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Mark Sparvell: The Innovation Hunter’s Journey Continues!


by Mark Sparvell
Leader of Showcase Schools and School Leaders Program, Microsoft in Education

Hello leaders and learners!

Continuing my journey across Australia and capturing the voices, images and insights from some of our amazing Microsoft Innovative Expert Educations and the leaders in the inspiring Showcase Schools. If you haven’t been following my journey on twitter, might like to add @sparvell to your follows.

“Didn’t you used to be my Principal?”

Date: November 2014

Location: Immanuel College, Adelaide, South Australia

Distance from home: 13422 km, 8340 miles

Showcase School Principal, Kevin Richardson put down his Surface 3 Pro, provided me with a flattering his-res vest and hardhat and invited me in to the schools soon to be opened new learning space named the Margaret Ames Centre after, well, Margaret Ames.

Kevin and I had a really interesting walk and talk through this incredible, contemporary learning environment. Kevin mused on the challenges in relation to making choices about learning spaces or indeed, even technologies when people simply ‘don’t know what they don’t know’. He used a clever example, it went something like this…

“In early years people might’ve described what they need to get something done. They might say the need one cart with 4 wheels and two horses to pull it. What they really probably need is a car.”

As we toured this innovative learning space, I pondered about where I have sought advice as a school leader and whether the advice replicated existing paradigms or explored innovation solutions.

I enjoyed listening to Kevin discuss the ‘grappling with ideas’, exploring what ‘hasn’t been got right’ and where they have intentionally designed to fail.

There is much intent for success obvious in this space too . It was designed for about 500 students. From the materials used in the build, the shape and placement of furnishings, the careful consideration about Co2 levels and brain function, flexible indoor spaces and private courtyards, a celebration of natural light spills throughout.

As Kevin notes, the building itself does not create the learning space and once complete the next exciting challenge for staff, students led by Kevin, his leadership team and the soon-to-be-appointed Director Teaching and Learning will be to explore with their learners the possibilities and further iterations of this environment.

Kevin showed me the new technology in the boarding house after our visit to the Margaret Ames Centre. I was intrigued by the digital photo wall showing student movement which drew updates from the digitial check-in sysem. Kevin reached into the stream of students passing through, politely asking if she could show the visitor from Microsoft USA how the system worked. We looked at each other before she said

“You were my last Principal!”

Indeed I was, in another time, place and space! The world is definitely getting smaller.

Many thanks to ShowcaseSchool Principal Kevin Richardson and Microsoft Innovative Expert Educator Sherie Bennett for their time and inspiration.







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