TER #229 feature - Tess Rendoth on technology in ITE
6:44AM Sep 13, 2023
Hello, lovely people. Welcome back to COVID corner for another fortnight to go around. Today I'm doing a slightly longer discussion with Tess Randolph, from the University of Newcastle. She's a Newcastle to pin away from. She's an art HD candidate, and a lecturer at the School of Education. And we're going to be talking about three core technologies that appealed to me, we met at the recent at a conference in Sydney, which is very exciting. And I wonder if you could just give us give us a bit of a background on how you come to, from teaching to uni work and all that sort of stuff? And how, how that's come about for you.
Yeah, totally. So I started as a visual arts secondary teacher, but also, I graduated with special education or inclusive and special education as well. So my initial teaching context was out in western New South Wales, with the department and did about a year and a half out in, I suppose that actually the closest capital city was Adelaide. So and I was quite young, I was I was only 20, when, when that was, so it was pretty isolating and full on and Yeah, a bit of a real tailspin. But also, probably one of the best things that's ever happened to me in terms of really working out who I wanted to be as a teacher, what I wanted to do so yeah, from there, I've had a really interesting journey, actually spent most of my career working alongside education like Department of Ed and schools, so worked in schools, but then set up some out of home care education facilities for out of home care organizations. And then went on to do a very fancy title called a special projects officer, which essentially meant that I could do anything I wanted. For local government, in in Newcastle, so back in Newcastle, you know, did a lot of excellent stuff with a lot of hanging out in skate parks, to get kids are engaged at school, but working with schools, to and young people to actually just kind of create a space where they can hear each other. So rather than trying to change messages and change what people were saying about things, it was just about trying to find ways where they could actually speak to each other, which meant that they could both understand their perspective. And with the hope that, that we could create a sense of connection and belonging, so re engaging young people in going to school and, and being a part of school as a community. But then I kind of took a bit of a right turn, or a left turn, I hope. And actually started working in I went over to England and actually worked in England for about three and a half years in a multidisciplinary school setting for kids with complex disabilities. And that kind of had on staff, we had OTs, physios, social workers, we had all of this stuff. And teachers were a part of that team. And it was also a creative practice school. So a lot of art, music, dance drama, actually leading in terms of our pedagogy and our practice. So we actually framed everything through those subjects for those students. Just it was like everything that I wanted. So I took, I suppose my background in working with kids, which were disconnected and maybe had had histories of issues with attendance and violence and out of home care. So working in that kind of pointy end, and actually took that into doing a lot of behavior response policy reform in the space of complex disability as well. I came back and came back to Australia and essentially went well, there's nothing like this here. And why not? Why aren't we treating schools like this in the way that they're that they're set up and structured in other spaces, and places because I've had such a rewarding experience. And so when I came back, I started Working in the colleges actually at uni, so I did academic mentoring and academic or, and community development with, with colleges. And that led to me reconnecting with the School of Education here. And, and starting as a sessional, doing some stuff in inclusive and the inclusive policy inclusive ed policy course. And then from there kind of, they said, you've got to do a PhD, and I was like, Don't tell me what to do. And I did it anyway. I'm here, you know, now working predominantly in our accredited kind of specialization pathway for our undergraduate students who, as well as having their specialist studies area that they graduate with, they also may come to me and spend a year and a half or so at the end of their degree in various courses, hanging out with me. And yeah, kind of get them to a point where they can be inclusive education teachers, and specialist education teachers, for kids with disabilities. So really about planning for them, to be able to if they want to go into mainstream teaching, being able to set up classrooms of connection and belonging for everyone that's in that space. But also having the skills and abilities to intervene and put in strategies for academic support, as well, you know, so it's a balanced kind of model, and then also being prepared and being open to working in in more specialist environments, support units, schools for specific purposes, or etc. So, that's kind of that's me right now. And then, yeah, that's I planted here and do some really cool stuff. And really privileged actually to work in a space where I'm kind of enabled to try things and be and create spaces and places that that probably would be seen as not, not necessarily traditional within tertiary teaching.
Well, let's let's get it because it's sort of special ed and out of home care, like, reengagement, or whatever you call it like those. Yeah, I'm not saying whatever you call it, as in whatever it's called, wherever it is. It can change, you know, sort of, like Flexi schools I've heard is some new lingo and those sorts of things. But it might be worth just because I know a lot of people aren't familiar with these sorts of contexts. And I think I mentioned this to myself, it's like, wasn't until I did like a special ed additional degree whilst teaching for about 10 years that I was like, ah, when the students disappear from my mainstream high school, there's like, there's actually six other types of schools that are possible. But as a high school teacher, about 10 years at that point, I was like, did not know they existed and never heard of them. And I think, you know, I count myself as quite into that sort of stuff, learning new things, finding out what's going on. And I was like, what if I haven't heard of it, then almost no one has done it. Just tell us about what you mean by a traditional setting, and maybe contrasted against what you're talking about in England, where there was music drama connected to what sort of what's what's Yeah, normal traditional model?
Yeah, so I suppose I'll, I mean, obviously, we have in Australia, we have mainstream classrooms. And then we have a variety of what we what they refer to as more restrictive, so it's all based off this idea of full inclusion in a mainstream space is the least restrictive environment. So but there's a range of placements that we have in Australia where and it's all it's all based, should be based around parent choice about where their students attend to where the young person that their child to attend. So that's, you know, I think everyone now in who works in in, in schools will know of support classes and support units. That also though schools are specialists, schools or schools for specific purposes, as they're referred to in New South Wales and their their schools set up to cater for more specified student cohort or body but then as well as SSPs, which are usually attached to either independent you know, an end up Henon are Catholic system, but predominantly department, we also then have alternative education settings, like the picture, like alternative learning settings. So in, I think, around where we are on campus, I've I can think of five within like a five kilometer radius of, of where we're at now, which are very much more about flexible learning environments, maybe some more problem based on student led planning, they still kind of engaging curriculum, they still have ability for accreditation, you know that, that but it's run really differently. Down the road, this across the road, there's, there's one for guys called. And it's more of a behavioral focused, so kids who are kind of more challenging behaviors, or maybe they just have more challenging tensions between attending school and not, or not being able to or not wanting to, so they can head over there. There's a young mums Education Center, that's just down the road as well. So that's for for young teen girls who become pregnant during high school, and they can actually attend there and take their babies, you know. So in Australia, though, they're still set up very formally and officially in a more traditional model. So there's still just teachers, head teachers, you know, take those structures, and you might have more engagement with specialists. So there could be speech paths who come in OTS that come in, and they're attached to different students. But I suppose the model that I and they still run through KLA is they all have to do that. And it's still very much based on a more even though maybe it's it's more student led learning and problem based learning. And those types of things are living skills and life skills, it's still in a framework that you could map quite easily to what we do in mainstream settings, the difference, I suppose, to the school that I just landed in very glad, very, very, I was very privileged to be able to scoop it is that we actually had on staff for our, for our student body, we had all of those professionals that were employed as school employees. So we had a full multidisciplinary approach to planning to whole of life, skill development, inclusion, community engagement, you know, and like I would, if I was having to do, maybe I wanted to do some kind of physical, even like a PE session, right and do some sport, I knew that I could go to the physio and say, Hey, this is what you know, my class we're going to do, we're going to go and do this, have you got any tips and tricks for me to make this the most supportive, and also the most, with the most opportunity for growth for that kid? You know, in terms of is there any movements that you'd like me to do? Is there any, anything you want me to avoid? Should we do some focus on you know, whatever else, and that was the same for the OT, that was the same for the nursing staff and, and nursing assistants as well, social worker, so we had a lot of real focus on connectivity and multidisciplinary approaches. And I suppose within that space, I was still and we were still the education, learning. Lead, you know, so we led that kind of process, but maybe it was about other people leading their expert areas, you know, I'm working together. So kind of like actually what you look at, like an IEP and individual education plan and a Learning Support Team. And we say that these people should be involved and it should be collaborative, but it's all around the development of a document that's then enacted, this was actually just inbuilt into practice.
So by comparison, and as in Australia, or at least, it's more of like a teacher to teach us a it's almost like the OT might come in, but they're treated like a teacher's aide for the unit come in for a session. We'll ignore the kid for a session and then you bring them back when they're mended, fixed, attended to whatever it is, is that kind Yeah, goes.
Well, and also, it's also that thing of maybe an OT, or a speech path might write a report, and a teacher gets that report, but they actually don't know what to do with it, you know, they don't understand the language of, of that profession, either. And what that means, so having, and they, you know, our being surrounded by people who wrote those reports, but me being able to say, what does this mean? You know, and actually then being able to come in, model that for me, and even develop the resources and work hand, and hand in hand together with that. So, and in terms of the creative practice, that was like our overlay, we knew that our guys who had more complex disabilities and intellectual disabilities were, you know, it was much, it was a much more accessible learning framework, you know, communication, expression, identity, you know, all of these things were really foundational to more of your, the inherent, I suppose, in some of the activities and the learning, it doesn't mean, we didn't do literacy and numeracy, all of those and those really core skills and skills for living and skills for life. But it just meant that, that we had a real ability and support to be creative and allow those young people to explore the world in a in a different way.
Okay, so that, yeah, the traditional approach here is like lots of documents being exchanged. Lots of teachers not really knowing what the, you know, I think everyone's had that experience of, you know, you feeling in a behavior assessment, or some kind of a diagnosis, something to lead to a diagnosis, and you're sitting there thinking, Oh, gee, I don't really know what that concept means, or, you know, what's normal or abnormal? In this case? You know, like, a tick box, like gets out of their chair? And you're thinking well, yeah, depends on a lot of sorts of things.
Right? Yeah. That's right. And, you know, like, even, and those really heavy burden, things that we see now as well, like administration, data collection, you know, and, and even like, the idea, they are that teachers kind of have to do like, kind of quasi official case notes on some students. You know, and, and we know that a lot of that administrative burden and reporting and this idea of standardization of reporting as well, is, is really difficult. And so for me, I suppose that what I then bring into what I do with my undergrad guys, is that because I've seen a system, which is less, but because I've seen, I won't say system, because we can talk about the UK education system as well. But I've been in within a school where those practices were, we weren't able to integrate them really easily into what we did and how we did things so. And so it's not about seeing them as disconnected from each other. It's really that idea of understanding how to integrate really simple things that actually enable you to reduce time, workload effort, and also give you clarity on how its utilized. Or who's who is going to utilize it and why it's important.
Is that Is there a tension there between kind of trying to teach to this amazing model that you you live for, you know, a year and a half or a couple of years? And then knowing that perhaps they'll go into, like you said, sort of the same model, but with different kids? And
yeah, like, I mean, have maybe having always worked with kids who I know are gonna have big a lot like, just through absolute necessity of being a teacher and only seeing them for a year, but also, throughout my career, or really working with kids who have so much more complexity to their lives than then just me and what's in our space? I suppose it's it's really this idea of what can I do this year? What can I do even just in this interaction, which might, which might give them a better sense of self or welcome or identity? And then, you know, long term, one of my favorite things is that I kind of say at my job, my job is to teach myself out of one. You know, it's not about me and the student. It's about me being an educator that enables that students to be themselves you know, So I know I've really done my job if if I'm not required anymore. And also that someone else can come in. So when you're off on a casual day, and everything, as we know, with casual days, you know, can can definitely go right. You know, it's not about me, it's about the systems, the structures, the routines, the expectations, and also that, that really quick and easy information sharing of really key core points that enables someone else to come in and do it. Yeah, so I think it's a really, it's a really good mantra for me. And it also allows me to not necessarily connect with the long term perspective, either. I'm always thinking positively in terms of long term and strengths and capacity and skills. But being able to see myself within the moment, and how small of a time I might actually have with students is actually enabling rather than because I used to get caught up a lot in where are they going to be? What are they going to do, and I think one of the biggest lessons that I learned was, or not lessons, maybe, but one of the biggest kind of points in that moment was I was working. And in, in, in Australia, and then, about eight years later, I saw one of my former students in the paper, she just been, you know, charged with a really horrific, violent crime. And she was like, ah, but, you know, the fact that I kind of they go, Well, she, you know, at the time that I add that I met her, and I knew her. She was making progress. And she, I knew we had a great relationship. And, and, and she was making changes, but outside of what happens when that's gone, that that that's up to them, right, and trusting students to do it for themselves, you know, and trusting that, hopefully, they're listening at some point, or maybe they just hear your theory or voice in the back of their head one day, you know, and then we're about to make a very bad decision.
Okay. I mean, I'm interested if we're so we're moving forward, sort of, from, from your background to the ITU classroom. So you've said all these things about your classroom and the space and the students do? How do you move that to the to then a new model being, you know, your title is lecturer? So in a classroom, it could be a lecture hall or whatever, but how have you found sort of transfer transforming or transferring your ideas of what a good classroom is? and all that sort of thing to? To the grown ups, so to speak?
for grown ups? Yeah. Well, I think that's the first step for me. Right? They're grown ups. You know, and also this, this, I suppose, when I first started, I really sat back for about, you know, rather than going in all guns blazing, I really sat back and needed to understand what the, I suppose practices were, and also how I could flex and how I could change, you know, what, what is appropriate? And, or what is not appropriate? That's probably not ever a limitation, but what is what is something that I can control? What are those levers that I can control, so like, I can't control my two hour cheat time, I can't control the fact that I only see them once a week, you know, for a course. But I can control my behavior, my attitude. And also I think, I saw some people and even from my own experience, you know, as being a student, I can remember not necessarily feeling like I was emotionally equipped or aware of the practices, and I suppose the profession before, before I left and so realistically, the question is, you know, it's it's goes back to what skills will they need? And also what is the what do I want to be able to enable them to feel about the profession and for me, that's, you know, absolutely passion, that's, that's, you know, creativity but also a sense of sustainability and, and a realistic understanding of expectations as well. So, through those things, I kind of enjoy sweat great, well, let's also make it fun and one of the soft things that I can do and so you know, I'm a, I kind of take a lot of stuff with me into classrooms that are not mine, and I've got a big box of toys and tools, and, you know, kind of things that are very much common within classrooms, but maybe my guys have never, my students have never been in a learning space with those things before. And we just play with them, you know, during class, you know, we just, we just have a play, and we just say, and we do, and so it's really more relational, because I can't really change the environment. And so it's relational, it's also treating them like adults with responsibilities. But also with the respect of understanding that they are in a really difficult situation, a lot of the time being a 19 year old, 20 year old now is a really challenging time, you know, in terms of money, in terms of balance in terms of even like future ideas of what their life is going to be like. And also that idea of, of teaching, you know, we're working with kids who are constantly reminded that teaching, and teachers are not well respected. And they're in the middle of middle of this decision to become become a teacher. So really focusing in on, on how I can communicate outside of all of that, that this is actually a bloody wonderful profession. And it's an amazing privilege to be able to be a teacher. And so through, you know, I suppose, and that's all relational. And it's also about honesty, probably, maybe a bit too honest, sometimes. It's okay.
When you say you bring in your box of kit, like, what, what kinds of things, what kinds of things are common in a special special ed classroom, that wouldn't be common to any old teacher off the street.
So there's a lot of things that are probably duly common, you know, so a lot of sensory toys, a lot of AAC. So, like, alternative communication devices, you know, it's but it's actually about their specificity, and purpose. So I think when we get into the same stuff, as well, I'll talk about this in terms of really understanding that you don't just throw something at people and it's going to work, it's really about being highly designed and specific, and why you're doing it when you're doing it. And, and that actually enables the sensory toy or the switch, which is like a pre recorded message, kind of device, you know, and how to utilize them to their capacity as well, you know, even just iPads I see so much just chucked at kids, rather than actually, you know, maybe physically, more metaphorically, obviously, you know, they're just thrown iPads, and then they're told to just use the iPad. But you know, if that if that student doesn't have the ability, or the capacity to organize in their, in their own mind, what that actually means, What app do you want me to use? How long do you want me to use it for? What's the purpose of this, they just sit there and stuff around, right? And so what we do is kind of say, well, these are really simple, cheap things, but also common things. And then here are some more high value things. So using our knowledge of students using our knowledge of research, but also utilizing our relational knowledge. And now our knowledge of a classroom and our classroom about what that looks like, you know, to be really specific, in how we utilize things and use them so, yeah, you know, but I do stuff like, I'll get I'll put the box out and I'll say, Okay, everyone come and get something. And it could be anything. And then I will put up an activity and say, Alright, so in your, you know, you this is the only thing that you have, this is the only resource that you have. How are you going to respond to this situation with this resource, and it could be a case study kid it could, you know, like a student case study student and you've got to say, Well, you've got to, you know, do a 20 minute low mining activity with these guys for this topic, but this is the only thing that you have. And, you know, like, at the moment, I've got in my hand a little piggy, you know, sand pig. And that could be it. Right and so it's it's really about the the idea of of equipping the decision making and specificity and understanding a lot of, I suppose our the knowledge and that academic knowledge and the formal knowledge of learning and structures, but also just saying, Okay, now let's claim that and be creative with what we do, you know, because this might be all you've got. Yeah,
I mean, I'll very selectively, you know, mentioned that at the conference, we were at there was mention of it. And, you know, I don't want you to make a political statement on the most current iteration of a document or whatever. But just to say, kind of like a school, everyone probably has an idea of, well, you know, I went to school schools probably the same, it is probably the same same as what I did when I went to uni, sat in a tutor, a lecture and blah, blah, blah. But, you know, you've got three very cool and spacey and like, Ooh, fancy Future II stuff that I can't remember, they are pretty famous, with people sitting around talking it that they're picturing the kind of switch stuff that you that you've got set up where you. So of the three technologies, where do you want to start? What's what's, what's the easy,
um, maybe what I want to do is go through each one, and give a tiny little breakdown of the, of what they do in terms of how we utilize them in capacity, and then I'll kind of go through and say, how we're actually utilizing. So, okay, so cool technology one is, is a 360 degree projection space. So we call this an IK. And it's essentially somewhere that we can, with 360 video recording, we can essentially take students into any location or environment, it's full immersion, into spaces. And that can be anywhere that we want to take them. So that's kind of cool technology. One is this idea of immersion and being in an environment, which is the IK, the second one is what we call sim school. And sim school is a essentially a really foundational basic game of a classroom. So students log in, and they kind of get a class in front of them. And then they have various prompts that they can choose from, to do with their class. But ultimately, its focus is all on decision making, and trial and error of different processes of teaching in a really safe environment. So they can, you know, see how, perhaps, you know, doing a sequence lesson. So if they put different lesser, you know, kind of lesson sequences in the wrong order, what that might do to the learning of students, you know, and so, I'll talk a bit about that a little in a little bit more detail, though, a bit later. And then core technology three is what we call sim teach. So sim teachers is utilized in a way where we have quite a it's its own room, and we have large screens on one wall, but the room is quasi set up with a Learning Station as well. So like a teacher's desk, and they can put resources and stuff on it, but on the screen, what they have three avatars so that their AI or their bespoke, sorry, their I suppose they're computer generated avatars that look caught, they look cartoonish, but they absolutely have a lot more human features to them, and they have micro expressions. And they have all that because at the other end of those avatars are actually actors that we've set up and given them kind of character overviews about about how we want them to be and that seems sim teach can offer school like student interactions, but then also parent interactions, executive interactions, and again, it's really about the experience moreso of teaching because the actors will respond to you Everything you say your tone of voice, your body language, they can see it all. And they'll really run with it. So again, it's this safe space of trial and error, and also practicing the feeling of being in front of a class. And being in a reciprocal relationship with a group of people. And particularly for our younger, younger kind of beginning it students, so in that first and second year, when they may not have ever been in front of a class, I've had to have been the point person before. And so before we, you know, kind of before they go on prac, they certainly they go into sim teach, and they do that, and they practice. And it's really also about encouraging that. The emotion of that, as well as getting them used to a little bit of that risk that is involved and exposure that's involved, when we talk about being in front of a classroom. So yeah, I suppose I'm at sim teach. So I'll talk about that a little bit. We use it in that way. And then we also use it for parent communication practice as well. So we'll set up an actor to or actors to, to be parents, and our students will practice the language of communication techniques, and styles best suited to parenting and, you know, working with parents, I suppose, you know, so that idea of not using academic language, that idea of maybe a bit of conflict negotiation, or misalignment of ideas, and, and how we can be really supportive and giving feedback to parents and students as well about how everyone's going. And maybe how we can work together a bit. So it's super fun. And it's really quite exciting in terms of how we're seeing students develop through that. We also have a specific program of students who have maybe gone out on placement, and they've not had the best time, or maybe they just hasn't settled in for them yet around the skills of being in front of a class. And we have someone in, in our school, who specifically helps them with that, and they use sim teach, to do that and get them to improve in terms of their pedagogical decision making their communication their body language. Through that platform,
well work, you know, the obvious question would be, why don't you just send them out into the schools and let them try it, this all sounds too expensive.
I mean, it is a little costly, but then it's also really costly to send a student teacher out into a school where they're going to be harmed as well, emotionally from the experience. And the last, you know, like, if they've been really, I think we've all had really bad day, right. And we've all we can all remember periods of teaching where it was really quite, you know, not very pleasant. And we felt pretty bad about ourselves, sometimes, you know, or just that class that just completely goes wrong, and you just don't feel like, you know, it's a really emotional profession. Because although we take teacher versions of ourselves into classrooms, you know, you don't take your whole self, you take your educator or teacher self into a classroom, when you first start, that's a really difficult thing to learn. And it's a really hard transition to make. And so, by enabling this, we allow our students to have more sustainability we have we allow them to have more confidence, but also we, it also means that we're not taking kids into schools who are not prepared to be teachers, right? And then the impacts of that on the students and also the teachers that are there supervising or mentor teachers, right. So we're really able to, to make it a lot less, I suppose, reduce that cliff edge, maybe a little bit and do it in a way that's fun, engaging a bit weird, and, but also really effective and really impactful when our students really enjoy it. And they, they they learned so much because they also then do reflections on that as well. So we have a real reflective practice on how did that go. You know, we do peer observations as well. Uh, so you know, they'll watch someone in the class, one of their peers do a sim teach class and then they'll talk about it. And they'll talk about what went well, what went not so well, what can be done next, you know, all of those things. So it's also about the analysis and seeing live teaching will also not be voyeuristic. Which is, which is a bit of an issue as well for, for us, particularly in in a corrosive of special ed. And for me, particularly, I have a real kind of ethical tension around just taking, taking MIT students into a school and saying, look at the children, you know, look at the teacher and having that kind of more voyeuristic relationship and disconnected relationship. You know, because that that, really, for us, particularly and, and for me, particularly, I don't ever want to put a student in a place where they feel like they're being looked at. And examined, examined, you know, they're not an object of, of learning, they, they are their partner in our learning. And, and so yeah, it seemed teachers really cool in that way.
Very sort of, like you want them to develop, develop their personas develop, like a, an instinct, almost, preferably before, it would the ideal goal be to, like, remove some of those awful experiences that we all have, you know, the tears in the car, the tears on the way in, is that like,
I don't know, if it's about, I don't know, it's about removing it. I don't know if that is ever and I also, you know, I also think that if we're not risking, and we're not failing as teachers, I don't know if we're doing our job properly. You know, because we're, it's all about risk, right, putting in things that are new, making things better, or, you know, changing to make it better, or what we think is better. And that's always going to come up, you know, it's always gonna raise emotionality and family up. And, and kind of open yourself up to a bit of that. But that, so the goal is not to get rid of it. We all love a good cry.
But also, like, I mean, going back to that idea of, you know, we're working with 1819 year olds in that first year, and they, you know, they're supposed to be a leader, or the point person, the manager of a space, and seem teach allows us to set up actors who maybe will say no, to them, you know, directly refuse to follow instruction, directly refute or even get angry at them. Or, you know, tell them in not so kind words, what they think of them, right. And, because I remember that, and that was the first time that that happened to me, I just didn't know what to do. I didn't understand the emotional impact that that would have on me how that felt. And yeah, these guys are avatars, these are cartoon, but they have such nuanced expressions, and also, you know, verbalizations tone of voice, mannerisms, everything. And, and if we can start to get our guys used to those feelings, you know, and be able to navigate in a safe way through them, and maybe be able to enable them to make some decisions in the moment that are not just about fight or flight, but actually consider that then that's all the better for me.
And so from my four you mentioned, like, yeah, how starting teaching is like falling off a cliff sort of so it's like just the smooth smooth that out so it's less of a more of a client or something.
Yeah, and and yeah, more of like, you know, like a nice Hill Road rather than then that filmer Louise kind of moment. Yeah. So and, and that's, that's the the beauty of self teach. And I suppose that's all we have the three different technologies because they complement different areas. So sim school, with decision making, trial and error, so it's quite procedural. It's also you know, so it's about the procedures of a classroom space and but then also it it then, on top of that has, you know, different verbal prompts different that you can choose different nonverbal prompts that you can give to certain students not you know, you can you can do individual interventions within the game, as well as whole class intervention. Should so it's really about the procedures and the depth of variables, you know, you have to manage it, you have to manage it all, because it's not just about you and me chatting, or me spewing forth content, there's so much more to it. And, and so sim school really gets them in a really safe, really naive, you know, it's not, it's not the most complex of things, but they do it and they're like, Wow, there's so much to think about. It's like, yeah. And so we'd see him score, what we're doing is we, across our years, where we're using it with more complexity, so as their knowledge grows of their roles and responsibilities, and how to say engage with data, or assessments or parent communication, were increasing the complexity of the use of, of school. So first year, it's just like, hey, this is a class how, you know, try it out, have a test, these are a few tasks that we want you to do. And then in year two, there, it's now kind of more so about actually running a lesson, you know, and looking at whole class engagement, academic and social, it's about doing some accommodations and adjustments for students. So you can you know, that on the platform, you can be like, I want to give Steven, some headphones, right, you know, or I'm going to allow this table to draw for five minutes, or, I'm going to change my tone of voice to friendly, rather than dominant. You know, and it allows you to test those things out. So and then in, in, then year three, we have them, it's actually fully integrated into assess into an assessment of this. And it's a lot more complex. So within, by that time, they should have been exposed to and know about data collection, Individual Education Plans, and stuff like that. And so we actually provide them with documentation around their spare class, and they have to read some of that documentation, and then make choices in that classroom based off that. So it's about interacting in a more specific way, and a more complex way. So it is, it is, students see, they're like, it's not a real classroom. And it's like, it's not about being a real classroom at all. It's that procedural decision making, and also informed decision making. You know, that that that encourages, so if SCIM school is about that informed decision making, and same teach is about the that that first flush of experience, and also understanding yourself as someone in front of a space in front of a room. And then I suppose the eye cave, which is the third one is is yeah, like kind of, it's a little bit of an aside to the other two, but it's a really cool space. And that's why I do a lot of work. So in his
mind aside, what do you mean by that? Because it was the most you're surrounded by this?
It is it is it is, but I suppose the same teaching school are both kind of AI driven. They're both kind of a little bit gamey. You know, they're both kind of passive platforms until you interact with them. And the AI cave is something where, essentially, yeah, we can take kids into any environment that we want. So yeah, it's not necessarily about our relationships with students, but it could be a playground scene, so we can actually wrap them around a playground seed and put them in the middle of it. Or, at the moment, we're doing some stuff on new kind of pedagogical demonstrations in classrooms. So in their course, they might be talking about specific pedagogies. And then what we can do is actually show them what that looks like in the in a classroom space. Because and they can see it all. The other way that I use it, which is probably very different. The way that it was intended, is not to show a demonstration of pedagogy in terms of taking them into a classroom space or a school space. But I actually demonstrate some more non traditional pedagogy is that we use for students with more complex levels of disability. So we actually I, you know, it's all about literacy. And so in this instance, so what I want to talk to talk to you about, it's a literacy and English, I suppose, learning technique, which is sensory storytelling, so kids with more complex levels of intellectual disability particularly, maybe can't have a depth of understanding when something is verbally communicated or written to them. And so how do we enable them to access the depth and the beauty of storytelling, and also the the insights and the personal connection that you can gain by engagement in storytelling and narrative. So we use a technique called sensory storytelling where essentially you recode narrative into a sensory experience. And so that's using all seven senses. You know, we do I do all this stuff. In class, we'll talk about all the seven senses, we'll talk about how they impact and affect understanding, learning, knowledge, acquisition, memory, retention, you know, all of those academics, but then I actually take them in and, and we've run it, I've run it for them, because I found that before having the IK if I could tell them till I was blue in the face, that you don't need words. You don't need words, to be able to have a deep understanding of something. And they would go whatever tests, you're just you're on your, you're on your airy fairy, visual arts teacher hat, you know, and, but then we take them through, and we do this sensory retelling of a local story. So I collaborate with this project, with a really good friend of mine, who's a indigenous storyteller. And he and we work with also our Willa to cut institution and Dr. Ray Kelly, around what story we will tell. And that's a long process of decision making as well. So there's a lot of all of that cool, interesting dynamics that sit in that. And we yeah, we essentially recode a story and they do it for 15 minutes. They do it and then we have a big debrief about it and and all of them, we've run it for two years now. And I would say that I've had in the last three months are guys that first started to like that started teaching last year, I suppose they've been out about six months. You know, I've I've gotten emails from them, saying how much they love, the creativity and, and the beauty of kind of being able to teach in different ways. And they asked me all the time for stuff, and I just give it to them because of course I do in terms of resources and ideas and, and feedback. But yeah, so the archive is a little different than the other two, because it's it's, it's a, essentially, it's just a projection screen. And so it's really what we do with it, that, that enables it to, to really support our students. But it's it's brilliant once it once you enable it and use it in the right way. It's brilliant. So we do treasure hunts around, you know, going back to classroom spaces, you know, obviously, we only see what's in front of us, but a classroom is a 360 degree area. You know, so we say okay, go in and find all of these things that are happening, you know, and we can pause it and then we can say what would you do here? What's going on? You know, like, look at this teacher, how are they moving around the room, and it's that reflection, that reflection moment as well. So, they all work differently, and they all work really well together? Yeah, as a suite of things. And I also just get to have a bit of fun, of course, which
I just I had to smile at myself when you smiled to myself when you said the seven senses because you asked again anyone off the street that side is fine, but especially always good you Right. Without the facility of an Ico, could you sort of talk us through how a story becomes a sensory? Like, what does that? How? I can't even conceptualize what that looks like feels like etc.
Yeah, so I suppose and I suppose this is a really key point as well, like we use the IK because we have it. But this is something that that I've absolutely used in teaching. And also when our students go through the I cave, I also give them a massive booklet of all of the curriculum links that for this story and this narrative and say, you cannot use this, this is not, you know, this is this was gifted for this project, and all of those types of things. But, but this is how we map it, this is how we created it. And also, this is how you can do it for about $50.
Yeah, that's right. So yeah, so essentially, the first stage is, is getting the story that you want. Now, I've done this for Tim Winton books, you know, so but, so working with kids with really quite complex disabilities who were for, you know, 14 to 17 really age appropriate novel, you know, for them quite connected to place, it was kind of in a beachy community. So we use blue back. And what I do is obviously read it first. But then kind of pull out some primary characters, but those characters could be not just people in but also maybe places so a house or the squeaky gate, or the headlands, you know, like so. And then what we do is we say, well, one of the sensory components are how can we represent this, this person or this place in a sensory way? And how can we utilize, so we essentially just storyboard it out? So you storyboard out a story, break it down into, you know, its its process, but rather than looking at it from a chapter or a narrative progression, look at it from a place based progression, or I suppose a situation based progression, and then say, well, okay, so they're all they're having an argument, but it's at Christmas, what, what can I do, and so you might have gingerbread cookies that You've crushed up, and actually, the smell of that is within a small container, you know, and they all smell it, and they can smell that gingerbread cookie. And, and, but then you also have noise of, you know, pots and pans going in the background, or, you know, it's it's quite complicated, like, it takes a little bit of sensitivity to do, but it doesn't need to be a story, either, it could be a season, it could be an event, and you recode that, so the Women's World Cup, and it's a huge part of community, and it's a huge thing that's going on in in the nation, and it's going to be everywhere. And so we might actually code that into a sensory learning experience about the Women's World Cup, and what soccer is like and how to feel. So that involves fresh cut grass, that involves movement, that, you know, that is side to side, as well as forward, it involves adulation, you know, scoring a goal, you know, how do you communicate that without words? Yeah, so it's pretty. Yeah, it can't be complicated, but ultimately, it's extremely simple.
And sort of trying to bring the world into the classroom rather than vice versa. Sort of. Yeah. Yeah.
Yeah. And not having any expectations of prior knowledge. You know, it's really about talking straight to the situation and the environment, you know, and taking someone to that place rather than expecting them to get themselves there, which I think is maybe a little bit of learning that we can all do, as well.
So bringing, bringing all three of these technologies to some sort of a point. It's kind of a way to get trainee teachers to have different experiences. And as a positive outcome, they're also a bit weird which takes them outside of their comfort zone, which is kind of what you want anyway.
And novelty novelty of that idea of of connections. So novelty really increases memory and retention and the impact. So that's another really inherent thing about them that we can play like Cray two as well.
So what's what's the next phase? Or the next step? Or the next process? What comes after it? Is there? Is there a way that all three of these are brought into one space? Or is this? You know, is there a next step? I don't know.
I mean, the next step for us is at the moment, we're really seeing them add, we're in the process of seeing them as more integrated. So we've spent the last year or so learning, as a staff, really learning about their best utilization, you know, and how they can work as an individual process. And it's only in the last like three months or two months, where we've really started to map them together in terms of how they can be integrated into the program as a cohesive offering, you know, like, so rather than just offering them as are you do this, and then you do that and whatever else, but actually programming for increasing complexity and also increasing connectivity. And that's really what we're doing in the moment. Yeah, so that's our next step. And then I suppose after that is really starting to create this idea of being able to bring our students into multiple different contexts and have multiple different experiences, not just on placement. But being able to provide that, I suppose it's like what we do with the sensory storytelling, right, where I would actually just give them, you know, bring the classrooms or, you know, some part of the classrooms and some part of their professionalism to themselves and to hear us on campus, rather than needing to wait until they're kind of on placement or out before they start to develop that identity or that efficacy, or
potentially could undo a lot of the common complaints people have you got a theory for three years, and you go and do practice with no theory and theory with no practice and vice versa, sort of bridging the gap and bringing them closer together. Makes sense?
Yeah. That it's, it's what we're all about. That's what yeah, we've got a really great team here in terms of how we do that are really dedicated cohort like cohort of staff, which are really into how to link it all much more seamlessly together, you know, and be able to support our students in interpreting the academics interpreting the theory, and really creating more deep sense of knowledge and how to utilize that. Yeah.
All right. Thanks again for your time. I mean, I think it's just such a fascinating insight into a space that many people don't know about into technologies people almost certainly have never heard of, and some cool stuff that's happening out there already. Is there any place people would go to learn more find out more? Do they have to enroll at the University is their public health podcast?
Yeah, look, there's there's there is some publications coming out, or which are out but I think actually, the easiest starting point for people if they want to look at is our this suite of technologies is actually just been profiled by AITSL. So on the ATO website, there's a case study, essentially, of what we're doing at the university with the series. And that will, I suppose, give you a good grounding, but also then allow you to go and explore further. So that's probably the best, the best place to go or just come just come and knock on the door and I'll take you through it.
Sounds good. Thanks again for your time. Appreciate it.