With Google glasses being released next year it is very clear. Privacy for teachers and students will be undefined. Students could record and replay at any time, any event in the day. Likewise for teachers. All that is required is a set of Google Glasses. How will they help education? How will they make education more meaningful for students?
The Glasses will be able to beam information instantly to a students visual field. Questions could be asked instantly and information is obtained instantly. No longer will they need to inquire about something, they could simply ask something and it will be in front of them.
Teachers could be informed of any notices about their students and information relating to their latest test scores could be beamed to the teachers visual field and as a result, the questions in which the teacher asks can be specific and related to the students next learning step.

Little Jonny scored low on inference questioning. During reading time, the teacher would receive a specific question to ask Little Jonny, based on the text they were reading. Similarly for other students.

This synergy between assessment information and class learning becomes blurred and no longer will a teacher need to analyse information, as it will be beamed to them wirelessly.

The Google Glasses have the ability to reinvent education. Reinvent assessment of data and make privacy a thing of the past. We just need to be able to show our students how to use this technology correctly.

What is most important?

The most important thing in education to shift a students progress is the quality of the teacher. With class sizes approximately 25 -30. What can we do as educationalists to challenge the future of education and increase educational outcomes?
Research from Blooms shows that students who are taught one to one improve their achievement scores dramatically. Education has the ability to be revolutionised, but are we as teachers ready for this?
Education can be defined simply as a wheel. A cog in the classroom which rotates throughout the day. A first group sees the teacher, then that group moves to individual repetition of the learning, in the third rotation they complete a group activity, finally the forth mode is for the computer or digital device. This digital device asks a number of questions to the students to gauge their understanding...daily.
This information is then processed and communicated with the teacher on the small groups progress and their next learning steps.
In order to shift students, group learning needs to be specific and based on their learning need. A programme that can find this, integrate it into planning, and include resources (page numbers and book or online activity) automatically will enhance any students progress dramatically.

Android TV

Google TV hasn't really taken off but that hasn't stopped tech firms in creating their own version using the open source Android OS.
I have been using an Android TV for over a year now and use it frequently in class. From listening to audio books, reading books, sharing documents and photos, Google Drive, YouTube and the internet. This tiny device is small, and fast.
Unlike most PCs that require a start up and shut down, this box simply stays on all the time and can be used to show students information as soon as you require it. It is an incredible invention and has challenged the way I teach. I enjoy the fact that I can control my laptop through it, making everything easily accessible.

Making Android Apps for Student Learning

Android  Apps for all
What I've done
After creating various educational apps for teachers and parents, I saw the need to create an app for android devices that can access information quickly about the classroom. This way parents and students can view the latest news about what their child has done in class and comment on this instantly.
Why I've done it
With 900 000 android devices activated every day across the globe, it became apparent that there is a huge growth market for these devices. I enquired through the students whose parents had android smartphones and the result was roughly 50% of the class! I wanted the future proof the app by creating it on a platform that will become increasingly common amongst student and parents at school.
I made the app because the students wanted to have a place where all the information is readily available. By compiling all the latest videos from YouTube, Tweets, calendar, photos from Picasa and document storage websites together, the students and parents could quickly access the latest learning.
I also wanted to further enable authenticated learning experiences for students. Completing a writing task or writing for a particular audience suddenly becomes very open as this app shows people from around the world and within the local community can now view, read and comment on.
The other reason for creating the app is simply because of our school’s vision for eLearning. We wanted a system which would fit with the school’s purchasing framework. By creating android only apps, these could be installed on the various android netbooks, tablets and smartphones that students and teachers now have. These apps integrate into our system perfectly without an major hitch. If there is a required update the app is revised and a normal updated version is uploaded to the Google Play app store and downloaded onto devices.
Since the Christchurch earthquake, it became more evident that communication between parents and teachers needed to be in ‘real time’. By linking our class Twitter to the app, it is possible to keep parents up-to-date of any emergencies and urgent messages.
The processes I went through
First I had to think of what the app should have in it. I then asked the class what they thought were necessary components for it. Once I designed it, I offered it to the students to view. The feedback was fantastic and they were really excited to be able to find all the latest eLearning publishing in one place.
The first process was to sign up to ‘Google Play’. Once you have accomplished this you are able to upload apps that are available to download on various android devices. In order to promote real interest I make all apps completely free for users to use and download.
The challenges
The greatest challenge was to compile the various websites in order to make the app function correctly. Due to the various forms of android devices, compiling an app that is compatible with all android devices was a challenge, but it is compatible for both smartphones and tablets.
The outcomes
The final product was an app available for android tablets and smartphones. This product is available free to users of these devices. It provides opportunities for the students’ relatives living overseas to view the latest examples of learning and creates a platform for discussion. It also provides parents with instant information on their child’s learning and information given directly from the teacher.
Plans for the future
The future plan is to teach students how to create their own apps, based on their own interests. We have a robust Inquiry Learning approach at our school and this would work extremely well as a way of compiling all the student’s information and findings. Once the students have made an app, they will become more enthusiastic to promote their learning. Who knows, we may be even  fashioning the next Bill Gates of Steve Jobs!
App can be downloaded free here:

Hadleigh Benson
Deputy Principal
Maraetai Beach School

Future search engines and video

Imagine searching for your school and the returning web pages are no longer there. Instead you are given the option of multiple live video streams.broadcast live through the internet and streamed to your phone, tablet or laptop.

We have arrived in a time whereby the constraints of limited broadband speed and data caps are a thing of the past. Youtube makes no secret that it wants to open up millions of live streaming channels. No longer do you have to upload, you stream live to the net. Now comes the interesting part...
Picasa, Googles photo manager system uses facial recognition which then changes web searching even further.

Imagine searching for your childs name and the returning web pages are no longer there. Instead you are given the option of multiple live video streams from varying angles, broadcast live through the internet.

The future of this venture has certainly begun with websites such as klip,, ustream ans youtube live. Just how far it goes is limitless but how far the government pushes it depends on who you vote for.


Google recently announced Google@home. An application that you use on your tablet or computer and wirelessly control audio equipment in your home classroom.
The application for this in the classroom is immense. Sitting with a group on the mat doing reading and across the room you can hear the story another group is listening to is too loud. Simply drag the volume control and you can turn it down so you can hear the students you are with.

Android@home (codenamed project tungstein)  will be a huge leap in education. From here you can have speakers throughout the school and control it from any tablet with administration rights.

Cloud vs Server software

Our server is aged and on it's last legs, we are desperate to use MUSAC online through the web as teachers can use it at home and at school. Currently we can only use it at school. We love MUSAC and would like to stay with it but these school issues (not MUSAC issues) are making us think again. We are currently looking at eTap as our SMS provider as we can use it without our server and at home. If you have any remedies to this situation it would be very much appreciated.

Android and Us

We recently purchased a tablet  with android 2.2 on it.
The students were invited to explore the device. Software such as Twitter, Blogger and Docs were installed on it. Immediately the students were mobile. Able to send photos and email their learning to anyone interested in hearing it. This authentic audience has certainly changed many students perception of learning. No longer are they writing for their teacher. They are writing for the entire world. That certainly is a very different course from the current mode of thinking.

What's next? Our goal is to have up to 5 tablets in every classroom. We won't be purchasing anything over $300 and will be using the Android system.

Google knows the whole class

This year our school decided to migrate their email system to google. Thus providing google with domain ownership. Now that transition has happened, teachers are sharing documents online and creating amasing class websites using the google framework. These include:

Uploading photos with only one click
Uploading video and editing it on Picasa
Uploading and updating home learning weekly
Providing a forum for students to converse in learning

We took the process one step further. By downloading a file of all student names, we allocated them with individual logins to google (using our own domain address). This has now opened a world of opportunity for our students. They are emailing their learning, creating newspapers, blogging, tweeting, uploading photos and creating a platform for their learning. The best thing of all is that Google provide this service for free. They charge businesses to use it but provide that same level of product to education facilities.

Being a computer administrator for the school, our next step is to enable Google Cloud Printing so teachers can print from anywhere in the world. Free.

The only sacrifice you make is allowing Google into your world, your likes, dislikes and your e-life. A small price to pay for those willing.

Chromebooks in Education

Schools are continually seeking to upgrade their old Windows XP and Windows Vista computers. but what would happen if you were offered a laptop that wouldn't need updating every 2 or 3 years simply because it would never be out-of-date?
Enter the Chromebook. A small wifi-enabled laptop at a fraction of the price of other laptops. They are so compelling that a reporter in for The Daily Telegraph expects 10 percent of all laptops to be sold next year will be Chromebooks.

I believe that will be an astounding boost after only one year on the market. But it is the uptake from education that will certainly be worth more of a mention. Schools are stuck with old computers that run of different OS and CPU speeds. On the other hand, the Chromebook has a web-based desktop, taking you straight to your photos or videos you have stored online. If you want to add photos, simply insert the USB Flash Drive, and instantly the photos will be uploaded to Google Picasa Web Albums for the world to see. It is this innovation that doesn't stop when you buy the Chromebook. Updates are a thing of the past with webware: you simply receive the update by clicking onto your webpage and begin to use. I think Google is positioning itself perfectly as a leading provider for education in terms of both webware (Google Docs) and hardware. I just wish I had a Chromebook I could fit in my pocket. Oh wait! I do, and it's called my android phone.

Collaborative Classrooms

Education has reached a milestone within a short space of time and now it is about to reach another. But are we ready for this change? Can teachers keep up with the pace of technological change?

Recently I have dabbled in using web2.0 tools such has wallwisher, voicethread, gcast, google docs and apps, worldTV, ispring and glogster...wait! I am speaking english still! These tools are simply good websites I recommend you visit and let your students simply explore. Why? Well it is a simple answer and a complicated one at the same time. Answer 1: They're paving the way for a revolution beyond the classroom walls. Answer 2: These web2.0 tools (I'll just called them websites from now one) are connected to others all over the world and can be used to learn, communicate, debate, collaborate and infuse knowledge between one class and culture together.
An example of this is the website 'collaborative classroom' which has been set up to allow other classes to explore and understand other classrooms; either within the same neighbourhood, of further away in other planets.
Examples here:

Assess all in 6 minutes.

Testing students can take a relatively long time from the delivery of the test, marking and analysis of the results. With e-asTTle making inroads, how can we best shape tests for ourselves and create them across the curriculum areas? Is is really possible to get significant data and analyse it within 10 minutes? The answer is yes: read on.

A website that enables the teacher to create a test, set parameters like the amount of time allowed to complete the test and initiate it to the children has been created and is guaranteed to be 100% free in the future.

This web 2.0 site is called that This website markets itself as 'The most accessible math test resource on the web today with over 6 million graded exams to date and over 300,000 participating students.' Certainly a large number of test papers to mark by any account!

Upon deeper investigation into the web-based application is appeared to be written by Andrew Lyczak. This man's credentials include designing web-based applications using Java, Perl, HTML, AJAX, and Javascript.

The websites belief is simple and straight to the point: 'What we don't believe in: Games, advertising, fees, spam or gimmicks.'

So, how does it work? Firstly you can begin with two options. Create your own test from scratch or load up a test someone else has written, change it around a bit and then give it to your class. Each child has a login and can set their own password. Since you are the administrator, you can reset these or set your own password for the children.

Once the quiz has been accepted, the student can then go through it and complete the questions. Finally, a summary mark is given and you have the opportunity to see which questions they got wrong also. This can be conveniently emailed to anyone and the results can be exported to Excel for closer analysis.

To truly see the simplicity of the tests, Hadleigh Benson administered a number of tests within mathematics. Each quiz was 20 questions and had a time limit of 6 minutes. The quizzes were on: time (analogue), multiplication, division, addition, subtraction, fractions, graphing, place value, measurement, decimals, and inequality.

Once the entire class had completed the tests which occurred over the two week test period. The results were clear to see. Each student was conferenced on their area of weakness and strength, and what they needed to do in order to learn new mathematical skills.

The results were extraordinary, the data provided by these tests were exactly what a teacher needs. They are short tests in length and provide the next steps for the student in their learning. Along with individual results, the graphs provide in-depth analysis of the class or group learning needs and what areas need to be taught more than others.

Further research needs to include the same tests administered over time, from the beginning of the year, to a mid year and end of year test. These results should then be analysed in order to see how the shift in student knowledge has progressed.



The posts are lining up and falling gradually into place. The juggernaut of the computing industry is positioning itself to supersede any other operating system and computer we have seen to date. Google's ambitious move to create a 'cloud computer' that is cut price web based computer will shake computing to its core.

According to industry writer and former executive editor of the Harvard Business Review Nicholas G. Carr in his new book "The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google." He hypothesised applications and files would be stored on a large, centralised supercomputer whereby users log in and save their files to this supercomputer.

Imagine a computer with no hard drive, no CD drive and therefore no major moving parts. Now imagine a computer that simply connects to the internet, is never required to be turned off (in fact there is no off button) and will never need updated because the Operating System is non existent. How could it be used? Has this been done already? The answers are "yes" and "yes!". Take the idea from Live Kiosk which has created a computer that doesn't require a hard drive and instead uses the CD Drive to create an Operating System that simply loads up one fundamental piece of software: Internet Explorer (it will actually be Google Chrome).

Now you have the makings of an extremely cheap 'computer' that is always connected to the internet. By using the plethora of Google applications that are web based you can then have a computer for less than NZ$300. The most incredible thing is that is won't need updating, repairing or any maintainance, just a screen, small box, keyboard and mouse. With this function Google will win the race and illiminate all other opponence by simply not allowing any other viable option.

Google has created the initial Operating System set to rock computing to the core. It is in the form of the Google Andriod OS. Although initially it will be for mobile phones. It makes a great platform for launching a computer that will be (if you want) as small as a mobile phone. Development is in its early stages but the refining is continuing on the gOS.

Although this will take time, the writing is on the wall as discussed by the Google President in this interview. This phenomenom has been discussed for years now, but it has taken Google time to complete all the chapters in the book. Each chapter represents a replacement for Hard Drive software applications, for example: Word, Powerpoint is now Google Docs. Has this started? The posts are in place, just the cement has not set.

"Google Apps, set... go!"

Google applications set to revolutionise teaching and learning for students from early primary school through to high school. The additions they have made and continue to make will hold this suite in high esteem with students and teachers alike.

Put simply Google applications allow many pieces of the Office Suite to ‘talk’ to each other. What is meant by that is the fact that a student can have on his/her own blog within Google apps a plethora of learning throughout the year. Sounds like an e-portfolio of learning? Precisely what it is and now the ability is there for the learning to follow the student throughout their education.

Google applications consist of Powerpoint (simply titled presentations), Excel (spreadsheet), Word (write) and now Forms. The Forms have been added as an extension of the spreadsheet. Forms enables a student to create a questionnaire online for other people to answer. It can be closed of open questions and the results it provides are enormous.

Forms have the ability to collate, analyse, graph and comment on the data enabling a student to quickly see responses to questions and generate some generalisations about the data.

Simple forms can be created during statistical investigations like “What is your favourite colour?” to more in-depth questions asking the students to reflect on their home-learning this week or review the latest book they have read.

Google Applications is more than a traditional suite. It is freeware, web2.0 (web based and no need to upgrade any software) collaborative and more importantly offers a package that can ‘talk’ to all the other applications as well.

Further research into the Google applications should be made into the effectiveness of statistical teaching and learning for students to conclude if the data and results the application produces can enhance students’ minds and understandings.

Hadleigh Benson

Teaching music in 2010

Games have constantly developed in terms of graphical capabilities, but a regression has occurred within the new emerging market of interactive (educational) games.

The latest games to hit the games’ market include Rock Band and Guitar Hero World Tour. These two similar games have the ability to create a revolutionised classroom.

These two games enable the user (student) to hold a guitar, drum kit, microphone or bass guitar and play the notes as they roll down the screen. This links directly to the New Zealand Curriculum Level 2 objectives to share sound making using basic music performance skills and techniques.

These techniques include using this system of performance in a competitive nature between classmates, inter class competition and inter school competition. What is missing in today’s learning environment? In order to create this form of competition and involve as many students as possible the only thing lacking is a second set of instruments and a second projector.

With this enabled you would have a total of eight participants, and within only 4 rotations the entire class would have participated.

Recent observations in the classroom of only one guitar and projection resulted in a total of 24 out of 27 students actively observing the projection and acquiring an understanding of the game’s task.

Further research should include the link between this type of game play and the ability to cross-over into playing traditional instruments to see if the cross-over makes learning the new instrument more straightforward and simpler.

Hadleigh Benson


Hadleigh Benson is a progressive educationalist and teacher utilising the latest technology and providing in depth analysis and critique on these innovations.

Digital Classrooms or Digital Storage rooms?

Technology has the ability to ferment itself upon society and learning cultures, how we use this technology provides the gateway to the future prospects for the students we teach. Are we equipping them with these skills or are we using the technology as a piece of artwork for the classroom left to gather dust in the fabric of time?

Teachers should remain aware that technology is not just about having computers in the classroom but in fact having a myriad of other technologies at hand. Old technologies have there place too, including the analogue clock, tape deck stereo system, VHS video player, and typewriter.

In order for students to understand the world they are currently living in, it is vital they understand the world that once was and these aged technologies have a place in educating students about the changes in technology.

Although some classes have these dated technologies, they aren’t fully being utilised and realised for their true potential. Stereo decks are fantastic learning tools for use during independent reading. Students can use pre-recorded School Journal articles and use them in order to enhance their listening comprehension.

VHS video players offer a plethora of videos relating to current topics and provide back catalogue videos not yet converted to DVD or Blu-ray. The typewriter can be used as a publishing tool and provide insight into its use before the advent of the modern computer- guiding students toward an understanding of the purpose of the QWERTY keyboard layout.

Technology is continuously being updated and refined; it is up to the educationalists to provide hands-on pieces of equipment that offer insights into the period of time when that certain piece of equipment was in main stream use. Instead of letting these gather dust, we should be upskilling our students on how we once used these technologies.

Hadleigh Benson

Using Sketchup as a powerful learning tool

Sketchup offers a 3 dimensional learning environment that can aide students within integrated learning areas. Sketchup has been trialled within the classroom for a number lessons and it has become evident that this teaching tool fits within Inquiry Learning, English, mathematics, and Social Studies.

Further trials of Sketchup revealed an enhanced interest and motivation towards the areas of Mathematics and Social Studies. During the Inquiry Learning process Sketchup has been used to enhance and consolidate childrens’ learning about cultures.

The children were asked to consider the enduring question throughout the entire Inquiry Process: ‘ By looking at what other countries and cultures do, how are they different and similar to ours?’

The trial of utilising Sketchup with the students included five 12 year olds and two 9 year olds. Data collected after the activity was complete during discussions included student comments that ‘learning was fun, motivating and interesting’. Students wanted to learn more because they were using a tool that looked like they were ‘making a movie’.

Students were taught about foreign countries in a whole class teaching method, namely South Korea, China and New Zealand kiwiana. In order to promote learning within the classroom students were then directed to select a culture of choice for study.

The application has been used widely by classroom students to recreate the Great Pyramids of Giza and the Great Wall of China. Information was then inserted into the project and after using research processes.

Sketchup has been promoted by Google as a tool essential to learning in classrooms; however the promotion is more directed towards purchasing the Pro version.

Further trials should look towards using the Google Pro version for education and compare and contrast the differences between the freeware programme and the Pro package.

Hadleigh Benson

All computers are equal

Web 2.0 and its ability to challenge the way we install and hold software on our computers is turning computers on their heads. Traditionally a Mac was a Mac and a PC was a PC but all that is changing.

If you have a computer you will be well aware of whether it is operating on Windows or Mac Operating Systems. But they can both access the internet and the advent of Web2.0 has very quietly challenged our understanding and blurred the lines between what computer you have and use.

This synergy has been grasped by companies such as Google and Yahoo to name a few, who offer documents, presentations, photos and videos to be stored on their servers. This has now enabled students to simply click on a website, upload their learning and view it both at home and at school.

Simple online programmes coined webware like scrbl, tutpup, mind42, Google Apps, voicethread, grogster, and blogging have removed the need to install and continually upgrade this software at a nominal fee.

For marketing companies, this is the perfect weapon when faced with a David and Goliath battle. The need for creating DVDs and placing your software in shops to be purchased by consumers has been reduced because they can market their product simply by word of mouth.

The quiet unfolding revolution that is occurring at the exact same time is the fact that because of these webware tools being created more and more every single day the notion of asking which OS you use is becoming more and more redundant. The difference is simply a click of a button and the rest is equivalent.

Hadleigh Benson

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