Semester 1 in the Junior School and Gawura focused on getting things working better so that Learning Technologies could be used to enhance and enrich learning. Into semester 2, there is some real momentum being gained and we are happy with the progress that had been achieved. We look forward to reporting in again soon with examples of work.
Meetings and Infrastructure: term 1
Finding out the problems was an important first step so we could triage and move forward. There was an acknowledgement some IT structures were broken and needed to become more of a focus. This initially led to WiFi dead spots being repaired along with Interactive whiteboards and software.
As further testing was done it was decided that with such a focus on online access that the WiFi in the Junior School needed a massive overhaul. This overhaul was undertaken in the holidays at the end of Term 1 with WiFi access points and switches renewed and new WiFi points added to weak areas.
RESULT: Substantially faster and more reliable WiFi for the Junior School and Gawura.
iPads – iPad Sets and Apps:
iPads are essentially personal devices so there are challenges encountered with having them as shared devices. That said, it can be done! To get this working we needed to find how the iPads were being used, find out the problems that were being encountered, reassess the apps being used and get the iPad sets working for the classroom. A number of JS and Gawura staff worked with us in trying to get these class sets right.
– We have 4 powerful iPad sets running for the JS and 1 for Gawura. They will be refreshed and updated once a term at this stage unless there are problems.
– An initial staff PL session was held with the JS staff as we explored what was on the iPads.
– Sessions were held with JS classes to explore and introduce apps that make a huge impact.
Laptops and Desktop computers:
The aging fleet of laptop computers has been overhauled. Some Senior School laptops were transferred to the Junior School and poorly functioning laptops have been decommissioned! A number of JS staff worked on a wish list of what they wanted and IT worked to bring this about. The Junior school also received a number of new desktop computers in a number of locations.
– We have 48 functioning laptops split into 2 class sets on trolleys.
– There are 19 new iMac computers across the Junior School as well as all the new Library computers for staff wanting to book a class in.
Logins, email and Office365 Offerings!
Over the Christmas break, the IT team enabled Office365 for us to be able to save and access our files and folders online or from internet connected devices. This is a huge improvement for the school and it brings exciting options for learning. Most Junior School students had not accessed their accounts for computers in the school yet.
The trialing was done with year 5 and 6:
- They logged in for the first time with their school accounts.
- Then accessed Office365 (now via portal.office.com) and set up a folder in OneDrive (their online storage of files and folders)
- They created an online Word or online PowerPoint document and saw how it behaved in the browser.
- Then they shared this file with another user and collaborated with them. Powerful stuff!!!
- Students working in the software version of Word soon found that when they logged in to their account that they could save to their OneDrive!
For staff, information about OneDrive and Office365 was sent to staff along with K-12 help sessions to get staff using OneDrive for their personal files and folders. Follow-up sessions were then run for help one on one or in groups.
NOTE: OneDrive and Office365 are difficult on shared iPads as it is a personalised experience. Time needs to be allocated for logging on in a lesson and care has to be taken in making sure that they are logged out again at the end of the session.
RESULT: students and staff are able to save, access, share and collaborate with files and folders via any internet connection at school, at home and anywhere when connected to the internet.
Semester 2 and Beyond!
We look forward to Term 2 with lots planned to further enhance the use of technology in our classrooms. Currently, our focuses for the Junior School this term are:
- looking to build on the Office365 startup and get this working for us for all students and staff.
- roll out Schoology Learning Management system for years 5 and 6.
- setting up year and class blogs to showcase work that is being done and to reap the benefits of blogging.
- supporting and working with staff in Professional Learning and at the shoulder support especially to enhance options for creativity and design.
- and a few other fun bits and pieces!
It certainly has been a full on semester and things are feeling like they are really on track for a lot of fun and great learning ahead. We look forward to reporting back again soon. Stay Tuned!