters can be used to demonstrate a summary of extensive research and reading around a topic. They also facilitate creative thinking and provide an opportunity to learn by doing. Watch this short video to see how to create a poster using Canva, Make a poster in Canva. To find out more about using posters in your classroom read:
How Can I Use Poster-Making to Facilitate Learning in the Classroom?

Students often need to compile reports for various subjects and Canva is great to use for this task. For ideas on how to do this read: How to Design Your Report for School Projects With Canva's Free Alternative to Photoshop.  If your students have written their reports or e-books using another program, they could then design the cover for their project using Canva..

Infographics area great visual way to view and absorb information. Some neuroscientests say that the use of stories and the use of images, pictures, and visual tools get students to pay attention more easily. Creating an Infographic as a summary of findings makes the information not only eye-catching but also readable and memorable. To find out one way of using Canva to make an infographic watch this short tutorial: How to Create Infographics in Minutes (Canva)

One can use certificates in a variety of ways in the classroom. Students love to be recognised for their hard work! One way to do this is to create certificates. Canva has a great collection of pre-made certificate designs that can be customized for any achievement. Students themselves can create certificates for a variety of purposes. i.e. for Mother's day or Father's Day. Watch this short video: How To Canva Certificate

Badges are becoming a popular motivation tool in the classroom and for teacher professional development. Teachers can easily create badges to acknowledge their students’ achievement. Watch this short video: Creating a Badge in Canva

How I am currently using Canva 
1. I used Holly Clark’s ‘Think-Pic-Share idea recently in several ways. This makes use of the Twitter template and one can use it for summarising. One class used it to write about their favourite book since it is book Week at school. Another class used it to summarise what they had learned in a History lesson.

2. Our Grade 7s are busy with a ‘Flour Baby’ project in Life Orientation. We are using Canva to create a Stork party invitation, thank you cards, a baby announcement and a final report on the project. The Grade 7s love using Canva.

If you haven't already tried using Canva, give it a go. You'll love using this program!

Monday, 14 August 2017

Useful Microsoft in Education posts this week #116

The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a number of them from this past week. The list is embedded below but can also be found at http://bit.ly/2x1RJQYThe link to the back-dated posts is: http://bit.ly/1GVLTUZ