Tasmania’s Taroona Primary School, located about 15 minutes’ drive from the Hobart CBD, sets the gold standard for integrating cutting-edge technologies into the classroom.
With about 400 students, Taroona Primary has invested in a 1-1 device program for students using tablets, along with an online learning environment called Fronter, developed by the Tasmanian Department of Education.
“The department has been quite savvy over many years,” Taroona’s Primary principal, Danielle Bresnehan, says. “When computers first started being rolled out to schools, [the department] built a set of basic computer skills modules and rolled them out to all teachers.”
Bresnehan says the role of technology in the classroom is to support the learning process. Tablets, for example, are used to make the students’ thinking visual – instead of teachers asking a question and moving on, students can demonstrate their understanding through online tools.
Students put their answers and ideas into a secure online platform that is then displayed on an interactive whiteboard. “The children can see their ideas and answers growing before their eyes,” Bresnehan says.
“We’ve got 24/7 opportunities to connect with education worldwide and expert leaders in their fields of study – this would not have been possible in the past.”
Efficient and accessible
At the centre of Taroona’s technology-driven learning program is the Fronter environment, which enables students to display their work and the results of their learning.Parents and community members – with appropriate permissions – can also log in to the platform to see the children’s work. Fronter also provides older students with the ability to upload their homework for teachers to mark, putting paid to the old ways of handing in pieces of paper at the beginning of the day and receiving a grade some days later.
“The school is all about support for learning,” Bresnehan says. “We aim to create, connect, collaborate and share knowledge from a very early age.”
Protection is paramount
Security and cyber safety are also important aspects of the Taroona Primary learning environment, and students are taught the fundamentals of online safety from a very early age: they sign a technology agreement at the beginning of the year, and all are taught what the school expects from their use of technology.
Bresnehan says the use of technology has fundamentally changed the learning environment, which has become much more collaborative and interactive. “Technology is enhancing the opportunities to connect with others,” she says. “We’ve got 24/7 opportunities to connect with education worldwide and expert leaders in their fields of study. This would not have been possible in the past.”
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