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Innovation Hunter: Sparvell on Assignment in Asia

Mark with MIE Expert 2015 Sheree Bennett from Immanuel College

by Mark Sparvell
School Leaders Program Director, Microsoft in Education

Hi everyone, Mark Sparvell on assignment here in Australia. I am visiting some inspiring #ShowcaseSchools and innovative Expert Educators across 4 Australian States on my way to Singapore where I will be celebrating the Asia Pacific Microsoft Innovative Expert Educators and the Showcase School leaders just before the incredible BETT ASIA event.

I’d love to share with you some of the learning insights along my road trip.

Let’s start with some context:

Photo Credit: National Geographic

Here’s Australia!  There are around 23 million people in Australia who live mostly in the cities which are all along the coastline, infact 85% of Australians live within 50 kilometres of the beach!

There are around 10,000 schools across Australia and 3 Education systems including wholly government funded, Catholic Education and the Independent School system. The 7 States and Territories each have their own Education Departments.

Australia is mid-stream through the deployment of a National Curriculum  and has in place standards for Teachers and a standard for Principals .

So, that’s the big picture!


Last week I visited Immanuel College in South Australia and was taken on a tour by the Principal, Mr Kevin Richardson. Immanuel is a co-educational Lutheran-based school of approximately 1000 students 30 minutes from the city of Adelaide.

Kevin took me on a tour of the Margaret Ames Centre, a amazing learning space which will cater for 500 learners. One of things that struck me was the intent behind the choices large and small which were clearly focused on learners and learning. Louvre windows and ventilation considerations were based upon research around Co2 levels and cognitive functioning. Students had been actively engaged in the design and selection of furniture. There was an abundance of natural light and weighing up between efficient LED’s and ‘warm’ fluorescent lights’ which produce a more conducive light for learning. Kevin talked about planning the building to ‘fail’ (which caused the architects some stress no doubt) as he recognized that they couldn’t predict how the building would be used and spaces repurposed. Redundancies have been built in and ‘just incase’ cabling tucked away. Massive screens will make valued learning public and seamlessly bring together the schools strong audio visual content and materials with the digital learning content. The school already leads a digital-physiotherapy program for students to reduce injury from sustained use of technology and the new building features flexible learning spaces, standing work spaces and private outdoor classrooms connecting with the indoors.

In my next BLOG I will provide a sneak peek into an amazing MIE Expert classroom from this school.

Time to fill up the car.


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