We are very excited to feature another one of Sam McNeil's blog posts, showcasing yet another example of the exciting work St Andrew's College in Christchurch is doing in facilitating 21st century learning in the classroom. You can view his original blog post here. We encourage you to browse through his previous posts too, you won't be disappointed! Love your work Sam!
"We are fortunate at St Andrew’s College that there are a number of teachers that are “flipping the classroom” in various ways and using a number of different technologies to support this. Examples already blogged about include:
- Mr Kevin Barron in Physics – this was also published as an article in the September issue of the Interface Magazine
- Mr Matt Nicoll in Chemistry
- Mr Ben Hilliam in Maths
One of the common tools that has been used by a number of these teachers is the ageing Microsoft product called Community Clips. This has been a reliable piece of software for creating screencasts however it has struggled with new devices, failing to support the native resolution of the Surface Pro3 devices we are trialling with a number of teachers in various classrooms.
Enter Office Mix.
This relatively new product is a free plugin for Microsoft Powerpoint that allows you to record your screen, voice and video all at the same time. Additionally, it allows your Powerpoint to become interactive, with students able to complete quizzes directly within a slideshow.
The key feature that appealed to Mr Hilliam was the recording of his screen in full, native resolution and the ease with which he was able to launch recording. Whilst the older Community Clips also allowed you to select a section of the screen to record, this is far easier in Office Mix.
Because Office Mix records native resolutions the files can become quite large – it’s not unusual for these to get up to around 400MB for a 10minute video clip. However, because most of the teachers at St Andrew’s College subsequently upload them to YouTube.com the size is less relevant. YouTube automatically streams the best quality video that the user’s internet connection supports, so those with high speed can comfortably watch in HD.
I recently asked Mr Hilliam to demonstrate this combination of Microsoft OneNote and Office Mix recording to a visiting delegation of Principals and Senior Leaders from the Independent Schools of New Zealand and this is the video he made on the fly:
Year 9 class solving algebraic problems
St Andrew’s College has interactive whiteboards in every classroom in the Preparatory School from Years 4-8 and these are used widely by the teachers and students. However, these units, projectors and associated software are expensive to purchase and install.
It’s intriguing to see how alternative configurations can deliver equivalent functionality, but also extend on it in two important ways:
- The teacher is not “tethered” to the front of the room – with Miracast technology they can roam around the room, allowing students to write on a tablet and have that displayed on the “whiteboard” at the front of the room for all students in the class to see.
- Through shared OneNote notebooks, all students get a copy of the examples, working and dictation from the teacher (if the Office Mix recording is uploaded to YouTube and the link shared in the Notebook).
Whilst SurfacePro3 tablets are not cheap, we are currently trialling them with five classroom teachers across Maths, English and the Preparatory School. The initial feedback is that they would happily hand back their school-supplied laptop and use the SurfacePro3 as their primary and only device full time.
I was pleased to hear this, especially after I have set the challenge of writing school reports on the 12″ screen of the SurfacePro3 and only using the web interface of our Student Management System (Synergetic).We have also pre-ordered a number of ScreenBeam Pro for Education miracast units. These units have additional security enhancements for classrooms, and also come with a VGA / HDMI converter so existing older style VGA projectors do not need to be replaced immediately.
From what we have seen these units also hold the wireless connection more reliably and are easier to connect to than the existing miracast units we currently use.
These technological advancements are definitely contributing to a smarter, and more evolved version of the traditional whiteboard."
Again, you can access Sam's full post and other fantastic work here. Awesome stuff!