Loreto Normanhurst, an independent Catholic school for girls in Years 5 to 12 on Sydney’s North Shore, is one of several AARNet-connected schools with a successful Information Communications Technology (ICT) Integrator program. While the approach each school takes with these types of programs differs, they all share the common goal of helping staff and students skill up and embrace digital technologies for teaching and learning.
At Loreto, the ICT Integrator program has been operating for several years. The program offers all full-time staff members the opportunity to apply for an ICT Integrator position with a two-year tenure. Applicants come from across the school and do not need to have high-level technical skills. The key to success in the role is attitude and a willingness to learn and share what you learn with others in the school.
The number of ICT Integrators appointed varies from two to three each year and successful applicants are able to reduce their teaching loads by 20% to accommodate the additional work and time commitment that comes with the role.
Reducing their teaching loads gives new integrators the time to skill up in ICT competencies, go to classes that require their ICT support, team teach, develop digital resources, run meetings to share ideas, problems and solutions, and develop strategies for implementing new learning technologies.
In the early years of Loreto’s program ICT Integrators followed their own interests, mostly working with video, graphics and other software, and helping staff utilize those resources. But in 2015, after infrastructure upgrades were complete and the school connected to AARNet, enormous opportunities to deploy a range of cloud services to support teaching and learning were unleashed.
Rolling out a learning management system
ICT Integrators played an important role in facilitating the uptake of cloud services throughout the school.
For example, Canvas, a popular Learning Management System (LMS) was introduced in Term 1 2015. This was the first time the school had used a LMS. The ICT Integrators on the job included English, Religious Studies, Maths, History and Science teachers, and they provided an invaluable resource for creating awareness about what Canvas was and up skilling staff in how to use it, and then for helping staff get the best out of it for teaching and learning.
By Term 4 the uptake was beyond expectations for a school new to LMS’s. Google and Office 365 were also turned on and the sharing capabilities of these services also caught on really quickly.
Taking advantage of cloud services
The School has also leveraged the bandwidth AARNet provides and the storage capabilities of Google Drive to solve the critical problem of getting students to back up their laptops.
The Integrators inducted the girls and helped them understand Google Drive and move their data over. By June 2015, there were over one million files and by the end of 2015, over two million files stored on Google Drive. Moving the data to Google Drive over AARNet was ‘On-net’.
Supporting STEM education programs
In addition, ICT Integrators supported Year 8 girls through a programming challenge as part of a special STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) education program for girls. The students were rewarded for their efforts with a Distinguished Award and have inspired the Design and Technology department to introduce wearable technologies into the textile course.
It was a year of tremendous disruption for Loreto but the ICT Integrators stepped up to the task and were integral to the success of our digital transformation. The school reports that it is now seeing a higher level of tech savviness among the teaching staff.
AARNet provides K-12 schools with the high bandwidth and collaboration services they need to unlock the potential of new and emerging technologies along with online tools and resources for the benefit of education.