Twenty years ago, Saint Kentigern College launched the first student one-to-one programme in a New Zealand school. Overseeing it from the start has been ICT Director Walter Chieng, ably assisted by partners Toshiba, Lexel and Service Plus.
Remember 1996? Windows NT and MySpace were launched. DVDs were starting to appear. The first Wi-Fi protocol (802.11) was more than a year away and Google was still just an idea. Oh, and Saint Kentigern College launched its BYOD programme.
“We were the first school in New Zealand to adopt a one-to-one programme,” said Walter Chieng, Director of ICT at Saint Kentigern Trust. “In the first trial year, it was 16 students, plus four staff. They used the Toshiba Satellite Pro 210CS.”
Today, 2,149 students are part of a managed BYOD programme across the Saint Kentigern Trust’s fours schools (College, Boys’ School, Girls’ School and Preschool) and three campuses in Auckland. Students entering the BYOD programme in 2016 will be equipped and trained on the Toshiba Portégé Z20t Ultrabook.
“The goal and the drive was to ensure that our students had the anytime/anywhere access to the digital tools needed for their learning and development. We saw this coming – schools could not continue to purchase the devices to get to one-to-one learning.
“We wanted to ensure that access was not a limiter and we would work in partnership with our parents to provide the range of learning opportunities available to our students.”
Students may have two devices during their time at St Kents. The school buys the old machines back for parts. Interestingly, however, the hardware was less of an issue than what ran on it – especially in the early, ‘pre-internet’ days.
“Initially, access to curriculum-specific software was something that we had to work hard at. Our programme was not only about using productivity tools, such as Office software, but more importantly tools for learning across the curriculum. There were ‘limitations’ prior to internet and wireless but we worked at it to ensure that we adopt new opportunities and technologies as they become available/feasible.
Students are discerning users
“The tools that are now readily available are both a blessing and otherwise, I believe appropriate and effective use of tools available to us today is fundamental in ensuring that our students really benefit from the experience and are discerning users.”
Any surprises along the way?
“Not really but I am amazed by the ongoing ‘exponential growth’ of technological developments and opportunities. Years back we seemed to be limited by the hardware but for many years since the hardware is not necessarily utilised to its full capability.”
Saint Kentigern’s 20-year journey has not been taken alone. Toshiba, Lexel Education Services and Service Plus have supported Chieng, his team, and the schools.
“All three are significant partners in our programme. They understand the education environment is critical to us and key to providing the best support to our users. Toshiba were pioneering in the schools programme. Their support has been unwavering over the last 20 years. Their heart is in education.
“The product, support, service and expertise are cornerstones of our device provision and support programmes, allowing us to focus on our core business, educating our students.”
“Teachers don’t have the worry about the devices, the onsite support allows for a swap device immediately, while the Service Plus team deal with insurance or warranty claims. There is also a standard operating environment across all devices allowing for training once for all.”
Opening up opportunities
What’s been the impact on teaching and learning outcomes?
“The BYOD programme has opened up opportunities. It’s not an internet-focused programme, more about guided learning, a discerning approach. Students use their devices 40 to 50 per cent of the time, and have access to the digital tools, locally or online. ‘Classrooms without walls’ expands the horizon. More collaboration between students is natural and encouraged. Technology helps this happen.”
Two decades down, what does he see things developing in the next 20 years?
“This is a hard one. It’s not so long ago when we were citing five-year plans but now even a three- year one is probably a little bit of crystal ball gazing.
“In education, I don’t think we have fully harnessed the potential of what we have access to at the moment. I think in the immediate years ahead we have the opportunity to really make technology shine in the education process. We’re on the ongoing basis being confronted with new technologies that may have a place in education. I think the rate and success of integrating this in children’s academic and general development will increase and perhaps escalate with the generational change.”
WALTER CHIENG IS DIRECTOR OF ICT AT SAINT KENTIGERN TRUST AND WAS TALKING TO INTERFACE EDITOR GREG ADAMS.
Lexel Education Solutions is one of New Zealand’s leading IT infrastructure solutions partners with 27 years’ experience and more than 120 staff. For more information contact 09 4141 777
or visit lexeleducation.co.nz