A LOCAL school is at the forefront of a global movement to embrace the cloud evolution and Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) in education.
St Columba Anglican School are national leaders in their use of technology for education, the schools E-learning leader Matt Richards says.
The modest Port Macquarie private school is miles ahead of the big leagues in the city.
The school already relies heavily on Google Apps for Education and officially migrated all of its work to the cloud at the end of last year.
Now, it’s become one of the first schools in Australia to purchase Samsung Chromebooks - a laptop designed specifically for a cloud-based operating system.
Cloud computing refers to applications and services offered solely on the internet, providing easy access for any type of device - provided you have a connection.
According to product management director of Chrome OS, Caesar Sengupta, Chromebooks have been designed from the ground up for the new way computers are used today.
“Chromebooks boot up in seconds, giving you instant-on access so you don’t have to waste time or miss out,” he said.
“They bring you the best of the web to do the everyday things like sending email, surfing the web, managing your calendar and creating and editing documents more easily.”
Two class sets have been purchased for students in kindergarten to year five and will be wheeled between different rooms.
The nature of the Google Accounts online storage means students will be able to share the machines, gaining full access to their personal account when they log on.
Apart from now using Chromebooks, the school has implemented a number of exciting programs in the IT department, with a focus on digital citizenship.
“It is all about teaching students how to be responsible online citizens, which is absolutely vital” Mr Richards said.”
“It’s one of the most important things because we need to be preparing students for the real world.”
To prepare students for the real world, Bring Your Own Technology is encouraged for students above year five.
Simply put, this means students can (within reason) bring any piece of computing technology to school as a reflection of current industry practice.
“BYOT supports personalisation, using the devices anywhere you want to be. It just makes more sense and it’s mirroring what’s happening in the real world, in the workplace.
Thanks to Mr Richards, St Columba also boasts a newly installed 100Mbps fibre-optic connection, which he said was unheard of for Port Macquarie.
But it is necessary to effectively use the Chromium browser.
“We completely redid our wireless infrastructure with Aerohive, so we got a really good network infrastructure in place and then we rolled out the cloud migration and BYOT.”
The school hopes to soon facilitate conferences in the Hastings, to improve the use of technology across all local schools.
This is something, Mr Richards said, that was integral to improving the educational outcomes for students.
“Right now we have the first generation in history with the collective knowledge of mankind at their fingertips,” he said.
“The role of teachers are changing, they are becoming facilitators, they are teaching students to become critical thinkers and to discern reputable sources of information.”
Mr Richards has been chosen among 50 other representatives in the world to become part of the Google Teacher Academy.
In May he will be undertaking specific training to become a “Google Jedi” and will also attend two other digital education related conferences in Melbourne and Canberra later in the year.