13 November, 2013

Learning in Digital PYP Environments

Thanks to all parents who attended this morning's information morning about Digital Learning in the Primary School at VIS.  We had a great turn out with approximately 30-40 people in attendance all of whom were curious to know what their child/children are doing with digital technologies.  For those not in attendance, I broke up the session into three key sections:

  • Integrated approached to ICT in the PYP
  • Digital Citizenship at VIS
  • Digital Citizenship at Home
You can view the presentation below at the end of the post.  

As mentioned in the presentation, this section of the blog aspires to be a place you can visit to find out more about technology for learning, the latest and greatest in apps and technology, reflections and discussions around issues regarding technology and much more.  Knowing about these things can help bring clarity to an often dizzying world where change is both rapid and ongoing.

Feel free to get in touch by commenting below or emailing me at

13 October, 2013

GAFE-Powered Inquiry Environments: Google Apps in the PYP

Update:  Firstly, thanks to all those eager and enthusiastic educators who attended my first ever conference presentation at the Google Apps for Education Summit in Prague.  It was extremely flattering to myself and my students to hear and read the positive responses to Sunday's session.  Judging by the comments and, thanks to Glenn Lawler for his picture, my enthusiasm for Google Apps supporting inquiry learning really showed!

Apologies if I couldn't talk through the entire inquiry cycle.  I thought I had more time. That said, I've embedded the presentation below and I'd be more than happy to set-up some kind of webcast, podcast or school visit to explain the rest if there is enough interest.  Just let me know by commenting, emailing tweeting etc.

I've restricted some of the video content to protect the privacy of my students. Please get in touch if you'd like to see more. Special thanks to Kathy Short and Kath Murdoch for granting permission to use their images of inquiry frameworks.

Sunday, Oct 13:  I'm here at the Google Apps for Education Summit in Prague!  How exciting!  I'm about ready to give my presentation on how Google Apps for EDU can supercharge inquiry learning environments.  You can check out my presentation here.

12 September, 2013

Belonging with '7 billion Others'

In a world where you are one of 7 billion other humans of all stripes and sizes, imagining your own place within it can be quite an experience.  It's amazing to be reminded however that despite all of our differences (global, cultural, social, economic etc) we ultimately share the deeper feelings, values, and beliefs of a common humanity.  KarmaTube shows us just that in this brilliant video entitled 7 billion Others a project by the GoodPlanet Foundation.

A film by GoodPlanet Foundation. Video from KarmaTube

Integration in the Classroom:
This is an engaging video which is sure to tune students in to thinking about themselves and others. Digging below the surface to find these common bonds takes great questions, something our Grade 2 students have been looking at (click here to see 2LFvis) and this film does just that. Creators of the film interviewed thousands of people from around the world, recording their answers to questions like:
  • What do you see? Why? Who are you? Where are you from?
  • Where are you going?
  • What scares you? What worries you?
  • Am I someone you'd speak to? Would you like to sit with me and have a cup of tea or a beer? 
  • Could we be friends? Could we get to know each other?  Forge alliances? Forge friendships?
  • Could we together make a community an ensemble and this world a better place?
  • What did you want to be when you grew up?
  • What is love?  What is happiness?
The combination of questions and people who answer them make this a must see to get anyone to think about the question:  Who am I?  I came across this video while planning for our Grade 2s unit "People Like Us" but it hasn't been shown to them yet.  A good age range is probably around Grade 3 and up. 

This would also make a great video resource for International Peace Day (September 21st).

Let me know what you think by posting your comments below!  Cheers.

03 September, 2013

Tinkering with Technology

As a digital learning integrator, I'm often asked all sorts of technical questions about various computer programs with a general expectation that I'll be able to troubleshoot fairly instantly.  Truth is that I'm generally a Jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none kind of guy.  Surely I have some technical knowledge about various applications, but I'm far from a guru.  What I am good at however, is tinkering.  

Tinkering is one of the best ways to learn about how something works, especially with computer applications.  It's a disposition we encourage our children to have and it's often one I plug heavily with the teachers I work with.  Like all great discoveries, new knowledge comes about as a result of tinkering around trying to do something or fix something else.  Doing so with technology often yields new discoveries and reveals opportunities for learning you never thought possible.  You'll definitely learn much more about the application beyond how to solve one isolated problem and chances are it'll stick around in your grey matter a lot longer.  

So tinker away.  You likely won't break what you're working with and chances are you'll learn a lot more than you bargained for.  Thanks to Steve for coming around to fiddle around with a blogging issue and allowing me to post a photo of him doing it.  Ironically enough we didn't solve it but we'll get there with a little digging.

23 August, 2013

Welcome to the Digital Maven's Haven!

Welcome back to school and welcome to the first post on the Digital Maven's Haven.  This is a blog devoted to helping teachers adopt the use of technology in their classrooms in relevant and meaningful ways.  My name is Ben Hacking and I am a Digital Learning Integrator at the Vienna International School and my job is to support teachers and students from K-5 as they endeavour to learn in digital environments.

What might you find here at the Digital Maven's Haven?

  • Reflections from on-the-ground experiences integrating technology - the good, the bad, and the ugly, I aim to reflect on it, learn from it, and share it with those that care to read about it.
  • Digital tools and resources - check in regularly for classroom tools and resources to help your kids become better inquirers, thinkers, communicators, collaborators, creators, presenters, self-assessors and digital citizens.
  • Tutorials on digital learning tools
  • Summaries and analyses of education literature related to e-learning, new literacies, leadership and other curriculum areas
  • Shameless boastings about my family, hobbies and more.  They are my "reservoir of hope" (Alan Flintham)

If you have any comments, questions, suggestions etc, please don't hesitate to contact me.  I'm going to keep this initial post short as I'm prepping for the school year, but I look forward to writing and dialoguing with you, the global audience.


Ben Hacking
Digital Learning Integration Teacher 
Vienna International School
Follow Me on Twitter @hackingb