Apple recognises ‘distinguished’ Catholic educators
|Mother Teresa principal Gary Borg with students|
|Ron Van Vliet presenting a multimedia workshop|
Mother Teresa Primary, Westmead principal, Gary Borg, and Catholic Education Office’s learning exchange manager, Ron VanVliet, were selected to join the prestigious Apple Distinguished Educator (ADE) program.
Established in 1994, the ADE program involves a select group of 1,500 education professionals in primary, secondary and tertiary institutions worldwide, who are recognised for their integration of technology to improve teaching and learning.
Gary was selected for the program based on his innovative use of the iPod Touch, introducing student e-portfolios, and his use of technology to improve parent-teacher communication.
‘We are running a trial program with the iPod Touch to help improve numeracy and literacy and are using specific educational apps suitable for our students’ learning needs,’ said Gary. ‘It is about choosing the best tools to enhance student learning and using the available technology to personalise the learning experience for each student.’
Students at Mother Teresa are creating an e-portfolio featuring a collection of student work, either written or video works.
‘Teaching the students to create an e-portfolio has helped promote reflective learning and develop self assessment skills,’ said Gary. ‘The students select the works they want to showcase for their portfolio and parents can view their child’s portfolio 24/7.’
‘This provides a continuous window into how their child is progressing in their learning and opens up dialogue between school and home,’ he said.
Gary’s use of technology has opened up new avenues of communication between parents and the school, with the creation of the electronic newsletter.
‘We are able to post video footage of school excursions for parents to view, which enables parents who may not have been able to attend the school event, to still feel they were part of the day,’ said Gary.
The e-newsletter has also enabled Gary to reach parents from a non-English speaking background.
‘Our school have many parents from a non-English speaking background. Through our e-newsletter I am able to post a short video to address the parents, rather than a written message,’ he said. ‘This has been a more effective way to communicate to the parents.’
Gary’s future plans include providing parents access to their child’s e-portfolio through their e-newsletter.
Manager learning exchange, Ron VanVliet was also selected to join the ADE program with his development of multimedia courses and workshops to enhance student and teacher learning.
‘It is by utilising 21st century technologies that we can engage students’ curiosity and desire to learn and explore different approaches to teaching,’ said Ron. ‘We can solve real world problems using today’s communication, networking tools and media production techniques to transform teaching and make a difference to student learning.’
Ron runs a 15 week course at schools throughout the year for students and teachers on film production and digital storytelling.
‘Through the course, students and teachers develop creative and critical thinking, and learn to collaborate, problem solve and work in teams,’ said Ron. ‘Students achieve an accredited Certificate III in Media based on the Australian Qualifications Framework upon completion of the course, which will help them in future if they decide to pursue a career in the film industry’.
‘At the completion of the course, we have our own version of Tropfest, with an annual diocesan film festival,’ said Ron. ‘Schools are invited to create and submit an original four minute movie to showcase what they have learned in the course.’
Ron also runs professional development workshops for teachers and educational leaders in exploring and implementing technologies in order to empower students to be creative, collaborative and innovative in their learning.
‘We cater our workshops for the teachers’ learning needs,’ said Ron. ‘The workshops can range from basic Mac usage to specific applications such as iLife.’
This year, 40 more educators in Australia and New Zealand were selected to be part of the ADE community providing an opportunity for leaders in educational technology to collaborate and further explore ideas and projects.
‘This is what excites me about being part of the ADE program,’ said Gary. ‘The opportunity for professional learning; to learn from leading educators from around the world and then to pass it onto teachers, which then benefits the students.’
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