It’s not often that the words ‘trend’ and ‘setter’ appear in the same sentence as ‘secondary school’ but that’s certainly the case for Wellington High School.
Three years ago, the school made a firm commitment to improve access to technology for students and teachers, a road which hasn’t been without its pot-holes and detours; fortunately, the overall journey has been overwhelming positive.
All Year Nine students now have a netbook and teachers are using varying ICT tools within the context of the learning environment, including using Google Docs to collect answers as well as external resources such as the Khan Academy.
Maths teacher and Wellington High’s ICT lead teacher, Ben Britton, says three years down the track and he “can’t imagine teaching without these tools”. “Within the classroom students have the ability to extend themselves and use real world stats in classroom examples, something which is normally in the realm of a university education,” says Ben. “Not teaching students with technology would be putting them at a real disadvantage.”
Ben believes that empowering students with the tools and teaching them how to use them provides the building blocks to create effective digital learners.
Not surprisingly, he is also a strong advocate for the relationship between technology and problem solving skills. “Even those students who are technophobes are comfortable solving problems on the fly.”
Ben agrees the Wellington Loop has been integral to the success of this and other technology projects within Wellington High, particularly as demand has driven access to online resources: “High-speed internet access is the key”.
However, Ben believes the most critical aspect of the Loop is collaboration with teachers. “Teachers talking to other teachers outside their school takes effort, but the Loop hosted events foster informal networking and the most important [things] are the conversations that take place between presentations at events.”
Which is exactly how the collaborative relationship between Wellington High School and Thorndon School developed. Thorndon was looking to start a netbook programme and, synchronicity being what it is, “we just so happened to connect at the perfect time”. That has enabled Ben to share his learnings and saved Thorndon time and energy from having to re-invent the wheel.
Ben has presented at Learning at Schools conferences and is keen to share what he and Wellington High has learnt with others. If you are looking to start a similar project, why not get in touch and join the supportive learning community that is the Wellington Loop?