At Jeppe we have always believed in presenting the boys with a holistic education, geared to preparing them for the outside world and, in recent years, that has increasingly meant showing them how to operate new technology and, most importantly, teaching them how to use technology, specifically computer applications and the internet, appropriately.
In line with this, Jeppe has signed up as a Google for Education school, with many of the school’s administrative and learner management functions handled online on the system.
The next step is to use the technology to present innovative and interactive teaching and, to do that, the school has purchased 35 chromebooks – laptop computers that have been designed to work with Google for Education – and teachers are being trained to use them as a tool in the learning process.
Mr Rob Faltermeier, the school’s ITC and Innovation director, says that, using the computers, learners can be taught to communicate, collaborate and to think critically and creatively.
“The machine will not be replacing books,” Mr Faltermeier stresses. “The chromebooks s are an add-on tool; the skills of reading and writing are obviously still crucial.”
The chromebooks will be centrally stored and teachers will sign them out and will design lessons incorporating the use of the technology. There are teacher modules which allow the teacher to monitor and control what the learners are doing and it’s possible to incorporate evaluation exercises that can give immediate feedback.
The teacher is able to restrict the use of the machines and that, Mr Falterneier explains, is in line with teaching good digital citizenship.
“It’s not just about using the technology,” he says, “it’s also about behaving appropriately when online, about protecting yourself, your integrity and your data.”
The long-term vision, he says is that a laptop will become a stationery item for all learners. The chromebooks operate entirely in the cloud. They have a limited hard drive storage capacity and learners all have a user profile that they log onto to access their data and applications.
“Although the system allows users access via their own devices, we prefer to have them all working on chromebooks at school, so that everyone is updated and able to access the content,” Mr Faltermeier said.
The entire system is run on Google, using Google applications, which are free to schools and there is unlimited storage space in the cloud for Google for Education users.
“In the past we were affected by data costs, but the roll out of fibre in Kensington comes with free data for schools, so that’s no longer an issue,” Faltermeier concluded.