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SPC educator Ian Fernee named a Microsoft expert

author: Lorrie Liston

13 Sep

SPC educator Ian Fernee named a Microsoft expert

St Patrick’s College educator Ian Fernee has been chosen as a Microsoft Innovation Educator Expert for the second year running.

The Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) program recognises global educators who are pushing boundaries of learning with creativity and technology.

Ian, who completed his secondary schooling at St Patrick’s (SPC 1993-98), and has been an educator at SPC for 11 years, is the current Head of Computing/1:1 Coordinator (Year 10-12).

Ian joins 4800 educators representing 100 countries who have been recognised by Microsoft as experts who exemplify excellence for 2016-2017.

Also part of the program in 2015-2016, Ian attended the Redefining Learning Conference in Brisbane in 2015 where Microsoft and other MIE’s showcased technology based pedagogy, and most recently, presented at a Microsoft professional learning day in Ballarat where his topic was teaching programming through Touch Develop.

Ian is excited about the technological innovations that are part of everyday learning for SPC students.

“This year St Patrick’s College has become fully 1:1 and has introduced a Windows 10 notebook program into the senior school. All student devices come with Office365, OneNote, OneDrive and Inking capabilities which are all fantastic tools that help establish a rich learning atmosphere for students.

“The computer network managed by (ICT Network Manager) Stuart Lethbridge and his team is also essential in running a student 1:1 program. Their meticulous work keeps us all connected with Internet, email and a variety of other digital services,” he said.

In partnership with his other e-Learning colleagues, “we are creating an environment that supports teaching with technology to enable students to develop skills that will help them thrive in future life and work”, Ian says.

“Technology innovation in the classroom begins with pedagogy that not only enhances learning but transforms it. It is hoped that through technology enriched learning students will be resilient and confident when it comes to 21st century workplace demands such as collaboration, knowledge construction, problem solving and innovation.

“Some technology innovations that are really shaping the way we teach include OneNote class notebooks that allow teachers to engage directly with the student and their work giving them exemplars and immediate meaningful feedback. Office Mix allows PowerPoint presentations to become interactive and with quiz questions and analytics providing teachers the ability to flip their classroom. Sway is an online presentation tool that allows teachers to embed various media and information in an interactive environment. Office Mix and Sway are also a valuable digital tools that students can use to create and present their work in.”

Ian believes the 1:1 device program enables a shift towards “anywhere-anytime learning” where students can become problem solvers and innovators.

“With more curriculum online students have a plethora of opportunities to engage in meaningful learning and explore important curriculum knowledge.

“As a teacher it is important that pedagogy drives the use of technology in the classroom as quality teaching is still the single most influential factor on student learning. Technology can be enabling in the learning process when it facilitates being able to better take students on a journey of discovery where stories can be told and meaningful curriculum connections made. Using technology is an increasingly important element of a teachers professional practice and is included as part of the Victorian Institute of Teaching (VIT) professional standards document. Technology can also assist teachers to collaborate and be innovative in their practice from a faculty perspective.”

In the 21st Century, skilled use of technology will be a part of the lifelong learning journey of a student, says Ian.

“Through preparing our boys with ‘high level’ use of technology as outlined in the Innovative Teaching and Learning (ITL) report, we can positively assist students in embarking on this journey. In this process students will be undertaking activities such as analysing data and information, accessing class resources online, using simulations or animations and collaboration with peers on learning.

“In developing skills for the future, the International Data Corporation (IDC) Skills requirements for tomorrow’s best jobs white paper indicates that students who are well versed in the capabilities of Office 365, have the ability to work independently, and can problem solve effectively are well on the way to being prepared for the workforce.”

Interestingly, Digital Technologies is an emerging dimension of the school curriculum that invests in the use of technology in the classroom. The focus of this curriculum is to enable students to become confident and creative developers of digital solutions.

“One of the key areas of the digital technology curriculum is coding where students develop computational thinking skills through undertaking programming tasks. Using software such as Scratch, Small Basic, Touch Develop and Visual Studio exposes students to the software skills, problem solving strategies and creativity involved in building a software application. Many organisations are looking for people who have a fundamental coding ability to promote innovation, creativity and workplace efficiencies in their organisations and the ICT workforce study also suggests that employment in ICT roles such as programmers, technicians and managers will grow significantly.”

Reflecting on the sentiments of Bill Gates’ “never before in history has innovation offered promise of so much to so many in so short a time”, Ian believes the landscape of technology in education is rapidly evolving and bringing with it - exciting opportunities for teachers to liberate education.

“In a 1:1 device enabled environment, this has become very accessible as students have access to computer programs, the Internet and a vast source of information at their fingertips.

“Whilst technology such as inking and wearables are evolving at a rapid pace for the benefit of the classroom we are also on the brink of technology like virtual and augmented reality that can allow students to leave the confines of a classroom and visualise objects in a completely different space.

“It is hoped that this access to technology and opportunity to learn with it will equip students to become more self-aware, skilled in critical thinking and willing and able to take their place in society as agents of change.”