Edtechs Blog

Edtechs Blog

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Students trial virtual classrooms amid crisis

Instead of being herded into a classroom on Thursday morning as the school bell rang, some WA students stayed at home and logged in online to their new-look virtual lessons.

Although WA schools still remain open amid the COVID-19 pandemic, up to 30 per cent of WA students are staying home, and at least one private school has started trialling virtual classrooms.

John Septimus Roe Anglican Community School began testing online schooling for its Year 10 students on Thursday in "preparation for the possibility of school closures".

Parents and guardians of JSRAC Year 10 students were told on Monday in a letter that the school was trialling its online learning and teaching capabilities to inform the Anglican Schools Commission’s response to any potential government decision to close schools for an extended period of time due to coronavirus.

In the letter, Principal Jason Bartell said Year 10s would be encouraged to stay home and engage with their teachers via the online program.

"Students whose parents do not approve of their children staying at home for the day, will still access the teaching and learning program remotely," the letter read.

"A classroom will be set up for this purpose, with students being taught their individual lessons through their devices."

Mother-of-two Klaire Hughes said while that she "absolutely" didn’t think schools should close just yet, she welcomed the trial, which her son Scott, 15, was taking from home.

However as a stay-at-home mum, Ms Hughes acknowledged a blanket school closure across the state wasn’t ideal for many families.

"The school has told us that it’s a normal school day with a normal school timetable, so it’s all being done by webcam. We did have to buy him a webcam," she said.

"All the kids have a laptop or an iPad so they are able to login to have wifi access and things like that.

"For our school it hasn’t been a big issue, I think it will be a big issue for a lot of government schools where parents can’t afford those things, but there’s ways around it."

In Ms Hughes' home country South Africa, all schools have been closed but sent resources home with students.

"So there are ways around it," she said. "But I think it will be a very big task.

"Obviously we’re all hoping this [coronavirus] isn’t a long-term thing, eventually our kids will be able to go back into the classroom and then they’ll be able to catch up on all the practical stuff, but until then it’s just going to be theory I’m guessing."

Parents are hearing from the government that keeping their children home is "harming" the community, but from doctors that sending them to school is harmful.

The private school’s trial comes as WA Education Minister Sue Ellery told ABC Radio on Thursday parents who chose to keep their children home from government schools would be regarded as not approved and "making it harder for us all as a community".

According to the ASC website, all its schools were following the advice and direction of government, therefore there were some changes to how they were operating, including increased hygiene habits, a no touching policy, social distancing, staggered recess and lunch breaks, and the suspension of assemblies, gatherings and excursions.

"While there are no current plans for school closures, each school is making arrangements for the continuation of learning for our students, should we receive a directive to close," it read.

"We continue to do our best to support our students, staff and families during these uncertain times."


Visualisers and Document Cameras

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

All students could soon be learning in 'virtual classrooms'. Here's how they work

Each day in NSW, 384 school students don headsets, open their laptops and log into their virtual classroom where a teacher, working in front of a webcam in another part of the state, greets them.

The students are enrolled in Aurora College, a virtual high school established in 2015 to educate gifted students in remote parts of the state. But it could soon offer a template for how thousands receive education in coming weeks, if NSW schools are closed to stem the spread of coronavirus.

NSW Education Minister Sarah Mitchell has assured families the Education Department has contingencies in place for widespread and longer school closures, which include scaling up the Aurora model.

"Because we've got the Aurora College model, we've got subject specialist teachers who prepare lessons, record them and deliver them remotely in virtual classrooms to students," she said.

"If we need to ramp that up, that's an option that we can look at ... In fact NSW is the only state that has [that model]. We know it works well, so I think that puts us in quite a strong position should we need to go down that path."

The virtual school uses Adobe Connect to web conference, Office 365 and G-Suite for cloud-based document sharing and classwork. Teachers issue and mark homework using OneNote, where they can supervise student progress with tasks in real time.

Students can break out into smaller online discussion groups and teachers can mute the class to communicate one-on-one with a student who needs help.

Each teacher works with a headset, laptop, desktop computer, webcam and a document camera - which functions like a digital projector - but principal Chris Robertson said they could carry out most tasks with a laptop alone.

Students also have access to Oliver, a fully digitised school library whose librarian works on the NSW South Coast, and the school can reach thousands of students at a time with live streams.

Last year it reached over 25,000 primary school students during two live online presentations on eSafety, and streamed HSC workshops to 11,000 senior school students via 654 simultaneous online connections.

Mr Robertson said teachers were able to adapt to new technologies quickly by utilising online training modules on the department's website, while the school had only experienced two widespread internet dropouts.
Teachers at the Aurora main office in Lane Cove North conduct virtual classes simultaneously.

Teachers at the Aurora main office in Lane Cove North conduct virtual classes simultaneously.Credit:Kate Geraghty

A NSW Education Department spokesperson said the state's distance education platforms could similarly be extended to metropolitan areas, and the department was "developing innovative strategies to deal with the spread of COVID-19, should it further impact some schools".

These include virtual classrooms, assemblies and excursions that connect students to galleries, museums, research institutes and zoos.

The Catholic Education Diocese of Parramatta is already making use of virtual classrooms for 196 students from St Patrick's Marist College in Dundas who are self-isolating after two students were diagnosed with COVID-19.

Students are working in Google Classrooms and using Screencastify to share online tutorials. Some are also in the diocese's virtual school program, which combines 80 students across the system in online classes taught by a specialist teacher at another school.

They engage in virtual face-to-face lessons during timetabled periods using video conferencing program Zoom, and use a learning management system for homework and classwork.

"We’re early adopters of online learning technology," principal Angela Hay said. "Embracing the possibilities of online learning has meant we’re well prepared to support students who need to study at home."


Thursday, 6 March 2014

Edtechs have a blast using the Hue Animation Studio to make their own jungle movie

Edtechs had a great time this week learning the tips and tricks to "movie making" with animation software. Check out the result on youtube !

The movie was made using Hue Animation Software (for the stop motion), a Hue HD Cam (to capture the pictures) and RM Easiteach Software (to create the background and characters. 
We were complete novices but quickly got to grips with the basic concepts and software, then the imagination started to flow and we experimented with the depth of our scene, zooming and panning, story line and much more - it was a really fun experience and could easily see how students of all ages can use movie making across a wide range of curriculum subjects. From recreating a scene from their favourite habitat and animals using a simple software like Easiteach, to re-enacting Hamlet with Lego men - stop motion movie making is a engaging activity that will inspire students of all ages.... and you never know... it might make your class famous ! 

Seven sizzling ideas for using Rainbow Big Points in your classroom...

From quiz buzzers to memory games to a classroom orchestra...try these easy to prepare and fun activities with your Rainbow Big Points, Recordable pegs or Talking Points... then hand over to the students to create their own versions to try !
1) Quiz Buzzers

Record on your big point "ring tones" from your mobile telephone, and then use the Big Point as your team buzzers in a classroom quiz. 
You can get a free app of animal sounds and record these into your Big Points for a different set of buzzer sounds or get the kids to record their own team cheer or chant !

2) Audio Memory Games and Quizzes

Record sets of words and sounds on your big points, here are some idea's
Matching words (like "apple" and "apple", "pear" and "pear" etc) 
Corresponding words and sounds (like "dog" and "woof", "cow" and "moo" etc)
Opposites (like "up" and "down" and "over" and under")
Translations (like "hello" and "salut", "bon nuit" and "good night" etc)
History Quiz (like "1066" and "the battle of hastings")
Maths (like "4x7" and "28" or even more complex... like "25-17" and "2x4")
The possibilities are endless !
The students can then play the traditional game of matching pairs, or a whole heap of other memory games to help them hone their skills and knowledge.

3) Beat Boxes 
Record on your big points some random sounds - car door closing, cat meowing, train or bus passing by, or students rumbling in the canteen !
What tunes or rhythms can teams compose using these sounds ? 

4) Treasure Hunt and question-teering !
Record on your big points the clues for a treasure hunt and then set them up as a trail for students to work through....
Great end of term activity... get the whole school to work together and record a set of clues and questions for each classroom using all the recordable devices you have available. Then the treasure hunt is school wide and everybody can get involved.

5) Classroom Orchestra
Record musical instruments and notes on your big points and the class can produce some "cover versions" of favourite tunes or create some new tunes of their own.
Can these sound and instrument recordings be used as supplements in your class or schools bands... or even to make a new class band ? 

6) Descriptive Language Game
Record descriptions or sounds of objects (like a bus or a kangaroo) on your big points and see how many the students can identify. 
Ask students to create their own descriptions of objects they can see, find or remember, then swop big points around and see whose objects can be identified from the recordings... whose object was the easiest or hardest to identify ? why ? 

7) Messaging
Use a big point on your door or desk or a message board. 
You can quickly leave messages for students or colleagues; a reminder about homework, tests, excursions, your whereabouts etc. 
The recorbable pegs have a handy hole, so you can leave them on hooks and hangers (in kitchens, on doors or coat hooks and the like). The Big points have a hang hole in the back which fits snugly onto  screw head, for hanging on doors, walls, notice boards etc. Sticky velcro also works for Big points and talking points.
The Story sequencer is also excellent for leaving messages and also using in any of the activities above. It has 6 recordable buttons, each which you can slip a small card / label / picture into. You can leave messages or instructions for groups, or about days of the week, anything really. It also has great sound playback clarity and volume and so is excellent for using as a sound box for making stop motion or green screen movie activity sounds tracks.

Using Tami Mechanical or Electronic Robot Kits in your classroom will encourage students to...

Using Tami Mechanical or Electronic Robot Kits in your classroom will encourage students to

Communicate and brainstorm, 
Work in teams, pairs or individually
Develop solutions, select, build, test and evaluate
Gain hands-on experience with control, mechanics, sensors, motors and an endless amount of construction, building and modelling opportunities.
The Tami Education range offers great classroom solutions for Robotics and Science & Technology, through introducing students to robotic concepts in a hands-on, engaging and fun way. 
The robotic kits and helpful educational guides assist teachers and students to implement a step-by-step program to teach and learn technological concepts.
Start with the Tami Mechanical Robot Kit, to learn about robot construction and components (gears, levers, pulleys, axles etc) and teach youngsters to design and build functional machines, then move on to more sophisticated sensory robots and computer programming, through using Tami Electronic Robot Kit.
Tami Mechanical Robot Kit
Tami Mechanical Robot Kit offers step-by-step instructions for young students to build twelve robots. With detailed building and programming instructions, kids (and parents) are introduced to mechanical construction as they build pre-designed models that walk, crawl or roll. Once the basic concepts have been grasped kids can create their own models and robots; to solve a challenge, complete a task or just for fun ! 

The kit comprises all you need including a comprehensive set of construction parts, motors, gears, wheels and battery pack.

The kit also includes teaching resource and activity packs to aid teaching relating to construction, mechanics, gears, ratios, movement, solving engineering challenges and much more.

Tami Electronic Robot Kit
Tami Electronic Robot kit enables students to build robots with electronic circuits and develop control programs with sensory robots too. The resources pack contains step-by-step instructions to build eight robots with electronic circuits and introduces sensors to robots, along with how to programme the movement and actions of the model too. 
All items you need are included in the Tami Electronic Robot kit including a comprehensive set of construction parts, motors, gears, wheels and battery pack, along with “snap together” electronic components too; Controller (CPU and motor drive board), LED’s, touch sensor, light sensor, contact sensor, infrared sensor and buzzer) 
The kit also includes teaching resource and activity packs to aid teaching relating to construction, mechanics, electronics, movement, sensing, programming, solving engineering challenges and much more.

Here is a picture of Tami Electronic Robot Car

Here's a great free tool, to help you design a Learning Space or classroom furniture plan

The Isis Concepts floor space planner is a free to use tool, which teachers and educators can use to design learning space and classroom floor plans and furniture layouts. The tool can also be used to quickly and easily create professional 3d examples, showing how the potential learning spaces will look, work and feel.  The 3d learning spaces you create, can be rotated and zoomed, enabling you to look into your designs and get a true, to scale image, giving you a feel for the learning space, and how it will look and perform from various angles and perspectives.
Following is a quick “how to design a learning space” to help you get the most from the resource

Step1: Set-up
Click on the link below and choose a base to start from. Click to start with a “fresh design”.
Tip: Be prepared - have an idea of the activities and learning styles you want to deploy and the sorts of furniture you want to use. If your serious, measure up your space or consult the designs, and you can quickly create a scale diagram.

Step 2: Draw your room.

Click on the “draw room” icon on the “construction tab”. When you next click (and hold) on the grid, you will start to draw a rectangle. As you draw, a measuring tape will provide dimensions. Drag your room to the desired size.

To add another room, click again on the “draw room” icon on the “construction tab”, the start in the corner of the room you have created.

Tip: Use the internal dimensions for your learning space or classroom, both in this software and on any architectural plans / drawings you use for reference. If you measure inside your classroom, these are the measurements you will be recording.

Tip: You can get quite intricate with your learning space design shape, but this is largely time wasted - a simple design is often adequate – nooks and crannies, windows etc are time consuming to design in, and don’t add much to the overall benefit of using floorplan (at least not with this free tool)

Step 3: Add Learning space furniture to your floor plan design;

Click on the arm chair icon (located in the top left) and a furniture panel will appear. You can click and drag these items into your design, then orientate them by clicking (and highlighting) on them again. You can now spin or relocate, cut / copy / paste etc
Tip: You can lock items together, by holding shift when you select the piece. This is a useful time saver if you want to duplicate a space (like a circle of t41 individual tables and chairs)

Step 4: Create a 3d view

Once your floor plan design is complete, click on the 3d tab (located on the top right) and this will render your design into a 3d model of your classroom or learning space floor plan. Once loaded you can spin the room around, to get views from different angles of the learning space, and zoom in too, to get views from different positions and orientations ( a student view from a particular seat, the teacher view from the IWB, a guests view as they walk in through the door – all can be achieved.
Tip: Don’t zoom too close until you get a feel for the spin ability of the software. Click the arrows and you can step through the design in increments

Step 5: Output your learning space design from the software

Tip: The best way to output from the software is via a “print screen”. Once you have selected your 3d model viewpoint, take a screen shot (press Alt+print screen on most pc). You can then open up the picture in MS Paint, word or Powerpoint, or an IWB software such as Easiteach Next Generation - then you can add labels and comments about your learning space.

Here is the link:


Check it out...

Edtechs offer a free design service too. If you are planning to build a new learning space or create something in an existing classroom, why not drop us an email at enquiry@edtechs.com.au, and see how we can help.

Here some examples we have created;

Video Production is not just for Media Studies – use it in every subject area and for cross-curricular projects.

Video Production is not just for Media Studies – use it in every subject area and for cross-curricular projects.
Helps students with:
  • Reading 
  • Writing
  • Speaking
  • Presenting
  • Collaboration
  • Researching
  • Video skills
Some ideas for projects involving video production:
Geography - create weather forecasts and reports – explaining understanding of weather systems / climate. 
Languages - create a news or weather report in another language with footage of France or a scene from China, etc. as a backdrop
History - use footage from the past and report or take part in the action: e.g. wars, gold-panning, walk along the Great Wall of China…
English - retell stories, act in part of a play, novel or movie.
Marketing and / or business studies - create an advert for an imaginary or real product
PE - provide a sports report or commentary on favorite sporting moments or school fixtures
Music - Create music videos 
Video production is also a good tool for use technology in Drama.
School Community - create weekly news bulletin (add the to youtube or your school website) with reports of sports matches, trips, projects, etc. Create a video prospectus for visitors, parents and younger children coming up to the school