The STILE Education Platform communicates the lessons of science in a cool kid dialect
22 Apr 2020
In times of uncertainty, good news stories that trickle down from challenges are the things that keep us moving. All schools across the country have been gearing up for a new future of teaching and learning, as the COVID-19 pandemic response globally has forced us and our kids to retreat behind doors. We hope these days of isolation will be short-lived.
Our teachers have been undertaking high-speed adaptations of the curriculum for a new style of learning. Front of mind, as always, has been ensuring the local students across the SISP network are armed with the best tools to continue to kick goals despite the new challenges being thrown their way. To that end, a good news story emerged this week which highlights our principle of partnerships in teaching and learning.
Our SISP Riverina STEM Project Officer, Ian Preston has been travelling across the Riverina over the last several weeks to showcase an incredible online science learning platform that has proven popular with students, and is highly regarded by educators who have adopted the resource over the last twelve months - STILE.
The STILE Education Platform comes to our students from possibly the highest developmental pedigree – it was developed by Dr Alan Finkel, Australia’s Chief Scientist, and was backed in by the CSIRO in 2016 for its teaching approach that communicates the lessons of science in a “cool kid” dialect.
In 2019 Ian negotiated free access to STILE for the SISP Program that fed into Murrumbidgee Regional High School (MRHS) Griffith and Wade sites, and the feeder primary schools to MRHS Griffith and Wade Sites. The overwhelming success of the platform during the free access/trial led to MRHS purchasing a subscription in 2020.
Feedback in the 2019 trial was that the teachers appreciated the quality of the lesson content and the kids loved it. “Students at Murrumbidgee were instantly impressed with the methods of learning Science topics through the STILE platform.”
“Education that impresses kids is not a trivial thing these days – if the kids buy into a program and relate to the lessons being handed to them, we are half-way to a win for our students meeting the outcomes of the curriculum,” Ian said.
Due to the SISP Program expanding in the Riverina in 2020 to include schools in the Leeton area, Ian approached STILE again to see if they would offer another trial for these new to experience STILE. STILE agreed with a free trial until the end of term 2, 2020. The winning factor, he said, was its easy online delivery mode. Today, that is more important than ever.
Many schools in the Riverina, among some of the most remote schools in the State, have seized the opportunity and have embedded the six-month trial in their curriculums for Stages 3 through 5. Schools include: Goolgowi, Griffith East and North Primary Schools, Leeton High School, Parkview Public School, Leeton Public School, Binya Public School, Lake Wyangan Public School, Tharbogang Public School, where the kids are revelling in the online learning platform.
Principal of Parkview Public School, Travis Irvin was an early adopter of the platform after hearing the successes at Murrumbidgee and has shared the experiences of STILE as a highly relevant and engaging tool for delivery and uptake of Science-based learning for his Stage 2 and 3 educators and students.
"From a teacher's perspective, the use of STILE in our classrooms brings a versatile and engaging complementary teaching tool to hook the modern learner. The interactive screen-based activities that feature an array of multi-modal texts makes for a dynamic learning experience and excites kids.
“Students take control of their learning through interaction and this facilitates independent engagement. From a planning perspective, the depth of content and the easy to use structure means that individual student experiences can be easily differentiated to point of need and understanding, ranging from Stage 2 capability and older,” said Travis.
Ian Preston says the real acorn to the story is the STILE platforms ‘bonus’ content that is rarely found in other forms of curriculum delivery platforms.
“Today, future-focused learning is key for inspiring regional and rural students to dream big and aspire to further learning opportunities and goals that generations before them didn’t imagine,” he says.
“This is fundamental to the SISP overall.”
Head of Teaching and Learning at STILE, Jackie Rooney, agrees that the platform is ideal to meet the added challenges of accessible resources for rural and remote students. She says
“STILE has been used successfully by a number of distance-education schools across Australia and New Zealand for years.
“The collaborative tools and ability to provide real-time feedback ensures that students remain engaged and connected with their peers and teacher, both particularly important factors to support students during this time.”
In a positive and relevant twist, the STILE platform has a module on the Coronavirus to empower students to understand the disease, its history and the current epidemiology. All modules can be delivered in true online modules to support the current remote-schooling context.
“This platform allows our students to maintain access to the essentials of remote science learning, they are connecting in the home to real-world content, they are understanding their environment in meaningful ways – this is going to help them enormously after the COVID-19 pandemic; they’ll have heightened literacy on current affairs that some other students may not be exposed to in a typical learning setting.”
For more information on the STILE platform and SISP integration of this tool, contact Ian Preston on firstname.lastname@example.org.
STEM Industry School Partnerships
c/o Cessnock High School