Design & Innovation

Principal's Innovation Fund

UCC Principal’s Innovation Fund | 2019-20 Projects

The Principal’s Innovation Fund, launched in September 2018, provides grants to faculty and staff. The goal is to undertake innovative areas of research and development, to advance learning, teaching and operational effectiveness.

Five projects, from submitted and peer-reviewed proposals, were selected for funding  this academic year. They include work around mindfulness programs, virtual reality and a student-directed, blended math program.
Project: Enhancing Approaches to Learning
Lincoln Smith

How might we explicitly teach and authentically assess and track Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills across disciplines and grade levels?

The strength of a school such as UCC is not just in the academic knowledge and skills  students gain, but also in their ability to self-manage, think and learn with facility and independence. These skills are increasingly becoming the focus of schools around the world. In this project, Lincoln explores how UCC could intentionally teach and authentically assess the IB’s “Approaches to Learning Skills” using current pedagogical best practices and learning principles from neuroscience. According to research, the more students develop their awareness of how they think and learn, the more empowered they are to direct their own learning and apply effective strategies across subject areas. Lincoln is looking forward to collaborating with faculty to develop lessons and work with students to explore methods for them to notice, record and evaluate their approaches to learning across contexts over multiple years.
Project: Developing a Student-Directed, Blended Math Program
Emilia Martin

How might we develop a mathematics program to better serve the diverse needs of Prep students?

The goal of a blended mathematics program is to promote engagement, achievement and collaboration so each boy can experience transformational learning. Emilia's project considers how using created and curated video content, online discussions and web-based quizzes enable students to work at their own pace to master concepts, extend their learning beyond the curriculum and collaborate with peers. In addition, previewing concepts via video allows class time to become more flexible and adaptive to student needs. Redefining “homework” with technology promotes curiosity and allows for more independent learning. Students explore design thinking through guided math inquiry. Exposure to blended learning, and balancing online and classroom learning, allows students to develop skills in mathematics as well as the digital literacy skills necessary for higher education success.
Project: Teaching Productive Digital Citizenship
Lara Jensen and Sarah Barclay

How might we improve how we help students develop the skills to be responsible and productive digital citizens?

The Prep School initiated a one-to-one computing model six years ago that provides timely access to iPads and laptops to support learning. Since that time, many new applications have become available for teachers and students including social platforms designed to intentionally draw users in. The constant availability of computers means that students are attracted to their devices in ways that are difficult to resist both at school and home. Though the laptops and iPads are extremely powerful learning tools, they can also present a distraction. As technology integrators, Sarah and Lara have explored a variety of resources and tools to help in this area including:
  • Speakers addressing for both students and parents the issues faced in their digital world;
  • Teachers have been supported to deliver lessons in the area of digital citizenship and device management;
  • Teachers have had opportunities to share and learn classroom management strategies from one another.
With the goal of helping teachers and students better manage their devices as powerful tools for learning, Sarah and Lara’s projects explores how we might improve the ways in which we help our students develop the skills necessary to be effective learners in a connected world. They are looking forward to learning from students, investigating how other schools are addressing these issues, and exploring the connections between technology and wellbeing with the UCC community.

Project: Creating An Intentional Mindfulness Program
Christie Gordon and Catherine Erb

Mindfulness is a pillar of wellbeing and part of the IB’s Approaches to Learning (ATL) learning skills curriculum. There is growing evidence in the education and business worlds that mindfulness has a positive impact on all stakeholders. This project looks at extending the College’s mindfulness practices to develop a more co-ordinated effort to implement, review and assess impact. The key point of our research is to study the effectiveness of mindfulness programs with our students. Does teaching students mindfulness practices support their journey to thrive as young people and become their best selves? In particular, it looks at how students view mindfulness practices and how intentional programs can be integrated into their daily routines.

Project: Creating Learning Experiences with Virtual Reality
Ryan Archer and David Crawford

How might we pioneer new narratives with VR? How might we create and curate immersive learning experiences with VR?

Over the past few years, we have explored the possibilities of Virtual Reality (VR) in the classroom and kept a close eye on global developing pedagogical applications. Here at UCC, the Prep used Google Cardboard VR and Google Expeditions to explore themes of empathy and visit virtual environments. At the Upper School, there have been several visits by VR experts to demonstrate the power of fully immersive virtual environments and their potential learning affordances. From these experiences, David Crawford (IB DP Film) and Ryan Archer (Technology and Design) began having conversations about how VR may be incorporated into the curriculum in Film and in our future Media Design offerings in the MYP Programme. Last November, David and Ryan attended a conference dedicated to neuroscience and VR research in education. Fueled by the positive things they learned and with a desire to become contributors to this new and exciting media, they set out to explore how UCC might become leaders in pioneering new narratives within the burgeoning virtual reality field? Furthermore, how can these new forms of narratives be used to enhance the learning potential of virtual immersive learning environments?

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