Careful and considered planning and trialing for BYOx has always been considered crucial for Atherton State High School. The meaningful usage of technologies is central to all planning as we transition away from ICT being treated as an extra component, to one that is integral to all teaching and learning. The school now takes a ‘build in’ approach to technologies, as opposed to a ‘bolt on.’
Our teachers have always been keen to have devices in their classrooms but, often their use is limited to basic internet research, word processing or subject-based game play for students who had finished their work. Often work programs don’t include the integration of ICT as a cross-curricular imperative.
For BYOx to be valued at Atherton State High School, the management team recognised that there needed to be a cultural change.
An important component of this function is balancing the need for technical expertise and infrastructure with pedagogical adjustment.
More recently, the expansion of the school network and associated technologies resulted in an increase in technical demands for the school technician.
The loss of technicians to further study and career progression also interrupted the technical knowledgebase and flow of service. To help in this area, we decided to utilise the technical skills of one of eLearning teachers. This move has proven to be extremely beneficial for the school given the teachers’ understanding of teaching and learning and the school’s technologies and IT systems.
Complimenting this was moving the technical role away from ancillary line management - the Business and Services Manager, to more of a teaching and learning role and the Deputy Principal.
The school is networked with local businesses to investigate options for outsourcing some specific technical requirements.
With these requirements being outsourced, the school is able to focus on the quality engagement of students with ICT. This was somewhat of a ‘catch 22’ situation for the school. To ensure the worth of BYOx implementation, it was recognised that teachers and students should be trained and experienced in quality utilisation of the technologies. Yet, in order to do this, they needed devices for the application of this improved practice.
To enable this, National Secondary School Computer Fund (NSSCF) devices were placed in each classroom – as opposed to the school being involved in the ‘take home’ program. The eLearning/technical teacher is available to support teachers, not only with the technology, but also by adjusting their pedagogy to maximise the benefits.
A challenge for many teachers is in moving away from the traditional style of teaching, complete with blackboard and overhead projectors.
Because there are not enough devices for each student, teachers were needing to ‘double plan’ their lessons – preparing for both digital and paper-based teaching. Data projectors were made available for teachers to book out from the library so that they could project the online resources to the whole class. This was replaced with a wireless data show in each classroom, with the capability to record lessons for later use.
Use of the Learning Place has proven valuable for the facilitation of online courses to augment regular student classes and provide further opportunities for international students, and students accessing elements of our curriculum from other schools.
It has also highlighted the value of BYOx devices for students to be mobile learners, learning at their own pace and during flexible times suited to their 21st century lifestyles. Once again, the eLearning/technical teacher not only ensures the technology is available, but also to train teachers in its effective use such as strategies for differentiation to meet individual needs. This helps teachers with their performance indicators, as monitored by line managers, which now includes the use of ICT in all planning.
Atherton State High School is also considering ways for parents to experience the benefits of digital learning through BYOx devices, including the provision of online resources for parents around BYOx topics such as, How to support your child with their homework and Career pathways. We also encourage BYOx support from school parents by highlighting the savings from the reduced need for paper- based text books, exercise books and stationery.
Atherton’s students are keen for the implementation of a BYOx program, where they can become familiar with their own device. The changing culture of the school is demonstrating to students and their parents, the value of learning associated with students having their own devices.
The school’s eLearning staff and BYOx committee has been instrumental in communicating with parents, ensuring equity, considerations surrounding device choice, and helping teachers transform to the new pedagogical paradigm.
In many ways, supply and demand has increased the impetus for BYOx at Atherton State High School. The removal of overhead projectors from classrooms and the aging NSSCF fleet are two such examples.
Encouraging the use of the Learning Place as a good practice for the storage of lesson resources has been supported through a limits of discretion approach with gradually reduced G:/ drive storage quotas at the school. This ‘cloud’ approach also takes pressure off BYOx devices needing to connect to the school storage network. As long as they have internet access then students have equitable access to lesson resources and requirements, and as 21st century learners they can access them at anytime from anywhere in the world.