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Designing a robust solution for 21st century K-12 teaching and learning

During the COVID-19 crisis being connected to AARNet enabled Pedare Christian College to transform its entire teaching delivery into an interactive online experience in less than two weeks from conception to practice.

Designing a robust solution for 21st century K-12 teaching and learning

Pedare Christian College is a co-educational preparatory, primary and secondary Anglican and Uniting Church School located in the northeastern suburbs of Adelaide, South Australia.

As an International Baccalaureate School, the College is globally focused. Teaching and learning are designed to foster innovation, collaboration and creativity, with the goal of preparing students for success in an increasingly connected and interdependent world.

Digitally-enabled academic program

Since 2015, Pedare has relied on connectivity to the AARNet network for delivering a rigorous digitally-enabled academic program and a broad and diverse range of sporting, music and robotics opportunities.

To enable anywhere anytime teaching, the College implemented a Bring Your Own Device virtual desktop environment sustained by a 1 Gigabit per second (1Gbps) microwave link to AARNet via SABREnet in partnership with South Australia Health.

Transitioning to the cloud

Four years later, when faced with aging on-premise equipment and the desire to fully transition the College to cloud services for business operations and curriculum delivery, ICT Manager Peter Cheel turned to AARNet for help with developing a new higher bandwidth solution.

The solution, a 10 Gbps optical fibre AARNet link, now provides the College with the robust, reliable and scalable connectivity it needs to deliver a cloud-first strategy now and into the future.

“AARNet understands the needs of education and the needs schools have for bandwidth diversity, resiliency and quality, and that solutions need to be cost-effective. By partnering with AARNet to get the communications infrastructure piece right, we were able to quickly achieve our ambitious goal of fully transitioning to the cloud,” said Cheel.

Transforming curriculum delivery

The adoption of cloud services is transforming how the curriculum is delivered and the role of the ICT team.

“We have moved from a technical operation and support function, to a business-outcome focused service delivery team. Incorporating business analysis, change management and audio-visual services, we are helping to drive digital transformation throughout the organisation. Our efforts aim to free up time for teachers to spend working directly with students instead of dealing with time-consuming manual paper-driven processes. All of these changes are improving learning outcomes,” he said.

Robotics and other STEM projects are also benefiting from improved connectivity as they are able to operate at a richer level. For example, Pedare is one of the first schools in the state to have a greenhouse with a farm bot on campus to enrich teaching and learning about agriculture.

Transitioning to offsite learning

Being partnered with AARNet during the COVID-19 crisis has provided the College with the flexibility to tackle a rapid shift to offsite learning seamlessly.

“Our staff and students have been using online learning resources for many years now, but COVID-19 challenged us to transition our teaching practice online as well. Having the 10Gigabit bandwidth in place to support access to Cloud systems meant that introducing video streaming for every teacher was possible immediately,” said Cheel.

Reliable network 

“Having reliable, dependable low-latency high-bandwidth access to a network designed for enbling education users to directly access cloud providers like Google and AWS already in place has given our staff confidence in the technology they are using. That confidence meant teachers were able to undertake significant professional development and put new skills straight into practice. The College was able to transform its entire teaching delivery into an interactive online experience in less than two weeks from conception to practice,” he added.

With its increasing dependency on cloud services, next up for the College is transitioning the secondary AARNet link from 1Gbps to 10Gbps, which will transition a passive backup path into a seamless dual-homed connection. Additionally, the College is implementing highly available direct AARNet connection to the Amazon Web Services cloud environment.

“In partnership with AARNet, we have designed a connectivity solution that is the very best it can be for delivering education in the 21st century,” said Cheel.