One week till #EdCamp

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 10.15.24 pm

Dear EdCampers,

We hope you’re looking forward to a night of learning, exploration and networking.  We’re excited to say we’ve had over 100 registrations for this un-conference event.  Important details below:



Shekou International School’s Parkside Campus, Jingshan Villas, Nanhai Road.



Registration & drinks start at 5:30PM, Thursday 5 Dec.  EdCamp will kick off at 6PM sharp.



Session details (and presenter information) are available here.


Please bring a device if you have one (Mac, iPad, PC, etc).  Most importantly, EdCamp is about networking and developing learning connections.  Be ready to mingle, explore and have fun!


John Burns
Director, Learning Innovation
Shekou International School

A BYOD Option: Samsung Galaxy Tab3

What is it?

Samsung Galaxy Tab3 10.1 (GT-P5210) is a tablet with a 10.1 inch screen and 1280 x 800 resolution. The Tab3 runs on an Android 4.2 operating system and is in the price range of US$250- $350.


Why does it matter for education?

Being a less expensive tablet than Apple’s iPad, it is a possible alternative for students and teachers in a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) educational setting. The Galaxy Tab3 10.1 comes preloaded with a selection of apps (depending on country purchased in) and additional apps can be purchased and downloaded via Samsung Apps and Google Play.

Design and Features

The Tab3 has a sleek design similar to the iPad with the display screen taking up most of the front, a solid construction on the back and smooth edges.


• 16 GB / 32 GB Memory

• 1,3 Megapixels Camera Resolution (Front)
• 3 Megapixels Camera Resolution (Rear)

Physical Specification
• 176,1 x 243,1 x 7,95 mm Dimension
• 510 g Weight

Audio and Video
• Plays a variety of video and audio format
• Full HD (1080p) Video Playback available
• Recording up to 30 fps


Like (as a learning tool)

In considering the Tab3 as a BYOD for students and/or teachers, there were some features that I found appealed to me.

  • Large screen size
  • Light weight
  • Size/weight is manageable for even small children
  • Easy identifiable icons
  • Accessible digital keyboard
  • Handwriting tool on keyboard to identify Chinese characters
  • Apps available to download from both Samsung and Android/Google
  • Camera/Video recording/playback decent

Considerations (as a learning tool)

There was nothing that I truly ‘disliked’ about this tablet but after using an iPad for awhile, there are some issues that I would recommend taking into consideration before deciding on the Tab3.

  • Lack of multi-tasking gestures – although using the home button and swiping through screens is easy
  • Storage is small (16G) — but can add storage through SD card
  • Battery life is low compared to other tablets

Using it in for Educational Purposes

As with the iPad and other tablets, The Samsung Galaxy Tab3’s compact size and weight make it easy to handle and transport (although a sturdy protective cover would be recommended).

For Primary and Elementary (PreK – grade 5)

As a less expensive alternative to iPad, the Tab 3 would meet the needs of students and teachers when it comes to taking photos and videos. Also, through Samsung and Google Play (Android), users would be able to find productivity and education apps to complement the learning goals of individual age groups and subject areas.

Secondary (grades 6-12)

The Samsung Galaxy Tab3 10.1 has the potential to be a useful mobile device for students and teachers to support and supplement various educational needs . However, as with many tablets, it may be limiting when considering the word processing and other data production needs in the upper grades (without a wireless keyboard).


Reviews of the Samsung Galaxy Tab 3 10.1 tended to be mediocre to good and basically, with a lower price than an iPad, you get what you pay for. However, reviews on other Samsung tablets have been more promising.

Additional Resources

More details on Samsung Galaxy Tab3 10.1 (from Samsung)

Comparison between Samsung Galaxy Tab3 10.1 and iPad (PC Magazine)

Samsung Galaxy Tab3 10.1 Review (PC Magazine)
Samsung Galaxy Tab3 10.1 Review (CNET)
Samsung Galaxy Tab3 10.1 Review (
Samsung Galaxy Tab3 10.1 Review (

BYOD – Chromium OS


What Is It?

It’s a Dell Latitude running Chromium OS, a downloadable OS created by Hexxeh. It’s very much similar to  a ChromeBook running Chrome OS. This is the cheapest way to see if a ChromeBook is for you, the user interface is nearly identical with a few features that are not accessible. Anyone with Windows, Linux, or Mac OS X is able to follow instructions of downloading and extracting files on to a 4 GB USB jump drive. The user then boots through the USB key to access Chromium OS. User can also download the OS on to a virtual box or VMWare if they so choose to boot Chromium that way.

 Who is it for?

This is for anyone who wants to use a computer solely working on the web or cloud based applications. There is no need to backup to ones local HardDrive because Chromium OS is running off a 4 – 8 GB  USB jump drive. Keep in mind that is a maker’s ChromeBook. The features that are not available due to licensing are Flash, Java, and Google Voice/Video plugin. Great for connected education institutions and businesses.

photo credit: Ivan Zhekov



Whether you are converting an old or new PC laptop into a “ChromeBook” in this instance a ChromiumBook, the hardware it must have is a USB port, ethernet port, and WiFi connectivity. The design, look, and feel is purely from the users prospective, it’s experience of having Google Chrome web browser, Chromium in this case as their only computing highway.  The user has to hit the boot option key(F12) in order to select the USB jump drive to have Chromium be the main operating system. Otherwise, when powering on a PC with deciding which environment to boot in, the default OS will run instead. On the other hand a user deciding to purchase an actual ChromeBook is offer several designs and specs to meet the needs of that particular consumer.

Using It

The user interface of Chromium OS is very simple. The application task bar or what is known as launcher, resides at the bottom left hand corner. By default have the user has quick access to Chromium(Google Chrome), users Google Drive, and Android-esque approach on accessing the users Apps that they have installed from the Chrome web store. Toggling through the users App drawer, they are able to customize their launcher by right clicking and add any App that they have installed from the chrome web store to their launcher for quick access.

Access to chrome web store

The chrome web store can be accesses through the launcher, icon resembles a dial pad. Chrome offers a wide array of applications that can be installed into Chromium, most of which are free. However, due to the fact that Chromium is missing Flash and several other plugin that allow for animation, a error message will pop-up after a few seconds attempting to install the app of your choosing.

Google Drive

If you are familiar with Google Drive, then this should not be any news to you. First time sign on to Chromium OS gives you direct access to your Google Drive. Adding and editing working documents are seamless.

Settings Draw and Notifications

The right hand corner of the desktop interface, the user has a notification button that he or she can manipulate to their liking. Adjacent to the notification button is the settings drawer. Here the user is able to lock the computer, set up Wifi, or log-out of their account. Keep in mind its all through the USB jump drive that is running Chromium OS.


Cloud based computing, it’s the future of doing everyday operations in education and business. Chromium has the potential for the user to test out the goods before they invest in an actual ChromeBook. Though a ChromeBook starts at $199 USD, depending on what you want out of it, the ChromeBook Pixel is $1299 USD, equivalent to a 13-inch MacBook Pro.  Overall, I like the concept of no local storage.  No worries, no backups, it’s just there when you want it.

Don’t Like

Due to the fact that this review is focused on Chromium OS with the understanding that it has several missing features, that says it all. I am not able to load anything that requires Flash or play video.  I don’t like that I am not able to use the camera to capture video or images to upload straight to my Google drive. When setting up Chromium OS, it doesn’t allow me to bind to a WiFi network right away, I have to hardwire an ethernet cable. When the computer goes to sleep it basically freezes and I have reboot the system again. Finally, this will only work if you are connected to the internet.



Should I Buy It?

You don’t have to buy anything, you can test and experience this on your computer now or an old computer thats collecting dust. This is just the gateway for you to decide if you want an actual ChromeBook or keep using what you have.  This will only work if Google works all the time, there are several countries that censor Google and their applications. Nonetheless, it’s certainly something to experience, but it would be a waste of your time to actually use this on a daily basis.




Feedback Loop


Both Hillary Lauder and Meaghan Wilson wanted to be able to make an impact on their students they teach every week. They wanted to view their thought process and make authentic comments on their work, to provide a value learning experience. Both of these teachers wanted something that would be a game changer in students’ assignments, reflections, and assessments. A feedback loop if you will.

After a couple of weeks I followed up with Hillary and Meaghan and asked if anything developed from our conversation on using Moxtra. This is what they shared with me.


Hillary Lauder :

What is so important about using this tool as apposed to sitting down with each student individually and conferencing with them? 

“First of all this is a paperless process, so making a conscious effort about environmental awareness.”

“Second, my commenting is so detailed that typing out my comments on their science inquiry reports would actually take more time. With Moxtra I am able to record my voice and annotation and keep that private between myself and student. I am able comment on their work while I am working outside of school hours and this done in real time. So the learning actually never stops. I’m really happy with how this also eliminates a lot of wasted time because time is so important in education.”

What is the feedback that you are receiving from students, since using this tool?

“I have received positive remarks on using this tool to make a bigger impact on assessing their science inquiry reports.”


Meaghan Wilson:

What is the biggest change that you have had in your curriculum this year?

“Reflection is critical in PE or in any subject for that matter because it means so much to learning. It was a tedious process in the past because students would email me their reflection and I would reply with my comments. This year I needed something more and Moxtra has been that for me.”

Do you and you students go beyond reflecting through Moxtra?

“I use Moxtra throughout the entire block. I prep my students with a document, video, or recording that they have to view. I then document what every student is doing and upload that content to their binders. Before class is over, I give the students ten minutes to go to their Moxtra binder and reflect on what they have accomplished in PE that day.”

“What I have started to see is that many of my students go beyond my simple reflection prompt. I have students critiquing their skills through more writing in their Moxtra binder. I now get a chance to hear students that I normally don’t hear on a regular basis through voice recording or video they capture and load to Moxtra.”

What kind of impact do you feel this has on your students?

“I feel that they are able to speak to me everyday even if I don’t get a chance to speak to them in person. I feel like I am able to make an individual impact because I get to comment on their work in real time, there is no waiting.”


Since then, the use of Moxtra has started to disseminate into other classes. So, is this the game changer?

Global Connections Bring Students in China and Brazil Together

A Connection is Made

It all started with a tweet on Twitter.

“My third grade class here in Brazil is looking for a class in Asia to share cultural facts with. Anyone interested?”

SIS grade 4 teacher Mick Huiet replied and within a few days a global connection was made between his 4A class in China and Myra Oksness’ grade 3 class at Graded, the American School of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Communication and Collaboration Begins

The communication between 4A in China and G3 in Brazil started with an exchange of emails written by and responded to by students.

Mr. Huiet recalls 4A’s introduction to Ms. Oksness’ class.

“Our first big email came on the Learning Comes Alive day.  Within minutes we were on our way to Sao Paolo [via Google Earth] and walking around the outside of their school as the parents watched in awe.”

 Mr. Huiet and Ms. Oksness have communicated to work out logistics and provide each other with support and suggestions about technology, collaborative documents and academic topics.

After a ‘getting to know you’ period, where students shared information about their school life, local foods and drinks, and language (Chinese and Portuguese),  students began sharing their learning and work on academic topics such as migration and data collection and analysis. Planning for a collaborative writing project is now in the works.

Learning Connections

4A’s global connections and collaboration with G3 in Brazil is not unique at SIS. We have classrooms throughout the elementary school and ECLC that have made (or are in the process of making) connections with classrooms in Korea, Vietnam, United States, Singapore, Australia and other schools within China.

Not only do students learn from and teach each other about academic topics through connecting with another classroom outside of SIS, our students are also able to develop and demonstrate our ESLRs (Expected Student Learning Results). Students have the opportunity to be…

Communicators who effectively share their learning and growth through a variety of mediums (written pieces, audio, visual, discussions, etc.).

Collaborators who contribute positively in accomplishing common goals.

Global Citizens who participate as respectful, productive members of diverse communities.

These global connections, facilitated by globally connected educators, provide our students with wonderful opportunities for learning and collaboration.

Additional Resources

Building Global Collaboration
The Global Classroom Project
The Global Classroom Project Community on Google+
Flat Connections: Connect, Collaborate, Change



Photo Credit: . Entrer dans le rêve via Compfight cc

A Blogging Journey

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 6.41.27 PMWhen Liz Cho-Young began this academic year, she had a brand-new approach to how she would communicate with her students.  She hoped that her students would follow, and fundamentally change the way in which they communicated back.  It wasn’t to simply share stories and recount experiences, but rather to model to students how to put yourself out there, to contribute to topics meaningful to you and to accept feedback whether it be positive or negative.  Since she began posting in early September, she has had just over 5000 visitors, an average of 65 per day.  I sat down with her briefly to try to get an idea of how this journey is shaping up:

Why did you start blogging this year?  “I wanted to model behaviors to the kids.  We always say that teachers have to model exemplars to students.  Kids just seem to have this aversion to blogging.  I wanted them to see that it was a way to connect, not to be tortured.”

What excites you about this ongoing project?  “Students are doing a great job of mimicking the writing style and seem to be writing about topics that interest them.  They are excited when they get comments from other teachers and people from around the world.”

How do you decide on what topics to write about?  “My focus is around education, a PD that makes me think, something that happens during the school day, or something that happens in life that is relevant.  I want the students to hear my real voice.”

What have you learned as a teacher through this process?  “As a teacher it’s a great self-reflective practice.  We ask the students to do this, but it’s a very personally validating exercise.  It engages on a whole new level.  I’ve been teaching for 10 years and it feels like I’ve started teaching all over again with a brand new tool.  I really wish I had more time to do it.”

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 6.59.34 PM What has been most frustrating during this process?  “So far I haven’t gotten the parent response that I was hoping for.  I’m still looking for a way to get exposure to parents of high school students.”

Any advice for newbies to the blogoshpere?  “This might sound silly, but I guess I just did it.  I was inspired by my COETAIL course and I just did it to see how it would go.  I think you just need to start and see where it takes you.”

Screen Shot 2013-11-18 at 6.45.01 PM

“In my mind, I tell my kids everything I mean to say, all these lofty imperatives that I genuinely believe are true: Be amazing.  Believe in yourself.  Go get’em.  Relish opportunities.  Believe. Love. Forgive. Live. Do.  I imagine that the students who write me from beyond the walls of my classroom have heard me say these in-between the lines of my pink, green, purple, never-red-if-I-could-help-it ink marks on their papers.  But… to how many others have I forever ruined the colors pink, green, and purple on top of the red…?” – from Beautiful Mess

Physical Making + Virtual Making = Learning to Make

We have been taking full advantage of virtual learning spaces here @ SIS. Our next step is to broaden our teaching horizon with tinkering and making learning happen. The eCoaches recently attended Learning2.013 conference and was apart of an extended session called Learning in the Making with @briancsmith . The whole session was making things from soldering simple circuitry, LED lights, play doh, to programming with arduino and raspberry pi prototyping platforms. Brian has done brilliant work on making this happen at his international school, he host all of these resources on his site. We look forward to taking those ideas and make learning happen @ SIS in the near future.