Personalized Learning has been heralded as the future of a successful education system. It is hard to argue with this movement as most of us would prefer to have learning experiences designed specifically for our interests, skills and needs. With the emergence of "Personalized Learning" and advances in educational technology a powerful opportunity for students in rural school and other disadvantaged areas has become possible. Virtual Co-ops are a fascinatingly powerful way for individual students to take full advantage of high school hours and graduate with university and college as their back-up plan!
Speaking At The CyberNB CyberSmart Summit Where I Introduced My Concept Of The Cyber Garden!
After attending the "CyberNB CyberSmart Summit" in Fredericton New Brunswick it became obvious that our province was positioning itself to be a world leader in this industry. Representatives from San Antonio shared success stories about how under the right conditions students were able to walk into cybersecurity careers right out of high school. I thought "If they can do it we can too!" Then I realized my school was not located in a major metropolis but rather a tiny rural town of about 1800 people. Finding opportunity down the street was going to be impossible and all signs pointed to giving up on this challenge. Enter the Virtual Co-op advantage!
We reached out to a New Brunswick cybersecurity leader Bulletproof Solutions who jumped at the chance to get involved in the plan I was formulating for one of our students. Liam is entering grade 12 and wants to become involved in the cybersecurity industry. Our provincial student scheduling allowed just enough flexibility for Liam to enter into both Career Explorations and Co-op Education for a total of 2 hours a day for the full year. Now that we had the time and the partners we had viable conditions for a Virtual Co-op success.
Liam will study CISSP certification standards all Summer long independently. He will return and immediately engage in the virtual relationship and co-op role with Bulletproof Solutions including their mentor contact. Liam will be given real work to complete for the company while studying for his CISSP certification exam throughout the year. He will blog on www.CyberEDU.ca and share his experience and media. Bulletproof has indicated they will cover the cost of his exam writing and they have already supplied him with studying resources. Liam is positioned for success in both cybersecurity goals and personalized learning goals.
Liam setting up his ideal cybersecurity workstation for Virtual Co-op 2017
After learning of the experience that Liam and I had crafted for his personalized learning opportunity there was immediate interest from other sectors of the province in the Virtual Co-op process and how it could look for students pursuing their skills and careers. The Canadian Welding Association has asked that I present in July 2017 my vision of how Microsoft HoloLens and Skype could foster virtual co-op welding education opportunities for rural students in New Brunswick. With our cybersecurity venture not even at its launch date I now find myself planning a cutting-edge welding experience for students involving mixed-reality and immersive environments. It is all making 2017-2018 look like an astonishing leap forward in New Brunswick Education starting with our efforts and tiny rural school.
A demo of how a virtual co-op Welding Program could be enhanced by HoloLens!
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are Global Goals and an organized call to eliminate poverty, boost prosperity and peace and protect Planet Earth. These 17 goals allow us as educators to create projects and experiences for students that have an impact on the real-world. In return student engagement levels rise during the years in school where they would traditionally decrease. Before discussing one of our experiences at Caledonia Regional School in New Brunswick take a look at the 17 goals courtesy of The United Nations Development Programme.
Tiny House Sustainable Development Program
Our students recognize that Tiny Houses are a direction our world must take to create sustainable communities, protect our lands and oceans and to encourage affordable and clean energy use. This project targets goals 6, 7, 11, 12, 14 and 15 from the above diagram. As a technology and skilled trades program we can produce between one and six Tiny Homes a year keeping the cost for the entire home below $30,000 CDN. Academically our program spans four years and includes over 100 students in the process.
In grade 9 students use design software Sketchup to design efficient and sustainable Tiny House models for northern communities. They then can explore their designs in real-life size within the computer lab atmosphere using the Microsoft HoloLens Sketchup VIewer App. See a few examples of this powerful technology here:
In grade 10 students get hands-on and create scaled models of their team researched and created designs. Teams consider price, road regulations, building codes and life in the upper Northern Hemisphere as they build. Math dominates the curriculum in this project while the real gems in education, the 21st century skills are also supported fully! Students can't create a scale model tiny house in teams without developing their communication, critical thinking, creativity, collaboration and character skills. The entire project's ability to address Sustainable Development Goals includes a huge dose of citizenship growth opportunity as well..
In grade 11 and 12 students get experience building real tiny houses for real clients. Students must work in various weather elements, meet deadlines, deal with arising problems and not exceed the project budget. This is real-life training for real-world problems. Sustainable communities of the future start here today with our students creating low-cost yet reliable and luxurious living solutions. Alternative energy considerations as well as resource consumption and management occupy every waking thought. Students get real experience addressing many of the SDGs needed for a better world while contributing to their communities and ensuring a better world for tomorrow! Check out the following news attention earned in just the first year of this program and visit www.TinyHouseEDU.com for the full build!
Every few years a technology comes along that helps learning opportunities evolve. Examples include the computer, the internet, the mobile device and now the Microsoft HoloLens. This wearable computer comes packed with ample storage, spatial audio, all-day (school day) battery and is comfortable enough to wear for hours. The limited apps already available (mostly free to education) are jaw-dropping, inspiring "Oooohhs" and "Aaaahhhs" from adults and students. If students and teachers simply just consumed the media being made for this device it would be revolutionary. But, the Microsoft HoloLens offers so much more!
Apps like ActionGram, HoloTours, and RoboRaid offer tools for learning and creative entertainment that can keep users learning for hours. ActionGram offers hologram special effects possibilities for budding film makers and HoloTours takes virtual field trips to a level unimaginable 5 years ago. RoboRaid and other games can work up a sweat for users and may represent the future of physical education. Being digital consumers is perfectly fine and with these apps for the HoloLens and are certainly suggested for classrooms. However, it is when we turn to student development and STEM education that the team at Microsoft really earn their stripes!
Engineering and STEM education get a major lift from Sketchup's Viewer App that allows students to use Sketchup 2016 Pro or later to create 3D representations of anything and using the HoloLens view them in the learning environment for further exploration and refining. The above video shows an example of what my students see as they examine their creations in all sizes in the classroom. The next series of media show a Vimy Ridge 100th Anniversary Memorial being manipulated and explored easily with Sketchup Viewer for HoloLens.
Consuming and creating hologram media offers the highest possible student engagement opportunities in education. In future blogs I will write about our experiences creating holograms with Unity 3D. If first impressions last forever then HoloLens will benefit for a very long time!
Special thanks to Sketchup for supporting our program with Sketchup Viewer for HoloLens and to Brilliant Labs for supporting our HoloLens program.
I'm an experienced Global Minecraft Mentor, Published Educational Researcher, Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert, Apple Distinguished Educator and grade 6-12 technology teacher. @BBTNB