Over the last 5 years, Baradene College has moved from offering computers in labs and a few specialist classes to a 1:1 environment where all Y7-10 students have a device to use in each lesson
On the first day of school this year all Year 7 – 10 students were asked to come to school with a device. In 2013 our Year 9 students were asked to bring the HP Envy x2 to school as a trial. The trial taught us some valuable lessons and we felt confident that we could expand this program to include all 2014 Year7 – 9 students. Towards the end of 2013 we reviewed a number of devices and found that the Surface Pro 2 met all our requirements. Not only is it a tablet that has a detachable keyboard, it is light, runs Windows 8, it also comes with a stylus which we felt was very important for our students. The stylus enables the student to choose between typing and writing on the screen and is especially useful in Mathematics and Science. We met with our parent community towards the end of 2013 and shared information about the journey we had been on to bring us to a point where our network could sustain students bringing a device and the progress of our staff Professional Learning and Development (PLD) over the past 5 years. We explained why we believed the Surface Pro 2 was the device of choice and how they could go about purchasing the product. We were ready for the next stage and are confident that our students will benefit hugely from the ICT journey we are continuing on.
We use Ultranet as our Learning Management System and our school website. We have included the link to the KAMAR parent portal on the front page of our website so that parents can access the College calendar, information about their daughters learning and progress. On our ICT support page we have placed resources that help students connect to our wireless, print from their device to any photocopier in the college, download the Mathematics Vital Source textbook, links to typing tutor websites, instructions on how to download Office, install AGV virus protection and information about DNA marking security tracking. On our website, we have also included information and tips for parents about cyber safety and keeping their children safe online.
Under the schools licencing agreement all Baradene students are entitled to download a free copy of the Microsoft Office on up to 5 devices. Within the first days in a Year 7 – 10 assembly students were shown, how to log in to their Office 365 accounts and install the Office suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote etc.). At the same time they were shown how to: • create folders for each learning areas in their SkyDrive Pro accounts (Soon to be called OneDrive). • the difference between opening a Web App document or opening a local copy on their device. We have encouraged them to use SkyDrive Pro to store all their documents so that they can share their work with their peers or their teachers and access their work from any device (both at the college and at home?). Students have already started collaborating and have quickly realised that the possibilities are endless. • OneNote (part of the Office suite) has been a very popular learning tool with staff and students alike because it allows students to include information in a number of formats. They can add sound/video recordings to their OneNote pages, include written text, imbed pictures from websites and snip images from their screen. They often take photos of the work the teacher has done on the board and include that in their OneNote document along with their own notes and resources.
This year we have changed our timetable structure to include Digital Literacy so that all Year 7 and Year 8 students can complete the Microsoft IT Academy Microsoft Office Suite (MOS) qualification. The Microsoft IT Academy includes training and certification in a number of Microsoft products, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and OneNote. Teachers teaching the course have created courses through the IT Academy website and place the hyperlink of these courses on their Digital Literacy class pages on Ultranet. Once students click on this link they are taken to their IT Academy courses and start their training via the portal. When students have completed their course they will be shown how to access GMetirx software where they will complete a formative assessment and once proficient they will sit the Examination. IT Academy courses have also been created for Y9 to 13 students and our staff. They are free to complete the training in their own time and will be given the opportunity to complete the examinations and gain this world recognised qualification.
Our library runs a digital footprint program for all students starting with our Year 7 and 8 classes. Cyber safety and cyber bulling are hot topics and students are given strategies to stay safe on line. Our cyber safety use agreement, which all students sign before they join our college, is discussed at some length. This goes hand in hand with a talk which will be given by our community constable at our assembly, on cyber safety.
On Friday mornings we run staff Professional Development sessions. Each faculty has appointed a Faculty Lead Person (FLP) that supports the faculty in their ICT learning. FLP’s offer workshops on a Friday morning and staff use OneNote to sign up to the workshops. Workshops include, OneNote navigation and use in class, Excel formulas and quick tips, Word for teacher, using USpace on Ultranet, Creating Ultranet pages, uploading surveys to Ultranet, KAMAR 101, Windows 8 basics, SkyDrive Pro, e-TV, exploring the Widows 8 app store, PowerPoint basics, Photoshop and Office 365 Basics. These workshops will run for a number of weeks and will be adapted to suit the needs and requests of the staff.
Last year we were granted Microsoft Mentor school status. Mentor schools are recognized leaders who have achieved change within their own education systems. To be considered for Mentor status, schools must demonstrate a commitment to innovation and the ability to overcome obstacles in preparing students to be 21st century learners. In addition, schools must have developed programs that can serve as models for other schools. A benefit of being a mentor school is participation in leadership workshops and collaboration with other school leaders worldwide at the Partners in learning Global Forum in Barcelona. Three staff members: Paula Swan, Hannah Dhanaraj and I attended this Forum in March and have brought back a plethora of knowledge to share with the staff.
We recently ran a parent information evening where we showed our parents what is happening in the classroom and how the device is supporting and enhancing the learning for our students. Parents were given information on how they support their daughters at home and shown how to access the Microsoft family safety support. Before the evening parents were surveyed and asked what they would like covered at this evening and the program was structured around answering the most frequently asked questions. A booklet was also compile that contains these questions and answers so that parents can refer to this as they see fit. Parents were directed to our website and shown how to access resources as they learn with their daughters and undertake the next steps.
The journey has been rewarding, exciting and challenging. We continually learn as we go, improving on what we have done, remembering that our primary goal is to enhance the teaching and learning experience of our students. As staff we are very grateful for the support of our parent community and our Board of Trustees.