The debate on 1:1November 2011
Four schools have their say on the issue of compulsory devices for students.
Orewa College – Kate Shevland, Principal
Our requirement is for year 9 students to have their own 1:1 device for 2012. Why now? Why this step? Why year 9? Like many schools, we have encouraged our students to bring laptops or netbooks to school. The take-up has not given us the critical mass needed to change the way students learn and the way teachers teach. We don’t want a digital version of what already happens. We have seen primary schools where the use of laptops or tablets has very effectively enhanced independent learning, full engagement and differentiated curriculum pathways. This is what we want in our classrooms. We have noted reports, for example from the New Zealand Institute, the OECD, and the Boston Consulting Group this year on engaging students through IT. We are part of Farnet, a virtual learning network, and our students are accustomed to learning in this way. We are now fully wireless-capable and have UFB. So, time to move.
We ran several meetings for our 2011 year 8 parents, as we are a year 7–13 school. We engaged the support of Massey University to monitor and evaluate the ‘1:1 device’ programme. We published information for our school community, organised various purchase options for parents, and selected our year 9 teachers for next year so that training could begin. We chose year 9 because students move from room to room then. Year 7 or 8 would have been easier in our homeroom environment but we needed it to work in a secondary model.
Staff involved have iPads, meet at least weekly after school for collaborative sharing or external expertise. Students and staff have workshopped protocols for the practical use of one-to-one devices in the classroom.
Feedback, despite an initial media blitz, has been overwhelmingly positive. We have had businesses offering deals, schools wishing to collaborate with us, and IT people providing input. While we expect that students from all year levels will bring devices next year, many of them iPads, our pedagogical change is focused on year 9. We expect that with sufficient IT infrastructure, access, portability and staff readiness, we will begin to realise the full potential for student learning.
Queen Margaret College – Richard Knuckey, Head of ICT
Queen Margaret College is an independent girls’ school (years 1–13) located in central Wellington. 2011 is the first year of implementation of a 1:1 laptop programme starting with years 6, 7 and 8 girls. Years 9 and 10 students will come on board over the next two years, with seniors using a computing device of their choice to connect to the school network.
Designed to complement the curriculum and ensure girls develop appropriate computer literacy skills for the fast-paced learning environment of the 21st century, the programme is compulsory. Each student has a uniform machine and image. From a management perspective, the rationale behind this was to enable seamless automatic connection to the school domain, and provide access to network drives, easy printing, and the monitoring of computer usage of students on the network.
From a teaching and learning perspective, it means that all teachers can plan their lessons, comfortable in the knowledge that access to the required hardware, software, and online resources would be the same for each student, and lessons wouldn’t be held up with one-off troubleshooting situations.
The laptops used in the programme were selected on the basis of performance, price, light weight, and battery life. All girls have a secure locker and the bag chosen is sufficiently small to fit inside a school backpack. Upon lengthy consultation with all learning areas in the school, a uniform image was developed by the school’s ICT technical team. This includes an extensive and diverse range of software with application across the entire curriculum. An induction programme was run by the school’s head of e-learning, Richard Knuckey, at the start of the year, with ongoing support provided through an on-site ICT help desk.
Students have benefited greatly from the 1:1 programme. Having access to a wide range of learning and research materials online, student engagement in lessons is increased, there is greater scope for differentiated learning and students are more creative in the ways they present their learning using written, audio, or visual means.
Students have gained a marked increase in IT competency, specifically pertaining to general use and care of a computer as well as familiarity with Windows and Microsoft software, internet safety and ethics, web 2.0 tools, and general computer trouble-shooting.
One development has been the use of e-portfolios using Microsoft OneNote. This has been a great tool for both teachers and students, providing students with a one-stop portfolio for all their subjects. It also allows teachers to provide feedback at any time to any assignment without the need to collect in books or paper. It enables students to take away a digital folio comprised of multiple media resources of their year’s learning and reflection. The development of both teacher and student e-portfolios using OneNote will be a focus during 2012.
The 1:1 laptop programme so far has been a great success. As the nature of IT changes, the way Queen Margaret College uses it to enhance teaching and learning will no doubt change as well.
Rangi Ruru Girls’ School – Julie Moor, Principal
Rangi Ruru was one of the first New Zealand schools to connect to the internet and offer this tool to support teaching and learning, socialising and collaboration in and outside the classroom. Today, Rangi Ruru provides a wide range of technology including a substantial wired and wireless network, across the school campus. It is not compulsory for Rangi Ruru students to have a particular, or any, digital device
I have no doubt that in time – and probably not that long – as it becomes increasingly useful and convenient, the majority of the girls will have a device with them, but we have not yet reached that time and we do not want to mandate something that the research does not support as being essential when girls have access, on a need-to-use basis, to a wide range of devices.
Rangi Ruru’s IT philosophy has always been that as a school we will provide ubiquitous technology, and where a specific device is preferable, that is what we provide. Clearly it would reduce our capital expenditure considerably if we simply said every girl was to bring her own, but we believe it is better to have a kind of guided evolution, allowing people to make choices but providing support, skills and encouragement.
At last year’s prizegiving, I suggested parents consider a device such as laptop, netbook or iPad for their daughter, and since then we have actively encouraged girls to use such devices in their learning. Some do. Some prefer not to. In some classes such a device is an integral part of the learning while in others it is far from essential. The use of technology, while requiring planning and staff development, is something that constantly evolves.
In the meantime we ensure that the skills required to work with a range of devices are covered, so that our students have the capacity to confidently use whatever is required for their learning and living.
We do believe it is essential that students remain able to handwrite clearly, confidently and quickly. Handwriting is not going away! Examinations are still, in the main, handwritten, and this is likely to remain the situation in the foreseeable future, apart from provision for students who require special conditions. Handwriting is a skill that remains important for our students, just as increasingly their digital development is a vital part of learning.
As in most schools, our students are far more digitally capable in some areas than their teachers or parents and are aware of the capabilities that technology has to support and enhance their learning. This capability is one of the greatest changes and challenges education has seen.
As a school we intend to maximise and grow this capability, but we also recognise that change that involves ‘guided evolution’ rather than being forced is far more effective. We want to be able to support and engage every learner, from the high-end technology user to the girl who likes to mix and match, and we will continue to work on ways to make it easy and productive for girls to use their devices, whatever they are, creatively, authentically and productively to support and enhance their learning.
Te Aroha College – Troy Smith, Head of ICT
Te Aroha College is a small decile 4 country town school serving a community of around 4000. The college is located at the southern end of the Hauraki Plains and has a roll of 360 students, 85 of whom are currently in year 9. The college’s total computer count is currently around 300, with roughly two thirds available for student use.
Te Aroha College has an extensive ICT network that is in continual development, with well-resourced ICT rooms and wider network. This year the college installed a third ICT suite and third set of Computers on Wheels (COWs). Seven years ago, the school invested in gigabit fibre, allowing the spread of workstations and wireless into remote classroom blocks. The COWs are Acer Windows 7 devices and join to the recently upgraded Ruckus Wireless network. The college has seven 7962 access points (APs), all controlled centrally by a zone director, and expects to purchase five additional APs in the next six months to have total coverage amongst the buildings, allowing seamless roaming around the school.
All teaching staff at Te Aroha are supplied with TELA laptops, fully funded by the board of trustees, and each classroom has a dedicated teacher workstation linked to a projector and sound system. This allows easy access to Moodle, Kamar and Clickview by full-time and relieving staff alike.
The college has a vision of 1:1 computing and full integration of the SMS and LMS into their website, allowing the entire community access to the classroom, college culture and achievements. The college would like to see each student with a portable web-enabled device, but does not expect parents to pay for this and the college will not be providing it.
At Te Aroha, no technology ownership is compulsory. However, it is expected that students supply calculators; if they cannot, then the school will supply these for them. Te Aroha’s policy is that a family’s financial situation should not affect their children’s learning. Students who do own laptops or iPads are allowed to use them in class where appropriate and can join them onto the school wireless network. Mobile devices are however not to be seen or heard, in or out of class, unless permission is specifically expressed by the teacher for pedagogical reasons. The college endeavours to provide realistic ICT solutions that cater to the learning needs of individuals and provide the teaching solutions required by their teachers, and is currently developing an ICT sustainability plan to forecast future repairs, maintenance and developments.
Technology in the classroom is a catalyst for learning and the multimedia lifestyle today’s digital native students have outside school dictates that a digital approach to teaching needs to be used. The very few studies that show technology in the classroom to have a negative effect on learning notwithstanding, without proper management every teacher is aware of what a distraction this can become.