Archive for the ‘ From the Teacher’s Desk ’ Category

New Links Category

Digital Technologies & STEM

A strong foundation in Digital Technologies skills and knowledge can support student achievement across all subjects.

Digital Technologies & STEM presents links to free resources that demonstrate how to apply videogame design and programming skills across the core curricular subjects of Maths, Science and English.

Well worth sharing with colleagues.

OSS is the UK’s Open Source Software Advisory Service.  They have recently released a document presenting the best open source software options suitable for education.

This document presents options for open source software for use in the education sector. Some of these may have uses outside of education, but they are presented here in the context of their specific benefits to educational establishments, or their use in the course of teaching and learning.

The document covers the following topic areas and offers real-world examples and comparisons to their commercial couterparts:

  1. E-Learning
  2. Assessment
  3. Classroom tools
  4. Mobile Solutions
  5. Library Systems
  6. Enterprise Architecture and Service Management
  7. Subject-specific tools

The organisation also prepares quarterly newsletters on open source issues, research, events and news.  Read the latest issue here.


New Site Updates

The following areas of the Teacher’s Lounge have been updated:

  • Teacher Resources – Subject
  • Teacher Resources –  Assessment and Best Practice Materials

The updated Resources area offers a comprehensive range of links to materials that should help you with your course planning for the new year.  Useful goodies include a library of tools and links for learning most major programming languages (Windows 8 materials coming soon) on the new site for DT students –

Who we are

Want to know more about what we do?  Check out the newly updated about us page.


We’re also pleased to announce newly updated video demos to support the use of our unique device PConMe©.  The device can be downloaded free or you can purchase an 8GB stick with the device pre-installed for just $20. Check it out at

New Downloadable Resources

And finally, you may have noticed the new Teachers Pay Teachers widget in the sidebar? These new resources include quick how-to guides that can be used by students as well as teachers.

Learn how to create consistent website buttons, or run a maze game project using Scratch.  There’s also a toolkit for creating clipart using vector tools in Word!

Check out the Wikispaces project – it’s free to download. The paid-for resources are great value and are available to download from the TpT website.  Please note the currency is USD.

The Inquiry into 21st Century Learning Environments and Digital Literacy has just been presented to the House of Representatives, December 2012.

The Inquiry is a comprehensive survey and the following recommendations are of particular interest to teachers and leaders of Digital Technologies.  Recommendation 18 highlights and acknowledges the importantance of making available high quality teaching pedagogy for all:

18. We recommend that the Government consider the advantages and disadvantages of whether all documentation produced by the Ministry of Education for teaching and
learning purposes should be released under a Creative Commons licence.

Training & Professional Development:

8. We recommend that the Government consider requiring all New Zealand teachers to demonstrate a defined standard of digital literacy and to undertake professional learning and development to maintain their digital literacy skills, knowledge, and understanding.
9. We recommend that the Government consider requiring appropriate school leaders
to demonstrate a defined standard of digital literacy, and to undertake professional learning and development to maintain their digital literacy skills, knowledge, and understanding.
10. We recommend that the Government consider measuring and evaluating teacher
training institutions on the quality of their digital literacy training.

Improving access to New Zealand content online:

16. We recommend that the Government consider ensuring access to high-quality digital resources to support the New Zealand curriculum for all teachers and learners.
17. We recommend that the Government review the intellectual property framework for
our education system to resolve copyright issues that have been raised, including
considering Creative Commons policy.
18. We recommend that the Government consider the advantages and disadvantages of whether all documentation produced by the Ministry of Education for teaching and
learning purposes should be released under a Creative Commons licence.

and Development of 21st Century skills:

19. We recommend that the Government review the definitions of digital literacy to
consider a common definition that can be used across the sector.
20. We recommend that the Government review 21st century skills in the context of
digital literacy in our education system.
21. We recommend that the Government consider research and the potential for a
greater role of educational games as part of digital learning environments for 21st century
learning and skill development.
22. We recommend that the Government consider enhancing the role of information
science in the education sector.
23. We recommend that the Government better position ICT skills, knowledge, and
understanding as educational options that lead to high-value careers.

Go here for the complete document

It goes without saying that one of the fundamental aspects of delivering a high quality Digital Technologies course is to have access to high quality resources.  As our students move further down the pathway towards Level 3 and UE it is important our students are exposed to industry standard software, but licensing often comes with a hefty price tag.

Perhaps unknown to most, is Microsoft’s generous academic licensing programme Dreamspark.  This scheme is available to all students – they just have to register for the service at and the registration will allow them to download essential  Microsoft Software for free.  Go here for the full catalogue.

Dreamspark also offers academic institutions free software.  Schools with a Campus 3 Microsoft License may find the following software particularly useful:

  • Visual Studio 2012 (comes with an add on for PowerPoint, turning PowerPoint into a wireframing tool – more
  • Expression Studio Ultimate includes
    • Sketchflow wireframing tool
    • Expression Blend
    • Expression Design
    • Expression Encoder Pro

    With this software suite students can create websites, design and animate, as well as produce concept designs and live screen grabs.  A must-have for Digital Media.  There’s a great community portal, including tutorials and a full 90 hour curriculum designed especially for High School.
    Find out more


  • Visual C++
  • Visual C#
  • Robotics Developer Studio
  • SQL Server 2012
  • Windows Server 2012
  • AutoCollage – great for moodboards
  • Songsmith – for generating original music
  • and there’s even Microsoft Mathematics to keep other departments happy!

In total there are 37 Microsoft products including Operating Systems, Developer Tools and Applications that you can make use of to teach Digital Media, Infrastructure and Programming.

Most NZ Universities subscribe to the scheme, and it’s fantastic that High Schools can too.

To claim a year’s free subscription service you need the Dreamspark Promo code that should be on your school’s license renewal welcome letter.  If you can’t find a promo code on the welcome letter you will need to ask for one to be reissued to your school.  The good folks at Academic Licensing can make the request to Microsoft on your school’s behalf.

If your school doesn’t fit the free licensing criteria, the option to pay a low cost annual subscription is available.  To find out more, go to

Have a great Christmas break!

Here at the Teacher’s Desk we are careful to present the best and most useful information to Digital Technologies Teachers.

In pursuit of high quality information for our readers, we recently published material from the Northland Best Practice Workshop without the explicit permission of the Ministry of Education.

Copyright Breach

Although the source of the slideshow was clearly stated, and it had been posted as is, we have been advised that we are in breach of the Ministry’s copyright protocols.

We have removed it at their behest and apologise for any distress caused.

These materials contain very useful information for DT Teachers. We ask the Ministry of Education to please make them available for download from their own websites.


Copyright is insiduous and affects every facet of our lives – so much so, that Kiwi Sam Muirhead has gone to Berlin to try and live a year Open Source in an attempt to break free. GM seed patents are having a horrendously negative impact on the global food supply and the latest extradition laws now put corporations and their profits above human rights.

Where’s the common sense?

Good Question

Why can’t state funded educational resources lead the way and be open source?

Great Answer

Updated 05/09

In actual fact a new initiative has been launched recently to specifically address the issue of making copyrighted government materials available for release to others:

We have requested the release of the following materials:

Part 1 BPW folder:
Assessment Rubric docx
OTSE Questions and Answers docx
Unpacking 91368 docx
L1-L2 ppt

Watch this space.

We need copying to build a foundation of knowledge and understanding. And after that… things can get interesting.

Kirby Ferguson

Introducing PC on ME©

DFRAG have released a cool virtual machine hack – creating a virtual computer on a stick!

PConME© is designed to be a computing sandbox so young people can deepen their understanding of how a computer works without the risk of damaging valuable hardware and system installs.

This technology is ideal for education because it provides a computing sandbox for very little cost – a space to explore, discover and experiment; with a virtual computer there are no expensive repairs – simply reinstall a new image and go again. Awesome.

An exciting aspect of the hack is that, unlike other ‘live installs’ it can be run directly from a 4GB+ datastick without the need to reboot – just plug and play.  Great for encouraging home enthusiasts – take the device anywhere and use it on any computer running Windows XP or 7.

PC on Me© is available to download free from Sourceforge, CNET, Schoolforge and Softpedia.

You can also register your interest for a preinstalled datastick, which will be available soon.

There is a discussion forum on the download page at Sourceforge, and users are encouraged to feed back, especially if they identify bugs, or come up with new exciting features of their own. 

To find out more, including printscreens and specs check out the PC on Me© website.

From Paul Matthews, Institute of IT Professionals

Hi there,

This is a reminder for all schools potentially interested in participating in the ICT-Connect programme, especially those in Dunedin.

ICT-Connect is an initiative from the Institute of IT Professionals* where we work with schools to arrange for IT Professionals to come and talk in person about what ICT is and what it means to them. The project focuses on the outcomes from all areas of Digital Technologies not just the Computer Science component.

The programme is designed to get students excited about IT as a career and Digital Technologies, supplementing class learning with insight into real-world ICT.

It is completely free to schools thanks to the support of over 40 ICT companies and other organisations.

Invitation to participate in ICT-Connect in Schools

Register your expression of interest here, or visit for more information.

NOTE: Expressions of Interest for Dunedin, the first release area, will be closing soon! If you know colleagues in Dunedin schools would you consider forwarding this invitation to them? Expressions are currently open for all schools.


Paul Matthews BSc, MIITP ITCP
Chief Executive | Institute of IT Professionals NZ

*The NZ Computer Society changed to the Institute of IT Professionals in July 2012.  Visit their new website here.

More Essential Resources

Annotated exemplars for external DT standards 91070 and 91074 have been updated and are available for viewing / download on the NZQA website.

See right for updated links.

NZQA is seeking feedback on the review of Computing unit standards 2781, 18753, and 18755.

In response to the sector requesting to retain these standards, NQS has reviewed these three standards.

Unit standard 2781 has been reviewed to address duplication with Level 1 achievement standard 91070.

Unit standard 18753 and 18755 have been reviewed to ensure they remain fit for purpose and national in scope.

The consultation period concludes on the 11th May 2012. 

Please complete the feedback form available on the consultation page if you have any comments or you would endorse the changes to these standards.

Ngā mihi

Gail Porter