Tag Archives: eLearning Tools


24 Feb


Technology had a trans-formative impact on my students’ interest, engagement, and depth of learning. All of the sudden, my students had access to limitless amounts of information. I no longer needed to be the single source of information in the classroom. Students had the ability to connect, communicate, and collaborate across space and time. Learning became fluid and was no longer limited to a physical classroom or class period. With an online connection, students had access to a global audience. As a result, the quality of their work improved dramatically. There were also countless tools available online for students to that mattered to them. All of these new realities and possibilities piqued my intellectual interest and drove me professionally to change the way I approached teaching. My goal was to use technology strategically to shift the focus from me to my students. This year my latest tool is TEAMS.

In 2005, my students rarely entered the classroom with devices. I saw the occasional iPod, but it was not until the release of the iPhone in 2007 that devices began to appear more frequently in our classroom. The proliferation of technology and my students’ increasing access to and enthusiasm for devices played a crucial role in driving my development as an educator. Though I never considered myself tech savvy, technology quickly changed the way my students communicated, connected, and shared. While most of my colleagues banned devices, I saw an opportunity. Technology allowed me to explore new approaches to teaching and learning.

Technology is radically redefining the way students engage with information and each other. After failing to engage students using traditional teaching strategies and tools, I embraced blended learning. This mix of online and offline learning allowed me to shift the focus from me to my students placing them at the center of learning. My role as an educator changed from a dissemination of information to an architect of learning experiences. The dramatic changes in my students’ interest, engagement, and academic success was thrilling.

LwDT and 365

21 Aug


Microsoft Office has been a staple in classrooms and offices for over a decade. As the web has become increasingly collaborative, many online word-processing, spreadsheet, and presentation applications joined Office. Microsoft began introducing web-based office tools in 2008, and since then they have been constantly revising and improving the applications. Today, we have the benefit of these years of progresses in the Office 365 collection of tools. Our school has immersed itself in these tools.

The Office 365 web version of Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote also allow you to quickly create and edit documents on any machine with access to the Internet in the widely recognized Office file formats.  It has taken me sometime but now I book all my movements through my calendar.  I am learning to understand the uses of classroom, survey and planner currently.

Having Office 365, you’re able to access your emails, calendar and documents from any device as long as you have an internet connection. So, if you travel far or stay close school, you can use a laptop, desktop, tablet or phone to access your work files and information. In my role this is fabulous.

The flexibility and mobility of 365 is great, but your brain deserves a break and research shows that the benefits of holiday, meditation and downtime replenishes your attention, motivation, creativity and productivity. Saying that, I also know that for a lot of us, if you can just stay on top of emails it’ll save you from drowning in messages and tasks that require attention on a Monday morning.

Here are some of the reflections on the collaborative benefits of 365 from a recent Cyclone course I attended.

Changing your Teaching

18 Jul



I was sitting having lunch during term two after a class and a discussion started. The teacher was saying they wanted “cutting edge technology” in their classrooms. They viewed the latest technology tools as a great cure that will finally transform their mundane teaching experience into a twenty-first century, state-of-the-art facility. Words are powerful and often dangerous. True, the computer is a tool and it can be “cutting edge?” But which edge is it cutting? Who and what is it changing? This staff member had forgotten the focus of our Professional Learning in 2016. It is not about the tool. It is about the pedagogy.

The notion of a tool assumes we have the ability to manoeuvre technology however we please and it will not change us in the process. The reality is that technology is always a double-edged sword. In being cutting edge, it often slashes through difficult tasks in hyper-speed and creates work that would once have seemed miraculous. We can connect instantly, but we are losing our ability to communicate. We look constantly, but we rarely see. We access information from millions of sources, but there is no transfer into wisdom. Anyone who follows my blog must realise I’m not anti-technology but I become sceptical when staff do not question why they are using tools.


5 Mar


Many of you may remember i have had great success with this tol. I thought it was about time I reflect on it again. Kahoot is great because:

You can introduce a New Topic or Unit – have students participate in a Kahoot quiz to gauge their prior knowledge. I suggest turning off the “points” for a game like this so students aren’t intimidated to make a mistake.

Create a Survey – Kahoot also allows teachers to create surveys and discussions through the platform. This gives students an active voice in the classroom, helping them to feel important and involved.

Springboard a Class Discussion – Powerful learning can happen after a quiz, so explore together the correct and incorrect answers on Kahoot. Ask students “why?” as a follow up question. Students will gain deeper levels of understanding and teachers can receive insight into the data.

Student-Made Quizzes – The students love making their own.
Spice Up that “Boring” Topic – Each class will have that one topic they just don’t get into. Kahoot has generated interest in some very dry work.

Share with me a tool you have used that has worked.

You Tube Tip

25 Jan


I found the following You Tube tip a wonderful help when editing videoing at the start of the year. Here is the link.



Richness of LwDT

4 Jan


LwDT can form an engaging platform for teaching and learning, with the potential to expand the realm of the classroom. A useful tip is that a phone can be the most useful and common device. Functionality and context are key considerations when selecting web sites and applications.

Mobile devices and their apps can provide utility and flexibility in a compact, portable package. Among the options available are:

GPS and other location-based functionality

Video, audio, and still image capture

Mobile networking and collaboration

The ability to bridge to other tools and data

Scanning and data logging in the field

Visual and audio recognition

Screen readers, slow keys, text to speak, and other accessibility features

The portability and convenience provided by mobile devices enables instantaneous connections means a richness added to learning.

How have you enriched your teaching using simple LwDT?

Skype as a Tool

1 Jan


Teachers are good at becoming experts in a wide variety of subjects, but it’s always nice to be able to bring in the outside perspective of someone more experienced with the topic you’re covering in class. Over the years I have spent a great deal of departmental money on bringing in experts. Experts in various professional fields have a tendency to be busy, making it hard for them to commit to an in-class visit. But a Skype call’s much easier to fit into a packed timetable.

Calls with experts can be set up as a Q&A or more of a lecture, depending on what you prefer. You can give students the assignment of doing some research and coming up with questions in advance, so they have an opportunity to interact with the expert and learn more. This can take a lot of different forms depending on the subject you’re teaching. A professional artist can do an art critique of your students’ work in class. A musician can provide an informal music lesson over Skype. A museum curator or university lecturer or local personality can discuss different items in their collection, saving the time and money of a field trip.

You can always get more out of these interviews by giving related assignments to students. You can have them summarize what they got out of it in a paper, short video, or podcast. Indeed podcasts are great. The stuff podcast are especially good. Or ask them to create something related to what the expert discussed, like a piece of art that would fit into the collections at the curator’s museum.

Well then Skype has so much potential and I hope to develop it in 2016. What was a tool that you had success with 2015 in the classroom?

eLearning tools to think about…

15 Mar


In April our College is hosting an eLearning in-service day for the surrounding schools. So this week I thought I would share tools that I have found useful.  Digistore has been created by the NZ Ministry of Education and is a storehouse of digital content to support learning across the curriculum, from early childhood through to senior secondary. You need an Education Sector login to be able to access the resources. The site tells you how to get one if you haven’t already.

How to use digistore: On the digistore wiki (http://digistore.wikispaces.com/) there are examples of how you can use the digital content in your classroom.

http://digistore.wikispaces.com/Science+Snaphot1 – Teachers and students at MRGS have explored how an online learning environment can enhance learning opportunities. Teacher Alison Cook created learning paths to support her Yr 9 science students and shares how she has integrated digital content to support learning. Useful tips for teachers exploring using learning paths with their school’s learning management system.

A Secondary English example: Using a learning path to support the teaching and learning for close reading of a visual text – This learning path is designed to be used to prepare students for the new Level One NCEA English Achievement Standard 1.11 Show understanding of visual and/or oral text(s) through close viewing and/or listening, using supporting evidence.

There are also examples for The Arts, Careers, Health and PE, Languages, Maori, Mathematics and Statistics, Social Sciences and Technology. A great way to share resources. A reminder about the VLN (Virtual Learning Network) that I have found very useful).


Professional Readings

I have been reading the rich document Tu Rangatira (2010) this week. It presents a model of leadership that reflects some of the key leadership roles and practices that contribute to high-quality educational outcomes for Māori learners. It focuses on leadership practices, providing insights into how effective professional development programmes can work towards strengthening leaders’ capabilities, growing capacity and sustaining exemplary leadership in the Māori medium education sector. I found it more holistic than the Kiwi Leadership for Principals and Leading from the Middle: educational leadership for middle and senior leaders documents which in my opinion are at times  a little dry. The values and metaphors of the document relate to the special character of Catholic schools. Worth a read if you are involved at education at any level. This is best to be read alongside School Leadership Best Evidence Synthesis which I will discuss in depth in a later blog.


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