Once again, Sam McNeill, the Director of ICT at St Andrew’s College, has blown us away with his innovative and creative use of technology in the classroom. Sam runs the St Andrew's College "eLearning Stories" blog which provides a virtual “look through the classroom window” into the exciting eLearning happenings in the various classrooms around the fully-independent, co-educational school for pre-school to Year 13. Recently he blogged this original post (here), about some of the great work a Year 9 Math class is doing with OneNote and Surface. You can read it below!

This morning I was invited by Mr Ben Hilliam to sit in and observe one of his Year 9 Math classes. I was keen to do this as I knew the Maths Department had been experimenting with the combination of MS Onenote, a Microsoft Surface and a Miracast device to wirelessly broadcast the screen of the tablet through the classroom projector.

The following video is a screencast of Mr Hilliam’s first 6 minutes of the lesson. He is writing on the Surface Pro directly, and using MS OneNote to record his voice and handwriting in the background:

All students in this Year 9 class have read only access to this OneNote notebook so they can revise at anytime, and in this instance the lessons were being recorded for a student that was absent for the week. Once uploaded to YouTube, the link is inserted into the Notebook for student access.

What impressed me about this section of the lesson was the ease of the technology – it essentially existed in the background and in many ways, it was a direct substitute for the role of a whiteboard. Mr Hilliam was still asking students questions back and forward and they were still coming up and pointing to places on the graph on the projected image on the whiteboard to indicate their answers. The big difference however was that this was being recorded digitally for later revision.

Towards the end of last year we undertook training for a lot of 2014 Year 9 teachers and introduced them to the SAMR model. I recently came across a new poster for this:

Explaining the SAMR model through coffee

Explaining the SAMR model through coffee

The teaching in this Year 9 Math class falls clearly in the augmentation range – the teaching is not obviously different however the technology operating in the background provides massive functional improvement. Students, both those absent and physically present in the class, can all revise the concepts being taught at anytime.

Here are some photos of the students at work practicing the concepts that had been taught:

A student reviewing the MS OneNote content recorded moments earlier by Mr Hilliam, and then practicing in his exercise book.

A student reviewing the MS OneNote content recorded moments earlier by Mr Hilliam, and then practicing in his exercise book.

Students around the room making using of their laptops to review / rewind the concepts as taught and recorded from the start of the lesson

Students around the room making using of their laptops to review / rewind the concepts as taught and recorded from the start of the lesson

Whilst the phrase “ubiquitousness of technology” is over used, this lesson did demonstrate that when used effectively, the technology is not at the forefront of the lesson. It was not gimmicky or flashy, instead it provided functional improvement to what was already a great lesson.

I am excited to see how other curriculum areas make use of technology like this in their classrooms and will blog about these in the future. As the Director of ICT it’s important for me to support initiatives like this that trial how new technologies can be used in the classroom. On my recent trip to Edutech 2014 I trialled a MS Surface Pro 3, some of the only demonstration units outside of the USA, and was very impressed. I have pre-ordered one for our staff to trial once it is released and am interested to see at what point in the future touch screen devices like this may replace the traditional laptops given to staff.