Creating the connected classroom

| October 28, 2013 | 0 Comments

By Gail Reith

Four years ago, Brescia House School, an independent Catholic school for girls in Bryanston, Johannesburg, recognised the need to embrace technology and provide an e-learning environment for its students.

Excellence in education requires offering the right tools and environments to facilitate and advance the students’ skills and knowledge. The graduating students are thus competent (and confident) to thrive in a technology-based world.

The use of up-to-date technology encompasses all aspects, including social media. The students are allowed to interact on Facebook and Twitter during their breaks, and they use this medium for sharing school-related information.

Everyone’s connected
In the relaxed secondary school atrium, a large flat-screen TV serves as a digital notice board, while the Wi-Fi zone ensures the students can connect, communicate and research via the internet.

Many of our textbooks are digital, and projects and notetaking are faster, due to the connected classroom. All students in secondary school, from Grade 8, work with laptops, and the junior primary school has introduced iPads in the Grade R to Grade 3 classes. While the young students have fun doing various exercises on the iPads, their computer classes are educating them on the full utilisation of information technology (IT) in their lives.

This year, the senior primary school broke new ground in education, by investing in the Promethean Active Table – the first of its kind in Africa. It’s a table top-sized tablet at which six students can work at a time. The team activities augment their collaboration skills, and the full use of interactive media helps them to make creative choices.

Benedikte Nott, secondary school headmistress, comments: “Access to technology around the clock has helped the students to be more organised. They have access to Outlook so they can plan their days better and access information immediately in class.” The use of smartcards allows them access to security doors and printers, to books from the library and items at the tuck shop.

Constant learning
The training of teachers is ongoing and regular, to ensure they are at the cutting edge of new trends in IT education. “Going digital means you’re constantly learning, because the technology changes so quickly. We are involved with a lot of webinars and actual seminars, and we visited the US and Australia to get an idea of how countries at the forefront of e-learning were making it happen in their schools,” says Lyneth Crighton, IT coordinator at Brescia House School. On one teacher’s return from an Australian tour this year, she remarked: “Brescia House School can be proud to be on par with leading schools in the major cities in Australia and, in some cases, we are ahead in practices in technology.”

In April this year, the school hosted an expo for teachers and principals on how to introduce IT into the classroom – to create the ‘connected classroom’. With many of the big names in hardware and software present at the expo, the event was exceptionally successful.

‘E’ is for excellent Brescia House School students are very fortunate recipients of the foresightedness of their school’s executive management. Being an Ursuline school means excellence in academia, and now this is underpinned by an advanced e-learning environment.

Gail Reith is involved with admissions and marketing at Brescia House School.

Category: e-Education, Summer 2013

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