At the Australian International School we are conscious that our students operate in an increasingly digital and global world. A huge proportion of today’s teenagers are very active in social networks, even to the point of adopting relatively new and unknown networks and platforms very quickly.
In order to prepare our students as effective 21st century citizens, we need to provide them with the opportunity to learn all the digital skills necessary for them to use relevant technology, and teach them how to use that knowledge responsibly. We believe this can be accomplished by developing what are known as the “Seven C’s”.
Those C’s include: critical thinking; creativity and innovation; collaboration; cross-cultural understanding and communication. There are evident links between these skills and the ten attributes of the IB Learner Profile and Approaches to Learning (ATL) skills that we strive to develop in students through the IB Programmes at AIS.
Access to technology
At AIS we provide our students with access to technology in the classroom through a vast array devices and online resources. Our strategy on devices is changing rapidly, and is in response to the rampant change occurring in the wider community.
Each Preschool class has two or three computers (depending on the age of the students) and access to a set of 12 PCs in a shared Pod area. Enhancements for 2014 include a significant increase in the numbers of iPads to use on a 1:4 basis, supporting classroom programs, along with the evolution of the Pod resource into a full inquiry centre.
Elementary School (Prep to Year 5)
In 2014, the Elementary School transitioned to a 1:1 iPad program, providing all students from Prep to Year 5 access to their own iPad for use during the school day.
In 2014, AIS transitioned to a 1:1 laptop program for all students from Year 6 - Year 12. Students are either provided with a school issued MacBook Pro or Air, or may bring their own MacBook for use at school.
Our Visual Arts and Digital Media students have access to three Visual Arts rooms fully equipped with specialised high end computers with large monitors, allowing students to utilise the specialised software and media devices used in the Visual Arts courses. In 2014 further access to industry standard resources was provided by moving to iMac computers.
AIS provides Music students with two computer labs, each with Midi keyboards running specialised Music software including Sibelius, Auralia, Sony Vegas, Acid and Sound Forge.
Interactive White Boards
As well as the commitment to a Projector in every room, each classroom from Preschool to Year 12 has a Promethean Interactive White Board.
Portal and eLearning
Massive changes are in play currently updating a number of our key content and information systems at AIS.
Our Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is now fully deployed and has moved workflows and resources to a far more educational look and feel. Key to this new VLE is the ability to triangulate access to information and learning resources between teachers, students and parents, providing much greater levels of communication and visibility to the whole school community. Currently based on a system that uses SharePoint (called Scholaris), the project will further evolve in 2014 to further enhance the user experience and the digital connection between staff, students and parents, deepening the value of the VLE for all.
Parents and students also receive a separate login for the Campus Online, where they can top up the family Smart Card and order lunches from the canteen online.
Digital Citizenship Education
Just as the digital world is transforming itself, in seemingly shorter and shorter timeframes, so too is our understanding and drive for a broad digital citizenship education agenda. What began as a focus on being safe online has evolved into a domain that considers the ‘digital footprint’, ethical behaviour and digital social intelligence along with the critical element of digital safety.
Increasingly at AIS, we see this as a partnership between school and the home, particularly as the functional and experience gap between student and parent generations widens. Students these days are not only at the edge of exploring new digital landscapes, they are also adept at re-purposing existing resources and networks to meet the needs of what is now an established online youth.
A critical component of 21st Century Learning is providing access to our students to the wealth of powerful online resources that can transform teaching and learning. While the School is committed to the wonderful benefits online learning can bring, it also recognises the need to teach students to be responsible digital citizens and to understand that going online can present students with potential safety issues and dangers they need to be aware of.
Key aspects of our response to this demand include:
- Explicit education on the skills of managing online resources for safety
- Embedding of Digital Citizenship elements into core curriculum
- Engaging industry experts to assist in the execution of Digital Citizenship strategies
- Back end systems within the school that further assist online safety and content appropriateness
- Staying ‘up with the game’ is increasingly demanding, however, and AIS is exploring two key innovations that will take our response and support to the next level:
- The creation of AIS TV, our own internal ‘TV station’, where an increasing amount of the content will be produced by and for students, and will include many aspects of Digital Citizenship
- The creation of game-based education resources to allow for simulation-based learning. Currently, the only place to gain true experience is in the same environment where mistakes have a lasting impact. The field of Serious Games allows the exploration of simulated environments in a safe, yet still engaging format.
Responsible and safe use of the Internet is clearly outlined in the AIS ICT Acceptable Use Policy, which is read and accepted by all students and parents at AIS. At AIS we adopt an educative approach with regards to the responsible use of the Internet and cyber safety. Our aim is to encourage our students to think about how they are using the Internet and what they can do to stay safe. Internet safety is discussed in assemblies and when using the Internet as part of classwork or homework.
While at school, Internet use by students is filtered, blocking most potentially dangerous sites. We believe that although we have policies and filters in place, education is the most effective way of protecting our young people.
Teacher Professional Development
AIS is committed to supporting our teachers in the use of digital technologies and equipping them with the skills and knowledge required for 21st Century Learning. This support is evident in a variety of ways including providing each teacher with their own laptop and offering extensive professional development opportunities to teachers. Having highly skilled teachers is integral to the success of the program.
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