Thursday, 29 June 2017

SchoolNet webinar recording and downloadable presentation link 'Coding - it's not scary- it's easy and it's free...' by Charmaine Roynon


On Tuesday afternoon 27 Hune at 3:30pm we held a free SchoolNet webinar entitled 'Coding - it's not scary- it's easy, it's free and it promotes cerebral fitness!' Our speaker was Charmaine Roynon, a Microsoft MIEExpert from Cape Town. Charmaine is the ICT Integrator at Wynberg Girl’s Junior School, and she is also Head of Curriculum Development and Teacher Training at EDU 365 SA.  Charmaine is very interested in coding and its importance to our learners and she recently ran a Coding Conference at her school for teachers around Cape Town. 



Webinar description

Charmaine said before the webinar:: "I have spent many years supporting teachers in their ICT integration journey. Sometimes I have to expose teachers to material that I am not so sure of myself! So, in line with the saying: "If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try." (Seth Godin), I started exploring the world of coding, it's educational impact and why it is often referred to as "21st Century Oxygen". After doing some research, I discovered some incredible coding websites that are interactive, engaging and include teaching functions in the form of short video clips to guide users through each process. All this - for free! The coding community have really come together to enable and empower young people to develop computational thinking, problem solving and logical thinking and many other competencies! In 36 years in education, this has got to be one of the easiest things I have ever done - with (by far) the most impact. Join me on my journey into the invigorating and exciting world of coding - made easy! "

The downloadable webinar presentation
Here is the downloadable presentation from the webinar available online in SlideShare from this link: http://bit.ly/2s6Xfjb



The webinar recording
The webinar recording can be listened to on the following link on YouTubehttp://bit.ly/2s6L9GP or it can be viewed in the embedded video below.



SchoolNet presents a free webinar once a month.

Useful Microsoft in Education posts this week #109

The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a number of them from this past week. The list is embedded below but can also be found at http://bit.ly/2s6SZQJ. The link to the back-dated posts is: http://bit.ly/1GVLTUZ



Education Exchange (E2) Africa brings Innovative Teachers together

Submitted by Megan Rademeyer
On 29 and 30 May 2017, the Education Exchange (E2) Africa Forum bought together almost sixty MIE Experts and representatives of Microsoft Schools for two days of hands-on learning, networking, and trying out some of the latest Microsoft tools at the Microsoft offices in Bryanston. Thirty one Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts who have shown commitment to online learning and networking were invited to attend the Forum, including two MIE Experts from Kenya, one from Rwanda and one from Ghana. Representatives from Microsoft Schools also enjoyed the opportunity to network from with teachers, school leaders and ICT coordinators from other schools to see more ways of using Office 365 enhance teaching and learning.


Highlights of the event included a group work project which involved coming up with a South African problem and then modeling a solution in a Small South Africa Minecraft world. Microsoft Teacher Ambassadors were on hand to guide teachers through using Office Mix and Microsoft Sway to present their group work projects and teachers were encouraged to use Microsoft OneNote as a platform for brainstorming their ideas and keeping their event notes. MIE Experts also enjoyed trying their hand at coding using Microbits – which involved programming a small digital display to flash a message by the end of a session.

Two Group 6 members exploring the wonders of Minecraft

Group 9 members - they won the group work challenge with their project
Stephen Reid from immersive Minds presented a keynote address on Problem Based Learning and introduced teachers to the basics of Minecraft in the context of developing a project. Microsoft’s Worldwide Senior Education Manager, Sonja Delafosse presented an inspirational keynote on #MakeWhatsNext which highlighted some of what Microsoft is doing to encourage girls to get involved in technology. During the Give One- Get One networking session, teachers had an opportunity to share what they are doing to #MakeWhatsNext. The networking and sharing then continued at the Networking Cocktail Function at the Hyde Park Sun.


At the end of the E2 Forum, many delegates crossed the road to Brescia House School to join in their TeachMeet. Some Microsoft School and MIE Experts presented at this session by sharing their classroom hacks, including Freddy Chireka and Brian Slater.

Two of our MIEExperts wrote reflections on this exciting event: Gizelle Simpson from Malmesbury and Margaret Tracy from Hillcrest. 

If you would like to be part on events such as the E2 Africa Forum – be sure to apply to be an MIE Expert before 15 July 2017

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Have you registered for SchoolNet's ICT in the Classroom Conference in October?


SchoolNet SA will be holding an ICT in the Classroom Conference this year at Brescia House School in Bryanston, Johannesburg, on 5-7 October. We'd love you to attend as a participant, a presenter or an exhibitor. At least 500 teachers and Education Department officials from all provinces are expected to attend. The Schoolnet ICT in the Classroom C onference has been sponsored by Intel and Microsoft on a bi-annual basis in a number of provinces over the past twenty years. 

Please visit our conference website for all the details at: 

Our Conference flier
Here is our Conference poster:


Conference themes
You’ll notice the exciting Conference themes:
  • Digital Learning
  • Innovations in Primary Schooling
  • Leadership for Change
  • Connecting classrooms
  • Gaming and Makerspaces
  • Technologies in the Classroom (Exhibitors/Vendors)

Register today
The Conference cost is very reasonable at R1000. On the Conference website you’ll also see buttons to click on that give you an opportunity to Register, Apply to be a presenter, Apply to be an Exhibitor, and Find Accommodation,



Looking forward to seeing you at the  SchoolNet ICT in the Classroom Conference in October! 
  

MIEExpert Amandla Vinjwa advocates upskilling yourself on the Microsoft Educator Community

We have written about MIEExpert Amandla Vinjwa before when he was selected to attend the Microsoft E2 Global Forum in Toronto Canada earlier this year. He was featured in our series "MIEExpert Spotlight" for South Africa. The tab with all the posts can be found at: http://bit.ly/1ZYy8Z7We focus on him again how as a teacher who initiates his own professional development on the Microsoft Educator Community. Amandla is a primary school teacher at Sivile Primary School in Cape Town, Western Cape. 

Amandla Vinjwa from Sivile Primary School in Khyelitsha, Cape Town, believes in upskilling himself in professional development. He is a Social Sciences, Maths and Technology teacher who makes the most of the online courses on offer to teachers free of charge on the Microsoft Educator Community. To date he has earned over 29 badges. Amandla believes that "ICT technology. and especially the use of Microsoft tools, are like a bridge that can help you to cross a gigantic river.” It has allowed him to use creative and innovative ways of teaching and learning. Amandla believes that, aided by using ICT technology in his lessons, he is able to reach all his learners who have different learning abilities.

Amandla had an opportunity to be part of the MIEExpert team from South Africa that headed to Toronto in March 2017 to attend the Microsoft E2 Teacher Exchange annual event. He regarded this as a once-in-a-life time experience that afforded him opportunities to connect with other educators around the world. He loved being exposed to the new ideas and views about different ways of teaching, and to the teaching and learning strategies and the resources used to enhance the learning process. Since returning he has been given the position of ICT co-ordinator at his school.


Sivile Primary has its challenges in limited ICT resources as well as limited internet connectivity r but this doesn’t hold back Amandla. He likes to share his knowledge with other teachers. “I initiate both formal and informal trainings and coaching sessions. My hands, heart, and head are always open to help and assist whenever help is needed.”


He learns how to use these by doing the courses provided by the Microsoft Educator Community. He has found OneNote to be his most effective and favourite tool. “Ï like to use OneNote because it can include different forms of media such as text, videos, audios and images, and it can be used collaboratively as well.”

Amandla uses Office 0365, OneNote, Skype in the Class room, Microsoft PowerPoint, and Microsoft Office Sway most often in his lessons. He learns how to use these by doing the courses provided by the Microsoft educator Community. He has found OneNote to be his most effective and favourite tool. “Ï like to use OneNote because it can include different forms of media such as text, videos, audios and images, and it can be used collaboratively as well.”


Amandla has been familiarizing himself with Microsoft Forms. He believes this tool could be very useful. “I have found Microsoft Forms a suitable tool to use for assessment," he says. "Microsoft Forms make it possible for us as teachers to design tests, questionnaires and quizzes. Thus the learners can be assessed, and a teacher can diversify an assessment and easily detect the areas needing more intervention and support. What I like about Microsoft Forms is that multiple choice questions, short discussion questions and the labeling of pictures and text information can be used. The beauty of this application is that marking is made so much easier and quicker. You create your own memorandum, and Microsoft Forms matches the responses and your anticipated answer or whatever input you inserted in advance. It then marks the answers. The marks are calculated automatically by the program.”


Amandla would like to see all the learners in South Africa having access to ICT resources. He believes the effective use of technology can help learners develop to their full potential in spite of their socio-economic backgrounds and personal circumstances.

Youth Spark ignites an interest in careers in IT around the country


YouthSpark Live, is a global community enabling young people to collaborate, inspire and support each other while using technology to spark change. YouthSpark events give learners an opportunity to get together to share ideas for using technology.

On Friday 23 June 2017, over 260 learners, in nine venues, in eight provinces participated in a YouthSpark Live event. The first part of the event involved a panel of IT professionals talking about how they got into the IT industry. This panel discussion took place at Brescia House School, which hosted the Gauteng event, but learners from eight other venues were able to watch the session via Skype broadcast. The panel were able to answer questions and provide insight on topics such as how to go about getting an internship, what studies a high school learner should pursue, how does it feel to be a woman in a male dominated industry, and what the value of certification is in a fast-paced industry. Learners then got to try their hand at some basic coding using the code.org/minecraft tutorials. The Brescia YouthSpark Live event extended on to Saturday 24 June 2017 so that learners could also experience Minecraft and additional coding activities.

Here are images from some of the venues.

Brescia House, Johannesburg

Gwanyesa

Hillcrest

Uppington

Witbank



Apply to be a Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert – applications close 15 July 2017

MIE Experts are part of an exclusive Microsoft program created to recognize global educator visionaries who are using technology to improve teaching and learning. Outstanding MIE Experts from South Africa and Lesotho are selected to attend Education Exchange (E2) events both locally and internationally; they participate in webinars to boost their own skills; they feature in case studies, blogposts and webinars; and they are part of a local and international community of teachers who share ideas and best practices.

Here is an image of the MIE Experts who were invited to the very exciting Microsoft E2 Africa  #makewhatsnext  In Johannesburg recently.

                  

If you would like to be a part of this exciting program we invite you to apply.

To apply, you will need to:
  • register on the Microsoft Educator Community and complete your profile;
  • earn at least 1 000 points on the Microsoft Education Community;
  • share a link to a 2-minute Sway, video or Office Mix that tells us if you’ve got what it takes to be an MIE Expert, and
  • complete the online self-nomination form by 15 July 2017
See the Microsoft Educator Expert page on the Microsoft Educator Community to find out more and to apply. 

Friday, 23 June 2017

Useful Google in Education links this week #102

After looking through all the Google posts that were shared to various subscriptions recently, these are a selection that look useful for teachers https://goo.gl/RjbJ8E. (The link to previous posts can be found here https://goo.gl/CNO3M2)

 

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Margaret Tracy from Hillcrest High School reflects on the recent Microsoft E2 Africa Forum #Makewhatsnext in Johannesburg

This is a guest post from Margaret Tracy, the Technology Integrator at Hillcrest High School (HHS) in Kwazulu-Natal. She believes implicitly in pedagogy before technology in the transformation of education. Margaret  was invited to attend the Microsoft E2 Africa Form in Johannesburg, and in this article she gives a reflection on the event. Margaret first wrote this as a post in Linkedin http://bit.ly/2rW7D19

Introducing the E2 Africa Conference
The Microsoft E2 Africa #Makewhatsnext Conference held on 29-30 May was a constructive example of innovation and expertise in action. To launch the event, Sonya Delafosse, Senior Partners-in-Learning Manager of Microsoft's worldwide Education team, stressed the importance of 21st century skills and the role technology can play in education to harness these skills. As the Technology Integrator at Hillcrest High School (HHS)in Durban, what struck me most, was the global need to travel this road together and pool our best resources so that we can learn from each other.


Microsoft's Professional Development programs
A second confirmation was the focus given to the importance of pedagogy first, with technology being a powerful tool to transform education. Microsoft in the Classroom and the Microsoft Educator Community (MEC) provides a professional and directed framework to guide and measure each school in their journey to transforming education on a global scale. It is uncharted territory and all schools can be considered pioneers in their own right. I believe that all schools should seriously consider joining the Microsoft School's Programme, if they haven't already, to facilitate the implementation of what Microsoft has to offer both teachers and students. The free online educator courses and point system with Microsoft badges carries SACE endorsement. At HHS, our teacher IT Champions are embracing this internationally recognised opportunity and at a recent workshop, all teachers were motivated to become Microsoft Innovative Educators (MIE). Online learning allows teachers to address professional development in their own time at their own pace. A growing number of HHS students have joined the Student IT Champion initiative and they are now working towards achieving their online Microsoft Digital Literacy Certificate. Clearly, students are becoming more aware of the importance of gaining a relevant and internationally recognised accreditation.


The enormous potential of Minecraft: Education Edition in Education
We were privileged to learn from the Minecraft Education Edition guru himself, Stephen Reid, CEO of Immersive Minds in Scotland. Game-based learning is not a new phenomenon but the extent to which Minecraft Education Edition informs on Problem-based Learning (PBL) is truly inspirational. The opportunities for the teacher in a variety of subject areas - including cross-curricular - was evident in the number and scale of virtual worlds that Stephen Reid and his students from different parts of the world had created. For a day and a half, Mr Reid guided the E2 delegates in groups in their innovative attempts to find a solution to an important South African problem using Minecraft. Collaboration, communication, creative thinking and critical analysis were necessary ingredients and the resulting project enabled each of us to understand not only what Minecraft could produce, but what an enormous learning experience game-based learning can be. The created world offered by Minecraft provides a very real and relevant experience that I believe is difficult to emulate in any other teaching and learning experience.


A 'game-breaker' conference
Thank you to the SA Microsoft team headed by Angela Schaerer from Microsoft and Megan Rademeyer from SchoolNet, for hosting a 'game-breaker' conference. Thank you to Sonja Delafosse and Stephen Reid for joining us on our journey.

SchoolNet free webinar 'Coding - it's not scary- it's easy and it's free...' by MIEExpert Charmaine Roynon on 27 June at 3:30pm


We are pleased to announce that our next free webinar, 'Coding - it's not scary- it's easy, it's free and it promotes cerebral fitness!' will be held on Tuesday 27th June at 3:30pm. Our speaker will be Charmaine Roynon, a Microsoft MIEExpert from Cape Town. Charmaine is the ICT Integrator at Wynberg Girl’s Junior School, and she is also Head of Curriculum Development and Teacher Training at EDU 365 SA. Charmaine is very interested in coding and its importance to our learners and she recently ran a Coding Conference at her school for teachers around Cape Town. She says, "I started exploring the world of coding, it's educational impact and why it is often referred to as "21st Century Oxygen". After doing some research, I discovered some incredible coding websites that are interactive, engaging and include teaching functions in the form of short video clips to guide users through each process. All this - for free!"We invite you to hear what Charmaine has to say about coding on our SchoolNet free webinar.


Webinar details
Webinar title: Coding - it's not scary- it's easy, it's free and it promotes cerebral fitness
Presenter: Charmaine Roynon, MIEExpert, ICT Integrator at Wynberg Girl’s Junior School, and Head of Curriculum Development and Teacher Training at EDU 365 SA, Charmaine is also a member of the NAPTOSA Pro Gro and Professional Development teams in the Western Cape where they present and deliver 2 ½ day educational conferences.
Summary: Charmaine says: "I have spent many years supporting teachers in their ICT integration journey. Sometimes I have to expose teachers to material that I am not so sure of myself! So, in line with the saying: "If it scares you, it might be a good thing to try." (Seth Godin), I started exploring the world of coding, it's educational impact and why it is often referred to as "21st Century Oxygen". After doing some research, I discovered some incredible coding websites that are interactive, engaging and include teaching functions in the form of short video clips to guide users through each process. All this - for free! The coding community have really come together to enable and empower young people to develop computational thinking, problem solving and logical thinking and many other competencies! In 36 years in education, this has got to be one of the easiest things I have ever done - with (by far) the most impact. Join me on my journey into the invigorating and exciting world of coding - made easy! "
Date: Tuesday 27th June, 3:30pm
Duration: 15-30 minutes
Host: Fiona Beal
To join the online meetinghttp://meet78641452.adobeconnect.com/coding-charmaine/

Note:
Even if you have attended an Adobe Connect meeting before you will need to install a free add-in. To investigate this, test your connection: http://bit.ly/2kcJiiH

Useful Microsoft in Education posts this week #108

The Internet is currently full of posts about using Microsoft products effectively in the classroom. Here are a number of them from this past week. The list is embedded below but can also be found at http://bit.ly/2t9Gmbn. The link to the back-dated posts is: http://bit.ly/1GVLTUZ




Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Grade 10-11 learners are invited to join Microsoft for the free YouthSpark Live Event at Brescia House School this week - on 23rd and 24th June

A message from Angela Schaerer from Microsoft:
Microsoft and Brescia House School in Johannesburg are excited to invite you to code and create with us at the Youth Spark Live Event in Johannesburg this week!


As the Education Teacher Engagement Manager at Microsoft, I would like to invite your school to join other young people from around the region for the two-day YouthSpark Live event taking place this week. Microsoft SA would be honoured to include you in this event. We hope you can join us for what promises to be an exciting and inspiring two days. Coding is creative! Imagine,have fun, and be creative in a whole new way!

What is Youth Spark?
YouthSpark Live, is a global community enabling youth to collaborate, inspire and support each other while using technology to spark change.

Where and when?
Venue: Brescia House School, 14 Sloane Street, Bryanston, JHB
Parking: Parking is available in the Bryanston Catholic Church Parkade 18 Sloane Street, Bryanston. The Church Parkade is accessed through the Sloane Shopping Centre, and has a back pedestrian gate into the school grounds. There will be direction signs that point from the Parkade to the School’s St Ursula’s Resource Centre.
Date:    23rd & 24th June 2017
Time:    Friday, 23 June 2017: 13h00 – 18h00
             Saturday, 24 June 2017: 09h00 – 15h10

What is the agenda?
DAY 1: Friday 23rd June
Guest arrival
Welcome remarks and Content review introduction
Panel discussion – Career in IT
Group photo
Late lunch and networking
Icebreaker activity
Computer Science Unplugged Activity
Minecraft Hour of Code Activity
Closing and departure

DAY 2: Saturday 24th June
Breakfast
Welcome remarks
YouthSpark Hub and SMART goals
Minecraft Training
Using Minecraft to address South Africa challenges
Lunch and networking
Modelling solutions in Minecraft
Group sharing

How many can come?
The requirements are:
20 learners per school
Grades 10 & 11 (learners who’ve shown interest in careers in IT)
*All equipment will be provided         
     
How do I register?
To register, click here.
Use #YouthSpark on TwitterFacebook, and Instagram


Monday, 19 June 2017

'Grade 7 E-Day June 2017' A really inspiring post from Anthony Peters from Parklands College

This is another amazing guest post from Anthony Peters @apeters522, Anthony is a very innovative English High School teacher from Parklands College in CapeTown, who delights in using technology in his High School English classes very creatively. We are always very happy when Anthony submits a post to us. You can view his 14 previous posts on our blog via the 'Anthony Peters' label https://goo.gl/3We6is  under Quick links on the right side.

"E-days have always been something to look forward to, if not for the plethora of innovative tasks that the educators come up with, then for the opportunity to take one’s classes from the comfort of one’s sofa or bed! For Grade 7 last Friday, this was no different!




What is E-day?
An E-day consists of learners (usually grades 7 – 9) completing their academic day in the comfort of their own homes! The educators utilise the latest versatile technology in order to monitor and guide the learners through a series of subject-specific tasks. Such technology used for this latest Grade 7 E-Day included: the Google Suite, Quizizz, Explain Everything, YouTube and Pic Collage.

The focus - Advertising!
In preparation for their first formal English examinations this June, all seventy of the grade 7 learners have been participating in a variety of tasks to help them revise all the concepts covered so far. E-Day focused on advertising, the principles of AIDA and the subliminal rhetoric companies often employ in order to persuade one to reach for the wallet! All the instructions for E-Day were delivered to learners via Google Classroom and an integrated Google Doc. 


Task 1
The first task the learners had to complete was watching a short revision video on advertising. I made the video using Explain Everything and then posted it to YouTube and inserted the link into the Google Doc. The learners then had to complete a fast-paced Quizizz quiz based on the video’s content.




Quizizz is a fantastic free app that enables the educator to gamify learning to the extreme! Real-time rankings, fun educator-made memes for right and wrong answers, themed backgrounds and a funky sound track are just some examples of the exciting functionality. Even matric learners enjoy using it! Although I was at school and the learners were at home, I could monitor all their scores in real-time and award digital merits instantaneously to those who achieved 80% or more in their final results!

Task 2
As we all know, Fidget Spinners are the latest craze to descend upon schools worldwide. Therefore, the English Department embraced the philosophy, “If you can’t beat them, join them!” Therefore, the final English E-Day task required the learners to create their own Fidget Spinner advertisements using another free app called Pic Collage. The learners were suitably engaged and were required to demonstrate their understanding of the language area (advertising) in an innovative, constructivist, and crucially ‘persuasive’ way.









One particularly intuitive group even made a recorded advertisement on iMovie.


The learners will be showcasing their advertisements this week in order to meet the expectations of the curriculum and public speaking, as well as to encourage some budding advertisers realise their potential.

Reflecting on E-Day
E-Day demonstrated the limitless potential technology has on facilitating constructive learning even when the educator and learner are kilometers away from each other! I am a big fan of Google and Apple technology and I use it in every lesson but E-Day showed me that I was able to create and run everything from my iPad, arguably the greatest piece of technology I’ve ever come across!



Two forms of pedagogy this project utilised were ‘learner-centered understanding’ and ‘flipped-learning’ and again, this blended harmoniously with the aforementioned technology."
-Anthony Peters

Friday, 16 June 2017

Useful Google In Education posts this week #102

After looking through all the Google posts that were shared to our various subscriptions recently, these are a selection that look useful for teachers https://goo.gl/vbF3cf(The link to previous posts can be found here https://goo.gl/CNO3M2




Using Minecraft: Education Edition as a tool to demonstrate the solution in a problem-based learning activity

Submitted by Fiona Beal
Recently I had the privilege of attending at the amazing Microsoft Educator Exchange (E2) Africa Forum as a #MIEExpert Educator. The E2 had the theme of #Makewhatsnext and it was held at Microsoft’s headquarters in Johannesburg.  I was excited about the emphasis that would be placed on using Minecraft: Education Edition in our classrooms. Stephen Reid, the Minecraft 'Guru' from Immersive Minds in Scotland gave an amazing keynote on problem-based learning and took us through how to use Minecraft. The #MIEExpert Educators and the other invited guests then completed a problem-based learning activity in groups using Minecraft: Education Edition as a tool to demonstrate how we would solve the problem we had identified. This was a great learning experience which I often think back on, and, in this post, I want to write about it and explain how we went about using Minecraft: Education Edition in our group project.  




Problem-based learning is a great way for everybody in the group to learn together. It facilitates active learning, critical thinking, collaboration, and creativity. Dr Preetha Ram says “Problem-based learning enables students to embrace complexity and joy in their learning, and enhance their capacity to make creative contributions to real-world problems."

So, let me start at the beginning... As soon as we registered at the Forum we were given our seating arrangements and I was placed in Group 6 with four other members. This always works well at an event like this as you get to know and work with a new group of friends.  Quite a bit of the two day Forum was devoted to seeing how Minecraft: Education Edition can challenge and develop critical thinking in a classroom setting. Our sessions,as mentioned,  were facilitated by the awesome Minecraft: Education Edition Guru, Stephen Reid from Scotland who was an entertaining and knowledgeable presenter.  He was aided by our own Dominique Cave from South Africa, the only Minecraft: Education Edition Global Mentor in Africa.


Our group - group 6
This problem-based learning activity we were set was in the form of a competition - the winning group would win devices! Group 6 was determined to win…in other words our competitive edge was stirred! We were very fortunate in our group to have a Minecraft: Education Edition Expert as part of our group - Matthew Hains from Crawford College. He’s a really techie kind of guy with the type of skills every group member longs to have. He was a great asset with helping us all work together to build our Minecraft model. We also had a project-based learning expert in Charmaine Roynon from Wynberg Girls’ Junior School.

Matthew sorting out a Minecraft query
So, how did we go about our project-based learning experience?

The task:
This was our task: "Come up with a problem you have observed in South Africa and demonstrate how you will solve this, using Minecraft: Education Edition. Present your solution on a Sway or as an Office Mix."

The tools
We decided to use:
a) A shared online OneNote notebook to work on. OneNote is very suited to problem-based learning as you can share content, images, videos etc very easily if you have a good Internet connection. 
b) Then there was Minecraft: Education Edition which we would use to demonstrate our solution. A Minecraft world had already been created for us by Steven Reid.
c) The final product was to be presented on a Sway or an Office Mix. 

Step 1: Identifying the issue
As a group we brainstormed problems in South Africa. Of course there were many! We then narrowed it down to three and eventually voted for one. Since we were all teachers it was probably natural to vote for the issue of many under-resourced schools in the country.


 Step 2: Create the driving  question
The next step was to create the driving question related to our enquiry. A driving question is one that captures the heart of the project by providing the purpose of the enquiry and by using clear and compelling language. The question should drives the participants to discuss, inquire, and investigate the topic. Here is a useful post from Edutopia on how to create driving questions. What do you think of ours? “How can we address the problem of under-resourced schools in our country in a sustainable way?'



 Step 3: Brainstorming
This step involved brainstorming what we would include in our under-resourced school to provide the needed resources. Here are some of the ideas we came up with.  We discussed these at length.


Step 4: Use Minecraft to demonstrate the solution
Now it  came to the part of building using Minecraft; Education Edition to demonstrate our solution.


Steven had taught us some of the basics so that we knew how to move around our Minecraft world.


We each appeared as little characters in the Minecraft world and we could see what each one in the group was doing at any stage.


We divided up the solutions we had thought of, and each one in the group built theirs (with loads of help from Matthew.) We had to take screenshots of the different objects that we built as proof of our solutions, and Matthew captured these for us and labelled them on the final PowerPoint.




Here is Matthew  capturing and labelling the screenshots for our group.


We (actually Matthew again) then created a video of what we had done using Minecraft: Education Edition and we embedded this video into our PowerPoint. Here is our video.


video

Step 5: Present your solution
The important thing when you present solutions is to have some relevant role players present – the people who could make this solution happen as we present. These people could even be invited in via Skype.


Step 6: Give the project a title
We decided on the title of ‘A self-sustaining school.’


When it came to presenting our solutions using Sway or Office Mix, we decided on Office Mix. But, alas,  ours just wouldn’t upload. I am sure it had something to do with our embedded video. So we had to make a snap decision with only two minutes to go to hand in our PowerPoint as it was. There was no time to make a Sway instead. 

In the classroom setting there would be a rubric involved for assessment purposes, but for our session the judges were going to choose the best one. (Charmaine in our group provided us with a great rubric to take back to our classes for assessing problem-based learning activities.)

Winners
No! It wasn’t our group!  Here is the winning team below – they will each get sent a device as a gift from Microsoft.  There wasn’t time for us to see their presentation, unfortunately.  This is a great image of the winning team along with Sonja Delafosse from Microsoft USA and Stephen Reid from Immersive Minds in Scotland.




This problem-based learning activity was a great learning experience. I really felt like I was starting to understand Minecraft: Education Edition and its many possibilities in the context of education.

The final presentation
Here is our final presentation. I have embedded our PowerPoint from OneDrive.

                             . 

Challenge at the end
This screenshot of Sonja’s final challenge really got me thinking.  Coding and computational thinking has to become part of our thinking as teachers in South Africa.