As the new school year begins, the 1:1 laptop programme at St Andrew’s College continues to grow. As the year begins, all Year 8-11 students are required to bring a laptop to school each day. With the number of Senior College students voluntarily bringing laptops to school growing each year, we are ever closer to all students in the Secondary School having a laptop with them each lesson.
Staff feedback from the first two years of the 1:1 program raised some concerns around two main themes:
- The first was about the amount of class time that some teachers felt could be wasted at the start of the year, getting all student’s computers successfully connected to school systems, and the class OneNote Notebook.
- The second concern raised was around the the lack of familiarity of some students with their particular device.
In response to these concerns the decision was made to invest some time in the first few days of the 2016 school year to actively try and get Year 9 students more familiar with their own computers, and the systems that we use here at St Andrews College. In consultation with Middle School leadership, it was decided that students would have four periods to complete such a task – with the time being split over the first two days of the school year.
Creating the task
With over 200 Year 9 students the range of ability and engagement with computers was always going to be extremely varied. For this reason I decided to create an induction task that used a single platform, OneNote, as the base, with a range of other resources linked into it, such as instructional videos and surveys.
In an attempt to gain some preliminary information all students were asked to complete a short online survey. Of most interest to me was their responses to the following two questions.
The results from these two questions particularly gave me the confidence that such a programme was incredibly important for our incoming Year 9 students. While approximately half of our Year 9 intake are from the Preparatory School, where we know they receive a thorough grounding in all things IT; the remainder of our intake arrive from a wider range of feeder schools; from across the city and beyond. A major aim, when writing this task was to ensure that all students gained a basic understanding of both their computers (keyboard shortcuts, power saving settings, and our systems such as printing, emailing and online storage.
The basic premise was to write a task that was based in OneNote. To make the task more contextual, the ‘how to use your computer’ material was woven into a basic inquiry-based task that required each student to design their ultimate teenage space in the Christchurch city rebuild. Within the induction task each student was required to complete a wide range of tasks including:
- Accessing their College email to gain access to the Onenote Notebook
- Access a variety of video resources around computer care, computer use, and IT systems used at StAC, and complete tasks to reinforce this learning
- Add preliminary ideas to the Collaboration Space in OneNote about a potential Youth Facility in Central Christchurch
- Collate and analyse the best ideas from the Collaboration Space, in their own area of the Class Notebook
- Add audio to their own area of the OneNote, critically analysing their best ideas
- Learn how to print their work
- Hand their work in using the Assignment activity on their classes Moodle Page
Upon completion of the task the feedback from the students was extremely positive. A number of individual students commented on the benefits they saw from completing the task:
This task was good because it helped me learn how to use my computer.
I liked how we could try some of the things by ourselves and the demonstrations from the videos.
Similarly,Year 9 Tutor staff, who were involved in supporting the students during their induction sessions, were also asked to provide feedback. It was particularly pleasing to see the high regard with which they held the assistance that they received from IT staff during the Staff feedback.
On reflection I am very happy with how this task went. As with doing anything for the first time, I will continue to reflect carefully on all aspects of the task and try and identify the improvements that can be made. Obviously providing adequate IT support over 13 classrooms and over 200 devices is an acknowledged difficulty, but I really hope that the teachers of Year 9 will notice an improvement in the confidence, and capabilities of their classes as the school year gets underway.