Curtain Call: E2 sets the stage for an international production

Deanne Joosten, Head of eLearning at Phoenix P-12 Community College, is a ‘passionate drama teacher at heart’, but has recently discovered an equally strong passion for IT and empowering her peers to use technology in the classroom in more meaningful ways.

Over the last eighteen months, Deanne has been exposed to the world of Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Experts – a global community and program of educators who work closely with Microsoft to drive technology innovation.

“The Expert Educator program has been an incredible experience and has allowed me to grow so much professionally. From the way I use technology in my own classroom, to the way I expand my knowledge, enabling me to support other teachers and pass on what I’ve learnt,” said Deanne.

Over recent years, Deanne’s focus has been on providing students in rural communities with the opportunity to participate in Virtual VCE Drama classes. Late last year, Deanne expanded on this, by embarking on a Trans-Tasman Skype production with Kerikeri High School in New Zealand. Bridget Crooks, drama teacher at Kerikeri, who is also in the Expert Educator program, approached Deanne to partake in a unique and creative concept. With about six weeks of rehearsals complete, they were ready for curtain call.  

“The Expert Educator program has been an incredible experience and has allowed me to grow so much professionally. From the way I use technology in my own classroom, to the way I expand my knowledge, enabling me to support other teachers and pass on what I’ve learnt.”

The Skype production titled ‘Songologues’, comprising of monologues created from iconic song lyrics, saw 20 students across both Australia and New Zealand perform simultaneously via Skype, to a live audience of nearly 100 people.

“The feedback from both students and parents was awesome, and many said that Skype has certainly made the world a much smaller place. They love that the students had the opportunity to make many new friends in New Zealand, which wouldn’t have otherwise been possible without this project.”

Deanne believes there is great potential to make the production even bigger and better in 2016, and take it even further than New Zealand. As an Expert Educator, Deanne has had the chance to connect with other brilliant educators from both Australia and New Zealand, and hopes to expand on this in coming months.  

This year, Deanne has been selected as one of four educators, who have been invited to Educator Exchange (E2) in Budapest, on March 8, 9 and 10 – an annual event that brings together 300 of the most innovative educators and students from around the world.

“Budapest will provide me with the chance to meet educators from around the globe – and that’s a very exciting prospect, because who knows what doors that could open for me and my students.”

“Having the opportunity to go to E2 in Budapest will allow me to build on my expertise and passionate about teaching with technology. This year I’m presenting at various conferences in Australia, empowering teachers to confidently and efficiently embrace technology in the classroom. Budapest will provide me with the chance to meet educators from around the globe – and that’s a very exciting prospect, because who knows what doors that could open for me and my students.” 

“The Expert Educator program has been great in terms of my professional development and growth, with constant opportunity and inspiration at my fingertips. I still love teaching drama, but now I also teach two IT classes each week. I love that I’ve been given the chance to expand my skill set, and most importantly, I now have the confidence to tackle things I may not have had the confidence to do two years ago.”

“I truly believe that sharing resources and building capacity are two of the most powerful things I can do as a teacher.”

Deanne is also looking to start an online network for drama teachers all around the world, allowing teachers to collaborate, and share online resources to drive technology innovation in the classroom.

“I truly believe that sharing resources and building capacity are two of the most powerful things I can do as a teacher. As educators, it’s important that we celebrate a love for learning, and the Expert Educator program provides me with a powerful platform to do this,” concluded Deanne.

To learn more about the Expert Educator program, including how to become one! Visit:  https://www.microsoft.com/en-au/education/educators/miee/default.aspx