Where have all the din’saurs gone?

….or how to shift a school onto web2.0 (as experienced by Hawkesdale P12 College)

An  announcement was made at staff briefing that all staff were to receive correspondence, updates, notices etc by email. The usual communication via hard copy forms or printouts, distributed in the individual staff pigeon holes would no longer be used.

Shock, horror, and angry, almost violent reactions met this proposal by our principal.  Even I, who used emails extensively was apprehensive. A handful of staff were vehemently opposed to the use of computers at this stage, could not/ did not/would not use their emails and were quite forcibly vocal in their determination to ‘save our school’ from becoming digital!   Email addresses were only made available to years 9 to 12. Years 5 to 8 were not allowed to have them. Mobile phones and iPods were  banned.

Forward four years to Dec, 2009

Those same angry reactions still occur. And it is still by those who so strongly resisted the introduction of digital communiction four years ago – the dinosaurs. However it now occurs when the internet is “down” at school as all staff have become fully reliant on digital communication and its associated use. One of the oldest dinosaurs is now the classroom teacher responsible for the grade 5 netbook trial program and does not know what teaching life would be without them.

How it looks now.

  • All students from grades 4 up have email addresses.
  • Mobile phones and iPods are allowed in class, at the teacher’s discretion.
  • Form teachers mark the daily attendance rolls electronically
  • Student reports from prep through to year 12 are completed on computers, using the software markbook
  • Sharepoint is used for the school’s ultranet platform
  • All DEECD pay slips and advice come through email – the pigeon holes are nearly empty.
  • The majority of teachers and ancillary staff have blogs and class blogs
  • A school blog is maintained by a number of staff.
  • All classes from grade 3 to 11 have been involved in a global project of some description
  • Grade 4 and 5 students have a netbook each for classroom and home use.
  • Interactive whiteboards are appearing in each classroom
  • Staff are more and more receptive to experimenting with technology in the classrooms
  • Staff use emails for the majority of communication
  • Skype is being used for videoconferencing across many classes

How it was done?

  • Taking baby steps over a two year period
  • The eplanks were laid by a partnership between Jess McCulloch and myself. We were given teacher professional leave to look at using web2.0 tools in the classroom and then how it could look for a web2.0 school.
  • In 2007, two professional development days were used to share and introduce  technological tools that teachers might use in their personal lives eg delicious, MS Photostory, extra features of using email, resizing photos with irfanview etc (gave confidence with technology, applications that could be used in the classroom etc)
  • In 2008, Walk In Walk Out Wednesdays was commenced, where teachers could come into the computer lab with any concerns, issues, learning needs that they had, for one hour after school, when they wanted, for how long they wanted etc. This has been the most successful trigger in bringing the school staff comfortable with using web2.0 and digital technology.  Email use, using MS Powerpoint, MS Word, blogs, wikis, using google earth/maps, resizing photos etc have been some of the topics pursued.
  • 10 minute spots at staff meetings by a number of staff demonstrating  new hardware, software types, tips  etc
  • Regular newsletter updates to keep parents and the community informed.
  • All staff, including ancilliary,  have email addresses and use them regularly to access digital communications
  • Several morning coffee and parent information sessions were held.
  • Use of twitter and email etc for establishing deeper learning networks amongst staff. Facebook has also been used for instant communication between staff.
  • The viral nature of the use of web2.0 tools, largely driven by students as well as staff which soon spreads across to other classes and subjects.
  • Casual discussions by staff over morning tea and lunch re their use of webw2.0 tools.
  • Empowering staff to take on ownership of their own projects and preferential use of web2.0 technology.
  • A need brings about a solution via technology.

Constraints

  • Need for better access to computers
  • Time for ‘playing’ with the technology
  • High filtering of internet sites so that many useful sites are blocked
  • Limited technician time
  • Technicians perceived duties cf educational outcomes of students.
  • Lack of mobile phone service
  • Erractic internet access due to the rural remoteness of our school.
  • Staff turnover in 2009 with retirement by some of our most skilled users of technology.

Solutions

  • 1:1 laptops for all students from grades 5 to 8 in 2010
  • Looking at tiered filtering so that staff have separate access to internet
  • Increased technician time
  • Determination to succeed against all odds

2 responses to “Where have all the din’saurs gone?

  1. Sue Times they are a changing!! I bet you feel affirmed. I just found a local high school using a blogging platfrom for the entire school and a school board using twitter and Youtube. http://www.ourschool.ca/kudos-to-toronto-district-school-board-a-web-2-0-savvy-school-board.html All that you and other edubloggers do makes a big difference.
    I noticed that you held parent infrormation meetings. Wondering what reaction you are receiving from parents. Is any one using twitter to text to parents?

  2. Hi Anne. You have no idea how refreshing it is to read this post. At the moment I am probably where you were at 2 or 3 years ago. I am gradually introducing new ways of doing things – but I certainly need to take those baby steps with some of our teachers. Your school is testament to the fact that change can, and will, happen if we take the right approach. Thanks for sharing.
    Wishing you a very Happy New Year!

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