Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Technology’ Category

Fortitude Valley State Secondary College, Brisbane’s first new school in 50 years, has just opened its doors for the 2020 academic year.

You may have heard about it or read the publicity surrounding it’s grand opening at the start of this year.  On hand for the opening was Queensland Premier, Annastacia Palaszczuk, who informed the waiting press that the $100,000,000 school would be an exciting place of learning for the 140 new Year 7 students who were to start school that day.

Designed by COX Architecture in collaboration with ThomsonAdsett, a leading Australian International architecture and design firm and built by Hutchinson Builders, the Fortitude Valley State Secondary School also has the honour of being the first vertical school in Brisbane.  Clearly proud of this new landmark, these three companies have feature articles on their webpages: COX: A First in Fifty Years: The New Fortitude Valley State Secondary College Opens, ThomsonAdsett: Vertical schools on the rise – Fortitude Valley State Secondary College and Hutchinson Builders: Fortitude Valley State Secondary College.

It is in the ThomsonAdsett article however, that an incidental fact about the process is gleaned from the article which is included in the news section of their website:

We closely collaborated with the Principal (who was appointed after the design phase) to adapt the original design to better suit the management and operations of the school.

Having worked in schools for so many years where I have witnessed the creation of a great many new purpose built buildings, I have always been amazed at the logic of employing a school head, in this case the Principal, or the Head of Department after design plans have been created.

An Arts Centre at one Independent School I worked at, involved the faculty staff and their Head of Department only at the end stage after construction was completed.  Three of the school libraries I have worked in over the years have been designed and built by ‘experts’ that excluded both the Head of Library or the Library Staff.   At another Independent School at which I have worked, the professional insights, experience and opinions of the library staff were neither sought nor considered in plans to revamp the existing school library space.  Instead, a wide cross section of school staff were appointed as the reference group to guide, advise and determine features that should be incorporated.  There is no intention to appoint a Head of Library until after designs are set in place.

If anyone is able to elucidate the logic behind the notion of excluding library staff from having input into the design and construction of its new school library, I would be very pleased to listen ….. and learn.

Apologies though.  I have digressed, venting perhaps a little too much …..

Fortitude Valley State Secondary College does indeed appear to be a wonderful new facility, BUT some, OK, quite a number, have taken to Twitter to express their horror, dismay and disbelief that this new facility designed to operate as a 21st Century school, is to be completely paperless and will not have a library.

Lessons have begun at Queensland’s only highrise school where learning will be paperless. There’ll be no textbooks and no libraries at the state-of-the-art Fortitude Valley facility.

7NEWS Brisbane

Take a couple of minutes to view the video shot at the opening and then have a read of the many Tweets, which so aptly and succinctly sum up the feelings of the many of us who work in school libraries who understand only too well just what  a school library equipped with qualified and experienced library staff can offer to students, school staff and indeed the entire school community!

It’s hard to fathom the thinking behind making schools paperless.  It’s even harder to understand the logic behind getting rid of the school library.

Sadly, Fortitude Valley State Secondary School is not the only school taking up this trend.  Other schools, such as Siena College in Melbourne has replaced the school library with a “learning centre” where students can discuss ideas and learn technology, such as 3D printers and robotics.  Librarians have been replaced with ‘change adopters’. (The Age: Schools that excel: No detentions, no libraries, no problems for this girls’ school March 25, 2019) And in New South Wales, the new $225 million Arthur Phillip High School in Parramatta, has 17 floors but no library.   As reported:

Rather than dedicating a room to the school’s books and research resources in the form of a traditional library, the new Arthur Phillip High School in Parramatta, which opened this week, will have so-called iHubs for each year level on different floors.

Each iHub will have digital resources and some hard copy books, while “students can access other parts of the school’s collection through the librarian,” said a spokesman for the NSW Department of Education.

The Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney’s new $225 million school has 17 floors, but no library January 31, 2020

It’s great to see that a movement to promote the value of school libraries is gaining traction in educational circles and among parents.  Students Need School Libraries has become the voice for those of us working in school libraries, promoting not just the value of school libraries and all that they offer students, teachers and the extended school community, but the importance of staffing school libraries with qualified and experienced teacher librarians.

Read Full Post »

It’s just over 12 months since France passed new laws banning smartphones, tablets and smartwatches in schools.  The law came into effect just one month later and aimed to extend an earlier ban of smartphones in classrooms, in place since 2010, to a ban of smartphone use across the entire school premises.

Studies citing the success or otherwise of the ban are hard to come by.  An article in Forbes magazine a year later, The Mobile Phone Ban In French Schools, One Year On. Would It Work Elsewhere? (August 30, 2019) indirectly comments on its benefits by quoting research from the London School of Economics:

  • due to increased concentration, limited phone use in schools directly correlates with exam success
  • restricting phone use is a low-cost policy to reduce educational inequalities
  • reduced screen time reduces the negative impact of social media: bullying
  • phone theft has been reduced

The Forbes article notes that the most difficult aspect of the French ban is enforcing it. Despite the consequences, including confiscation or detentions, students being students, have found ways to get around the ban, mostly it seems by using their mobile phones in either the toilets or in the playground where there is less supervision.

So how does this report bode for schools and students in Victoria?

Announcing the new Government Policy on June 26, 2019, Victorian Minister for Education James Merlino stated quite clearly the bounds of the new policy and its intended aims:

Mobile phones will be banned for all students at Victorian state primary and secondary schools from Term 1 2020, to help reduce distraction, tackle cyber bullying and improve learning outcomes for students.

Mobile Phones To Be Banned Next Year In All State Schools, 26 June, 2019

It sounds good.  Will it work though?  Will students comply or will they rebel against school rules imposed on them by the Government?

Could this ban becomes counterproductive?

Instead of banning mobile phones, should we instead be acknowledging the negative issues raised and do what we know to do best:

Teach students how to use mobile phones responsibly!

The arguments for and against the ban of mobile phones in schools raise many issues:

  • Can we ignore the fact that mobile phones have become the dominant mode of communication?
  • Does a ban of mobile phones in schools inadvertently highlight their negative use: aka cyberbullying?
  • Should we not be tackling the sticky central issue surrounding mobile phones – distractability?
  • Is the onus not on educators to create programs that develop and improve sustained concentration?
  • If mobile phones are a dominant part of our daily lives, doesn’t it make sense to incorporate them into our day-to-day school life?
  • Can educators, by creating positive opportunities for the use of mobile phones in the classroom, effectively teach students appropriate use?

So hot is this issue becoming, that a recent post on Education Review (October 4, 2019) took the question to the streets.  While watching this short video, I couldn’t help but notice the preponderance of mobile phones in the hands of people on the street behind the interviewer!

 

 

As we edge toward D Day – or should we be saying B (Ban) Day?! – educators still have a month or so to toy with some of the positive possibilities of using mobile phones in the classroom.  Take a few minutes to read through Will Longfield’s article: I’m a teacher, and I have no problem with phones in my classroom. Here’s why. (EducationHQ News, November 18, 2019) to glean lots of pertinent insights of the value of mobile phones in the classroom and ways they can be used in a classroom setting.  Some salient points raised:

  • learn what mobile phones can do – recognize an apps User Interface
  • cameras in mobile phones can take photos of teacher’s notes
  • monitor what’s going on – mobile phones should be screen up on desk
  • voice recording between two students = authentic student reflection
  • listening to music may not be all that bad
  • it all boils down to developing mutual teacher-student respect

Yet ….. arguments such as these are countered by the positive results reported in one school in New South Wales which has been trialling lock-up pouches for students’ mobile phones.  Reporting on ABC News: When schoolkids lock their mobile phones away in pouches for the day, amazing things happen (22nd June, 2019) students themselves are saying that they valuing the opportunity to be disengaged from technology.

While only time will tell the outcome of this debate, it is heartening to read positive comments, such as those in a recent KidsNews article which reports findings in schools in which a ban has already been trialed. The article: Kids in schools that have banned devices are seeing the benefits, whether they like it or not (August 12, 2019) reports that:

  • kids are now playing and having conversations with their friends at lunchtime
  • kids are finding it easier to be organised at school without their mobile phones
  • students are doing things together; not sitting on their phones
  • students no longer have to check their phone every two minutes
  • not being able to check emails and timetables during lunch forces students to get more organised
  • fully immersive conversations at lunchtime have replaced conversations that go off track when people look at their phones
  • social interaction among students has improved
  • the absence of phones had helped students to avoid distractions during the day
  • Michael Carr-Gregg (child psychologist) adds that banning phones is a sensible *mental health strategy* that lets children focus on learning

It will be interesting to re-visit this issue sometime in early 2021 to check the impact the ban has had on students in schools throughout Victoria.

Read Full Post »

As I wrote a few weeks ago – I’m back ….. – I’ve been offline for a while.

As I slowly work my way through my virtual backlog and catch up on what has been happening in the world, it comes as a surprise to hear that Microsoft has now closed it’s eBook library.  The announcement in early April of Microsoft’s intention to close this service most probably came as a shock to those who had purchased eBooks.

The implications of this closure are quite severe.  In addition to not being able to purchase more eBooks, those eBooks purchased and any notes made by their keen readers would, after July this year, be erased from each and every device owned by the customer.

No doubt, Microsoft customers are still digesting this bad news.  They may consider themselves fortunate that there are no out of pocket expenses though:  Microsoft will refund in full the cost of eBooks purchased.  Some consolation perhaps.

My bet though is that for many of us there is no real understanding of how digital ownership works.  My guess is that few of us realize the possibility of losing access to digital content, be it books, music or movies, is simply a risk we take at the time of purchase.

Microsoft is able to do this thanks to a little thing called DRM, or Digital Rights Management. It’s a copyright saving and piracy prevention tool that reigns over digital mediums from video games and films to music and audiobooks. Simply put, when you buy a song on iTunes, or an eBook from the Kindle store, you’re effectively ‘renting’ that product – if the store shuts down, the company has every right to prevent you from using that product again, although you can be refunded for it.

With the closure of Microsoft’s store effectively deleting these books from existance, it’s a grim reminder that you don’t really own anything in today’s digital landscape. 

(Good Reading Magazine, July 2019)

Never heard of DRM (Digital Media Management) before?  Have a listen to this explanation to help you gain a better understanding.

Read Full Post »

Just after publishing last week’s post about teachers struggling to maintain their passion for teaching, I came across the airing of a recent ABC 7.30 Report program which profiled an amazing woman, a woman who not only loves mathematics and has always been challenged by the clear logic it presents, but who has a passion to share her knowledge with students – a role she is still performing at the tender age of 88!!

Alison Harcourt, born and raised in Colac Victoria, is a trailblazer.  In 1947 she started her studies in mathematics and physics at Melbourne University where she was just one of two women.  She went on to make a significant contribution to mathematics with the publication of a radical paper that challenged current thinking.   As a woman who followed her passion.  She likes problem solving and started doing this at a time when it would have been quite challenging for a woman to stand up and be vocal.

Announced on the eve of Australia Day (27th January, 2019) as the 2019 Victorian Senior Australian of the Year Alison Harcourt has also taken on the challenge of encouraging and inspiring young women to pursue a career in mathematics and all the STEM subjects.

 

Such an amazing inspiration to any of us involved in education.  Her passion shines through in this short segment screened late last year (October 8, 2018 ABC)

Read Full Post »

It’s hard to believe, but text messaging reached a milestone last week!

25 years ago – December 3rd 1992 to be exact – the first text message was sent by Engineer Neil Papworth when he wrote “Merry Christmas” on a computer and sent it to Richard Jarvis, the then director of Vodaphone.  It was an event which changed technology forever and along with it, set in motion a colossal shift in social norms.

While it’s debatable whether SMS today is being overtaken by social media platforms, the impact of texting on our lives has been profound.   Twenty five years is a very long time!  A generation of young people know no other way to communicate, a fact which raises a whole range of issues including whether or not the art of interacting face to face is being lost.  Have a listen to this discussion to gain a greater understanding:

I’ve been in teaching long enough to remember the days when fears for students’ ability to spell beyond texting shorthand was a serious concern.

Educational concerns however are constantly evolving.  As reflected in a presentation by New York Times journalist Thomas Friedman at a conference earlier this year and repeated regularly since, he advocates the need to teach all children how to talk to each other on the internet and how to understand fact from fiction:

Believing in the importance of starting to educate children from a young age, the DQ Institute has developed a 15 hour free online curriculum aiming to teach digital citizenship covering a range of key skills:

Underlining the importance of school students learning digital civics, Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) will, from next year, assess ‘global competencies’:

From next year PISA will test not only maths, science and reading skills, but “global competencies”, which its education head, Andreas Schleicher, described as young people’s attitudes to global issues and different cultures, analytical and critical skills and abilities to interact with others. The first results will report in 2019.  (“Don’t teach your kids coding, teach them how to live online” The Sydney Morning Herald, March 25 2017)

How appropriate it would be to see teacher librarians take the lead to ensure the introduction of digital civics lessons during library sessions!

Read Full Post »

I’ve been desperately trying to get back into shape, so have decided to take the lead from this guy!

Read Full Post »

Apple’s latest “baby” –  iPhone X went on sale in Melbourne this morning.

For my Apple addicted family, this is really HUGE!!

Needless to say, one of the family got up early enough to see the long queues snaking their way around Chadstone and was in the Apple store, ready to purchase, just after 9.00.  I’ve just come from seeing a live demo of just how good it is and well ….. the story goes on from there of course!!

A few days ago I had a look at a pre-release review by Engadget which by and large gave it the thumbs up!

 

Pretty impressive!

I’ve just gotten home from a coffee/chat with one of my sons for a real-live-look-see though and can confirm that like other Apple products, the iPhone X is indeed very sexy and beautiful.  The design and look, with its glass front and back and silver trim edge, really is an impressive creation!  Lots of other features, including it’s full screen, add much to the appeal of what is already a very ‘un-put-downable’ product.

I’ve been reading  lots lately about the impact of iPhones on our lives and indeed on our society.  I just look at my own behaviour and can see the incredible shift in how I think and operate – and realize that my iPhone is centre-stage of all my daily activities!!  I literally don’t move around the house without having it near me!  Is this compulsive or obsessive behaviour?!  Ye gads!  I never imagined I’d be like this!

But then – have a look at this incredible statistic about our smartphone use!

People tapped, swiped and clicked a whopping 2,617 times each day, on average.

Dig the last two words: on average! 

If you happen to be in the top 10% of users, that figure doubles to 5,427 touches a day! 

Hard to believe?  Research reported on this dscout article: Putting a finger on our phone obsession paints an incredible picture of our use of phones.  Some of it is outright scary.

Hmmm ….. Definitely food for thought!

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »