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Using Twiducate at Matamata Christian School

Matamata Christian School, together with the parents, works to provide a Christ-centred education based on Biblical foundations. They strive for personal excellence in the academic, spiritual, physical and emotional realms. The school is in the township of Matamata and has 4 classrooms.

Focus

The purpose of using Twiducate was to trial it with staff and to reflect on how it could work at our school. All staff including administration and support staff had access to the Twiducate account. At Matamata Christian School we value our staff and saw their was a need to utilise ICT to maximise our learning and teaching time.

Rational

 

Our initial intention was for students to utilise Twiducate to collaborate and to see if it was a useful tool that could be used in the classroom. This idea came about after talking to colleagues at the Learning at Schools conference in February 2011. However it became clear that having two staff meetings a week was really onerous and staff discussed that Twiducate might work. The idea was shared and after reflection and trial by himself, our principal registered us as a ‘class’ on Twiducate to trial.

What We Did

We began using Twiducate as a staff for administration on a regular basis. When reflecting initially we went through the following steps briefly.

a)    identify an issue/idea

b)    investigate the issue/idea

c)    collect data

d)    hypothesis

e)    plan action steps

f)     implement

g)    evaluate

h)   where to now

What we started off doing was identifying that it was getting very tiresome having two staff meetings, having lots of duties. As a staff we investigated many different avenues, and after discussions put something together around Twiducate and how it might work. We put in a plan to utilise it as a tool in the school and to trial it for a term or two. This plan was implemented and we were all given our codes to access the site and then any administration was put onto Twiducate. So far having gone through nearly two and a half terms of its use, it has worked well. We have evaluated and seen that it is a good tool, aside from the log in process. We are at the stage where we are reflecting upon where to go next: staying with Twiducate, or looking for a suitable substitute that would do a similar job.

What Happened?

 Across the school we noticed:

  • Support staff being involved informed, which built a strong community within the school.
  • Teachers communicating information more readily to staff at home.
  • Teachers enjoyed having one less staff meeting and have been able to utilise this time more for professional development and action research.
  • Twiducate being used for the last three terms of 2011 successfully.
  • Positive feedback from most staff of using this program.
  • Information shared such as; deadlines, prayer needs, questions posed, and administration requirements.
  • Twiducate has been reliable and able to be used at home as well as at school.

What We Learned

Using Twiducate the staff have been able to share information and have found the following benefits from its use:

  • More time for family, friends, school planning; due to only one staff meeting per week.
  • Administrative notes can be added from home and not be reliant on the school server.
  • Planning/assessment deadlines can be shared.
  • Support staff can be a part of the teacher learning space, which fosters a closer community of colleagues in the school.
  • Posts are easy to upload.
  • You can include a passport sized image of yourself, your ‘identity’.
  • Websites can be included for fast reference.

Saying that there are positives, there are a couple of detracting factors although minor in the long run:

  • The log in process is laboured
  • As the administrator you can not see what is shared in the ‘chat’ section
  • Posts just keep adding and adding and there is no easy way to delete certain selections, or a number of unwanted posts at one time. They need to be deleted one by one.
  • Twiducate is limited to posts, a basic chat which just adds everyones chat on and on and has a small place for putting assessment targets.

Next Steps

Using Twiducate has been of benefit in different ways to all the staff. On going buy in is important and the best way of finding if this is successful is to speak to the staff and survey.

Some ideas listed below are where we could go next with it:

  • Utilising more often for deadlines, and putting this information on the side bar.
  • Developing an online community where we share, such the staff wiki and adding to the resources that are on there.
  • Researching online and looking at alternatives to Twiducate.

A few changes would be:

  • Recapping how to get into Twiducate and the benefits and uses that it can have.
  • Sharing ideas to see if changes to Twiducate could be made based on some of the above recommendations and some listed in the Twiducate Milestone 5 video.

For further documents, ideas and information head to the Matamata Christian School evidence wiki. http://matamatachristianevidence.wikispaces.com/