Five members of the Trinity Digital Leaders program headed out to Ivanhoe on 7–8 April, for a full two days of conferencing with some inspiring and dedicated teachers. Among the key messages communicated throughout the sessions was the importance of engaging students in the classroom, encouraging collaboration in learning and how the use of technology can assist in achieving both of these objectives. The other important message was that educational institutes must change in order to improve learning.
Stileapp is an online lesson builder, which uses a simple drag and drop interface. During our session, were were introduced to the software and encouraged to build our first lesson. I was able to introduce video, create multiple choice questions and also to build a mind map activity into my lesson. The program also allows the teacher to monitor individual student progress in real time, by providing multiple data on which students are undertaking what part of the lesson and also allowing the teacher to identify any misconceptions that the students may be holding. The software also allows the teacher to provide instant feed back to the students as they work.
For unlimited individual access to Stileapp Education, there is an annual fee of $240, or membership can be taken out monthly at a cost of $20/month.
One of the sessions I enjoyed, because of the wide-ranging application of the tool, was a look at a Google Sheets Add-on called Simplequest. This was created by two of the presenters at the conference to serve as an ‘onboarding’ activity. Basically, the tool which works with Google Sheets is a template for creating orientation activities like treasure hunts, and other search/complete activities. Here is one I made for the Library as a test. http://goo.gl/forms/m7dMfmqT8L
It could easily work for other kinds of orientation and course activities, and we could also design our own add-ons to create something more relevant for teaching and reinforcing knowledge, services, expectations, etc. The form can be returned to over the course of a conference or course to revise entries and confirm completion of tasks. How hard can it be to create a Google add-on? We’ll find out for you.
My two favourite sessions at the conference demonstrated the importance of being creative in your teaching with and without technology. Tricia and I attended an energising session run by NoTosh http://notosh.com which involved us role-playing for most of the session. There were a number of characters to choose from, all with different personalities and skills. I chose to be Ada Lovelace for the session and we then had to join a group of strangers, all playing different characters, in order to solve a problem. It encouraged us to embrace a different perspective for the duration of the session and to think creatively. I think this would be a wonderful activity to use in the classroom when you’re helping your students to see ideas, activities, texts, theories, etc. from different perspectives.
One of the interactive sessions that I attended was called ‘Student Centred Learning, Digital Technologies, Classroom Innovation’. It was an excellent session because it enabled the 20 or so participants to collaborate, use technology and engage in meaningful conversations that focused on pedagogy. Below is a snippet from the abstract for the session. I won’t give to much away as it is a meaningful activity which a few of the Digital Leaders will try to replicate at the forthcoming eLearning Forum in September.
"Using a range of practical creative experiences and challenges, participants will be asked to react quickly and think differently on a series of learning scenarios involving classrooms, curriculum, and technology."