What is your role at Orewa College?
I started at the school in 2000 as head of department for physical education. Currently I am associate principal, and head of ICT - I coordinate ICT teaching and learning, and the school’s ICT systems and network. I am also involved in professional development while still teaching sport to various age-groups.
What attracted you to specialise in the technology part of education?
I sort of fell into it. In the early 2000s as a user of IT, the school’s system was not that great so I spent a lot of time working with the Board of Trustees and Admin to get it up to scratch. As an outdoor education teacher you can’t be out rock climbing or kayaking every period, so I would use the internet and data projector to bring the outdoors into the classroom. The network needed to work.
What does your day-to-day role involve?
I don’t have much to do with actual technology infrastructure as I just oversee it. I teach Year 7 digital citizenship and keep an eye on the school’s databases and learning management systems, while also working with office staff to problem solve and ensure we get the best we can out of the systems. I work a lot on PD for staff with regard to the strategic direction of the school and maximising the teaching and learning affordances compulsory BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) brings to the classroom.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
Helping office staff to become independent and creative users of our systems and teaching staff have those ‘ah ha’ moments when they realise how they can change their pedagogy to benefit learning in the classroom.
And, the most challenging part of your job?
Working with staff members, who are very set in their ways, would still use a blackboard if they could and they refuse to try new things or even do professional reading to inform their practice. I wanted revolution but have had to settle for evolution.
Which school ICT project are you particularly proud of, and why?
The introduction of BYOD in 2008 at the college by ensuring the network, LAN and wireless, was strong enough and fast enough to handle a BYOD load, and also the 2010 decision to make BYOD compulsory. Orewa College was the first school in New Zealand to do so, and at the time recommending and developing the potential of the iPad as the tool of choice. Since then the rest of NZ state schools have followed suit.
With ubiquitous access to the internet, with a tool like a tablet or computer, every child has in the classroom is game changing for education. I am very proud our network can handle 2500 devices daily, both on the LAN and wirelessly, and for the most part it is fast and smooth.
What is the most common IT-related question you’re asked by staff?
‘Why is the internet slow?’ It is not really but when you have 2100 devices on the wireless network and many on the internet then occasionally it will be.
And by students?
‘Why is the internet slow?’
What are your school’s ICT targets for 2015?
To keep developing classroom pedagogy along the lines of the SAMR model and to nurture more and more independent student centred learning guided by the teacher not dictated by the teacher. Also, to manage and maintain internet speed. Internal NZ speed is fine but we contest overseas bandwidth with the rest of NZ.
Which piece of technology or gadget has had the most impact on your role in the last five years?
The iPad undoubtedly. In 2010 when we made the BYOD decision the iPad was by far the best device about. Since then other tablets and computers have caught up but because we went with the iPad back then it has remained the key instrument across the school.
What is the best IT-related PD workshop/session you’ve attended and why?
Too many to really categorise as there is lots of ideas and thinking in many of them. I guess the initial conferences on BYOD we held at Orewa College in 2011, 12 and 13 and sharing ideas with other like-minded teachers. Since BYOD we have seen the real emergence of people who do a lot of talking but have never really experienced the day to day use in the classroom, month to month, year to year of BYOD.
In your view, how does technology improve the teaching and learning of the curriculum?
This is an essay in itself. Briefly it allows immediacy, colour vision sound independence (we just have to teach students to be independent and not reliant on the teacher. We have to teach the teachers to let go control and use the technology to differentiate extend and inspire the learning). It saves time by doing the mundane tasks and allowing time for the student administrator or teacher to think, for example, a student does not spend 20 minutes ruling up and colouring a graph on say population - they can create that graph instantly and now have more time to think on what the graph shows discuss with others think.