School breaks new ground in innovation

School breaks new ground in innovation

Ormiston College, located in Brisbane, has been a school at the forefront of innovation, continually reviewing its practice to ensure better learning for students, and the development of different skillsets.

The school’s principal, Brett Webster, told The Educator that these skillsets will see children cope well with the ongoing disruptions of the 21st century and the changing nature of work and life.

“I read a newspaper article recently about a new report released by the Mitchell Institute at Victoria University entitled: ‘Preparing Young People for the World of Work’,” he said.

“The article criticised many schools for being stuck in the industrial era, highlighting the need for young people to learn essential new skills in order to cope with the complex environments and the multiple careers they will experience in the years ahead.”

Webster said this suggests there will be fewer full-time employment opportunities available for students, and a growing demand for those who can manage non-routine cognitive type roles.

This, Webster says, calls for schools to place a greater focus on developing students’ 21st century skills.

“Whilst we cannot predict the future with precision, we can certainly guide our young people and help them to develop a strong mindset, arming them with the tools required to cope with the dramatic changes that will occur in their lifetime,” he said.

In line with the school’s focus on next-level innovation, it recently became one of the first schools in the world to trial the Microsoft HoloLens – a ground-breaking device allowing students and teachers to reimagine the ways they collaborate and learn.

The innovative resource lets students overlay holographic digital content into their real-time environment. It also allows 3D content to look and behave like real objects, enabling abstract concepts to become visible and tangible.

“The world has experienced a rapid acceleration in digital technology. Such advances continue to disrupt and influence the way we live and work,” Webster said.

“The most effective schools have the capacity to respond to these shifts, reimagine the learning process and ensure that students are future ready.”

Webster said that 21st century technology has created new opportunities to “enrich engagement, learning, and active participation” with a range of communication modes and tools.

“At Ormiston College we continually assess the opportunities that emerging technologies bring to the process of teaching and learning. It seems certain that mixed reality devices are going to have an impact on education,” he explained.

“Hence, recently, the College purchased the Microsoft HoloLens to investigate how we can transform abstract concepts into 3D experiences in the classroom.”

This term, Ormiston’s Year 8 Science students used the holographic computer to study the human body and organ systems in a tactile and visual environment. During the unit, students were able to step inside the human heart to see the inner workings, and view and interact with the circulatory system.

Using a live stream to a computer, they were then able to create multimedia videos using the 3D content to promote organ donations in the community.

The College has also used the device to create a virtual art gallery of Year 11 student art work.

Webster said that using the device to create a 3D map of the real environment, parents and students were able to walk through augmented holographic art work pinned around the room.

“This year, our students will also be exploring how to create their own holographic content,” Webster said.

“Students will be able to take their 3D designs created on a computer and turn them into holograms so they can view their creations from different angles and perspectives and bring them to life.”

Webster said one of the unique capabilities of the HoloLens is the ability for students to interact with the digital content using hand gestures and word commands.

“We are excited about the possibilities of mixed reality and how the pedagogy and technology can be weaved together to provide a more visual and tactile approach for teaching abstract concepts rather than just using 2D imagery and text,” he said.