Principal Melissa Bell describes St Hilda's school vision and how it is supported and enabled by technology. She describes how they are enabling students to learn anywhere at anytime and work collaboratively both locally and globally and the benefits this has had for student learning outcomes. Involving parents in student's learning has also been an important factor.
For us, we have a vision that’s based on students as individual learners. We have a vision, which is based on learning anywhere at anytime. It’s also about working collaboratively and using tools like Google Docs so that even though students may be separated geographically they’re able to continue with their collaboration. You can extend that beyond the local into the global context. One of the things we’re working at the moment is working on developing international relations, that’s part of our vision for the future, part of a belief from our board that future problems in the world aren’t going to be solved by groups of people working in isolation. That really we’re going to need to bring together people from very different backgrounds, different cultures, with different experience to solve real world problems. So if we can expose students to that at a younger age and encourage that collaboration we think that can be really, really powerful.
I think it’s had a huge impact and I think initially teachers looked for improvements in terms of engagement. When we implemented it we worked with a research team from Otago University who were able to provide quite clear data that engagement had increased. However I think there have been more significant changes to student learning. I think they self manage far better. They can access learning materials at home, at the hostel. They can plan out their own individual pathways. I think for a principal you don’t have to just educate your students and your staff but how do you actually involve and inform your parents. We’ve had several little e-learning seminars for parents and they’ve been really successful but parents can feel quite intimidated or feel overwhelmed at what’s out there. That’s why it’s important to inform and involve because being overwhelmed can easily turn into being fearful or resentful of technology. We need to keep parents engaged. We’ve been really fortunate with how our parents have embraced our e-learning programme.
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