Sydney Morning Herald Report
Some weeks ago Sydney Morning Herald reporter Megan Johnston visited my school to investigate ways we're using technology to disrupt and improve learning.
The report came out today, and I have to say she did a very good job of taking everything we threw at her and simplifying it without losing accuracy.
The article refers to our virtual worlds program. She describes our approach to safety "all student activity is recorded and student moderators enforce the island's behavioural code". She refers to its popularity, "the island has become so popular it is now running out of space", and goes on to mention our new Open Sim project, "a second island [...] is being developed".
Actually I have exciting news regarding our new virtual island. This is 8 times the size of our original space, and uses the open source software Open Sim:
Our new world will be accessible by our Primary students. I can't wait to see their creativity come out in the world.
My colleague Tim Barrett is about to launch on an experiment to create a 3D version of his online Studies of Religion course. The idea is that students will literally walk through his course, journeying from location to location and immersing themselves in the relevant places, contexts, and moments in history. Instead of 'writing about' they'll 'role play', and when I say 'role play' I mean enter a 3D mosque, or cathedral, or temple, or church, and gain insight into how people's view of the universe is projected onto their buildings.
The same article, and a further one by Margie Sheedy in the same paper, refer to the 'Real Audience Project' - I've blogged a plenty about this. It's our name for taking student work and throwing it on the net. Not just in ONE class, but heading towards EVERY class in the school having an online 'stage' where student thoughts, essays, poetry, songs, videos, insights are put forward for the world to seeand respond to. A couple of prime examples: http://learningin10.wordpress.com/ (6 year olds talking about war), http://nbcsnews.wordpress.com (with 16,000 visitors), and
A hidden jewel in the article by Johnston refers to "one group of HSC students recently debated politics with teenagers at an international school in Vietnam". This is a twist on the Real Audience Project. Why learn about the issues in the 'Society and Culture' course via a textbook, when you can interact directly with students from Vietnam? Students from this class report profound new insights that have arisen from this approach. The teacher of this class is Mrs Shani Hartley. Her students blog here: http://saclife.edublogs.org/. She blogs here: http://shartley.edublogs.org/ Follow her on Twitter here: @shhartley .
Shani is an inspiration, and a very active member of our school's innovation unit, the "Sydney Centre for Innovation in Learning". Have a look at the blogs and twitter feeds of some other of my colleagues:
If you'd like to visit our school and see some of these, and other projects in practice, drop us a line. See www.scil.nsw.edu.au/pd for more information.
This is just the beginning. You can subscribe to my blog (see the right hand column of this page) and you can join us on this journey. I'd love to hear from you, and I'll keep you in touch with where we go next.