Stratford schools go into the cloud

by Ultranet  •  29 Aug 2012  •  Showcase

“Students learning interaction is no longer limited to school hours and class room walls as these Stratford Primary students are keen to demonstrate.”

ERIKA VENTER | Friday, August 17, 2012

Students’ learning interaction is no longer limited to school hours and class room walls as these Stratford Primary students are keen to demonstrate, and this opens the opportunity for the community to also more closely interact with their schools.

Taranaki schools using the on-line learning platform Ultranet will end September have their first regional meeting, at Stratford Primary School. With schools increasingly embracing the digital age, classroom walls are disappearing into ‘the cloud’ and the Stratford Press spoke to Stratford Primary to catch on to what this means to our community.

Interaction, says Stratford Primary School principal Kelvin Squire. Most parents want to be involved in their children’s lives, but it is not always practical due to circumstances. This offers a window. Ninety per cent of our parents have access to the internet.

The school started their journey ‘into the cloud’ end of last year. They refreshed their website with the new applications and now teachers, students and their parents can access and upload information from anywhere, at any time.

We have had kids on holiday that updated their home learning through this. And they drove it themselves, says Paul Elkerton, who is in charge of keeping the school up to date on the technology.

It is meeting the students on a platform they understand.

He says students are now even enthusiastic about home learning on subjects they previously disliked.

Paul says there are a number of programmes available, but that they chose Ultranet as it is very easy to use. Toko and Inglewood primary schools were among the first to use it and Paul says they took aboard their advice and tailored it for their community.

In short, the programme offers a virtual private network where students, parents and teachers can meet to share home learning (home work); information, photos and videos on subjects and projects at school; students’ progress; follow links to websites vetted by the teachers; and safely network. Paul says they had some resistance from parents on the social networking, until explaining that the networking is in a safe, monitored environment and all about learning.

Only teachers and students have access, but parents can access the system through their kids’ log on.

Each class room syndicate designed their ‘home page’ and all students within a syndicate are ‘buddies’ with each other and the teachers.

This way no one is excluded, explains Paul.

He says the conversations are monitored and no bullying is allowed.

Each student has personalised their own page and can update it with relevant information, videos and photos.

The Year 7 and 8 classes were first to be introduced to the programme, in term one this year, followed by Year 5 and 6 term two, Year 3 and 4 this term, and Year 1 and 2 will follow next term.

Once everyone is on board, Paul says they will refine how to affectively use this tool for teaching.

It is not just a gimmick.

It is making teaching ‘smarter’, more interactive.

View original article: The Stratford Press