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My name is Jessica McCarthy, and
I teach at Mosman High School. And I've been using online technologies
probably for the last five or six years. I teach years 7 to 12, with varying
numbers of students in each class. Year seven has approximately
20 students per class. On the other end of the scale, when I get
to year 12, I have up to 30 in a class. So it's all different and they all
have different connections to devices. I let students choose whatever software
they want to use, so the main platform, the LMS that we use is called Edmodo,
which is an American website. But it's free to use, and it's built for education, so they listen to teachers and
it's a great platform. Their interface actually looks
quite a lot like Facebook, so it's like an online social network,
and kids can post notes up, images, actually any file type is
accessible on Edmodo, which is fantastic. Your level of ability to use
Edmodo could be three out of ten. The teacher doesn't have to do anything
because the student can drive it. The student will know
instantly what to do. Teachers probably need
confidence in loading up files, but they have a lot of online tutorials
as well so it's really easy to use. You can post links, so
any website links that you want, and then there's the option to
post things from your library. And your library is your own bank of
resources that sits within Edmodo. The library for students is known as
the Backpack which is online storage for students. Along the side, you see that you
have a range of your groups, so as a teacher you can create or
join a group. So when you create a group you can
create a group for any of your classes. You give it any name that you would like. So if I want to make one called
Visual Arts, you select what year group you're teaching,
you can select your subject area. And once you create it, you can tell them how many kids you think are going to be in it,
a brief description, and then you get this group code. That code is unique to that group. So you give it back to students, and
then it gives them access to that group. That becomes your classroom space. And you can do anything that you want
in that new group that you've created. The other cool thing that I really like,
another good function on Edmodo is the assignment function, so
you can assign assignments to students. So any information that you need, it's
like writing a normal assessment task. You can load previous assignments if you
have them, if you've given them, and you give the same task every year.
So I might choose that one and so then everything that I've written
previously comes up onto that assignment, including the previous documents that
I've loaded into that assignment. As I said, any file format can be
uploaded, so it's really great. You post a due date and you make sure
you've selected the group to send it to, and then you send it to that group. So when students haven't turned in
assignments, I can go into that group, and you can see which students
have turned in assignments and which students haven't, and
you can grade them in that space. My pre-flight checklist
is not worry about it. That's definitely a start. Second thing is just go with the flow. Kids are really up and
down when you're in the classroom. They don't always all have a device,
so don't freak out. That's definitely the start,
don't freak out. I think being prepared for
things not to work. Sorry, it sounds so negative, but I think
you have to put those to one side first and then be willing to ask questions, help
kids, engage in a conversation with kids. Have questions that you want to ask, or
have resources that you want students to use, but then allow that to be
built upon like a brick wall. It's building up. You want to be able to generate a selection of resources
through this online dialogue. Problems and challenges that you can
face when using an online environment, particularly in a school, is when
the Internet doesn't work, and some of the problems are that students don't bring
their devices to class every lesson. Sometimes they don't connect
to the Internet anyway and they have problems with their devices. A lot of teachers rely on students
to fix each other's problems, and they usually can. We have tech support at our school, and students can be sent off
to that tech support. I use online learning in my classroom
as a way to promote collaboration, as a way to move the focus from myself as
the teacher to the student as the learner. So they are actively using online
technologies while I'm in the classroom at the same time. It allows students who don't
have a student voice to have a voice in the classroom, and
it creates a bigger conversation, much more research,
much more interesting responses to topics. And it means we can extend our
understanding as a classroom as opposed to me always holding all the knowledge. And so I've started this strategy in my
classroom where I enter into the classroom and I tell every student to get out
their device, and on the white board, old school white board, I'll write
a series of three questions, and then they have to find those answers and
post them up online. Then I give them 15, 20 minutes to do it,
it's a very talkative period of time in the classroom, and I go around to all
the students and have face-to-face conversations with them at the same time,
while they post their answers online. So it is a physical classroom while
having online components, and then once those online components are all together,
I project them up onto the smartboard. And then we collate them together as
a class, in a class brainstorm, or like a summative period, where I then
add in the teacher-directed learning so that they have a definite conclusion drawn
at the end of that learning experience. The feedback from the students are,
generally, that they like it, because even if they're absent they're
able to engage in their learning, Some students are absent for
long periods of time. They don't feel like they're
missing out on anything. Students, when they're having a panic,
are able to still engage in a dialogue. They're still able to be
a part of that classroom. I think that it means that kids don't
have to worry about that extra layer of doing stuff or doing a task. So yes, some kids are still a bit
apprehensive about it, but in general they're all using social network,
so they really like that connectivity. I evaluated this platform through
increased student engagement. Students were able to talk to me. So not only can I see it and I can mark it wherever I am, because I
can carry my device anywhere I go, but it means that the kids can get feedback
from their peers as well if they want to. And it just increases the conversation and
moves the workspace from being just in the classroom to being
anywhere that I want it to be. It's been so worthwhile,
it's so changed my teaching. To anyone who's starting to use an online
learning space, just stick to it. I had a friend ask me, how do you get
kids to constantly keep doing it? And I just stick to my guns. I really believe in it,
so I just keep going. It may not work every lesson,
and I don't think that matters. I think you always learn
from that failure. So you just gotta keep sticking to it. Enjoy it. Just let loose and have a good time. See if it works. You might have one great lesson and
one bad lesson. But take that one lesson and
go with it and try it again and then see if that works another time.

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