“Between flipped learning and supporting a ubiquitous learning environment, mobile devices are only going to become more involved in every day classroom practice.” – Lucas Moffitt, Australia

Lucas Moffitt may have created The Teacher Collection, a series of connected apps for teachers and students, in his spare time, but he’s dead-serious about the role he can play in transforming the education status quo. Moffitt’s apps, which are built for Windows 8, have garnered both attention and awards in his native Australia.

Moffitt knew early on that he wanted to help drive changes in education, and he’s found a unique way to combine his dual degrees in education and technology to do just that. He says, “Teachers can be creatures of habit, and in my experience once a process or procedure is established there’s very little chance of it being revisited due to time, cost and effort constraints.” But Moffitt was able to work past that challenge. “Examining these processes from an external point of view has allowed me to create digital appliances that allow those processes to move away from traditional pen and paper routines (one example being Lesson Plans), and instead be managed digitally. This introduces a whole new level of collaboration, feedback and assessment all done in the cloud, available when you need it.”

Moffitt’s first app, WordFiller, was designed to improve the interactive whiteboard experience. He’s also developed Sort It, which allows the teacher to map processes, recipes, instructions and cycles into complex list items that require students to correctly arrange and complete where required. According to Moffitt, “This is ideal for helping teach anything from safety processes, cooking recipes and even assessing students’ knowledge of a prescribed text.”

Other practical Teacher Collection apps enable teachers to build and manage lesson plans, create detailed seating assignments, manage assessment tasks and map to curriculum standards. And he’s even built a resource-sharing site to help teachers make the most of the apps. Today, for Windows 8 Wednesday, innovative programmer Lucas Moffitt shares what inspires him and how his tools can help improve teachers’ day-to-day routines. Enjoy!

What drew you to the field of education? Why is it important to you?

During year 11 and 12 at school, I had a different combination of excellent teachers, and terrible teachers. I was frustrated by the curriculum, the learning environment, the outdated content, and the archaic modes of delivery and knew I could do better. After spending a year after high school sorting out exactly how I was going to achieve this, I decided the best way to change things was from the inside. The year after I was accepted into a double degree of Education and Design and Technology.

Please describe how your professional achievements have advanced innovation in education.  What has changed as a result of your work?

At the end of my degree, I decided that while teaching students is a very large component of education, there are other areas I can contribute to that can have similar immediate results within the classroom. Reflecting on the experience I had as a learner proved that I didn’t have to be in a classroom to address some of those issues. By creating software and tools for educators, I can help empower them to create a ubiquitous digital learning environment, which works together with the students to facilitate academic growth, in addition to checking the mandated boxes of the education departments.

How can your work benefit teachers?

I’ve had a lot of teachers point-blank say, “So what?” And it’s a valid question, but those are the teachers who carry boxes and boxes of papers around, misplace items of work and prepare lessons as they’re walking to the classroom. The expectations of teachers within the community has changed, as well as the technology available to them. Those who don’t embrace it will be unable to keep up with their students who are already using the next generation of technology.

In your view, what is the most exciting innovation happening in education today?

The inclusion of mobile devices in the classroom, tablets and smart phones are changing the classroom paradigm just by existing. Between flipped learning and supporting a ubiquitous learning environment, mobile devices are only going to become more involved in every day classroom practice.

Is there a 21st century skill (critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, or creativity and innovation) that you are most passionate about? Why?

My Design and Technology degree has really highlighted how problem-solving really is one of the most important abilities our future students need to be equipped with. Life in general isn’t meant to be easy, but being able to address, resolve and move on from a problem (in any situation) is critical to both self-development and sociological development.

If you could give one educational tool to every child in the world, what would it be? Why?

It’s a difficult question because on one hand, I would love to see every student with a touch-enabled notebook, but on the other hand the greatest tool students could use is understanding. So many students I know would benefit far more from understanding the importance of what it is they’re doing, and how important it is to study and work hard in any academic setting.

What is your country doing well currently to support education?

At the moment, the Australian Government is exploring the Gonski Report and has recommended significant changes that could see Australia as a top academic performer.

How must education change in your country/region to ensure that students are equipped to thrive in the 21st century?

I think education as a whole is heading roughly in the right direction; it can use some guidance here and there, but it’ll get there eventually. However, I think society has taken a backward step in regards to the value of education and the importance of teachers. In an environment where I had personally made phone calls to parents about their child’s progress and behavior, to be met with “I don’t care,” shows that the problem isn’t always at school. I think this comic says it best.

About Lucas Moffitt

  • Birthplace: Newcastle, Australia
  • Current residence: Newcastle, Australia
  • Education: B.Education/B.Design & Technology (IT/Engineering)
  • Website I check every day: Reddit.com
  • Person who inspires me most: Anyone who’s ever achieved their own goals.
  • Favorite childhood memory: Being chased by blood thirsty geese when walking near a duck pond.
  • Next travel destination (work or pleasure): Sweden/Europe in general.
  • When was the last time you laughed? Why? Just then, thinking about aerial death chasing me around a park.
  • Favorite book: Everything from Oprah’s book club. Jokes aside, probably anything from Stephen Leather.
  • Favorite music: Everything EXCEPT for country and/or western, as well as anything that could be under the “Aussie Hip Hop” banner.
  • What is the best advice you have ever received? “Don’t touch that, you’ll die!” – Industrial Design Tutor.
  • Your favorite quote or motto: “Nooooooooooooooo!” – Darth Vader.
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