The school library has been reconfigured into a modern learning space, including a connected classroom and interactive white boards. Apple Mac desktops will soon be installed to provide students with the ability to create their own interactive iBooks.
Mac books are used to set up the loan iPads on Configurator and coordinate the bulk purchase program. We were the first public school to be recognised in this program in New South Wales.
The school has a dedicated Information and Communication Technology Centre (ICT Centre). This centre was opened in 2007 and was designed to provide students with the opportunity to work with the latest technology found in industry.
The centre includes an advanced animation and graphics laboratory, a networking and hardware laboratory, an advanced media centre and a 3D printer.
The connected classroom, established in 2009, is used by teachers and students for presenting lessons, professional development, demonstration to parents and virtual excursions. The establishment of MOODLE as an e-learning platform in 2009 has enabled students and staff to post and upload resources, tasks and assignments. It is consistently used by students and staff as a means of providing learning experiences.
The school has established an IT Steering Committee to manage the implementation of projects, make decisions about resources and the school network. The committee membership includes an external network provider, a DEC regional IT representative, internal network manager, helpdesk manager, learning technology leader, two deputy principals and the principal.
The external network provider is employed by the school five days a week to oversee the remaining DER laptops and teacher and student iPads. We have a small bank of student loan iPads which are distributed and are setup by our head teacher administration.
The helpdesk manager oversees the distribution of work to be done to ensure the smooth running of the school’s network. The school has a high bandwidth gigabit network with optical fibre internet.
It has an extensive online storage capacity. Our school has a network that provides access to extensive resources including application and e-learning modules, online assessment and interactive multimedia. All students have an individual login and workspace.
An extensive high capacity secured wireless computer network can be accessed in all buildings and outside learning spaces. All staff have been issued with laptops and iPads. Students in Year 7, 8 and 9 have iPads for learning.
Apple TV has been setup in a number of rooms, providing easy access to teachers and students in order to display work from their iPads onto the interactive whiteboards.
This year, our school was again recognised as an Apple Distinguished Program for 2013-2015 for its iPad project, ‘The Project of Tomorrow’. The Apple Distinguished Program designation is reserved for programs that meet criteria for innovation, leadership and educational excellence, and demonstrate Apple’s vision of exemplary learning environments.
The selection of East Hills Girls Technology High School as an Apple Distinguished Program highlights our success as an innovative and future focused learning environment that engages students and provides tangible evidence of academic accomplishment.
The school’s iPad project has been strongly supported by the school community. In fact, 95 per cent of parents reported their child enjoyed using the iPad to complete their school work and homework.
When students were asked about their learning, 94 per cent indicated that the iPad helped them learn and that they enjoyed going to class, were more engaged in the lesson content and understood it better, and were able to produce work with more creativity.
Teachers have also seen a difference in student learning, with many reporting that most students were excited about learning with iPads and reacted more positively to lessons containing iPad content.
Why it is important for young women to be engaged in technology?
As the only designated technology high school for girls in NSW, our school is consistently implementing innovative and inspiring learning strategies to enhance and support the learning for our students.
Since 1989, when the school was designated a ‘Technology High’, there has been a consistent focus on embracing the use of technology for teaching and learning and embracing the school’s vision to “Educate Girls for a Technological Future”. We strongly believe that technologically trained women are way ahead and we want to give our girls the best career options for the future.
There has been a significant change in pedagogy which has occurred through the dedication and professional development of our staff. The implementation of the iPad project has been extremely successful and has resulted in a blended learning environment. Our school offers a technology rich learning environment which inspires girls and young women to aim high and achieve their best.
Our teachers provide opportunities for students to solve problems creatively by collaborating, analysing and synthesising ideas, creating new knowledge and applying their learning in authentic contexts. Teachers have programmed tasks and learning experiences where the iPad is central to their learning.
Students no longer just access the internet for researching – they now create, publish and share their learning. Teachers have tailored student learning activities to progressively incorporate the use of a variety of apps.
This has transformed the way our students create assignments and research topics. Students shoot and edit their own HD videos with iMovie, create a visual journal with iPhoto, and even record, edit and mix music for projects with GarageBand. Students now create and submit assignments in a variety of creative ways.
As a result, students have expressed an increased enjoyment and engagement in their learning and have said they are more creative. Girls prefer to work collaboratively on tasks and technology has empowered our students to connect. Students who are absent are able to connect with their classmates and continue to make positive contributions to group work. Online discussions on iTunes U and Edmodo allow for students to communicate with each other and the teacher.
Our teachers encourage students to take ownership of their own learning. Our iPad project has pioneered the use of mobile technologies to accommodate anywhere, anytime learning.
Our school vision for the iPad project is to strengthen our students’ independence and self-initiated learning and extend their learning beyond the classroom using an iPad. Students are able to access their learning 24 hours a day, seven days a week by accessing iTunesU courses, Moodle or Edmodo.
Most courses have online interactive textbooks and learning resources. As a result students are always up to date with their learning and can work at their own pace.
Our school offers a broad range of technology courses, including electronics and engineering. It is mandatory for all Year 9 and 10 students to complete the Information Software and Technology elective.
We believe that it is important to extend girls’ experiences with technology beyond the classroom. Last year a team of our students competed in the Lego League Robotic Challenge and finished in first place in the research section of the challenge after designing and presenting the most innovative solution.
This term a group of 10 students attended the Apple Broadway store where they were trained as digital journalists.