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  • 14 Sep 2017 8:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Bookings are now open for the NSW term 3 joint MITIE ACCE/ICTENSW conference to be held at Rosebank College Five Dock on Wednesday 27th Septemeber. Thanks to Saif Samaan and College Principal, Tom Galea, for hosting the day. If you can’t make this event, it will be live streamed by Clickview, and a recording made available at a later time.


    What’s MITIE?

    The Managers of Information Technology in Education (MITIE) serves those responsible for the infrastructure, procurement and governance of IT in schools. It arose from a group of largely Independent education IT managers who needed to share information, solutions and ideas.

    There appears to be a natural fit between MITIE and the state groups that make up ACCE, so this meeting is to explore opportunities in partnering, but also to listen to some great presentations and to provide some wonderful networking opportunities.


    Our Sponsors

    We are proud to have the following companies as our sponsors - there should be something for everyone in this select group:

    Gold Sponsor: StudentNet

    Silver Sponsors: AC3, CompNow, CyberHound, JB HiFi and ViVi.

    Live streaming sponsor: ClickView


    Program

    This term conference will be a joint event with ACCE/ICTENSW recognising the importance of good working relationships between those teaching ICT related subjects and those charged with managing technology. The program is  here.


    Book your tickets

    Book for the event through Trybooking here. There is a modest charge of $55.30 that covers the cost of your refreshments on the day.


    A big thank you!

    I’d especially like to acknowledge the work done by Saif Samaan and Ken Lin from Rosebank and Martin Levins from ACCE in putting this event together.


    Ian Ralph

    MITIE President


  • 08 Sep 2017 4:40 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    2017 Department of Computing Professional Development for Computing/TAS Teachers 28th to 29th September 2017

    This is a two-day course, providing 10 hours of NESA approved professional development, for high school TAS/Computing teachers that covers the syllabus topics of Databases, Artificial Intelligence, Software Development and Digital Media. It is ideal for teachers of the 7 – 10 Information and Software Technology course as these make up four of the optional topics in this course. It is also highly relevant to the Stage 6 courses: Software Design and Development, Information Processes and Technology and Industrial Technology - Multimedia. Teachers learn practical skills in these areas and ideas on how to incorporate them in their classrooms. In addition, they learn about current research in each of these ICT areas. Materials created for this course were funded by the Google CS4HS 2017 Award.

    Click here for more details.

  • 26 Jul 2017 4:00 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Wednesday 26 July 2017

    The University of Sydney is excited to announce today its leading role in supporting schools to implement Australia’s Digital Technologies curriculum.

    At a launch event at Artarmon Public School today, Australian Government Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham, commended The University of Sydney’s Australian Computing Academy (ACA) for its role in delivering the Australian Digital Technologies Challenges for Years 5 and 7 project.

    The ACA, which is based in the University’s Faculty of Engineering and Information Technologies, has been awarded $10 million over the next four years to provide Australian teachers with educational resources and professional development necessary to deliver the new Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies and enable students to excel in the digital economy.

    The ACA will deliver the Australian Digital Technologies Challenges for Years 5 and 7 on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Education and Training until December 2020, with support from Grok Learning and Monash University.

    The Challenges are a series of free, self-paced, online classroom activities linked to the Digital Technologies curriculum for all Australian Year 5 and 7 students. These activities include:

    • interactive course notes, videos and unplugged activities;
    • engaging, real-world coding problems with intelligent automated feedback;
    • lesson plans and other resources for teachers.

    In addition, the Academy will provide email, phone and online support for schools participating in the Challenges to deliver the new curriculum.

    Speaking at the launch event, Vice-Chancellor and Principal Dr Michael Spence said the ACA’s important role supporting the new curriculum demonstrated the University’s leadership in the digital space.

    “By leading the ACA, the University builds upon its long-term commitment to computing education in schools through our annual National Computer Science School and innovative online computing activities,” he said.   

    ACA Academic Director Associate Professor James Curran, one of three authors of the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies and a co-founder of Grok Learning, said the Australian Digital Technologies Challenges represented a significant investment in Australia’s digital future.

    “The introduction of Digital Technologies is an important addition to the Australian Curriculum. We are delighted to work with the Australian Government in providing resources and support for teachers as they learn and teach the Digital Technologies curriculum,” he said.

    “Through the new curriculum, every Australian child has the opportunity to develop the coding, data analysis and collaboration skills that will enable them to be the master of their digital future.”

    The project is funded under the Inspiring All Australians in Digital Literacy and STEM element of the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

  • 20 Jun 2017 8:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Congratulations to Stephanie Schwarz, who has recently received the Order of Australia medal for her work within ICT Technologies over the past years.

    Those of you who know Stephanie would know her as an exceptional teacher of IPT and SDD who has consistently given her time and expertise in mentoring teachers within the computing studies field from the beginning of the subject within Australia. Stephanie has been a member and great support of the ICTENSW Association, and previously, the Computing Studies Teachers Association (CSTA) since its inception, and was given life membership of the CSTA (now ICTENSW) in 2004. In the Australian honours system appointments to the Order of Australia confer recognition for outstanding achievement and service. It is safe to say that our profession as ICT teachers within NSW would not be the same without Stephanie’s contributions to this field. 

    More details on her work with ICTENSW can be viewed here. The testimonials below also go a small way to demonstrating her work to support technology educators. 






  • 03 Sep 2016 9:32 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    The Mission of ICT Educators NSW (ICTENSW) is:

    'to promote the interests of all educators who use technologies in learning by providing a voice at local, state and national levels. It advocates on matters of curriculum and equity, promotes best practice and provides resources, professional development and a network of collegial support.'

    In keeping with this mission, the ICTENSW Board submitted the following response to the BOSTES Curriculum Draft Directions Document for Technology (Mandatory) Years 7 & 8. After meeting with Mark Tyler, Inspector, Technology Education, BOSTES, at our Term 3 workshop evening, attending a number of the BOSTES consultation sessions, and further discussion with our members, the Board crafted the following statement. Please read through the document and we welcome your comments.  This is an example of the behind the scenes work the ICTENSW Board do on the members' behalf, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Board members who spent considerable time shaping this statement.

    Leanne Cameron, President, ICT Educators NSW

    ICTENSW Response to the BOSTES Curriculum Draft Directions for Technology (Mandatory) Years 7 & 8

    OVERVIEW

    While ICT Educators NSW (ICTENSW) acknowledges the complexity associated with introducing a new subject we recommend the following amendments:

     

    • the Syllabus Aim and Rationale to clearly link to the areas / contexts / strands of technology content
    • the inclusion of specific aspirational aims relating to Digital Technologies such as those already established by the Australian Curriculum.
    • the Technology (Mandatory) curriculum mandate 50% of the recommended hours be used to cover the Digital Technologies outcomes in the requisite depth (as per the Australian Technologies Curriculum)

     

    ICT Educators NSW (ICTENSW) is the professional association that represents teachers in all sectors of education who are interested in, or directly teach, computing or ICT integration in NSW schools. Our membership has shown great excitement about the cohesiveness and logical developmental structure of the Australian Digital Technologies Curriculum and are very keen to take on a similar thrust to that in NSW.

    ICTENSW is concerned that the rationale underplays the importance of Digital Technologies to contemporary society and the economy.  The intent of the Australian Curriculum is that both subjects have equal significance. The opening sentence of the Australian Technologies Curriculum calls them “two distinct but related subjects”.

     

    Our concern focuses on the BOSTES position relating to the separation of the Digital Technologies from Design and Technologies. The rationale for this position was made clear in the NSW response to the Draft Australian Technologies Curriculum. We are happy to accept that the two subjects can be treated as two parts of the same subject but are of the view that to give the Digital Technologies the credence it deserves for our students and our future, requires a mandatory minimum percentage of the allocated hours. As it currently stands, one Context only, Digital Systems, explicitly teaches the Digital Technology content of the Australian Technology Curriculum. While we can see some attempt has been made to also integrate some of the content into the other Contexts, this is done in a very ad hoc manner that would not encourage the teacher of that Context (unlikely to be a Digital Technology specialist) to provide the depth required for meaningful Digital Technology understanding.

     

    In summary, ICTENSW can’t see how in its current form the Draft Directions document addresses the basic requirements of a Digital Technologies Curriculum as eloquently expressed in the Australian Technologies Curriculum Rationale:

    “Digital Technologies provides students with authentic learning challenges that foster curiosity, confidence, persistence, innovation, creativity, respect and cooperation. These are all necessary when using and developing information systems to make sense of complex ideas and relationships in all areas of learning. Digital Technologies helps students to be regional and global citizens capable of actively and ethically communicating and collaborating”.

    Quite specifically, ICTENSW is concerned that the key concepts represented in the Draft Directions document does not include the key concepts of the Australian Technologies Curriculum. There is no mention of impact (ACTDIP031), specification (ACTDIP027) and algorithms with branching, iteration and functions (ACTDIP030).

     

    In order for these skills to be imparted in a way that has enough depth to form a literacy, we agree with the implication of the Australian Technologies Curriculum that Digital Technologies form 50% of the whole Technologies syllabus.

     

    ICTENSW recognises the significant implementation issues associated with the introduction of a new subject and even the introduction of new mandated content in a curriculum, however, lack of qualified staff and resources should not shape our students’ futures. Conversely, the new syllabus should drive professional development program and resource allocation.

     

    However, any new syllabus is required to come packaged with support for the staff affected by it. ICTENSW hope to work in partnership with BOSTES, to support the computing and technologies teachers in both urban and regional areas. We believe that with our cross-sectoral membership and our proven track-record supplying teachers with high-quality practical professional learning opportunities, that we can help deliver the support to the technology teachers of our state.

     

    A continuum of knowledge and outcomes related to digital technologies has been established at the national level. This is important to ensure that students can clearly identify pathways of learning in digital technologies subjects.The rapid decline of students selecting specialist Digital Technologies subjects in NSW Stage 5 and Stage 6 is alarming and suggests that the current pathway to upper level digital technologies specialist subjects requires clarification and distinction. Furthermore, the rapid increase in schools introducing their own programs of study in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM programs/subjects), the popularity in co-curricular ‘code clubs”  suggests that schools and the community generally see a gap in the mandated curriculum related to digital technologies.

     

    In the Introduction to the Technology (Mandatory) Years 7–8 Draft Directions for Syllabus

    Development document, information is provided about the background to Syllabus development in NSW that is guided by the overarching K-10 Curriculum Framework. While we recognise this framework provides a foundation on which to develop syllabus documents and identifies essential learning for all NSW students, it was released in 2002. ICTENSW’s concern is that it undervalues the immense changes to the Digital Technology landscape in the 14 years since its release and the importance of digital technologies for contemporary learning and working beyond school.

     

    We all agree that the world is increasingly driven by computing and computation. Fundamental to this changing world is the fact that - as the Australian Technologies Curriculum states ”[I]t is critical to the wellbeing and sustainability of the economy, the environment and society, that the benefits of information systems are exploited ethically.”

     

    In order to exploit these capabilities, the students of NSW need an education rich, not just the use of digital tools, but the creation of Digital Technology products. The students of this state deserve at least the opportunities provided to the students of the other Australian states and territories and, the students in other areas of the western world, where the ability to be literate in the language of computing, the building blocks of so much that drives our world, form a fundamental part of their education.

     

    We also understand that there is nothing in the current Syllabus Draft Directions document to preclude schools from implementing a syllabus giving 50% of time to the Digital Technologies curriculum but despite this, the choice would be in the hands of the individual school and, even the individual heads of faculty, whereas we believe that Digital Technologies literacies such as computational thinking are too important to implement in a piecemeal way with individual students at the mercy of the choices of individual schools. It is imperative that NSW not allow our students to fall behind the other states and territories who are delivering the whole Digital Technologies curriculum in depth.

     

    There is an industry agreement that in order to drive the innovation of our nation we need more students to be STEM trained and STEM literate (see the evidence in the graph below).

     

    List of Issues

    ----------------------------

    • The Australian Curriculum is clearly meant to be an even split between Digital Technologies and Design Technologies.
    • There is no indication of the mandatory hours required for Digital Technologies and this could result in it receiving a cursory implementation in some schools
    • Implementation in other states is much closer to the Australian Curriculum Technologies Curriculum of 50:50 between Digital Technologies and Design Technologies.
      • This will be difficult to staff initially (as has been recognised by other states) but a syllabus update should not be based on the current staffing but rather building systems and resources to bring along the staff we have and train them appropriately to deliver a future looking and future proof syllabus
    • There is no impetus to change so that the thrust of the Australian Curriculum is realised - The new Draft Directions document proposed by BOSTES could be "implemented" with only tweaking of current programs and no requirement that the subjects be re-thought
    • The Australian Curriculum has the 5 contexts as outlined in the NSW documentation but 4 contexts are under Design Technology and 1 is a separate subject. To make them all have the same value is not reflective of  the purpose of the Australian Technologies Curriculum.
    • The Australian Curriculum has the Years 7 and 8 level using sequencing, selection, iteration and subprograms in a "General Purpose Language" whereas the NSW document says that students should be able to sequence and use algorithms in an "appropriate language." These are by no means equivalent, and change of language may lead to dilution of rigour.
    • Prescribing that an individual school "can" implement more Digital Technology if they so wish takes the responsibility of meeting the requirements of the Australian Curriculum out of the hands of the Board and back to individual Heads of Department which could potentially lead to very little change, and in so doing allow NSW to fall behind our Australian counterparts who are making this more prescriptive.
    • The NSW Curriculum Draft Directions Document allows that digital technology could be implemented across the other technologies rather than as a stand alone unit, this focus on integration could encourage implementation in a very superficial way, merely as a support for the other units, much in the way that ICT Capabilities are currently most commonly taught.
    • The document doesn’t explicitly and very clearly articulate the distinction between ICT General Capability and Digital Technologies, the subject which will lead to a lack of understanding by all teachers as to what is required by each.
    • The current proposed direction means NSW students are shortchanged of opportunities to engage more with computational thinking, systems thinking and problem-solving and the possibilities this affords them in our digital-rich world.
    • The BOSTES Draft Directions document also lacks the well-considered language of the Australian Technologies curriculum. Apparent in absence are terms such as computational thinking, (empowering) preferred futures, information systems (distinct from digital systems).

    The Board of ICT Educators NSW on behalf of the membership

    Leanne Cameron, 

    President, ICTENSW

  • 17 Aug 2016 9:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    CSERMOOC-Image-banner.131034

    Over the past two months, the CSER team have been busy working away on updating our online courses. We are now pleased to announce that our courses will shortly be available again, and are ready for you to register to enrol now!

    We will initially be starting with our F-6 Digital Technologies: Foundations course, open from the 22nd August. This course is a free, open professional learning course, designed for primary teachers who would like to understand more about what Digital Technologies is, and what it would look like in their classroom.

    We will be following shortly with our Years 7 & 8 Digital Technologies: Next Steps MOOC, and our latest MOOC, the F-6 Digital Technologies: Extended MOOC for those primary teachers wanting to explore a little further. These will be open for registrations shortly, and will open on the 1st September.

    We are also delighted to announce that our Project Officers, based around Australia, are joining us very soon for our expanded face-to-face support program. We will be introducing your Project Officers on our blog over the next couple of weeks.

    Finally, we have also been busy setting up our National Lending Library program. As part of this, as it is really your library, we are trying to understand more about what digital technologies equipment you would prefer to have in the classroom, and how you best use it. We would greatly appreciate if you could complete our survey of lending library suggestions.

    We look forward to working with you in the future! You can register for one or more of our courses by following the link below.

    Katrina Falkner, on behalf of the CSER Team


  • 03 Aug 2016 9:56 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)


    Education loses a guiding light

    3 August, 2016

     

    Members of the Educational technology community have been saddened by the death of Seymour Papert, one of their favourite sons.

    Papert, previously emeritus professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and author of the seminal text “Mindstorms: children, computers and powerful ideas”, died in his home in Maine on Sunday.

    He was revered for his take on learning and how educational technology can enhance the learning process; a move from instructionism where the teacher delivered content, to constructionism, where the learner built their view of the world by guided, hands-on exploration.

    He subverted the view that computers in education were to be used only for drill and practice and built his theses on the idea that the emphasis should be on the child’s learning by programming, building familiarity with some of the deepest ideas of Mathematics and Science rather than learning to program for its own sake.

    His philosophy rose from the foundations built by the Swiss educational philosopher Piaget, with whom he worked after gaining his second PhD in Mathematics from Cambridge University.

    With others, he developed the programming language “Logo” to explore mathematics and logic. Logo has since morphed from its text based roots into a variety of visual languages such as Scratch, SNAP, StarLogo and Tickle, to name a few.

    After a traffic accident in 2006 in Hanoi, where he was attending a Mathematics education conference, he suffered extensive injuries, including to the brain.

    It is particularly appropriate that his successful rehabilitation after this accident used the same principles of hands-on, experiential learning that he worked with in his research—principles that have engaged, delighted, and enthused learners for many years.

    ACCE offers its condolences to his family, and shares with many educators a great sadness.

    Martin Levins, President, ACCE.

    __________

    About ACCE

    The ACCE (the Australian Council for Computers in Education) is the peak body for Australia’s state Computer Education Groups:  Australian Capital Territory: INTEACT; New South Wales: ICTENSW; Queensland: QSITE; South Australia: EdTechSA; Tasmania: TASite; Victoria: DLTV; Western Australia: ECAWA.


  • 02 Aug 2016 11:57 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We would like to call all ICTENSW members’ attention to the fact that BOSTES has announced a revision of Technology Education K-10 and documented suggested directions in the Draft Directions for Syllabus Development documents. We urge members to take some time to read through these documents to ensure we all get the curriculum we need to ensure Technology’s relevance in the years to come. We need your input, and those of your colleagues.

     What can you do?

    • Do you teach Tech (Mandatory) or IST? If so, go to this document and report on the state of the CURRENT syllabus documents AND/OR
    • Attend one of the BOSTES face-to-face consultation sessions (dates and locations here) AND/OR
    • Complete the BOSTES survey to be found in the Consultation documents.

    How long do we have to do all this?

    Consultations will conclude on August 31 2016 so there is not a lot of time. Get your colleagues together and send BOSTES your thoughts – highlight both the good and bad.

    The original BOSTES news article announcing the revision can be found here:http://news.bostes.nsw.edu.au/blog/2016/7/14/consultation-begins-on-k-10-draft-directions-for-syllabus-development

    There are two separate documents that are likely to be of interest to the Technology Education community:

    The Draft Directions for Syllabus Development is the detailed blueprint for the development of a draft syllabus and is structured according to the elements of a K–10 syllabus. Each subsection of the Draft Directions for Syllabus Development addresses a syllabus component and includes an explanation of the component’s purpose. Content subsections include proposed instructions to the writers in the writing of the draft syllabus. In developing the draft Directions for Syllabus Development in Science and Technology K–6 and Technology (Mandatory) Years 7-8, the Australian curriculum rationales, aims, content and achievement standards have been considered for a NSW context.

    Consultation on these document will be open for 6 weeks. Consultations will conclude on August 31 2016. Face to face consultations will be taking place in rural and metropolitan locations across the state. More information and registration to attend these events can be found on the BOSTES website:http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/syllabuses/curriculum-development/K-10.html

    Regards, Leanne Cameron,
    President, ICT Educators NSW


  • 28 May 2016 11:41 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Another guest post, this time from Lee Hewes, an innovative primary school teacher from Merrylands East Public School. He writes here about how Minecraft can be integrated across all areas of the curriculum. Originally published on: https://leehewes.wordpress.com/

    A few weeks ago I presented at a teachmeet at the the Sydney Powerhouse Museum, AKA the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences. The topic was STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) + X (STEM+X). The idea was to share some of the things you have done and/or are doing in your classroom or workplace around integrating STEM with other KLAs, for example, a STEM and PE project would be STEM + PE.

    When I was asked to present, I thought it would be a great opportunity to share how I’ve been using Minecraft in my classroom over the last few years and how it really can be used across all subject areas. Just like the ‘play’ within the game itself, what you do with it in the classroom is only limited by your own creativity and that of your students. Below I will share some of the cool things that my students and i have done and how they link to KLAs across the curriculum.

    Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 7.43.23 am

    Science

    Above are some screenshots of some science projects that I have run with my students. Last year, my students completed a project with the driving question, “How can K/1L show their learning in Minecraft?” One of the groups made a representation of a silkworm life cycle by building the different stages and then sharing a screencast and overlaid audio to demonstrate what they’d learned.

    Now, not only does this video demonstrate sound knowledge of stage 1 science outcomes, it also demonstrates how my students have achieved outcomes in the English syllabus by creating multimodal texts and reflecting on their own and others’ learning.

    The other screenshots are of the seven buildings my year 1 class made during a science project in which they had to build a city in Minecraft. The driving question was, “Can mini MEPS people design a dream city?” Again, this crosses outcomes across both the science and English syllabuses. There was even a bit of stage 1 mathematics in there as we discussed the different areas and volumes of the buildings and had to count and measure distances between windows and doors with pinpoint accuracy. Plus it was loads of fun. My class still love visiting Lionfish City!

    Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 8.28.25 am

    Technology and Engineering

    Above are some screenshots of some work done in a Minecraft mod called Computer Craft. With this mod you program a little computerised turtle to build and dig for you. I made mine build a house for me and at the moment I have students from year 1 through to year 4 working regularly on Thursday mornings and within my year 1 class on a Friday to challenge themselves to do the same. Some of them are up to the point where they can get it to build four walls, and I will be teaching them how to write a ‘for’ loop in Lua so they can get the turtle to change inventory slots when it runs out of blocks.

    It’s a really cool mod, because unlike more basic programming tools like Scratch, you can actually switch between  a visual, block style editor and a programming editor which allows the keener kids to get a sense of what’s going on with the actual language itself. If kids can understand that, then they are taken a decent step towards a proper understanding of programming.

    Now, computer programming isn’t in the NSW primary curriculum yet but there is strong talk to suggest that it soon will be, and kids who are doing this kind of stuff in Minecraft are already ahead of the curve.

    Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 8.43.48 am

    Mathematics

    I have been using Minecraft a lot this year for extension in mathematics. For example, if a kid in my class totally nails what we are working on during our first lesson, there is no need for them to be sitting with the rest of the class who need further practise or additional (pardon the pun) help from me. In many cases I set them a Minecraft challenge, such as building a clock to show me a certain time to the half hour (as above) or showing me the difference between two numbers by building a series of towers and writing the number sentence on a sign (as above).

    As with the videos shown above in the science section, last year my K/1 class made some maths themed Minecraft videos in order to demonstrate their learning. One group madehouses out of 3D objects such as rectangular and triangular prisms, another shared knowledge of equal groups (multiplication), while another made a truly impressive and remarkable maths game in which are presented with a series of addition problems which increase in difficulty as the game progresses. Watch the video to see how it works. Again, these videos cross outcomes across several KLAs.

    So, that’s the STEM stuff covered with Minecraft, how about the + ‘X’? Well, my friends, read on to find out!

    Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 9.09.16 am

    English

    I’ve already mentioned how making videos in Minecraft is great way to work with the English syllabus. There’s a lot of teaching and planning that goes into each video as kids storyboard and write scripts to plan for what they will be saying over each video. Of course, as they speak over each video, they have to make sure what tey are saying is clear and audible – hence, talking and listening!

    Above are some screenshots of videos about Minecraft castles and dragons made by the K/1 Koalas last year. We read a bunch of stuff about castles and dragons and watched a whole bunch of videos to make sure we knew enough about each topic to speak over our videos. Again, it was loads of fun. Who wouldn’t want to learn about castles and dragons!?

    My students also do a lot of writing about what they do in Minecraft. You see screenshots of a Minecraft story written by one of my students very early in the year using Storybird, as well as some great writing by another of my students using Kidblog. It’s a cute little Minecraft love story which she wrote at home and then brought in to school so she could type it up on her blog and search for digital images to add to it.

    I also teach my kids to search for images that are ‘labelled for reuse’ so that they are aware that it’s inappropriate and illegal behaviour to go around breaking copyright laws. All this at age 6!

    Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 9.47.34 am

    Visual arts

    Now, there are any number of ways you can link art with Minecraft. You could get kids to do cool Minecraft paintings and artworks, or you could get them to make some interesting visual art themed builds based on their favourite artists. The limit is only placed by how creative you are in your thinking.

    With my class, I decided to make an epically large, life sized gigantic creeper out of cardboard boxes and papier mâché. It took weeks and we had heaps of fun and made A LOT of mess. I still need to finish off the ‘pixels’ on top of his head and make it waterproof with some outdoor acrylic varnish. The kindy kids at school want to use it to post sight words on and do a weekly creeper hunt to find him located in random spots around the school. See, there’s that cross-curricular Minecraft stuff in action again – sight words!

    Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 10.00.01 am

    PDHPE

    Above you can see screenshots of a video I made for a year 3 class a few years ago, all about sun safety. It’s all about a zombie who sets off to go fishing with his friend, Ralph. He is a very sun smart zombie and before he leaves the house he makes sure to put on his sunscreen and a hat. When he meets Ralph, he discovers that he is not so sun smart and has forgotten to protect himself. He subsequently bursts into flames!

    I made this as a lesson intro but you could quite easily get students to make similar videos about a range of health related issues, such as healthy eating and hygiene. Again, the only limit is your creativity.

    Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 10.06.55 am

    Music

    More videos made by me. One is of a cute little Japanese song called ‘The Frog Song‘ which I learned with the same year 3 class for whom I made the sun smart zombie video. I made the song by tuning note blocks in Minecraft and linking them to pressure plates to walk across. I then took a screencast of me walking across them to play the song. The other video is one I made of note blocks being linked to red stone circuits in order to play the intro Black Sabbath’s ‘Iron Man’, I got the timing a bit wrong, but hey, it was my first attempt and red stone circuitry is tricky!

    I am yet to do this with a class, but when I do, I would love to teach them the frog song and get them to go and build it Minecraft using red stone circuitry, maybe when I get a stage 2 class. It will be loads of fun.

    Screen Shot 2015-11-07 at 10.19.37 am

    21st Century Skills

    By now you would have heard a lot of talking about the need for kids to be equipped ’21st Century Skills’ such as communication, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, digital citizenship and ICT capability. How do we teach these skills? The ICT capability component is quite obvious with Minecraft, kids need to be able to navigate their way around a 3 dimensional computer world, using computer controls, while learning basic coding skills and knowledge of things like ip addresses in order to log on to your class server. However, what about some of those other skills?

    There is a lot of ‘incidental learning’ which takes place on a Minecraft server. For example, in the screenshots above you can see a wither (a three headed Minecraft monster which flies around shooting flaming skulls at anything that moves). Now, obviously you don’t really want one of these flying around your server shooting at everyone and destroying all of your builds. Last year, however, one of my students purposely spawned one of these creatures in our class world, and it set about causing destruction. This prompted a server shut down and a lengthy class discussion around what it means to be a good digital citizen. How your online actions affect the online experience of those who share the same space. My students agreed that the wither spawning had not been a good idea and the student involved went on to write an apologetic blog post about what he had done and why it had been a bad idea. A blog post by a year one student regarding digital citizenship!

    I also run a school Minecraft club on Wednesdays and Fridays in which I set club challenges using a Minecraft challenge generator. The amount of collaboration, communication and problem solving which goes on in these short meetings as students work together to meet these set challenges is amazing. Sometimes I jump in the world to help them solve these problems, but mostly I’m just there in the background watching as they work through the challenges together, all the while creatively mining and building away.

    So there you have it, these are just some of the ways I have used Minecraft ‘gaming’ in my classroom and I’m sure I’ll find more awesome ways in future. You can see my presentation below if you’re interested, but I’ve basically just written you through it. Thanks for reading!

    https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1tFqVc9A-ezVC73hkkkFA8rInyMLQTAi0_gcmbaMvVIU/edit?usp=sharing



  • 08 Dec 2015 4:25 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    We have received the following Ministerial Fact Sheet about the National Innovation and Science Agenda from the Federal Department of Education and Training which may be of interest to members.

    Measure: Inspiring all Australians in digital literacy and STEM

    This initiative will increase the participation of all students and the community in ICT and improve their digital literacy. There will be a focus on tackling the digital divide by ensuring that students most at risk of falling behind in the digital age are given opportunities to participate and engage.

    About the initiatives

    School education ($50.6 million)
    Upskilling our teachers The Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies provides teachers with a world class curriculum which prepares students for the challenges of the digital economy. The Government will roll out a nationally available, free online course – with dedicated support and some start up equipment for primary and early secondary teachers to help develop fundamental teaching skills and knowledge relating to the new digital technologies curriculum.Additional support, according to state priorities, will be provided to schools in disadvantaged areas through access to specialist ICT teachers who can provide extra in-classroom support to such schools for up to a term.

    Upskilling our students
    The Government is funding national computing challenges for all Year 5 and 7 students as well as a national competition “Cracking the Code” which will set various types of computing/coding challenges for Year 4 – 12 students. A computer science summer school for up to 60 Year 9 and 10 students will be held annually, focusing on students who are underrepresented in STEM subjects such as those living in disadvantaged areas.

    Facilitating partnerships with industry
    The Australian Government will provide support for at least 2000 flexible partnerships between STEM professionals and schools, helping students and teachers understand how STEM is applied in the real world. They will be introduced to emerging STEM innovations and potential career paths, student mentoring opportunities, and a better understanding of industry expectations. There will be a focus on brokering partnerships with women currently working in STEM.

    Enhancing digital literacy through a whole-of-school approach
    Principals and ICT school champions will be identifed to promote best practice and change management across all Australian Curriculum learning areas. $4 million in grants over two years will be available for 100 plus projects which partner successful school ICT leaders with other, less ICT capable local schools and which propose innovative methods of driving enhanced digital literacy across the curriculum.

    Engaging in the early years ($14 million over four years)
    As a part of a suite of initiatives (to be implemented with the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science), the Australian Government will invest in the foundation of the STEM skills to promote positive science and maths experiences for children aged three to five. This will include developing online resource for teachers, parents and studentsand a series of apps to engage curiosity and learning.

    The amount of funding for the measure and the timeframe
    Total funding for Inspiring all Australians in digital literacy and STEM is $112.2 million. The Department of Education and Training’s initiatives total $64.6 million. These will be provided over four years. The initiatives commence from July 2016.

    Why it is important
    Ensuring the next generations of young Australians have the skills to equip them for the workforce of the 21st century is critical in maximising our economic and social wellbeing in an increasingly global and digital age.

    Given the impact of emerging technologies will be felt disproportionately by those in low skilled occupations, it is more important than ever to increase digital literacy among the most disadvantaged students – such as those in low SES areas, Indigenous students and those living in regional and remote areas. The initiatives will also engage and retain girls in STEM studies, and address systemic barriers to STEM careers for women.

    How it supports the Government’s agenda
    The Foundation for Young Australians claims that up to 70 per cent of young people are preparing for jobs that, due to the impact of automation, will no longer exist in the future – especially in entry level occupations for schools leavers. The range of initiatives under the Inspiring all Australians in digital literacy and STEM measure will ensure future generations are STEM skilled and digitally literate. By supporting the implementation of the Australian Curriculum: Digital Technologies and closing the digital divide for Australia’s most disadvantaged and underrepresented students, the next generations of Australian students will have the skills to equip them for the 21st century workforce.

    For more information visit www.innovation.gov.au


    Leanne Cameron, President, ICTENSW


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