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Posts tagged ‘professional learning’

Use the “Science of Learning” to choose EdTech


A recent paper http://www.deansforimpact.org/program.html

published by the Deans for Impact summarizes the existing research from cognitive science relating to how students learn  and connects this to practical implications for teaching and learning.

The paper sets out 6 main questions related to student learning:

  1. How do student understand new ideas?
  2. How do students learn and retain new information?
  3. How do students solve problems?
  4. How does learning transfer to new situations in or outside of the classroom?
  5. What motivates students to learn?
  6. What are common misconceptions about how students think and learn?

Addressing these questions when choosing what technology to use to advance student learning can create a more refined set of decisions.

For each question the paper lists cognitive principles and practical implications for the classroom. The cognitive principles underpinning question 1 state that students learn new ideas by reference to ideas they already know. The implications for classroom practice are that there should be a well sequenced curriculum to ensure that students have the prior knowledge they need to master new ideas. It is crucial that teachers direct student attention to the similarities between existing knowledge and what is to be learned.

Students’ understanding of a new idea can be impeded if they are confronted with too much information at once. To assist with this teachers can use scaffolds to show the step by step process to perform a task or solve a problem.

Teachers often use multiple modalities to convey and idea e.g. they will speak whilst showing a graph however the report recommends that care is taken when showing for instance a slide or graphic that what you say as a teacher matches the information in the graph.

This advice is very useful for teachers in the creation of digital content. Using content creation software like Prowise Presenter a teacher can make explicit carefully paced explanations, provide modelling and examples so that students are not overwhelmed.

Teachers can attach accurate audio files to graphic information that students can view together or replay anywhere or anytime.

The content can also be differentiated by providing links to a range of content removing the idea that content is limited to age. Giving students access to a range of quality information is one of the best features of technology.

2. How do students learn and retain new information?

The first cognitive principle underpinning this question states that information is often withdrawn from memory just as it went in. We usually want students to remember what information means and why it is important, so they should think about meaning when they encounter to-be-remembered material.

Implications for classroom practice suggested by the paper recommend that teachers ask students to explain how or why something has happened or for students to organise material.

Using lesson creation software like Presenter teachers can design content for students to sequence efficiently many times. Using the Pro Connect function teachers can share their screen and ask for explanations from students. They can provide students with a set of sentences for students to order to construct meaning and re-share with the class. Narrative/stories and mnemonics which are particularly helpful can also be created digitally.

The second cognitive principles states that practice is essential to learning new facts, but not all practice is equivalent. Teachers can space practice over time, with content being reviewed across weeks or months, to help students remember the content over the long-term. When content is developed digitally and stored in the cloud teachers can return to student work as many times as required.

Teachers can explain to students that trying to remember something makes memory more long-lasting than other forms of studying. Teachers can use low- or no-stakes quizzes in class to do this, and students can use self-tests.

Using the ProConnect feature in Prowise Presenter teachers can make quick quizzes on the fly or at the point of need. They can use games and tools to also assist in memorising critical facts and figures.

Teachers can interleave (i.e., alternate) practice of different types of content. For example, if students are learning four mathematical operations, it’s more effective to interleave practice of different problem types, rather than practice just one type of problem, then another type of problem, and so on.

EdTech enables interleaving in a way not possible before. Quickly searching via YouTube or Google teachers can find images, videos and interviews podcasts to interleave these different types of content throughout their lessons.

3. How do students solve problems?

The cognitive principles underpinning this question state that each subject area has some set of facts that, if committed to long-term memory, aids problem-solving by freeing working memory resources and illuminating contexts in which existing knowledge and skills can be applied. The size and content of this set varies by subject matter.

The implications for classroom practice are that teachers will need to teach key sets of facts. For example, the most obvious (and most thoroughly studied) sets of facts are math facts and letter-sound pairings in early years. For math, memory is much more reliable than calculation. Math facts (e.g., 8 x 6 = ?) are embedded in other topics (e.g., long division). A child who stops to calculate may make an error or lose track of the larger problem. The advantages of learning phonics for reading are well established

There is a plethora of apps, Pinterest Pins,  games, content which will do this for teachers and enable students to individually rehearse their skills on their own devices. Tools within the Prowise Presenter software can engage student’s individually, around a table or across the whole class students with fun collaborative activities to learn facts.

The second cognitive principle states that effective feedback is often essential to acquiring new knowledge and skills.

Good feedback is:

  • Specific and clear;
  • Focused on the task rather than the student; and
  • Explanatory and focused on improvement rather than merely verifying performance.

Using the share screen function in Prowise Presenter teachers are able to share their screens with all student devices enabling feedback which is “specific and clear” and focussed on the task. When students share their responses back to the teachers for collaboration, shared commentary there is an enhanced capacity through the use of technology too quickly demonstrate strategies for improvement.

4.How does learning transfer to new situations in or outside of the classroom?

The first cognitive principle here states that the transfer of knowledge or skills to a novel problem requires both knowledge of the problem’s context and a deep understanding of the problem’s underlying structure.

Classroom implications are that teachers can ensure students have sufficient background knowledge to appreciate the context of the problem. Using technology and digital content teachers can illustrate contextual information in multiple ways not possible when only using print.

The second underpinning cognitive principle states that we understand new ideas via examples, but it’s often hard to see the unifying underlying concepts in different examples. Within the classroom teachers can have students compare problems with different surface structures that share the same underlying structure. For example, a student may learn to calculate the area of a rectangle via an example of word problem using a table top. This student may not immediately recognize this knowledge is relevant in a word problem that asks a student to calculate the area of a soccer field. By comparing the problems, this practice helps students perceive and remember the underlying structure. This can be easily facilitated with digital content.

For multi-step procedures, teachers can encourage students to identify and label the sub steps required for solving a problem. This practice makes students more likely to recognize the underlying structure of the problem and to apply the problem-solving steps to other problems. Many lesson creation programs have labelling functions so students can be easily supported to do this.

Teachers can alternate concrete examples (e.g., word problems) and abstract representations (e.g., mathematical formulas) to help students recognize the underlying structure of problems.

All of this can be more easily achieved using digital content, because teachers can see the impacts on learning of the examples they have chosen, they can then save the most effective concrete examples and build up banks of alternate examples.

Questions 5 and 6 apply to building positive mindsets in classrooms and ensuring that teachers understand misconceptions or unsubstantiated theories of learning.

Papers such as this which are readily available on-line for teachers enrich their own professional learning and provide guidance for how they design for learning within their classrooms and make effective decisions in regards to using EdTech.

For more information about using EdTech in your classroom contact our ELB Academy.


Coding Workshops with Prowise

Vidoe workshop

Our recent ConnectMe offered teachers the opportunity to participate in workshops via video conference and learn how to use CodeWise to teach their students from Early Years to Primary how to code.

ConnectMe was distributed in the second week of term and many schools immediately responded and registered for the sessions. This demonstrates the interest teachers have in learning about coding and how to teach it.

The latest trends in the Horizon K-12 report http://go.nmc.org/projects

sees the “rise of coding as a literacy “ as a Short Term Trend and as part of their definition of an “accelerating technology to be adopted in K-12 education for the next two years”. The instant response from teachers to this PD offering is indicative of their accelerating interest. The report identifies other key trends:


  1. Key Trends Accelerating K-12 Educational Technology Adoption

Long-Term Trends: Accelerating technology adoption in K-12 Education for five or more years • Redesigning Learning Spaces • Rethinking How Schools Work

Mid-Term Trends: Accelerating technology adoption in K-12 Education for the next three to five years • Increasing Use of Collaborative Learning Approaches • Shift to Deeper Learning Approaches

Short-Term Trends: Accelerating technology adoption in K-12 Education for the next one to two years • Rise of Coding as a Literacy • Shift from Students as Consumers to Creators

  1. Significant Challenges Impeding K-12 Educational Technology Adoption

Solvable Challenges: Those which we both understand and know how to solve • Creating Authentic Learning Opportunities • Personalizing Learning

Difficult Challenges: Those we understand but for which solutions are elusive • Rethinking the Roles of Teachers • Scaling Teaching Innovations

Wicked Challenges: Those that are complex to even define, much less address • The Achievement Gap • The Digital Divide

III. Important Developments in Technology for K-12 Education

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less • Makerspaces • Online Learning

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years • Robotics • Virtual Reality

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years • Artificial Intelligence • Wearable Technology

At ELB Education we have also seen increasing interest in the way teachers are “designing their learning spaces” for their students. The Prowise 65 inch panel with the lift system is very popular. This interactive flat panel is mobile in the classroom and can be raised, lowered or tilted to become a table or a chart table. These different configurations make it possible for teachers to use the interactive flat panel in whatever pedagogical mode they wish transforming different parts of their learning spaces for different activities.

Using ProConnect which is part of the Prowise Presenter software they are  able to “Increase their Use of Collaborative Learning Approaches”. ProConnect enables teachers to share their content on the interactive flat panel with their students BYOD devices for greater collaboration and sharing. The software also includes tools for mindmapping and brainstorming as well as games for mathematics. These tools are easy to use but provide teachers with simple and effective was to increase collaboration in the classroom.

Join our video workshops and you can learn more.



Prowise Netherlands visits Australia!

PW Visit-Goodstart

Erik Neeskens (Co-Founder/ Sales Director), Michael Ahrens (Co-Founder/ Technology Director) and Martin de Fockert (International Channel Manager) recently made a trip down under to work with ELB and understand more about the Australian educational context and how to meet the needs of Australian educators.

During their time in Australia the team visited an early child hood centre,  high school and university to better understand these sectors and how  Prowise products and services can be enhanced for Australian education.

The team accompanied by the ELB Education group  visited the GoodStart Early Learning Centre, the first of one hundred centres nationally to have Prowise interactive flat panels installed. Part of their concept is for ELB to provide accredited training across all their sites for  Early Years educators who can participate in content creation workshops and develop  digital resources using Prowise Presenter for early childhood learners.

ELB Education has already developed some content for this age group aligned to the Australian Early Learning Framework. The resources based on the concrete materials which are  part of the play-based curriculum essential for early years  are freely available on our website or through the Prowise Presenter community. https://www.education.electroboard.com.au/resources

The Prowise  Netherlands team also visited Cammeragal High school, one of the first schools in Australia to install Prowise interactive flat panels. The team discussed the interactive flat panel’s effectiveness with the staff and students at the high school. Students were very positive about the interactive flat panels, particularly “the clarity of the image and the sound quality”.

Together with members of the staff, ELB Training Manager, Lindsey Davies, discussed the tools that Prowise Presenter provides for STEAM education. The school plans for the staff to undertake further training in the use of Prowise Presenter and ProConnect which will enable teachers to engage with their students’ BYOD technology by sharing their screens for assessment and collaboration activities.

The Netherlands team also visited Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences – Teacher Training Facility. Lecturers and IT leaders here are looking to upgrade their technology to ensure that it reflects “what is happening in schools and to keep pace with the rapid changes in technology”.

Prowise has a program for providing free access to  Presenter software for Pre-service teachers. This is a great bonus for new educators who can develop digital units of work and use them throughout their course and importantly in whatever school context they are assigned for their practicum. Prowise Presenter is cloud-based software and can be used with any platform ensuring that the effort teachers put into their learning design can be utilised in any web enabled education context .

Pre-service teachers can also contribute to the community of content designed for the Australian Curriculum or the Global community where more than 1 million resources have been saved.

The team from the Netherlands was very impressed with the quality of the training resources and learning content developed by ELB Education Australia. The professional development eBook and learning resources developed by the Training Manager and team displayed a high level of quality and pedagogical skill. To learn more about these resources,  the  ELB Academy and our accredited courses go here: https://www.education.electroboard.com.au/training


“Looking at Classroom Practice”



“Looking at Classroom Practice”


This outstanding document produced by AITSL is a complete guide for Australian schools to establishing effective classroom observation to enhance teaching practice.

“One never learns to teach once and for all. It is a continuous on going process.”

AITSL’s website asks teacher do they” know what their own learning pathway looks like? What does it look like to improve your own classroom practice over time so that you are continually building greater expertise?”

To assist teachers and school leaders in answering this question, AITSL has developed the Classroom Practice Continuum and the supporting resource guide, “Looking at Classroom Practice”. The Classroom Practice Continuum brings the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (309KB PDF) to life by building out the Professional Practice Domain and articulating what teachers at increasing levels of expertise do in the classroom. By demonstrating progression along the Continuum, teachers can see what it looks like to improve their own classroom practice and the consequent impact of this improvement on student learning, student engagement in learning and student wellbeing.

IRIS Connect is very effective tool for schools to assist teachers to progress..


Using IRIS Connect teachers can view their own practice or share it with their colleagues. Peer coaches can observe practice aligned with the professional teaching standards or code practice against models such as the NSW Quality Teaching Framework, or QLDs “Productive Pedagogies”. Schools within their own contexts can create libraries of best practice to demonstrate innovative and effective pedagogical strategies around, literacy, numeracy or ICT. Head teachers or year/stage co-ordinators can provide models of practice for the implementation of new syllabuses.

The document describes some of the major purposes of classroom observation particularly that it allows teachers to accurately describe “quality teaching using a shared and precise language of practice”. The continuum in the document provides a scaffold to support improvement.

“Looking at Classroom Practice” also identifies “videos of practice” as having the advantage of capturing aspects of teaching practice that can:

Be viewed by multiple people or individuals

Be used for self- reflection and collective staff reflection on practice

Be used as evidence of practice in performance and development processes

Be used to train teachers in specific instructional strategies

Be used to train observers in classroom observation for a range of purposes.

IRIS Connect can enable teachers and schools to undertake these practices with ease and now using AITSL’s Continuum assist teachers to progress through the 6 levels.

For more information about IRIS Connect contact t.alfassa@electroboard.com.au





IRIS Connect Can Make time for Teaching




 The latest Grattan Institute Report sets out the following challenge to Australian schools and systems to improve teacher effectiveness.

Improving teacher effectiveness outweighs the impact of any other school education program or policy in improving student performance.8 A student with a great teacher can achieve in half a year what a student with a poor teacher can achieve in a full year.9 And because the impact of highly effective teaching is cumulative, relatively modest increases in effectiveness can make a big difference to student learning.10

 The report lists the professional development programs which improve teacher effectiveness:

  • Teacher mentoring and coaching that is intensive and involves regular classroom observation and feedback.15
  • Lesson and grade groups, in which teachers work together to plan lessons, examine student progress, and discuss alternative approaches. Teachers improve by observing each other’s classrooms, identifying and solving problems as they arise, and jointly improving each student’s learning. 17
  • Research groups of teachers identify a research topic (how to introduce a new pedagogy, for example) and analyse the evidence of what works and what doesn’t. Teachers then trial the practices that are shown to work and evaluate their impact on students.
  • Teacher appraisal and feedback. When teachers receive meaningful feedback on how they can improve classroom learning and teaching it has a remarkable impact on student learning.
  • Classroom observation and feedback provides constructive and immediate feedback for teachers and has a significant impact on student learning.25 It is a prominent feature of all of the above programs.


The Grattan Institute worked with six schools to see how these programs could be implemented.26 The report recommends that schools:

  • provide teachers with an individual development plan, with personal objectives linked to school objectives, and regular support from their development manager (8 to 10 sessions a year).
  • regular active professional collaboration in lesson or grade groups, in which teachers learn from each other about how to improve student learning (at least 12 group meetings a year).
  • a classroom peer observation and feedback group of three teachers that have 24 observations per year with additional time for constructive feedback on how to improve classroom teaching.
  • intensive mentoring particularly for teachers who are in their first two years of teaching or who would otherwise benefit from regular support. At least four times a term, mentoring should include observation and discussion of the classroom practice of both mentor and mentee.
  • a comprehensive appraisal process that identifies and provides constructive feedback on a teacher’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • the opportunity to participate in research groups that bring together teachers to work on school-based research.


The report also states that implementation of these programs requires around 135 extra school periods of professional learning a year (around three school periods per week) for each teacher.


IRIS Connect can assist schools to undertake these strategies. IRIS Connect is a video- based professional development system that allows teachers to video their practice, then store it in the cloud for review and reflection at any time. The power of this system means that providing effective feedback is dramatically improved. Teachers can watch their practice as many times as they want for deeper reflection. They can write comments on various parts of the video which can be time stamped for effective review.

Currently classroom observation is undertaken with pen and paper. The practice is held in the memory of the observer and the observed. However by videoing practice the observer and the observed can view and review aspects of a lesson together to understand what can be improved.

With IRIS Connect schools can also store videos of good practice in a shared library which is part of the IRIS dashboard and they can record professional development activities held at the school so that the learning community develops a knowledge base of best practice.

Using IRIS Connect as the key professional learning system in a school ensures teachers efficiently use their time on the kind of  active professional collaboration which impacts on teaching and learning.

To find out more about IRIS Connect please join our National Forum




TeachMeet @The Wharf Theatre


The TeachMeet at The Wharf  Theatre was the latest of a series of four this year.

A perfect site for a focus on English and well-timed with many participants from across NSW in Sydney for HSC marking and able to really enjoy all the ideas that teachers shared.

Ideas such as about how one teacher is using Manga and Anime to teach about the Asian century through analysing these texts.  How another teacher uses Edmodo for a flipped classroom approach enabling anywhere, anytime learning . Or how drama can take students globally using video conferencing or how innovating on fairy stories ie “Fractured Fairy Tales” drama can deeply tap into their creativity.

 It was wonderful to see teachers being rewarded for their commitment by celebrating their work in such an amazing and sophisticated setting.

There is so much teachers can learn from each other about what works and what engages the current generation of students. Teachers need to endlessly connect with each generation of students and to learn new ideas and particularly what technology engages them. When teachers share they create new knowledge and improve the learning environment for students.

It is great for teachers to speak about their practices and be honoured by their peers in such outstanding learning environments. Congratulations to the team of passionate educators who organised these events!


The Future is Now! ACEL2013


The ACEL 2013 Conference http://www.acel.org.au/conference2013/  held in Canberra was an outstanding event which brought together a range of international and national leaders to consider the future of education.

 An outstanding moment at the conference was a panel of senior students representing schools and colleges across the ACT who spoke articulately about their experiences as learners and what influenced them most. They were quick to acknowledge the importance of  “a passionate teacher” as the motivating influence on their learning.

 This was a key theme throughout the three days where Directors General from three states spoke importantly of the need for schools to have flexibility particularly for staffing and to solve their pedagogical problems through collaborative learning processes. Schools need to be more agile working within guiding policy frameworks but with reduced red tape and with the capacity to customise learning for the needs of their communities.

President of ACEL Jim Watterston opened the conference and inspired leaders to work collectively.The locus of control has to be at the school he said as you can’t have the brightest person in the centre. We need to be a team of 10,000 schools who work together collectively. There are many things to learn from our international colleagues but the answers remain in our own suburbs.

 Tony Cook Associate Secretary noted that the new Department of Education would be more streamlined without Employment and with an evolving role.  The Commonwealth will provide a stable simple and sustainable approach to funding giving schools teachers and parents certainty for the future. There will be a renewed focus on what students learn through a robust national curriculum, improved quality of teaching and related support services with a greater say for teachers principals parents and the community about how their schools are run. Indigenous education programs have been moved to the Prime Minister’s Office and $22 million will be allocated  to  Rural and Remote areas to improve literacy learning.

 Dr Bob Brown advocated the importance of establishing a Global Parliament with Global Governance especially over our environment. Bob suggested that we should encourage our students to perceive themselves as global citizens and to role play what is coming.

 Vice Dean Kirsti Lonka, University of Helsinki identified the triple demands on their teachers which included technology versus the old study plan and the increasing inter-culturalism of Finland. Digital natives don’t know about a world without technology she said and  they have developed their own set of practices including: flow, experience in knowledge creation, extended networks, making and sharing groups, working on screen, internet searches and the flexible use of digital media. For these students the traditional classroom is like an aeroplane where they being told to stay in their seats and turn off their technology until they land!

 Dr Mark Dawson from University of Southern Queensland spoke about collective pedagogical capacity which describes the school combined capability to lead the development and implementation of a pedagogical framework for school improvement. CPC has a powerful impact on teacher’s willingness to engage in extended focussed and connected social learning processes that challenge teacher’s assumptions and beliefs about learning and their pedagogy and practice. The pedagogical framework should be generative in nature and the learning processes should be meaningful and transformational for teachers.

 Lee Crocket Designer, Entrepreneur, Author  has  identified the following set of 21st Century Fluencies:

  • solution fluency: define, discover, dream, design, deliver, produce publish debrief
  • information fluency: ask, acquire,  analyse
  • creativity fluency: identify, inspire, interpolate
  • media fluency: message, medium
  • collaboration fluency: establish, envision, engineer ,execute and examine

 The ideal is to develop a global digital citizen with personal responsibility, altruistic service and environmental stewardship.

 Professor Viviane Robinson University of Auckland recommended to leaders that engaging in deep work over an extended period of time within their schools was the key to successful improvement. She said it is the quality of the organisation into which an initiative is introduced, creating the conditions under which the bullet can do its work which is critical.  For instance, leaders need to know the professional development they are going to introduce to their schools  in detail, plan the implementation and continually follow up with middle leaders.

 Dr Michele Bruniges, Director General of NSW Department of Education and Communities and Richard Bolt Secretary Department of Education and Early Childhood Development Victoria both confirmed the importance of empowering school leaders to focus on:

  • Quality teaching
  • Active learning
  • Coherence
  • Sustained action
  • Collective learning

 The Education Leaders who attended my presentation were interested to hear about how we have been using 21st century tools to support teacher professional learning. Using video conferencing to provide access to experts such as Barbara Arrow-Smith, through Master Classes and  SMARTie  classes https://seeshareshape.com.au/share/VC/support.aspx and webinars for accredited teacher professional development. https://seeshareshape.com.au/shape/TrainingAcademy/VCOnline.aspx

They were also very interested in IRIS Connect as a 21st century solution for building collective pedagogical capacity within their schools. https://seeshareshape.com.au/see/iris.aspx







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