For religious education teacher Christine McDonald, who started teaching Year 7s to 13s at the school this year on a one year contract, it has been like going back in time.
During the past few years, McDonald has held short term or relieving positions at a number of Catholic schools in Auckland, including Marist College, Carmel College and Sancta Maria College.
The past few schools she has taught at have been utilising digital technology and McDonald says it is a lost opportunity to not use it in the classroom.
“Going back to using an exercise book, I feel like my hands are tied behind my back,” McDonald says.
McDonald is a particular fan of using blogs, rather than books which can be messy, and something students are not that proud of.
“If you think about humanity, we have used a variety of ways to record our understanding of God – such as scripture, paintings, sculptures, opera, hymns and so on.
“Using a blog, students can put a whole range of different media in one place – including writing tasks, videos, upload recordings they have made and links to point to other work.”
Blogs are uniquely the students’ own which also helps to increase people’s understanding of the work they are producing, McDonald adds.
“Without technology in the classroom, students don’t have the opportunities to experience learnings in different ways, which is what humanity has always done.”
McDonald utilises technology in her classroom in other ways, such as by taking photos of her students’ work and making a slideshow video with music using Animoto.
“I recently did this with my Year 7s … we played the video at assembly and the students were so proud seeing their work displayed.”
One thing most students have is a smart phone, so teachers at St Dominic’s College have incorporated a Quiz app Kahoot into their classes.
The quiz questions are displayed on an overhead projector and students answer questions on their smart phones, while the system records how quickly students answer and what they get wrong or right.
McDonald is very passionate about technology and student learning and while she is only at St Dominic’s for 2015, she is excited for the students, whose learning will expand exponentially once BYOD is implemented next year.