You don’t know when you’ll be “remote teaching” next. It pays to be prepared.

One of the many realities of our “new normal” is the constant threat of school being closed tomorrow. Closed not for term-long bouts of remote learning — those days will pass soon enough — but rather immediate closures for tactical “deep cleaning” triggered by a cautious, omnipresent test-and-trace program. Such rapid and disruptive actions will be necessary if we are to get back to something resembling life as we knew it pre-pandemic. There is every chance these week-long school closures will endure well into 2021, and perhaps beyond.

We need a way for teachers to provide continuity to their classroom…

Last week was rough for the hard-working teachers that have come to rely on Stile. Stile was down, slow or glitchy during school hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. A previously unknown bug in some off-the-shelf and widely-used database software we use, together with a massive shift in how schools are using Stile in our new world of remote learning, conspired to cause our worst outage ever.

I am so sorry for the frustration and stress we caused at an already challenging time. …

How we responded to the COVID-19 outbreak

How we responded to the COVID-19 outbreak

While Stile is primarily a classroom resource, it also happens to be uniquely placed to facilitate remote learning — in fact several of Australia’s biggest distance schools have taught remotely with Stile everyday for years now. As it became increasing likely that schools would transition to remote learning, we wanted to do our bit to support the community.

In addition to the normal world-class pedagogical and technological support we provide our teachers with, during Semester 1 we also:

  1. Gave schools unlimited, free access to Stile for Semester 1. This included schools that didn’t have a subscription to Stile and extended…

We love brainstorming in class as a way to generate discussion around a new topic; it’s a time-tested favourite of many teachers. But there has always been a few drawbacks:

  • Discussion is usually dominated by a few louder students in the room, and it’s often hard for us to keep track of who did and didn’t contribute.
  • It doesn’t prompt all students to think about what they know before being prompted by others.
  • You risk not getting as many novel ideas, because the students’ thinking ends up being prematurely guided by the thoughts of others.

We thought we might be…

Why does so much educational software measure “number of questions answered”?

I’m ashamed to admit it, but we’ve done it before too.

It is a classic ‘quality over quantity’ vanity metric. “Your students have answered 5000 questions this week” sounds impressive… like students are doing some serious learning. But are they?

Judging student outcomes or even engagement by ‘questions answered’ makes as much sense as judging an essay favourably by its large word count.

Like word count, ‘number of questions answered’ is easy for computers to measure. …

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock, you’ll know that STEM has been the dominant buzzword among education circles for some time now, and there are no signs of this changing anytime soon. But the hype around STEM is disguising the fact that most of us don’t know how to teach STEM in our schools.

Yes, we all know that STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, but there is a lack of consensus as to what STEM means in terms of practical implementation for teachers and schools within the framework of the curriculum. …

By Byron Scaf, CEO of Stile

Every time I read about the Victorian Government’s ill-fated Ultranet project, I cringe.

The $60m project, which in fact has actually been a $240m project, was intended to be the one school management system to rule them all. An integrated, all-in-one school learning management system to be used by every state school in Victoria.

After much fanfare, it crashed on its first day out, and was reportedly plagued with technical issues that kept teachers away. Anecdotally we’ve heard it was, well, less than great. …

By Byron Scaf, CEO of Stile

Recently, I visited a school in Sydney and sat in on a fourth grade class. It was a model of 21st century learning. Students were exploring the psychological impact of advertising and the teachers engaged in modern classroom-based pedagogies — co-teaching, student collaboration and project-based learning. It was great to see.

Of course, technology played a huge part in enabling all of it to happen. It wasn’t the hero though, it was just part of that class’ learning ecosystem. Devices littered the room and students would quite naturally reach for them to conduct research…

“For technology to make a real difference in education, we must start choosing quality over quantity. ”

— Byron Scaf, CEO Stile Education

When the iPhone was unveiled in 2007, it wasn’t the first or even the most full-featured smartphone. Personal Digital Assistants, or PDAs as they were then generally known, and BlackBerry devices had been around for a long time before Apple’s phone entered the market. However, they remained an inaccessible piece of technology for the greater public except for business users and a few tech enthusiasts. The iPhone was a game changer because ‘it just works’.

Apple didn’t…

Byron Scaf

Entrepreneur and science nerd. CEO at Stile, where we're engaging young citizens in the power and wonder of science.

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