Connected Learning

Jarrod Lamshed


Hollywood in the Classroom

Using film making in the classroom has become a regular part of my practice. For most of my teaching career, I’ve done this. Thanks to the example set by my first principal, Bob Thiele and through the work and support of programs like the New Media Awards, run by Kym Nadebaum, film making in the classroom has been a very positive experience for all involved.

We all know that engaging kids in deep learning can be a difficult thing. Using film takes care of that problem. All of a sudden kids who are disengaged become willing writers. Kids who produce ‘that’s good enough’ work begin working at their best. It’s fantastic to watch.

This year has been no exception. Being a part of the New Media program has given us an opportunity for kids to create learning to share with a wide audience. Having the chance to learn more about and share something that they are passionate about has been a powerful experience. This year, our team of students have created a film about type 1 diabetes. This is not something that they plucked out of the air, but a condition that affects one of their classmates. This project gave this student a chance to tell her story. It gave her friends a chance to learn more about her illness. It turned an unwilling writer into a champion researcher. Along the way we learned about creative commons, text structure, storyboarding, planning writing, purpose, audience and much much more.

This year’s subject was a personal one for our class. When our editors had completed the film, this student watched the finished product with tears in her eyes. You don’t get that by reading your essay out loud.  Film making makes connections. Connections create learning.

Here is the team’s finished product for 2014:

Diabetes web from Jarrod Lamshed on Vimeo.


Learning Through New Media

We constantly hear reports in the news of diminishing literacy standards in our kids. If you believe what we are being told, we will soon live in a world where most people won’t be able to read or write effectively. Is this really the case or is there a different problem?

In a world of devices where kids are constantly stimulated with access to multimedia based learning, I believe we are missing the mark with what we are asking kids to produce. Our teaching programs still require kids to produce old fashioned essays and written reports. These tasks have their place, but if we are only asking for these, we are failing to teach our kids new forms of literacy.

Asking kids to research and share learning through creative tasks allows our students to work with the technology and tools that they have grown up with. Often, using one device, our students have access to a complete film making suite. They have access to postcast creating tools and equipment to record and share their own music. The technology they have in their pockets is far more powerful than anything we had when we were at school.

So why aren’t we using it? We wouldn’t have a week at school without traditional writing tasks, so why not let kids turn these into something that has meaning for them? The movie making process requires planning texts, story boarding, script writing, editing and constant revision of text. Kids enjoy the process and can produce much deeper learning than our traditional tasks allow.

The following two films were written and produced by grade 6 and 7 students from my class for entry into film competitions. I think they are good reasons to give kids a camera, some structure and a little bit of trust and see what they can do.

KWN 2011 from Jarrod Lamshed on Vimeo.

Beneath the Surface from Jarrod Lamshed on Vimeo.


A Crazy Month of Learning

For about the last month, I have been on a massive learning journey. Beginning with the CEGSA 2012 conference in the school holidays, I have been exposed to information, discussion and new connections that have forced me to reflect and build on my ideas around the use of 21st century tools in the classroom and, more importantly, the way that they are presented to teachers and students.

ICTs have always been a big part of learning programs in my classroom. Engaging students through film and use of modern tools is a core part of what we do. The frustration for me has been getting others to give this type of learning a try. I think most of us agree that the ‘I don’t do computers’ attitude is unacceptable. In my efforts to combat this attitude I was failing at supporting other teachers in the way that THEY needed. On reflection, what I was doing was trying to support them with what I THOUGH they needed.

The work of Alec and George Couros has been a big part of this recent learning journey. The passionate presentations given at the CEGSA and Middle Years of Schooling Association conferences helped me to build on my use of 21C tools. It opened my eyes to new ways of connecting my learning. George and Alec refocussed the importance of strengthening my own PLN (of which they are now an important part) and also showed me ways that my students can access tools to build their own network of learners. Among my better, stronger PLN there have been many who have planted the seeds of some ideas I would like to see implemented in my school. Most importantly, I believe these new ideas will not only improve learning in my classroom, but offer a new way to present the use of 21C tools to other teachers in a differentiated and supportive way.


The Computers in Education Group of South Australia has been around for a long time, but has been pretty well ignored by our school. Not ignored through a lack of interest, but through being lost in the pile of ‘stuff’ that happens in schools. After the conference, and looking at the regular program of workshops that are available, I feel that this is a group that we should be promoting to staff in our school.

Digital Leaders

Through a TeachMeet and some Twitter discussions between Nick Jackson, and educator in the UK and Al Upton, a South Australian teacher, I have stumbled upon the idea of student as digital leaders in schools. Digital leaders would be responsible for trouble shooting IT issues but also for planning and implementing workshops and training for both other students and teachers. I see a huge advantage in this, not only for the learning of the leaders themselves but also for teachers. With the implementation of these leaders, both students and teachers will have access to more regular support and training on topics and tools that are relevant to them. They will have an opportunity to be guided as they learn along side their students.


TeachMeets are growing in popularity. I would like to see these become a regular part of our school environment. Perhaps a regular part of staff meeting time, and definitely among schools in our area. Having these regularly would better enable local connections but also offer a more regular time for sharing learning and ideas among our staff. The more we are accessing these tools, the more comfortable people will become with their use.

Our Online Identity 

Developing an online identity is becoming increasingly important. As a school (and as individuals) we need to take control of our online identity. Having a purposeful online presence has to be a better option than just reacting to ‘stuff’ that appears. Online spaces give us an opportunity to connect with families and potential families in places that they already go. It gives us a chance to get out the message that we want to get out. The school newsletter is not enough anymore.

Some of these things are pretty simple to put into action. Others require a shift in thinking from staff that haven’t had the privilege of participating in this learning over the last month. It is an exciting time.

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