The top 5 takeaways from our Teaching 'Gen Tech' event

Last Friday, we hosted our first Stile Learning Community event of 2015: Teaching 'Gen Tech'. It was our biggest and most popular yet, with two accomplished keynote speakers in the heart of Melbourne. Almost 100 people spent the whole day learning about transforming teaching practice and online differentiation.

In this post, we'll summarise the top 5 takeaways from the sessions.

Andrew douch (Picture by @rhp123)

Andrew douch (Picture by @rhp123)

1. Flipped learning increases student achievement & engagement

After a short intro from us, Andrew Douch kicked the day off with Redefining 'Classroom’, which has to be the slickest Keynote presentation we've seen in a long time. Andrew challenged our roles as teachers, arguing that to engage our students, we need to adopt a lesson delivery model that is more hands-on and give lots of quality feedback, the key to student achievement.

As one of the first teachers to leverage the power of flipped learning in his biology classroom (one could say he was doing it before it was cool), Andrew showed us the kinds of results his students were getting after he started flipping his classroom in 2005.

Graph 1: The VCE data predicted for Andrew’s students (over 4 years) by the VCEDS

Graph 1: The VCE data predicted for Andrew’s students (over 4 years) by the VCEDS

Graph 2: The actual results they achieved in a flipped classroom

Graph 2: The actual results they achieved in a flipped classroom

Not only were students performing significantly better than VCEDS data predicted, but more importantly, it was not just at the top end or the bottom end of the academic spectrum of the class but the whole curve was elevated.
— Andrew Douch

2. It's now easier than ever to flip your class

In the workshop that followed, Andrew demoed a few 'tools of engagement' for teachers interested in flipping their class.

He first wowed us with an iPad app called Green Screen. Until a few years ago, shooting a green screen video was difficult, time-consuming and expensive. It can now be done with any iPad and a $3.79 app

Andrew used a video clip of Queen Street traffic he'd shot that morning as the background. He then recorded himself in front of a green sheet we were holding up behind him, talking about the cars driving by. He hooked up the iPad to the projector and suddenly, we could all see Andrew standing on Queen Street, making predictions about which car would drive by next! This was seamless and happening in real-time. The app can then export a video that can be uploaded for students to watch.

The applications for teaching are virtually limitless. We can now insert ourselves into galaxies, historic battles and paintings, swim with blood cells, sharks or whatever else our imagination permits. It's super simple, effective and certainly had the biggest wow-factor of the day!

He also demonstrated a cool gadget called the swivl, a motorised cradle for your mobile device that smoothly tracks you as you walk around the room, like a robot cameraman.

To top it off, he also shared his preferred screencasting  (Screencast-o-matic for Mac/PC, Explain Everything for iPad) and podcasting (GarageBand for Macs, Audacity for PC) applications running a quick demo of each as well – very impressive and achievable!

3. Visual learning is powerful

At our last #StileLC event with Alan November, we unveiled live polling for the first time. This time, Stile’s Head of Education, Daniel Pikler, showcased our new sketchpad released that day!

While the previous sketchpad was already one of Stile’s most versatile tools, the new version takes it to the next level with a host of improvements that allow for the easy creation of matching, sequencing, cloze and drag-and-drop tasks. Daniel demonstrated a few of these in his workshop and had participants sketching away enthusiastically.

The sketchpad still in beta format, but expect a more detailed blog post about how to create all the fantastic task types this new tool enables very soon! In the meantime, feel free to jump in, have a play with it and let us know what you think.

4. Differentiation is possible

Andrew showed that flipped learning allowed him to differentiate his teaching so that students had a more personalised experience in their learning. In a similar vein, Georgina Pazzi showed us how differentiation can make all the difference in student engagement.

She first got us to share what we are passionate about in a Padlet to demonstrate how varied and wonderful our interests are. Students' interests are equally varied and as teachers, we can leverage our students’ varied interests by giving them the freedom to demonstrate learning in their own way using Stile’s Project space, which lets them respond in any way that they like.

5. Get students in the flow

Georgina showed us that when students engage the most with their task when they are in the 'flow state': a narrow channel of focus that’s created when we are fully and utterly immersed in what we are doing. If learning is real, rich and relevant (the new three Rs!), they are engaged, learn better and actually want to learn. It is our task as teachers to facilitate such learning spaces by recognising our students’ uniqueness and using their passions to express themselves.

Overall, it was a day jam-packed full of useful info. Feel free to peruse the #StileLC hashtag which was used as a backchannel on the day. One of our attendees, Kylie Middlemiss from Mount View Primary School, also wrote her own summary post, which you can check out here.

See you at the next event!