Does having a Growth Mindset correlate with higher academic achievement?

It appears not. We measured the “Growth Mindset” of 218 students using the following questions. In this blog I do a more detailed breakdown of results. 

Chart_Q16_160105 (2)

I would like to thank Panorama Student Surveys for publishing their measures of Social-Emotional Learning survey and allowing schools to use the questions.

The correlation between the “Academic Achievement” and other student data sets are shown.

As you can see the correlation between growth mindset and academic achievement at our school is quite low.

Academic Achievement
Work habits (Progress Score) 0.84
Task submission 0.70
ARCC Awards 0.46
Attendance 0.33
Co Curricula Points 0.29
Growth Mindset 0.10
Out of Uniforms -0.28
Lates -0.39
Misconducts -0.40


For those unfamiliar with what correlation means here is a quick summary.

Correlation coefficients are in the range of +1 to -1.

If two sets of data have a correlation of 1 it means there is a direct correlation between them. When one data set gets bigger so does the other. An example of this would be the relationship between the mass of water in a bottle vs the volume of water in a bottle.  When one goes up, so does the other in a direct relationship.

If a correlation coefficient is -1 it indicates as one set of data gets bigger the other will get smaller. An example of this would be the relationship between the number of cars on a freeway and the average speed of the cars. When the number of cars goes up the speed goes down.

If the correlation coefficient is 0 it means the two sets of data appear to have no effect on each other at all and may be unrelated.

The highest correlation we see in our school is between Academic Achievement and Work Habits. Progress score is our measure of work habits. At our school progress score is calculated every 5 weeks and is made up of teacher assessments of Effort, Behavior, Organization, Task Submission and Academic Progress. It is interesting that Effort and Behavior are specifically mentioned in the Growth Mindset questions but the students who believe they can significantly change these don’t perform better than those who feel these are not possible to change.

Task Submission has a high correlation with achievement. Task submission is a percentage measure of the rate of task completion. It is clear that “Those who do the work, do the learning.”

ARCC awards are given by teachers when students display the College Values of Achievement, Respect, Commitment and Community. There is a positive correlation between ARCC awards and achievement.

The correlation between Attendance and Achievement is not high. But the relationship between achievement and attendance is not straightforward. For students with attendance above 95% there is almost no correlation between Attendance and Achievement. Students with 95% attendance seem to do as well as students with 98% attendance who do as well as students with 100% attendance. Once attendance drops below 90% achievement begins to decline significantly.

Co-curricula points measure student’s participation in co-curricular activities like sport, drama, music, debating and leadership positions. There is a small positive correlation between participation in co-curricula activities and Academic Achievement.

Growth mindset comes next on the list. A correlation of positive 0.1 is almost no correlation at all. Students with a growth mindset seem to do just as well academically as those with a fixed mindset.

There is a negative correlation between achievement and being Late to Class, Out of Uniform and Misconducts.

I would love a dollar for every time I have had the discussion with students who are frequently out of uniform and they have made the point, “Being out of uniform doesn’t affect my learning”. Of course on one level they are correct. Correlation is not causation. Being out of uniform does not prevent a student from learning but I can now point out that “On average, students who are frequently out of uniform don’t do as well at school as those who are in uniform. There is a negative correlation between being out of uniform and Academic Achievement.” Not sure this will change their hearts and minds but it will be a teachable moment for me. I will launch into a fascinating explanation of correlation and causation and the nature of statistical analysis. They won’t want to be out of uniform again after I walk them through that one a couple of times.

Students who are frequently late to class, frequently out of uniform and have many misconducts don’t do as well at school. That is hardly a surprising finding.


So what do we do about all that?

Is Dweck’s Growth Mindset the next “learning styles” educational myth that is not supported by empirical evidence?

We all remember studying “Learning styles” at teachers college. Most of us who have been teaching for longer than 10 years can still remember the “talking head guru” Professional Development Day presenter who talked about activities that help the kinesthetic learners and the auditory learners and visual learners. We raced out and gave our students VKA Learning Styles Surveys to identify their preferred learning style. The problem was that delivering material to them in their preferred learning style didn’t actually improve learning.

The consensus view on learning styles now appears to be:

Do students have a preferred learning style? Yes

Does delivering content to students in their preferred learning style improve learning? No

I am not suggesting we put “Growth Mindset” in the same category as Learning Styles.

Much of Dweck’s evidence for Growth Mindset was done in a “pre and post test” methodology. She looked a group of students with similar mathematical ability and tracked their progress through Maths in Year 7 and 8. She found those with a “growth mindset” improved more than those with a fixed mindset, especially when confronted with difficult problems. The other studies that used some forms of control groups and experiment groups had the control group doing a normal program. The experimental group did the normal program plus some work on developing a growth mindset. The group that did the work on growth mindset not only developed more of growth mindset but they also performed better academically as well relative to the control group.

Should we be surprised that many students with a “fixed mindset” can do well at school? We have all taught students who when asked why they do well on a task say, “Because I’m smart.”

I am curious.

I want more information.

Is there a correlation between Academic Achievement and Growth Mindset? We certainly didn’t find one here. Was my method flawed? Are these mindset questions not a good measure?

My challenge to other schools: Measure student’s growth or fixed mindset and see if it correlates with academic achievement.

Tell me what you find.

My three favourite classroom IT applications from 2015

The best thing about being a teacher who likes using ICT is the seemingly never ending array of new applications you can try each year.

There are ample opportunities to try new things.

My favourite IT products I used 2015 were:

  1. Kahoot

There is nothing new under the sun. Kahoot is really just a quiz program. It does multiple choice and true and false questions but it does them in an amazingly engaging fashion. It is so rare that a program is engaging enough for students to request a practice quiz. “Can we do a Kahoot?” The beauty of Kahoot is it is so easy to use and set up. With little investment of your time you are up and running. Create a free account, search for the topic, use someone’s quiz, get students too log in. They don’t require user names or passwords. Kahoot has the gamification aspects that work perfectly embedded; Leaderboards, Instant Feedback, Competition, Interaction and Challenge. Students can play on their computer or on their phones.

I looked into a digital clicker system a few years ago that would have cost thousands of dollars. Kahoot does it for free.

If you are not using Kahoot with your classes they are missing out.


My tips for Kahoot:

  • You need the music on.
  • Get students to use their real names. Do this by “kicking them out” of the login screen when they put in silly names. The reason for this is for your formative assessment. You need to know who does and does not understand a concept.
  • Offer a small prize for the winner. Our school has ARCC awards which are positive behaviour notifications. I give n ARCC award to the top 3 on the leaderboard at the end of the quiz. This keeps the students motivated.
  • Between 10 and 15 questions is plenty.
  1. Quizlet

Once again an old idea with a new front end. Quizlet, at its most basic level, does flashcards of vocabulary. Word on one side of the card, definition on the other. I used to tell my Year 12 Chem students to make flashcards in 1989 when I first taught the subject.

Students can use these digital flashcards on both their computers and their phones. Where quizlet is great though is that once your vocab list is in place students can test themselves with spelling quizzes, multiple choice quizzes and games. Once again it is free and is so easy to use.


My tips for Quizlet:

  • Keep your word list fairly small. Better to have two wordlists with 10 words in each rather than one with 20.
  • The paid account really does not give you much more than the free account.
  • Encourage students to install the Quizlet app on their phones. It is a great app. Ask them to do a word list game on the bus or the train each night. Spaced practice made convenient.
  1. Shared Google Docs for group work

I made extensive use of shared google docs in group work. My science classes had to write up prac reports in groups of 3. One prac report between 3 students. This made collaboration essential and Google Docs makes collaboration easy. Three students would all working on the same report at the same time. Students would often divide up the report. “You do the Aim and Method, I’ll do the Results section, and you do the Questions and the Conclusion.” They would then, with some suggesting (read insisting) from me, check each other’s work to improve the quality. The quality of reports was significantly better than when students worked individually. I had 24 students in the class so I only needed to give feedback on 8 reports. This reduced my workload too.  I would use the comments and edit function of google docs to give feedback on a draft for each group. I could see from the Editing History of the google doc which students had done what and who actually responded to my feedback. Google docs solve many of the issues associated with group work. How often in the past have we had the situation where a group of students would be stopped in their tracks when on Monday a group member was absent? “Billy’s got our results and he’s away” or “Our report is on Billy’s computer.” This is not a problem when students are using Google Docs. We even had the situation where Billy was at home sick but was still able to contribute to the write up from there.


My Tips for Google Docs:

  • When giving students feedback click on the Editing Button and change it to “Suggesting”. This means students are easily able to see your suggestions.
  • Use the Comment Function to give feedback as well.
  • Ask students to submit a link rather than submit a file. This means your server and computer don’t fill up with large files.
  • Use the Revision History to see what and when students contributed to the group report.


I’ve already picked out three programs to try in 2016. I’ll tell you about them next week.

This will Revolutionize Education

This is a link to a quick presentation I showed before a whole staff PD session on using ICT in the classroom.

I still love watching it.

This will Revolutionize Education.

The main job of a teacher is to inspire, to challenge, to excite their students to want to learn

The most important thing a teacher does is make their students feel like they are important, to make them feel accountable for doing the work of learning.




Growth Mindset: Some baseline data.

Our school has done very little work on “Growth Mindset” with staff or with students.

We may be a little behind the times here as every other article, journal or conference seems to feature some reference to developing a “Growth Mindset” in students.

I decided to collect some baseline data on Growth Mindset among our students and staff.

My method was fairly crude. An 8 question survey attached to an online vote for our school leaders for 2016.

The question was:

Whether a person does well or poorly in school may depend on a lot of different things. You may feel that some of these things are easier for you to change than others. In school, how possible is it for you to change:

Not at all possible to change–(1) A little possible to change(2) Somewhat possible to change(3) Quite possible to change(4) Completely possible to change(5) Total Weighted Average
Behaving well in class 5.45%














Putting in a lot of effort 5.17%














How easily you give up 5.76%














Liking the subjects you are studying 5.42%














Your level of intelligence 7.58%














Being talented. 12.69%














Chart_Q16_160105 (2).png

If our students and staff have  a growth mindset we should see most saying “Quite Possible To Change” or “Completely Possible to Change” for all characteristics. At first glance the figures look reasonably positive although I have no other schools data to compare it with.

Is there a standard survey by which a school can measure mindset and track its growth? Please comment below if you know of such an instrument, especially if it is free.

I have broken the data down by year level.

Response Being talented. Liking the subjects you are studying Your level of intelligence Putting in a lot of effort Behaving well in class How easily you give up
Year 7 3.16 3.49 3.41 3.94 3.91 3.85
Year 8 3.20 3.51 3.52 3.77 3.83 3.50
Year 9 2.69 3.10 3.18 3.58 3.58 3.63
Year 10 3.22 3.65 3.78 4.22 4.20 4.02
Year 11 2.82 3.43 3.10 3.83 3.94 3.59
Staff 3.46 4.09 3.57 4.72 4.76 4.63

We clearly have some work to do in developing a growth mindset in our Level 9’s.

Staff have a strong growth mindset which is pleasing.

Being intelligent and talented seems to be the lowest in terms of what both staff and students see as possible to change.

I was also interested to see whether a student’s mindset was correlated with their academic performance or with their learning behaviours.

We measure academic performance by their grades on reports. We measure learning behaviours by the rankings staff give students for Effort, Behaviour, Organisation, Task Submission and Academic Progress on Progress Reports.

One possible hypothesis is students with a high “growth mindset” will do better at school. Those that see the characteristics mentioned above as “Quite Possible” or “Completely Possible” to change would do better academically and have better work habits than those who see these characteristics as “A little” or “Not at all possible to change”. Do the students with a “fixed” rather than a “growth” mindset do better or worse at our school?


Let me crunch some numbers and I’ll get back to you.

Results are here.

1:1 Computing: Are we there yet? Where is there?


The ubiquitous use of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) in schools is the biggest change in education in the past 20 years. While we have dabbled with open learning spaces, integrated curriculum, standards based assessment, vertical timetables and extended teaching periods, not much of what we do has really changed. Our school, like most others, still consists of buildings similar in design to what we learnt in during the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. It has classrooms with 20 to 25 students and one teacher delivering a subject based curriculum. A trip in a time machine by an observer who moves forward from 1995 to 2015 would actually notice little change in the “what is taught”. Our students still study Maths, English, Science, Humanities, PE, Art and the traditional subject based curriculum. Our Year 7 Wood Technology students still make a pencil box. Our Year 7 Science students still get their “Bunsen Burner Licence” and spend a lot of time boiling water. In terms of “how” the curriculum is taught though, the observer would notice a huge difference.

The major difference in how the curriculum is taught is the omnipresent use of ICT.

In 1995 our school had three computer labs. Students would see it as “a treat” to have a class booked into a computer lab for one or two of their thirty lessons in a week. Classrooms had televisions and video players. We were cutting edge.

The major change our time traveller would notice now is that all students bring a netbook computer to every class. Every room has a data projector. The college has wireless access to the internet in every classroom.

In 1995 the teacher was the major source of knowledge in the classroom. In a Social Studies class, if a student wanted to know the date of, or the background to the Cuban Missile crisis the teacher or textbook was the only hope of finding this information. If the teacher didn’t know the answer to your question you could ask to go to the library and look up the answer in Encyclopaedia Britannica.  Now at our school, most of the information and knowledge collected in human history is a few mouse clicks and a well-executed “google search” away from our students at any time in any lesson. Thousands of pages of information on the Cuban Missile crisis are a few clicks away.  This is a profound change.

It is worthwhile to reflect on how we have moved our school from occasional computer use to a school where students use ICT most lessons in most subjects.

Like many schools, we started with a computer lab based network. As wireless technology developed and staff use of wireless laptops developed, we began to consider the option of putting portable devices in the hands of students.

We set out on a journey to become a 1:1 school in 2009. We started with optional laptop classes where students bought their own school-approved laptops, and then followed this by school subsidised purchases of netbooks for all students in 2012.

What follows are our top 11 tips for schools who are undertaking a similar journey and where we think that journey will go next.

1.     Have a clear vision and restate it often

Our vision:

We are a 1:1 School:

  • We put our courses online
  • We put our due dates online
  • We put our assessment results online
  • We get our students, parents and teachers used to working this way.

We first translate our current practice into an online environment, then we transform how we educate our students using ICT.

We put this vision statement at the top of every document to do with our 1:1 program for teachers. It was the first slide of every presentation given to staff. It was part of the induction process for new staff. People behave their way into new visions and ideas, not just think their way into them.[1] With this in mind, much of our work was directed at developing staff capacity to use ICT. Changing behaviour would change beliefs and make the vision a reality.

2.     Your LMS-(Learning Management System) drives everything

We use Moodle. The brand of your LMS doesn’t matter. Ensuring all staff and students use it every day does matter. We put everything on Moodle: worksheets, quizzes, tests, resources, weblinks, feedback. We have eliminated as much paper as possible. Without an LMS, teachers will use ICT for Powerpoint presentations and “internet research tasks”. Some teachers won’t use IT at all.  An LMS is central to your 1:1 program.

An LMS also allows you a window into what is actually happening in the classroom. With Moodle we can see what tasks are being set in classes and what is actually being set by staff and submitted by students. An LMS has been vital in allowing our professional learning teams to work on common assessment tasks. Having everything in one place is essential for students, staff and parents.

3.     Make sure your IT support team is customer focussed

Keeping staff and student computers running well is essential to the success of your 1:1 program. Your IT support team needs to share your vision and needs to be increased in size as the number of machines in your school increases. Customer service is essential.


Our ICT support team get regular feedback via the ICT support survey that all Educational Support and Teaching staff complete annually. This has helped encourage the development of a “friendly, customer focused support team.”

4.     1:1 means everyone has to have one, preferably the same one

The type of device you choose is important. Cost is obviously a factor but durability is paramount. Computers in the hands of students get dropped, often. We have benefitted from having a standard operating environment across the college. The staff and the students all use Lenovos. They have the same keyboard layout, the same chargers and a very similar software image. This has made support and repair much easier for the college. Staff know that what they can do on their computer, the students will be able to do on theirs.

We work persistently at the beginning of the year ensuring all students have a netbook and are bringing it to class. Any students who cannot afford the parent co-payment are placed on a payment plan.

We have a fleet of “loaners” ready to go to replace those of students who have their device in for repair. A key to being 1:1 is the certainty that when a teacher says “Get out your netbooks and log into Moodle”, every student has a netbook and can do that.


The one or two that “don’t have them” are students that have either left them at home or have them “with the techies” getting fixed. In this situation we say, “go borrow a loaner”, and the student is ready to go within minutes.

This also means staff will be confident they can use computers whenever they need to. As this chart shows, our staff have students using their netbooks most lessons. Staff who come to Drouin from other schools comment that while their previous school claimed to be 1:1, many students did not have computers or did not bring them to class so you could not rely on being able to use them. This guaranteed access also allows teachers to plan for short periods of the lesson where computers can be used. A 15 minute “break out” activity on the computers then back to written work is possible.


5.     Allow teachers to translate first, then transform

For many teachers, using ICT in an innovative way is not easy. In our experience innovative use of ICT is just as common, or uncommon in more experienced teachers as it is in younger staff. We have encouraged staff to translate their current practice first onto the computer. It may seem a “cop out” to have students doing what is essentially a worksheet or some text book chapter questions on the computer rather than with a pen and paper. You may ask in this situation, “What has really changed?” For many staff this is a vital first step.

We have used Ray Nasher’s[2] 3 carriage train analogy as a model for moving our staff from translation to transformation.  Moving teachers on from translation to transformation is an ongoing challenge.

What students actually do most of the time is difficult to track. The Data below is from a survey done in 2007 and 2011 and 2015. The 2007 version had “use Encarta to do research”. We removed this question from the 2015 version. Our current students would  ask “What is Encarta?” Change in the ICT world is rapid. We are now encouraging students and staff to use ICT in more collaborative ways so we added “Used Google Apps to work collaboratively” in 2015.


The changes from 2007 to 2015 are interesting to look at as well.


It would be fair to say that most of our use is ICT for producing and for technical administration, for example, submitting work to a teacher or looking up marks. The rate of what we would consider as “higher skill level” ICT tasks like Programming or Web design are still not being carried out as frequently as we would like at our school.

6.     Build an expectation of classroom ICT use into the Performance and Development process.

Staff receive feedback on their Online Moodle Courses as part of their annual review process. This sets up a clear expectation that they have courses online. It took seven or eight years to get to this point. Some of our staff were reluctant at first but as more got on board the change became inescapable for all.

This is our Performance and Development (P&D) feedback process.


Staff get feedback on their Moodle course development via a rubric. We were very specific about what we wanted to see in people’s courses.

This was based on our vision.

We are a 1:1 School:

  • We put our courses online
  • We put our due dates online
  • We put our assessment results online
  • We get our students, parents and teachers used to working this way.

As well as staff getting feedback from Leading Teachers and Principals on their Moodle courses in 2014, we added some ICT and Moodle questions to the Student Opinion survey that all staff have to complete with one of their classes each year.

Students now give staff feedback on ICT and Moodle via these questions on the Effective Teacher Survey.

  • The Moodle course in this subject was easy to follow
  • The Moodle course in this subject was always up to date
  • The progress bars on this Moodle course were up to date
  • The due dates were always on Moodle for this course
  • I could see from my grades on Moodle how I was going in this subject
  • In this class I get the chance to use what I know about computers and other technologies.

Staff receive feedback on all aspects of their teaching as well as their Moodle courses from the students.


7.     Create a “Certification System” for staff who are high end users of ICT

It was serendipitous when a silly “throw away” idea in a brain storming session becomes, within 18 months, an established part of the college culture. We wanted a way of spreading the organisational knowledge of Moodle among the staff. The idea of the “Super Moodler” was born. Staff who on their P&D reviews scored consistently above a certain level were given the title Super Moodler. They were presented with their Super Moodler sticker in front of the staff. My initial thoughts were that this would be “pretty lame” and a minor amusement for the recipients. It has taken on a life of its own. Some staff have set as one of their P&D goals “to become a Super Moodler” this year. The title is sought after.


Super Moodlers are identified with stickers on their laptops and desks. This has had the effect of putting 50 “help desks” around the school. It is essential that new staff get this help when they start at our school.  Super Moodlers have been vital in helping new staff get up to speed with Moodle.


We have even plotted the rise of the Super Moodlers.

8.     Train the staff but don’t water the rocks

We put hours of time and resource into ICT staff development. For two years we ran whole staff ICT Toolbox sessions twice a term. We would have five or six different sessions running on these nights and staff would choose which they would attend. They were run largely by our “Super Moodlers” but were not entirely Moodle related. The staff resource was our own. We didn’t use external facilitators for training. There is enough expertise within your own building.

We cultivated the early adopters and innovators by grouping them together in Laptop Teachers groups in the early years of 1:1 implementation. This allowed expertise to develop more quickly in what would soon become our “Super Moodler” group.

We still have a vibrant E-learning committee whose members are encouraged to innovate and share new practice.

It is inevitable that there will be staff who are slow to come on board. Resistant staff have been overcome by the push and expectation set up by other staff, students and parents. Eventually they just have to come on board. We didn’t waste too much energy trying to convince them to get their courses online. At the end of the year their student survey results and Moodle feedback showed a very clear area for improvement and they could not avoid it any longer. For some of these staff the major impetus for change was when students gave them the feedback, “We need a Moodle course for this subject.”

9.     Don’t assume the digital natives know what they are doing

Mark Prensky’s pervasive term, Digital Natives, is in our experience slightly misplaced. Students may have grown up with ICT but that does not mean they know how to use it effectively. We have set up ICT bootcamp courses that give students the skills they need to manage their devices. Our students have full admin rights to the computers so they can, and do, manage to clog them up with “dodgy” software and viruses. They struggle to manage the operating system and keep the device running efficiently. We have fluctuated between “lock them down and not let manage the device” to “let them learn from their mistakes”. We have tried both and there are definite benefits wtih the latter.

10.Monitor your progress regularly

“What gets measured gets done.”

“Without data all we have are opinions”

“It is a capital mistake to theorize before one has data. Insensibly one begins to twist facts to suit theories, instead of theories to suit facts.”  Arthur Conan DoyleSherlock Holmes

We have been careful to track our progress every year.

Each year we administer our staff computer use and ICT support survey. This gives feedback to our ICT support team and also allows us to track “staff reported” computer use.

Every three years we carry out a whole school computer use survey where we ask the majority of the student population about their ICT use at school and at home.

We give staff feedback on Moodle use via the P&D process and this data is tracked to look for trends.


This creates small wins, allows staff to see the progress they have made.


11.Create a culture of sharing

Sharing is not optional at our school. When you put something on Moodle it is available for all staff to use. We have no IP at DSC. We don’t want new staff to have to set up a Moodle course for Year 8 Maths from scratch. They simply grab someone else’s course and modify it as they go. All staff have access to all courses. The system is very open from a staff member’s login.

So are we there yet?

We are now at the point were more students are telling us they would like to use computers less rather than more. Our next challenge is to focus more on the quality rather than quantity use of ICT.


Feedback from students indicates that they want to use ICT more for collaboration and less for independent learning. We are making extensive use off google apps for education students are asking for more. This is usually a sign that we on the right track.

In terms of keeping staff using ICT our challenge now is to hold the gains. It cannot be underestimated the desire for some staff to “back slide” to the old ways of working. While we are confident that use of ICT and Moodle are part of our culture and culture is defined as, “the way we do things around here” there is always a danger in assuming that a change is embedded before that is actually the case. We will keep the foot on the accountability pedal awhile longer.

Contributing to this challenge of embedding a new way of working is the influx of new staff. New staff at our school do find the learning curve of Moodle steep. Our teacher training institutions are not doing well in skilling staff with the ability to use a Learning Management System in their teaching. Our graduate teachers have little or no experience of putting curriculum online and seem more versed in 20th century pedagogy than they are in the use of ICT when every student has a device that the students expect to use for learning.

For new teachers classroom management in general is always a challenge but their ability to manage a class using ICT is an added test. For some it is easier to just revert to pen and paper, worksheets and text books as they seem more in tune with this method of instruction than using 1:1 devices.

Has it worked?

Our aim was not to become a 1:1 school for the sake of becoming a 1:1 school. Our aim with using technology was always to improve student learning. Student learning is still largely measured by pen and paper based standardized tests; VCE and NAPLAN in particular. How has the push for online learning affected VCE and NAPLAN results at DSC?

When John Hattie, the godfather of evidence based, know thy impact, data analysis looked at our NAPLAN and VCE results his assessment could be paraphrased as “you appear to punching above your weight”. Since becoming a 1:1 school our SFO and ISCES number, as measured by the myschool website, has headed in a “more disadvantaged” direction. Our student cohort has become poorer and more disadvantaged. Our NAPLAN and VCE results have improved though.

2015 State Growth 40 37 34 52 34
2015 DSC Growth 50 47 37 64 48
Us vs State 2015 10 10 3 12 14




While we know that NAPLAN and VCE are not the “be all and end all” in terms of measures of student learning they are indicators that what you are doing is working on one level.

Where to next.

We are 1:1. Every student has a device. They bring it to every lesson. Their curriculum is online, their results are online and their due dates are online. But what do we do next? What do we see as the next challenges and innovation in the use of ICT?


This seems to be a new “buzzword” in the education industry which always makes us tread carefully. We have dabbled already in gamification with interesting results. Read about how we “Gamified NAPLAN Preparation” this year. Adding game elements to courses is something we will encourage staff to experiment with. It shows real promise in cultivating engagement.

Flipped Learning

Again it seems to be a “flavour of the month” term. “Are you doing flipped learning at your school?” The concept appealed to me. I tried it with my Year 10 Science Class on the topic of learning how to balance chemical equations.

My traditional approach to teaching this is to explain the concept to class. The class listens, takes notes and comes to grips with the concept. I then move into the guided practice phase of the lesson. Some simple examples of equations to balance are provided and the students work on them. I am there, at hand, to help the students when they get into difficulty. The class then moves into the independent practice part of the lesson. I give them 20 or so equations to balance that gradually increase in complexity. By this time the bell normally goes and most of the independent practice is carried out at home. If the student gets stuck they are on their own.

The Flipped model works like this, (in Theory). Teacher finds someone on YouTube who can explain the concept well. There are some amazing teachers on You Tube who can certainly explain balancing chemical equations as well as I can. I actually used a “Lazy teacher tactic” and asked students to find 2 videos themselves and post them in a discussion forum on Moodle. I then picked the best one for the whole class to watch for homework. The students then learn the new concept at home by watching the video, taking notes or doing a simple quiz set by the teacher. The new direct instruction is actually done at home. The students then came into class and were supposed to go straight into the guided practice phase of the lesson and independent practice phase in class. This way if they have difficulty there is a teacher, a guide on the side, there to help.

My initial trials of flipped learning with my own classes have had mixed success. For the students who do the “flipped learning” and watch the video and do the quiz at home, it was a winner. Unfortunately many of our Year 10 students didn’t take that opportunity. Ah well. Another silver bullet misses the mark but flipped learning definitely has some promise.

Competency based certification (badges).

A defined skill or competence like the example above “Ability to balance chemical equations” can be set up to be taught and tested on moodle. When a student completes this competency they can be awarded a badge. Badges can be used to qualify for other courses. By earning competencies and certification the theory is that students will be more motivated and will take more responsibility for their own learning.


The national curriculum now includes some forms of coding as a compulsory skill from grade 3 onwards. We need to plan what this will look like in our school.

Parent involvement

An ongoing challenge for us is to get parents more involved in the online education process. We have experimented with a Parent Role in Moodle but have had little success. We now just share the student’s login with parents so they can login if they want to and see what the student sees. Linking Moodle to our student admin system still remains an unresolved problem. It is fair to say we have not had great success getting our parent community to significantly engage with online learning.


We make little use of student’s mobile devices. They have them. They bring them to class but we don’t allow them to connect them to our network. Many staff are reluctant to let students use phones in class at all.

Q14. Do you have internet access on your phone?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes 77.0 % 295
No 13.8 % 53
Don’t own a phone 9.1 % 35
answered question 383
Q15. Do you regularly bring your smart phone to school?
Answer Options Response Percent Response Count
Yes 80.4 % 308
No, don’t bring it to school. 6.5 % 25
I don’t have a smart phone 13.1 % 50
answered question 383


Social Media

Social Media is another untapped resource that most students access every day. Can we integrate Moodle or our admin system, Sentral, with Facebook? That would certainly increase student interaction with the systems.

Q13. What sort of social media do you use (Can be at home or at school, on your computer or your phone.)


Answer Options Use daily. Use a couple of times a week. Use a couple of times a month. Have an account but rarely use it. Never heard of it or don’t use it. Response Count
Facebook 50% 15% 2% 7% 25% 368
Snapchat 49% 8% 3% 8% 32% 372
YouTube 42% 26% 14% 7% 11% 374
Instagram 41% 14% 5% 10% 30% 373
Skype 17% 12% 7% 34% 31% 362
Twitter 11% 6% 6% 16% 62% 356
WhatsApp 2% 2% 2% 6% 89% 352
StumbleUpon 1% 0% 1% 4% 95% 355
Flickr 1% 0% 1% 8% 90% 355
LinkedIn 0% 0% 0% 4% 95% 353

The other major challenge for all schools is simply to keep up with the rapid advances in both the hardware and software that are constantly emerging. There are fads to be avoided and innovations to be adopted and always the choice between the two to be made.

Is flipped learning a fad or a positive innovation that will improve student learning? Is gamification the next big thing or just a flash in the pan? Can we use facebook, twitter and snapchat as a powerful learning tool or will this be another dead end or a distraction?

Who knows, but as educators we must remain curious and open to innovation.

The content we teach has not changed much but the way we can teach it certainly has.