We at Stile would like to thank everyone who made it out to our third Stile Learning Community event this year, graciously hosted by Caulfield Grammar last Thursday, which was keynoted by the ever-inspiring Alan November.
To those who did: we hope that you enjoyed it as much we did and got a lot out of it. If you couldn’t make it this time, here’s a quick a recap of what was on offer.
Opening keynote by Alan November
We were honoured to host Alan November at this term’s SLC who opened and closed the event on 11 September. An expert presenter, Alan took us on a both entertaining and engaging tour of his professional experience (not unlike his TEDx talk), filled with stories about remote-controlled Japanese smart toilets which send medical information to their owners and their owners’ doctors but can also be used for mischievous pranks and the Internet of things.
How is this connected to education?
Alan’s keynote came days after Apple’s release of the Apple Watch and its own ability to monitor its wearer’s heart rate, movement and many other things. He noted that in the US, patients are unable to access their own medical data - it is completely controlled by doctors and medical practitioners, but apps like the smart toilet and Apple Watch are now circumventing this ‘expert control’ and are delivering data to the end user directly. Control of data and learning was at the core of Alan’s first keynote, which later turned into a web quest (‘So you think you can use Google?’) and workshop. We also learned of a 15-year old Mongolian student called Battushig who was among the 340 (out of 150,000!) students who got a perfect score during a second-year Circuits and Electronics MIT MOOC and was subsequently offered a scholarship at the prestigious Institute, completely bypassing linguistic, social and monetary barriers in the process. 10% of MIT’s yearly 1,000-student intake now comes through this way.
Alan pointed out that most students (and even teachers) do not know how to use Google effectively, even though he considers finding the right information at the right time the single most important skill today.
He closed by reminding us that our job as teachers is to guide students through the overwhelming flow of information.
Global Green with Shirley Munro
Shirley Munro, IT Teacher and e-Learning Coordinator at Aquinas College in Ringwood, presented her current cross-curricular mammoth project Global Green, which includes 60 teachers and 300 students and is still running. You can get a get an overview of the scope of the project by checking out her Prezi. Kids could choose houses which were grouped and organised in Stile Subjects to brainstorm ideas.
In previous years, students had used scrapbooks to do things like energy audits of their houses which involved collecting information such news clippings and photos as well as other bits they either found or created and putting them into their paper-based scrapbooks. These scrapbooks, however, would invariably disappear, stain, crumple or be difficult to navigate for teachers - or stay empty! Moving them to Stile has made it much easier for both students and teachers to organise and mark their projects respectively. Teachers can now go into students’ projects and check on their progress at any time before it gets handed in for marking. All content is accessible by all teachers - which means that no more excuses from students such as ‘Johnny has the PowerPoint file’.
'All departments, one tool' by Laura Brown and Sam Griffin
Laura Brown and Sam Griffin, both e-Learning Coordinators at hosting institution Caulfield Grammar, surprised us with a brilliant combo of art and science (who says they need to be enemies?) in the form of a Stile lesson called ‘The Secret Life of Plankton’ which will be available through the Library shortly!
The Secret Life of Plankton lesson started off with a great YouTube video on plankton from the perspective of a fish, followed by a range of comprehension questions. The lesson then lead to the ideal phytoplankton organism through what Laura and Sam called the ‘Hinge Point Question’: one that lives close to the surface, but not too close in order not to get burnt by the sun, but also not too far below it to still photosynthesise. Each table then got a bag full of craft materials to build their own ‘perfect’ phytoplankton which we could test by submerging it into large water containers outside the conference room - a lot of fun! Teams were asked to document the process, name their organism and more.
The winning team (and organism, in perfect suspension!):
Our very own Daniel Pikler then gave us a whirlwind tour on how to spruce up your lessons with rich media using tools such as PhotoJoiner to quickly add beautiful rich media to your lessons. Even small things like changing font colours and sizes can make a big difference, but using mind maps, a few sketch pad exercises and a project space can make them so much more engaging. Thanks Dan :)
Flipping with Alan November
To wrap up, Alan used the beta version of our upcoming live polling tool to show how effective and fun flipping your classroom can be!
It quickly became obvious that learning that happens via discussion with peers is a more effective way to apply knowledge practically. After being ‘fed’ a definition and other content, the participants were polled with a few abstract questions that applied the concepts from the definitions. We then were asked to discuss and justify our decisions with the others in our group which forced us to articulate our understanding of the concept and bounce ideas back an forth. We were then polled again and had a much better understanding, all without ‘teacher input’ which didn’t come until the second poll was over. If used correctly, this is a very powerful tool. We got lots of great questions and discussions from the audience as well, so thanks again for everyone involved!
We hope to see you in our next and final SLC for the year on 10 November!
The Stile Team