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Gazette Article

School wires up for lesson-ready apps

Artarmon Public School (APS) has updated its connectivity to ensure it keeps abreast of technology. Students returning to APS from the holiday break discovered their school had “gone wireless”.

The $50,000 upgrade will enable both staff and students to access the school server and internet from laptops, computer tablets and other mobile devices anywhere within the school grounds on a secure network.

The new wireless environment will complement and strengthen the existing technologies. Each of the 36 classrooms is equipped with an interactive whiteboard, which combines a standard white board with a computer. The school also has two computer laboratories, each of which is designed to accommodate an entire class of about 25 students.

The wireless network will enhance the use of the 100 computer tablets the school purchased in term one. The APS Parents and Citizens’ Association aims to raise enough money this year to provide 60 more tablets.

Charging stations located around the school can charge 32 tablets at once, ensuring the devices are always “lesson ready”. Principal Louise Green said there were big advantages in integrating new technologies into the classroom. 

“There are real strengths in some of the applications that you can use on a computer tablet,” she said. “For example, using ebook creator, the children can pass the tablet around, put their story page on the tablet and together create a class book, which can then be put online or sent home to parents on a USB.

“In that process they learn how to type, input pictures and videos and develop other essential computer skills. They can make a movie of an excursion and then learn together how to edit the movie and put that into their ebook. That way rather than being a lesson on technology, the technology is integrated into their learning.”

Teachers and students have embraced the new additions to their classrooms. However, Louise is quick to point out the tablets are used with strict controls in place.

“We are cautious about the type of apps downloaded. They are either Department of Education approved or have been vetted by the executive teaching staff. We try to avoid babysitting apps that don’t really engage children in learning but just keep them distracted,” she said.

To maximise the usefulness of the tablets and the new wireless environment, APS staff have been attending several teacher development days. Staff have spent time familiarising themselves with the new English syllabus, which has been re-written to accommodate the Australian Curriculum that will standardise subject syllabi across all states. In a move Louise describes as “absolutely brilliant”, the Department of Education has developed the syllabus as an on-line resource and designed a programming tool, which enables teachers to create their teaching plans direct from the syllabus then print them for the classroom.

Louise believes integrating new technologies into the classroom is essential for the development of today’s student who will be entering a technologically sophisticated adult world.

“First, we need to teach them the skills they need currently to exist in a technological environment. Second, we need to teach them to be safe in a cyber-environment and, third, teach critical literacy, which is how to check what is real and what isn’t,” she said.

“The way skills and technology adapt, there’s nothing we can do now that will prepare children for twenty years hence because the technology is so far out of our concept range.

“What is essential is that we teach children to be adaptive and to be resilient and flexible so they can cope as new things come their way.”

by Eva Wiland, Gazette editor

Courtesy of Gazette May 2013
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APS students
APS students ... learning via Wi-Fi
Photo: J Rowley





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