At St Francis of Assisi Primary School, something exciting is starting to happen. The community of over 1000 students, based in Melbourne’s northeast in Mill Park, is one of the first to experience the latest system for learning review and analysis: the DiscoveryLab.
Since 1981, when the school first opened, St Francis’ has seen teaching be completely revolutionised through developments in technology. Caithlin Power, eLearning Leader at St Francis’ says that they “are really excited about the broader range of learning opportunities that have opened up…with these great new facilities…” She remarks: “I wish I was a primary school student here in 2014 – the learning experiences today far outweigh what I was offered in the ’80s.”
St Francis’ new building required projectors to be fitted in eight classrooms, as well as in a central learning area. The solution was installing Epson 1410Wi projectors. These interactive projectors can be used with touch pens. They are connected to a Control Pad mounted on the wall, and have a USB save functionality, allowing whiteboard notes to be saved directly onto a USB – no laptop connection required!
The new break-out spaces, meeting room, and brightly lit classrooms are being embraced by the students and teachers. The DiscoveryLab capture system is yet another highlight of this exciting new part of St Francis’. Also known as the “Five in One”, this multifunctional set-up has five advantageous, unique features. First, it gives teachers the ability to project content from laptops onto any surface. Secondly, this projection is interactive – using pens, or simply pressing directly onto the image – learning becomes three-dimensional. Thirdly, the USB-save functionality allows lesson content to be captured for a great revision tool. The final two features are the Professional Development mode and the Lecture mode.
At St Francis’, cameras were installed at each end of the classroom. This means that when Professional Development mode (PD mode) is selected, teachers can record lessons from two perspectives: the student perspective looking towards the teacher, and the teacher perspective looking towards the students. This recording goes directly onto a USB in MP4 video format. The resulting video shows a split screen so that the teacher’s words and actions can be directly compared to the responses, behaviour and facial expressions of the students. DIB sees enormous potential for this feature.
Alternatively, the Lecture mode allows teachers to record the on-screen content (perhaps from a laptop connected by an HDMI or VGA cable, or alternatively from a digital whiteboard). The resulting film, also recorded directly onto USB, shows the lesson with a picture-in-picture film of the teacher talking and interacting with students. These videos are an effective revision tool for students and allow teachers a chance for reflection on lessons.
This year, school accountability processes implemented by the Education department are increasingly encouraging schools to self-evaluate. In particular, the importance of examining teaching and learning strategies is being emphasised. The Discovery Lab is DIB’s solution to helping schools to use the new School Performance Framework to maximum effect. This framework explains that schools can improve their performance when teachers engage with each other through planning, reviewing, self-evaluation and sharing exemplary practice.
If you would like to download a copy of the latest DiscoveryLab brochure, click here
For more details on how DiscoveryLab can help improve your teaching in your school, please contact us today.