The world of IT and education is one of infinite possibilities and a similar number of distractions. The same intersection is littered with opinions, often strongly held and the random application of facts and research.
It seems vitally important for a school or college to have and share a vision then to be open minded and flexible in fulfilling that vision. In the classroom our vision is clearly focused on how we can use and integrate technology to complement quality teaching and in turn afford students better learning opportunities.
The key attribute of our vision within and beyond the classroom is that IT is not being used for its own sake or for ulterior purposes. We believe that by keeping true to our vision and being open to development and change we can use IT to best meet the needs of our students.
Investment in Professional Development and Infrastructure
Staff are building an increasingly clear idea of how to use these powerful tools into the future and how they can add to their practice as teachers. IT in the Classroom has been one of our key professional learning areas for three years and will continue to do so for some time. The staff professional development has specially allocated IT support teachers and funds for further professional development.
Nelson College has first class IT infrastructure. It has an outstanding fibre internet connection, four full time IT staff and technicians, and a fully wireless campus capable of coping with heavy demand. We have two dedicated IT Computer Suites and specialist suites for Technology, Art (2), Media Studies, Commerce, Music and Mathematics. Every staff member has a laptop and every classroom a data projector. We view infrastructure as a case of continual improvement to keep in touch with the fast evolving environment.
We have decided to make the use of devices compulsory for our students in Year Nine and Ten in 2017. To enable a smooth transition we have decided to make staggered start to the programme. We would like Year Nine students to bring their devices to school beginning Week 2 of Term One and for Year Ten students to start bringing their devices on the first day of Term 2.
Our motivation is to enable their use in class and an increasingly smooth transition between school and home. It is also true that devices are becoming very powerful tools for work at home regardless of their usefulness at school. Collaborative work is regarded as one of the vital skills for the future and is one which is integral to our use of IT in the classroom and beyond. The IT department is continuing to find ways to improve connectivity and access to our networks.
We would strongly encourage senior students to bring their own devices to school as they wish and most importantly as it benefits their learning. Staff will increasingly encourage senior students to bring devices to school to fulfil specific purposes. For example, a unit of work may lend itself particularly well to the use of a device and so it would be beneficial for a student to bring a device to school for that unit. It is also possible that use of devices will vary widely.
Key BYOD dates for 2017
Year 9 begin Week Two Term One
Year 10 begin Week Two Term Two
Choosing a device is not easy however we offer the following thoughts. Laptops and similar are generally better tools than toys, and tablets would seem to be better toys than tools. In general we would consider smartphones to be largely impractical in an academic setting. The strength and design of the actual chassis is an important consideration in being transported and subject to heavy use. Battery life varies wildly but has a massive impact on the device effectiveness in the class. In making decisions it is important to be aware that our core software is Windows/ Microsoft based. Older hand me down devices present issues with connectivity and usually battery life. The school is considering how best to provide charging facilities as well as having devices to loan to those that cannot access their own. Some key considerations therefore are:
- Battery life
- Strong chassis
- A high quality screen
- Microsoft operability
Nominal charging facilities will be provided in the classroom and around the school. It is the general expectation of Nelson College that students have their devices fully charged in preparation for school each day.
See LAPTOP VS. SURFACE for more information on devices.
Laptop vs. Surface
Laptops make great learning tools with their higher performance levels that enable them to run educationally sound applications for music composition, graphics, and so on. The full keyboard also provides, students with an easier way to take notes and manage their work.
Pros: Video, camera, Internet browser, full keyboard, runs educational applications, mouse control
Cons: No handwriting recognition
Slate/Tablet PC with Keyboard and Pen
Tablet PCs such as a Microsoft Surface are fully featured for learning and they have the important extra ability of the digital pen. This opens up a whole range of pedagogical opportunities including writing chemical and mathematical formulae as well as Asian language characters. They can also jot notes that can be converted to text.
Pros: Video, camera, Internet browser, full keyboard, digital pen for handwriting input, runs, educational applications
Cons: Detachable accessories can get lost
See WHERE TO BUY for more information on devices.
Where to buy?
As a school we do not have a preference as to where you buy your device. However to make your life slightly easier when choosing a device we have partnered with Cyclone Computers to create a portal for purchasing devices, with a number of recommended devices. Please use the login details below to access the portal.
Students currently bring a number of expensive devices to school with only occasional issues with these devices. We are very much hoping the same will be true with computing devices. It is very important that students take responsibility for all valuable items. These issues among others will be covered through our Digital Citizenship unit. As always some lockers are available for students to secure their equipment.
Office 365 plus FREE Microsoft Office 2016
Microsoft Office 365 is a web-based version of Microsoft’s Office suite. Office 365 is accessible to students through the cloud, known as OneDrive, and includes Outlook Online for email, SharePoint Online for collaboration and the complete suite of Microsoft Office Web Applictions, such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote and more.
As a Nelson College student your son can download and run Office ProPlus for free on up to five computers and run Office Mobile for on their mobile device. All they need to do is login to their Office 365 account using their school email and password on their device and then follow the simple instructions.
Beyond the classroom our IT focus centres on enhancing our connection with the community and in using technology to make life easier. Nelson College has three cloud or internet-based services: Ultranet, KAMAR and Office 365. These programs allow for work of many sorts to be shared between home and school. In this situation devices at home will become increasingly useful and important.
Ultranet is the Learning Management System (LMS), which allows for an immersive online learning environment. Its core functionality includes virtual classrooms, an integrated parent portal, ePortfolios, safe social networking, SMS interoperability and more.
As parents are we required to purchase from the College’s Portal?
No, The Portal is a starting point for devices which are available, it is not intended as a one stop shop. All of the devices on the portal are capable of dealing with current expectations. If you would like to have a look around at other devices, just make sure you are not comparing apples with oranges.
How will devices be kept safe and secure?
The College has a number of lockers available for use during the year. Students need to contact the Finance Office at the beginning of the year to confirm this. The school has strategies to minimise risk but ultimately students are responsible for all of their belongings.
Are there any options for devices where families may not be able to afford them?
Most retailers have finance available however the College has a number of netbooks available to be used in class where needed, parents should approach the student’s teacher or dean about this.
What about Subjects such as Art and Graphics that require ‘high-end’ devices?
The school continues to provide high end desktop suites for subjects such as Art and Graphics.
How will students assure they have enough battery for an entire school-day?
Devices will not be used every lesson of everyday and modern devices do have good battery life. We will have some charging facilities in each class in cases where devices are running flat. It will become a new learning to charge their devices each night.
With devices now being compulsory why is there still the need for stationery?
As we are still transitioning into BYOD and the fact that a number tasks are still done better with a pen and paper than they are with a keyboard, the requirement for stationery will still exist for some time.
All departments have been asked to review their stationery requirements and as the transition is BYOD develops we envisage the stationery requirement lessening.