Posted on October 26, 2021 / From our Principal
This week we have a special lead introduction from Sue Healey, Director of Information & Technology Services and Head of ICT Curriculum…
Over the last 18 months the concept of pivoting has become an often-used term in many aspects of our lives. For Tintern, this meant that in March 2020, after 143 years of on-site learning, Tintern shifted within 48 hours to an all-digital remote learning ecosystem. For many in our community, this shift appeared almost seamless.
Real classrooms were swapped for online Teams classrooms. On-site student parent conferences were also swapped for online Teams meetings. Parents could now join and chat with their child’s teacher from home or work. No more rushing to get to school for appointment deadlines. Teams meetings allowed staff to participate in timely PD sessions at the end of the school day and meet with their colleagues for staff and planning sessions. OneDrive, our cloud-based storage space meant staff and student work files were available anywhere, anytime on any device. Schoolbox, our school portal, provided a platform for lessons to be delivered, for students to submit work, for teachers to mark student work and for parents to have online visibility of class work, due work and student results…and EdSmart, our permissions/excursions platform provided timely digital communications when identifying families who required onsite supervision during each of the six Victorian lockdowns.
While it may have appeared that these services appeared overnight, the reality of our March 2020 shift to online learning came about after many years of planning and a staged implementation of our move to the cloud.
Looking back, the school was already well underway on its digital journey having trialled our first portal in the early 2000s followed by a second product trial in 2010. This was a time when the federal government provided grants to support the purchase of 1:1 devices in schools. By 2012 Tintern had established more than 17 computer labs across two campuses while iPads were introduced into the primary and middle schools for all students. As Director of Information and Technology Services, in 2012 I was offered an opportunity to travel to the US to visit schools in San Francisco and New York and see first hand how lighthouse schools were teaching and learning with technology. A subsequent visit to Silicon Valley included meetings with educational consultants at the offices of Google, Microsoft and Apple. While the era of virtual reality was still on the horizon (expected within 5 to 7 years) the most pressing need in schools once students had 1:1 devices was a shift to a cloud based future for teaching and learning.
In the years since, the school’s executive and board have continuously supported our vision of an integrated cloud based, device agnostic future. IT budgets year-on-year have supported continuous updates to core infrastructure to ensure as near as possible 99% uptime of school services to all community members.
The final steps in our Microsoft Office 365 migration occurred in early 2020 just prior to the greatest educational shift in our lifetime. As a result, the school was well placed in March 2020 to make an almost seamless pivot. It is a testament to the team I work closely with everyday. I am truly grateful for their commitment to excellence, their ability to implement new technologies with teachers and students at the core of all decision making and the endless hours spent ensuring that teaching has continued with minimum technology disruptions.