Martin Elms, principal, St Patrick’s school, Paraparaumu
Increasingly New Zealand schools are putting in place WiFi systems that enable children to take their laptops, netbooks or tablets to school to support their learning. St Patrick’s Paraparaumu students have been able to join this digital revolution after a generous donation from the Infinity Foundation.
Students access the Internet through a secure login that keeps a separation between a student’s device and the school’s network and systems.
In addition, each of the classes, along with PCs and laptops, has an iPad (funded by the school fundraising group) which they are using to explore the world of Apps.
Teachers and children make effective use of the growing number of cloud resources and online learning opportunities including Google Docs as well as tablet apps. There is a link on the school website to the senior class blog which is a window onto the digital learning world for St Patrick’s students.
St Patrick’s system and specification has been developed in consultation with local colleges so that devices can be used when students go on to secondary education, giving families maximum benefit.
Financially, this project makes sense as it allows schools to develop a digital learning environment and make the best use of limited resources. St Patrick’s has ensured there are sufficient resources for all children to have access to a computer or device to work online whether or not they can bring their own.
Government-funded ultrafast broadband has been connected to the school and St Patrick’s students are able to benefit from this and the newly developed Network for Learning.
The children have taken to new technology like ‘ducks to water’. If anything they have taught us and led the way.
Together, we are learning about the competencies of ‘digital citizenship’; how to interact, behave and use the resources of the Internet responsibly and safely. Added to this, we have been developing our understanding of digital citizenship from a Catholic character value base.
We expect the children to be more than just consumers of online content. We aim to provide opportunities that enable them to learn, create and share.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2013 issue of Pastoral Pages, published by the Kapiti parishes. Visit Waikanae or Paraparaumu parishes.