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Leading e-Learning at Waiuku School

Waiuku Primary School VLN Reflection

National Goal 2 - Principals to lead the integration of e-learning in their schools (strategic and operational)

Cluster Goal 2 - To enhance the capability of school leadership to implement ICT strategic planning.

What was important for us?

It was important to us to ensure the Principal and Leadership Team used and modeled  a range of Web 2.0 and eLearning tools.  We wanted to use, in particular Google Docs, as part of school administration and organization to promote collaboration and efficiency – ‘work smarter, not harder’.

In the final year of the ICT Contract, we wanted to ensure our school had a robust, reliable and up to date network for our students and teachers. We have been at the limit of capacity on our network for some time and have been on the wait -list for both SNUP & UFB. It was important for us as a school to be proactive and get our network capable of reliably sustaining more users as teachers use eTools regularly in their teaching and we purchase more computers for student use

What did we do?

The school website http://web.waiuku.school.nz/  has newsletters loaded on each week, class blogs for each classroom linked and a blog maintained by the Principal that is regularly updated. http://web.waiuku.school.nz/school/from-the-principal

Shared Google Documents, through our school Google Apps for Education account, were created for many different uses throughout the school and a “Staff Portal” conveniently housing and linking all of these documents created in Google Sites. http://staff.waiuku.school.nz/

The Principal commissioned an extensive network audit in Term 1, 2012. We then worked with Isometic Solutions to create a 5 year plan to allow for increased and extensive use of computers, laptops and other mobile devices at Waiuku Primary School. This includes the upgrade of switches and the server. A roll-out for Ruckus managed wireless has also been planned over several years. The Principal met with the BOT and presented the 5 year plan, outlining our school’s immediate needs. Approval was gained and a budget of $60,000 allocated to the first stage of the network upgrade.

What happened, as a result?

Our daily notices, weekly sheets, term diary, admin meeting minutes, syndicate meeting minutes and Senior Leadership Team minutes are all maintained on shared Google Docs. The Principal and senior leaders can skillfully access and update these.  All teachers use the Staff Portal and linked Google Documents in the general day-to-day running of our school with confidence. 

In the Term 2, 2012 holidays our network upgrade is going ahead. The holiday period was specifically chosen for work to be undertaken due to how disruptive it would have proven during term time.

What have we learned?

Collaboration can be managed easily asynchronously, especially for two of our leadership team who are teaching in classrooms. Google Docs has been the perfect platform to both work together and be efficient.  Staff found the transition relatively easy as the benefits over previous systems in place were obvious. The Staff Portal that houses and links all of our many, many Google Docs has been highly successful to help staff navigate quickly and effectively.

Moving to a collaborative digital format has its challenges with regards to relievers in the classroom. As staff need to sign into their Google Apps account to access the information, we needed to create a generic reliever log on to ensure relievers were up to date with our daily notices.

Until our network upgrade is completed, sometimes we still need to rely on printed copies of several of the shared Google Docs. It has been frustrating at times to not be able to access these due to technical difficulties.

 What are our next steps?

  • Investigate other useful sites for collaboration that will assist the Principal and Leadership Team to work together in an effective fashion.
  • To apply the success of the Staff Portal to our students by creating a ‘Student Portal’ that links websites and other useful documents for students in one, easy to access online space.
  • Once our network upgrade is complete planning for BYOD will become a reality and the strategic purchase of mobile devices can be implemented.