The pressure on modern schools to leverage technology in everincreasingly complex ways is intense. There’s the assumption that technology leads to educational outcomes, and for schools this means they need to be careful about choosing the right technology that will generate measurable results, and then make sure the teachers and staff are making proper use of the technology as part of the curriculum. For Glendal Primary School, being one of the most technologically-savvy public schools in the state meant investing in leading SMART Board technology supported by comprehensive, ongoing professional development.
Partnering with Pro AV Solutions in a 5-year, compete classroom solution ensured an investment with fixed cost of ownership and a structured pathway to success with learning technology. Interactive whiteboards have evolved to the point where they have a role well beyond that of a touch enabled projector system in the classroom. Today, the SMART Board has been transformed with robust, interactive flat panel technology. Improved reliability, clarity and touch experience, combined with lower cost of ownership and built in collaboration tools make it an essential hub for any connected classroom. As part of a complete classroom solution that considers best practices and learning software, this presents an opportunity to deepen engagement with students, on their terms. Students with naturally less outgoing personalities can be encouraged to participate to a greater degree with the SMART board’s ability to allow contributions from the student’s desk, and the ability to allow each student’s device to mirror / screencast to the SMART Board ensures the entire class can be encouraged to collaborate, no matter what teaching style or strategy is employed.
Glendal Primary School is widely recognized as an advocate for advanced technology in schools. It features extensive robotics and science programs as part of a curriculum that encourages children to become comfortable with technology and its applications from a young age. Similarly, the school has always made use of interactive whiteboards, and the SMART solution leverages their prior investment in professional development. Teachers can use lesson materials they’ve created in the past. Adding game-based activities, device driven assessment and student-led projects takes only minutes – breathing new life into lessons without adding large amounts of preparation time. Integrated sharing also means teachers can now easily send and receive lessons among their peers with a simple click. This means their portfolio of lesson content is instantly multiplied.
Kym Robinson, the school’s Assistant Principal, said the decision was made to upgrade this technology once it became apparent that the new wave offered practical benefits to the school’s students that took learning to another level. “We already knew that whiteboards were really effective in improving student participation in the classroom, so the decision to upgrade was largely about getting the latest hardware and software into classrooms, and then taking full advantage of it,” Robinson said.
Glendal took a measured approach to the rollout of the new SMART Board 6000 series interactive displays and SMART Learning Suite solution. The SMART boards were placed into the four grade six classrooms, and the teachers were given the ability to evaluate the improvements in both hardware and software. The school was so impressed by the results that it decided to deploy SMART Boards to all classrooms – 35 in total – and then acquire another eight units for use in the remaining specialist classrooms. Critical to the success of the new SMART Board solution, Robinson said, was that the school also took training seriously so that teachers were comfortable with their full functionality and how they could be leveraged for demonstrated improvement in learning outcomes.
“Speaking generally, we had the older applications and technology in the classrooms, but it wasn’t being consistently used across the school” Robinson said. “Applications such as the Gallery and the interactive tools could encourage student involvement and engagement in what they’re learning, but we needed to use the hardware and software refresh as an opportunity to become much more consistent in the use of the technology across the school.”
Glendal Primary School turned to its long-term technology partner, Pro AV, to do more than simply install the new hardware and software. The solution adopted by the school, included both regular, scheduled on-site training for 5 years, and certification of key staff via the immersive SCET course. This strategy helped the school fast-track development of their own ‘champions’ – SMART certified trainers embedded inside the organization who can build momentum and a community of innovative educators across the school.
“At a large school such as ours, we had people at different levels of comfort with the technology,” Robinson said. “We put in place team meeting scenarios so people can run through the technology, its applications and content creation so those less comfortable with the technology can get across it. “We see plenty of opportunity in helping our teachers gain advanced skills with this technology, too,” Robinson added. “We have one teacher that’s keen to experiment with SMART Amp and there’s an opportunity to build that into our teaching program. “We know that for the long-term success of this technology, we need to keep it on the agenda, and any new techniques that teachers learn are shared across the whole team. To help achieve that, we do collaborative termly planning.”
As a school that prides itself on its technological capabilities, Glendal Primary School plans to continue investing in technology where it can lead to improve student outcomes and connected learning environments. “Two key elements help to ensure that these projects are successful. The first is that the staff and stakeholders are highly engaged in the rollout and initiative. The other is that the right technology and partner are found to ensure that the solution is supported both during and after implementation”, Robinson said.
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