e-Learning in Action
In 2012 a decision was made for St Andrew’s College to launch a 1:1 computing programme in 2014, starting with the Year 9 Cohort. This decision represented a major departure from the traditional methods in which technology was used in classrooms and we believe creates exciting opportunities for learning in a digital environment. The initiative has been well-supported by parents and staff, which has been reiterated by staff blogs such as Sam McNeill's e-Learning Blog.
Whilst there will be a big change in the look and feel of those Year 9 classrooms as every student has a device, in many respects it will simply be the natural progression for teachers who are already using a wide range of ICT tools in their planning and teaching.
The blog, http://eblog.stac.school.nz/, aims to highlight some of those e-Learning stories and showcase some of the work that students have been producingand will be updated regularly.
Integrating e-Learning at St Andrew's College
After the introduction of 1:1 computing with the Year 9 class last year, 2015 welcomes a second cohort into the programme. This means a growing number of students with devices and greater use of technology within classrooms. “St Andrew’s College staff are excited to take advantage of this rapidly changing environment to better prepare our students for their world of tomorrow,” says Director of ICT Sam McNeill. “Many of our staff are keen to give it a go
, and our role is to support them to integrate technology authentically into the classroom.”
A number of initiatives have been undertaken as part of the College’s strategy to embrace 1:1 computing and maintain the momentum established last year. These include:
• The creation of an e-Learning Integrator role to support teachers and students to use technology more effectively in the classroom. The role is a logical extension of the 1:1 Computing Programme that was first planned in 2012.
• The hiring of an additional ICT help desk staff member – Brodie Dickinson joins the team from Adelaide, Australia and his appointment means there will always be quick and friendly ICT support for students and staff when they need it.
• A second fibre optic internet connection has been installed so that the College now has two diverse internet feeds available to ensure maximum speed and connectivity.
Tom Adams has been appointed as the e-Learning Integrator. He moves to the College from Christchurch Girls’ High School where he taught Geography, oversaw the development of a wired
and wireless infrastructure for the school, and developed the school’s Moodle site. At St Andrew’s, Tom will be teaching a Year 13 Geography class, but primarily will be supporting teachers with the integration of new learning technologies.
Sam says a goal of the e-Learning Integrator role was to increase the number of the College staff that are early adopters of technology and best practice in the classroom. Recently Year 11 Dean and English teacher, Jacqueline Yoder, and Maths teacher Ben Hilliam were recognised as Microsoft Innovative Educators for 2015 – two of only nine teachers selected from the whole of New Zealand. “St Andrew’s is being recognised externally for their innovative teaching practices. We are getting requests from a wide range of educational institutions and organisations to facilitate professional development in e-Learning.”
Tom says he’ll be working one-on-one with staff – his goal is to talk to every teacher by the end of Term 2 – as well as having group sessions and drop-in lunchtimes. “There are definitely some common themes emerging of what people need help with. My aim is to get more cross-department communication happening so that staff talk more to each other about what they are doing. Sharing successes and challenges is a great incentive to encouraging other teaching staff to give it a go.” He says it’s exciting to see teachers growing in confidence as their capability increases.
This year the ICT team is expecting increased usage of the Microsoft Surface Pro 3 tablet, OneNote Class NoteBook Creator, which has introduced the ability to have multiple teachers sharing a Class Notebook, Moodle and Skype.
A number of classes are enjoying the fun of Mystery Skype sessions, most recently to an international school in Russia. A Year 6 teacher is experimenting with augmented reality tools that will create a new library experience for students.
Regardless of the advances of technology however, Sam says it’s important never to lose sight of the fact that it’s the teacher, not the technology that makes the difference.
“Technology should not be used at all costs. We are not trying to shoehorn it into the classroom, but want to integrate it authentically into the learning process.” He adds that good use of technology is about enabling teaching and learning to happen more efficiently.