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Case Study

Tapping Primary School Ignites Creativity

By Apple, Case Study, Education No Comments

Technology within the school

 

Tapping Primary School has developed a comprehensive and integrated approach to incorporate technologies within the curriculum. As part of their plan, six years ago the school decided to use iPads as the primary device for their students, and they haven’t looked back.

Solutions IT has been instrumental in the success of their program. As their IT integrator, they visit the school weekly, introduce new tools and systems, and regularly meet with leadership to consult on the future and role of the technology in the school.

Which device?

 

After the research was done, this was as simple question for the school to answer. “The most compelling aspect of iPad was the vast array of educational apps” says Sue Zemke, Digital Technologies Coordinator.

 

“We saw early on that students had the ability to be really creative, and the choices were endless. They weren’t playing games; they were creating – and that was very important to us. We could instantly see the potential with iPad”

 

The App Store has over 180,000 iPad apps from education software developers. Using the apps and advanced built‑in technologies that iPad has, students have the power to create anything they dream up; they can take an idea and instinctively run with it.

“For example, the class may have a project on birds. They can research on the device. One group may decide to showcase their work using Book Creator, another using Keynote or Powerpoint. The discovery process may be similar, but how the students express what they have learnt is vast.”

 

How are they managed?

 

The school has over 300 ipads and 750 students, so the iPads must be shared from class to class. “Last year Solutions IT introduced us to Jamf School. This enables us to keep track of managed devices, users and apps. We can see the status of devices quickly and easily, and identify issues for remediation.” Says Sue.

Using Jamf School with the shared iPad technology from Apple has enabled multiple students to use the same iPad while ensuring a personal learning experience and keeping each student’s data separate and secure.

Prior to Jamf School, Sue spent much of her time in the comms room ensuring that the technology was deployed well and ready for each new class. “It wasn’t always the best use of my time”.

 

“Now I spend a fraction of my time in the comms room, it’s fantastic! It means I have way more time to teach”

 

App management has never been easier, “We can easily allocate apps to specific year levels. It just makes accessibility easy”.

 

Intuitive technology for engaged learning

 

“iPad gives our students much more fun in gathering the information they need, and a much greater variety of ways to express themselves. They instinctively know what to do”, says Sue.

 

With iPad students have a choice on how they will respond to a piece of work, they can be creative and collaborative. With this comes a huge sense of ownership and engagement.

 

“The students’ creativity is unleashed. We see it every day”

 

In recent times, Solutions IT has arranged professional learning for our staff and through them we have also been invited to several Apple creativity workshops. Using iPad with the PL available paired with infrastructure and support provided by Solutions IT, we know that this is the right technology for our school, and our students.

Blazing Fast Wireless

By Apple, Case Study, Wireless No Comments

St Simon Peter Catholic Primary School | Wireless-as-a-Service (WaaS)

 

Over the past few years, St Simon Peter Catholic Primary School has seen an exponential increase of wireless devices within the school and as the school prepared to roll out a 1:1 device initiative, they needed to address some of their connectivity issues.

 

Struggling Under The Pressure

 

Although the school has a fast and capable internet connection, the aging wireless infrastructure paired with the growing number of devices was no longer delivering an acceptable level of connectivity. Regular OS and Application updates, and consistent access to cloud-based data meant that the network frequently ground to a halt. Whole staff Professional Development (PD) days in the main hall completely disrupted the network, leaving the staff unable to use their devices throughout the day.

 

“The network infrastructure struggled under pressure and as a result the wireless connection regularly dropped out. Put simply, too many devices and not enough access.” Ashlee Dale, Technologies Coordinator explains.

 

Solutions IT performed a wireless audit throughout the campus including RF Spectrum analysis and predictive planning based on the expected number of devices and type of usage in each area of the school. This was used to plan the correct number and placement of wireless access points in order to meet the school’s coverage and capacity requirements.

 

Blazing Fast Wireless

Within a week, the aging wireless access points were replaced with the new hardware. “The deployment was a seamless experience and now we have a network that can efficiently handle updates, downloads, steaming services and uploads, without interrupting the students’ learning experience. We have now seen a shift in the use of learning spaces and environments, with classes utilising outdoor spaces, while maintaining wireless connectivity, to enhance the students’ learning. Our two 1:1 device year levels can also enjoy the full functionality of their device in real-time.”

 

 

The WaaS Offering

 

Solutions IT’s WaaS offering proactively monitors the schools infrastructure and wireless network. In addition to this they provide useful tools such as traffic shaping and firewall inclusions. For example, if NAPLAN testing is required to be run, and the school wants to limit bandwidth usage of non-essential applications, rules can be applied to limit the amount of bandwidth given to Video/Streaming type applications, thus giving priority to those devices conducting the testing.

Should the school require specific firewall rules to block inappropriate activities such as gaming sites, this can easily be applied to ensure better utilisation of the wireless network.

 

On top of the analysis, improved security and scalability, WaaS offers schools a fixed price, low monthly payment plans, and can eliminate ongoing associated hardware and software costs.

 

For more information about Wireless as a Service (Waas) contact sales@solutionsit.com.au or 08 6241 2550

What primary school teachers love about using Vivi

By Case Study, Latest News, Wireless No Comments

 

Advances in educational technology are opening up more and more opportunities to engage students in innovative and collaborative learning experiences. In many primary schools, this starts from the first day of Foundation, with teachers using screens and projectors to lead activities, and students navigating their way through iPad apps. For kids in the later years of primary school, the use of technology gets more sophisticated, as they start taking responsibility for their own projects and presentations, in preparation for the transition to secondary school. To better understand the role that Vivi is playing in this evolving educational landscape, we spoke to teachers at three primary schools to find out what they love about using Vivi, and how it’s changing the way they teach and the way their students learn.

 

Ease of use for teachers, tech savvy or not

According to Matt Markman, from Melbourne’s Roxburgh Homestead Primary School, Vivi’s usability and seamless screen-mirroring performance have driven greater integration of technology with everyday lessons. “Literally, you just sit down, you open up the application and cast your screen to the TV, and you can use it across any platform,” he says. The school previously used a range of different presentation systems, including interactive whiteboards, but “they were very cumbersome and very complicated for teachers to learn how to use them.” With Vivi, however, “teachers have been able to use it with pretty much zero teething problems.”

He points out that “even teachers who may not be as confident with that sort of technology are able to just pick it up. Technology is definitely being used more as a result.”

 

NatalieusingVivi

Natalie Harris from St Francis de Sales School, a Catholic school in the Sydney suburb of Wooloware, tells a similar story. “Vivi’s used across the school. If you go into another classroom it’s so easy to connect because everyone’s got the same technology.” And for Harris, this ease of use means she can be more efficient, not only saving time that was previously spent fiddling with cables and adaptors, but being able to use her device privately while Vivi is streaming a video or displaying other content to the shared screen.

“I might be wanting to get maths ready, but previously I couldn’t have because the children were using the screen for something else,” she says. “Now with Vivi, I can put a lesson up, go back to my computer and do things without the children being disrupted.”

Ease of use for students of all ages

Vivi’s intuitive design makes the app simple to use for students too, right down to the youngest kids. Harris’s Year 1 students, for example, have one-to-one iPads, and they took to Vivi straight away. “They engaged with it really well. Now I just say open up the Vivi app and they’re really good at knowing that they have to swipe up to turn Airplay on and connect to the classroom.” Markman backs this up. “It’s so easy to use, it doesn’t really discriminate between the young kids and the older kids.”

 

Teachers at St Peter’s Anglican Primary School in Campbelltown in Sydney have had a similar experience. Dean of ICT Stuart Connell helps the teachers integrate technology into their lessons, but also takes his own classes in ICT, so he’s uniquely positioned to see how kids interact with Vivi. “The young kids are like sponges,” he notes. “Vivi is just another app to them. They know where to look for the room code so all they need to do is find their classroom number and punch in the code.”

 

Collaborative learning and student engagement

All three teachers say that Vivi has opened up new opportunities for collaborative work in the classroom. “Having students present their work to the screen allows for immediate feedback from teacher to student, but also student to peer feedback,” says Connell. “We can all collaborate on what that student’s been working on. It’s a new element to the classroom that we haven’t had before.” Markman tells a similar story, with students presenting their work and receiving feedback in real time from their teacher and their peers.

 

From Harris’s point of view, Vivi enables her class to learn together as a group in ways that were previously impossible. “When the children finish a writing task in their books, I get them to film themselves on their iPads reading their writing,” she explains. “Then we pop that up onto the screen and the rest of the class get to listen to their stories. And that’s when we can give feedback and say, that was good, you need to put a full-stop here, etc.” Harris also puts Vivi’s Capture Screenshot feature to good use. “If someone’s written a really good sentence, we use the app to capture it on each student’s iPad and I can say, ‘Can you underline the noun? The verb?’ And so on.”

 

Harris’s young students also use Vivi to lead collaborative learning themselves. In one recent example, the class was working on information reports and one boy needed to find some information about crocodiles. With his iPad connected to Vivi, he started exploring the Taronga Park Zoo website and soon several other students had gathered around the screen to take their own notes. “I didn’t lead that. He just asked if he could search for more information, we connected him to Vivi and it got the other children going, ‘Oh, I needed that too!’”

 

It’s a neat illustration of how Vivi gives students greater control over how they learn. By sharing their work, responding to their peers’ work or using interactive features like Capture Screenshot on their own devices, they become proactive rather than passive, and this helps to keep them engaged with lesson content. It builds their self-esteem too, as Harris points out: “When a child’s done well, we can put their work up on the screen and they’re proud of it, seeing their work up there.”

 

Giving teachers the freedom to move

A big change that all of the teachers have noticed is how Vivi has freed them up to move around the classroom. They can now leave the front of the room and interact with individual students without interrupting their lesson or giving up control of the screen. “Most of our teachers were so used to having their laptops set up on their desk or on a table right near the screen, because that’s the best Wi-Fi spot or it’s where the HDMI cable is,” says Connell. “It’s just been so easy, and so much better, for them to be able to walk around, have the kids interact with the iPad that the teacher’s holding or use their own devices to project to the screen.”

 

At St Francis de Sales it’s completely changed the way their classrooms function. “Gone are the days that the teacher’s behind the desk and stationary,” says Harris. “We don’t have a desk at our school anymore! We just have a device and move around the room, instead of being stuck to a desk and stuck to a hole in the wall. The only time I have to plug my laptop in is when my battery dies!”

 

It’s a far cry from the rigid old model of the teacher dictating lessons for rote-learning by passive students. In a Vivi-enabled primary school classroom, teachers can be much more flexible, responding to the needs of their students and bringing lesson content alive, with technology and with human interaction.

 

New opportunities for tech integration

Vivi’s potential for education and inspiration isn’t confined to individual classrooms. One of Vivi’s most powerful points of difference is how it brings a school’s screens and devices together as an integrated network. Vivi features, such as Digital SignageAnalytics Dashboard and Emergency Broadcast, make specific use of this. But the network can also be used for whole-school communications that bring the school community together. For example, Roxburgh Homestead use Vivi to broadcast footage of their principal reading a book to the entire school. And in a digital-age nod to Harry Potter, they’re planning regular whole-school broadcasts of their house points leaderboard!

 

Yet another Roxburgh Homestead initiative gives arguably the most exciting indication of what’s possible with Vivi – the time they connected Vivi to a drone and put on an air show! “We were able to fly a drone and give the students a bird’s-eye view of the school,” Markman explains. “All we had to do was have the iPad that was controlling the drone connected in to Vivi, and we were able to cast that to a screen. It was fantastic!” Proof then that for Vivi-enabled primary schools and creative educators, the sky really is the limit!

 

Interested to see how Vivi can offer a solution to your schools’ screen mirroring needs?

Kearnan College students learn skills to ensure they thrive in the classroom and beyond

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Kearnan College has almost 450 students spread across Kindergarten to Year 12. Located in Manjimup, 300km south of Perth, the school has a relatively large catchment area and many older students travel by bus, some for over an hour.

Mindful that today’s students’ learning horizons need to extend beyond the four walls of the classroom, and be more flexible, the college has embarked on a digital transformation program, providing older students and teachers with a Windows 10 Lenovo device equipped with touch and a digital pen.
It’s a flexible, reliable, and highly creative technology solution that promises to give students an excellent learning environment – where and when they need it – and an important grounding in the skills that they will need to thrive in the wider world.

Eyes beyond the horizon Kearnan College students have been learning skills to ensure they thrive in the classroom and beyond.

The rationale is simple according to principal Jason Meynell; “It’s essential that kids leave school as haves, not have nots, in relation to technology.”

When Meynell was appointed principal in 2017 he found that Kearnan College lacked a consistent technology platform. Instead, computers of all vintages and form factors – PCs, Chromebooks, iPads and iMacs – were being juggled by teac hers and students. Some were in labs and used infrequently, few were accessible out of school hours.

Meanwhile, Catholic Education Western Australia (CEWA) was about to roll out its Leading Lights solution for 163 Catholic schools, intended to transform education across WA, and Meynell was enthusiastic about its potential.

“Leading Lights came at the right time, we needed to think strategically about how to use technology,” he says. Kearnan College opted to be an early adopter of Leading Lights’ Office 365 roll out, and needed a solid platform to tackle that, so turned to Solutions IT for advice on suitable devices. After a rigorous consultation process with Solutions IT, the school found a device that met all their needs.

Recognising the power of both technology consistency and capability, Kearnan College has now invested in Windows 10 Lenovo devices for students and teachers to use in school, at home, or en route (an important consideration as 50 per cent of students travel to school by bus – many for an hour or more).
Solutions IT deployed a first tranche of 300 devices, with a follow up order for 60 more, ensuring a one-to-one device ratio for students in the secondary school.

Applications making a clear impact already include Office 365, Paint 3D, Microsoft Teams and OneNote, and Minecraft Education Edition is being explored in the junior school.

“We have seen a huge transformation in how we teach since we committed to using these devices,” Meynell says.

Access to the pen and digital inking has had particular impact; “Students recently wrote lyrics to their own song, they created their own album cover using Paint 3D. This is amazing work, creativity.
“The next phase is a project to create a community newspaper with the primary schools that we are affiliated with.”

The transformation program also provided real world experience to one tech savvy Year 12 student who Kearnan College employed as an IT trainee for a day a week. To help migrate to the new environment, Solutions IT used the Setup School PCs app and Windows Configuration Designer that ensured devices were primed to connect to the school network and access key software applications.

According to Meynell the teaching staff are on board with the transformation plans and have embraced the Leading Lights Office 365 roll out, particularly for the collaboration opportunities offered by Microsoft Teams.

Joseph Claes is the college’s leader of innovation and a health, physical education and science teacher. He says that having one device across the senior school has had a streamlining impact for teachers who now only have to develop one set of content.

The adoption of OneNote has been so widespread across the college that there has also been a clear impact on the school’s print budget with a significant reduction in paper, toner and technician call outs, simply because teachers are using OneNote rather than relying on printed handouts.

“It has also reminded teachers that teaching is constantly evolving, and evolving with technology,” Claes says, adding that it has “reinvigorated” some teachers who have really engaged with the new technology. “Some hesitant to embrace the computers and are now using them for every class.”

While it’s still too early to have developed any learning metrics to gauge the impact of the new devices – Claes says it would have to isolate some learning indicators to be able to do that – he feels that there are signs of greater learning engagement from students.

For example, they are keen users of Microsoft Teams as a collaboration platform. “They are using it as a knowledge base – and before the teachers can even get to a question someone has already answered it,” he says.

As Meynell notes; “Our students and teachers have embraced this technology. We have a strong sense of direction now and the possibilities for teaching and learning are endless.”

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