eLearning and Technology at St Mary's Cathedral College
Technology is an integral part of life at the College. The last three years have seen dramatic changes in the way we approach the use of technology in the classroom.
Not too long ago technology was seen as an 'added extra' to be incorporated into the curriculum if possible. Now technology is the foundation of our learning. It underpins all that we do and the way we communicate with each other.
This is evident in the way students are now referred to as 'digital natives' while staff are called 'digital immigrants'. This is an accurate way of defining the gap between the generations.
The College is dual platform combining both PC and Apple Macintosh computers across the campus. There are three computer labs running PC desktop machines while thirty iMacs are located in the College Library. The College also has eight Smartboards located predominantly in the Stage 4 area of the campus.
At St Mary's we are working hard to narrow the gap through ongoing training and development in incorporating technology into all aspects of College life. The establishment of the Professional Learning Team and involvement in the Catholic Education Office’s iLe@rn Projects has resulted in many unique experiences for our students.
Currently all students are in possession of either a MacBook, or in the case of Year 7 students an iPad. While the MacBooks remain the possession of the College, the students are the administrators of the device while they remain enrolled at the College. The students take the devices to and from the College and use them in most lessons.
To support this initiative, the Catholic Education Ofﬁce has installed a new wireless network across the College and upgraded our internet to fibre optic cable. This now enables us to provide unique learning experiences across all Key Learning Areas. The College is committed to integrating technology into all aspects of the curriculum and is already accessing some of the wonderful digital resources available online as well as incorporating Web 2.0 tools into the classroom.
1:1 Laptop Program
The 1:1 laptop program operating across the College has come about as a direct result of the Federal Government's Education Revolution Policy. The Catholic Education Office developed a systemic approach to the Federal Government initiative and mandated that all systemic catholic high schools deploy laptops to Year 9 students from the end of 2008 through until 2011.
We have now completed our deployment of the Federal Government’s Education Revolution funded laptops. This year we moved into the next phase of the funding program where school systems were allocated 70% of the original funding allocation. Our current Year 9 students received their MacBooks in early March under this arrangement. The Catholic Education Office covered the shortfall in funding to ensure parents were not placed under any financial strain. We are anticipating this will be the final time students will receive a 'free' device.
To complement this program the Catholic Education Office started a Year 7 Laptop Program in 2011. Under this program all Year 7 students received a MacBook at the start of the school year. The cost of the program is borne by parents based upon a rental plan coordinated by the CEO.
At the end of 2011 the College was approached by the Catholic Education Office to implement a pilot project involving the deployment of iPads to Year 7 in 2012. We had already been testing the device for over twelve months so the request was met with great enthusiasm and the current Year 7 cohort are now the proud owners of iPads and are the first to use them across the Archdiocese.
The pilot project will be closely monitored by staff from the Catholic Education Office with a view to implementing mobile devices across the Archdiocese in 2013.
Thursday remains a 'device-free' day due to the fact that all students are involved in sporting activities which require them to be in a wide variety of situations that make securing the devices virtually impossible.
Mr Michael Burden