|E-learning at Western Springs College|
In the light of the recent NZ Herald article (24/010/15) focusing on BYOD and the issue of recommended suppliers ( See www.nzherald.co.nz/ byod), it seems useful to clarify the situation at Western Springs College for families in our school community.
At this stage WSC does not require students to bring their own devices – that is, they are not required to do their learning and their school work on their own device.
Access to course requirements is provided to all students through an individual log-on to the school network. Through Google Apps for Education (WSC is a GAFE school) students have an email on the school domain which they are required to monitor and through which they can gain access to a range of collaborative tools in the Google environment. All students store their work online (on the cloud) and are able to access it 24/7.
The setting of virtually all student assignment work in the collaborative Google environment allows students to seek teacher feedback during the assignment completion process, resulting in higher quality learning outcomes. In 2015, WSC is extending this process by using Google Classroom.
WSC provides all students with access to class sets of netbooks. Additionally, there is dedicated student access to computers in specialist curriculum areas, such as Media Studies, Art, Technology and Music, both during timetabled lessons and after school. During school hours and after school students also have access to computer facilities in the Library, the Learning Centre, the Careers Centre and on the marae.
In our January mail-out last week parents were advised that Year 12 and 13 students will find it helpful to have a device which can be used for research and writing. To date, all Year 12 and 13 students have been able to connect to the school network on any device; 2015 will see this access extended to Year 11 students, thereby encompassing the entire senior school. Most students currently use their smartphones to access their email, which has become a primary communication tool between students and teachers concerning assessment tasks.
A new initiative this year is active, staff-wide engagement in Google Classroom, enabling teachers and students to have a one-stop shop to manage all of their work on Google Drive.
The WSC E-learning lead team plans to initiate a review of the case for a more formal BYOD policy during the year ahead. The near complete reliance on especially senior students having some access to devices for monitoring email and accessing shared resources in Google Classroom and on the internet is one factor compelling such a review. The prospect then becomes a more uniform application of the school’s ICT resources by staff, and consequently a school-wide commitment to a period of intensive professional development to carry out the change effectively.
Parents and students are welcome to contact our ELearning director, David Okey (firstname.lastname@example.org) if they have any queries about current practice or the direction in which WSC is heading in relation to optimum student use of ICT tools for learning.