Barker College’s technology platform is a critical, complementary toolset underpinning its curricula. In the latest refresh of its maturing IT environment, Barker undertook a comprehensive review of its device & App use.
The goals were to re-evaluate technology supported learning in the school’s continuing extension of student creativity and enquiry. The College chose the Microsoft Surface to drive its latest engagement strategy.
Barker College is an independent Anglican school on Sydney’s North Shore. It caters to students from Pre-Kindergarten to Year 12 and is partially co-educational offering places to girls in Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten and Years 10 to 12, and is transitioning to full co-education in 2022. The School currently has 2,200 students including 60 boarders.
CompNow manages Barker’s wide range of fit for purpose devices, as well as BYOT. This deepening partnership since 1996, enables the School’s teachers and IT team to concentrate on developing pedagogy supported technology.
In 2016 Barker’s Executive acknowledged the use of IT – by students, teachers and staff – was not reaching its potential to properly support teaching and learning within the School.
A comprehensive review was undertaken into student, teacher & parental attitudes to the use of student technology. It revealed that many students were not using their school provided device at home, and were often using personal BYOT devices. The review also determined that there was still a heavy use of fixed devices in learning spaces, and students & teachers were not effectively using the 1:1 devices that students carried.
James Stewart, Director of ICT & eLearning at Barker College, says: “We identified the huge impact of non-integrated technologies on the learning sequence. Many lessons and assessments had to be completed in class time due to use of fixed technology, preventing students from working independently in their own time. And teacher training, in the scope of technology applicable to each subject area, had been limited and lacking in confidence-building inspiration.”
In the latest expansion of Barker’s technology platform, in conjunction with a comprehensive review of how technology was used in teaching and learning, a well supported, rugged tablet-cross-laptop was sought. Functionality, reliability and ease of use being a perennial consideration in learning environments. Students had identified the importance of multi-media recording whilst teachers added a stylus for handwriting to the wish list.
“We were concerned by some, comparatively, lower order skill problems students were experiencing. They were struggling to organise their work. There were issues with handwriting and typing. And we were alert to the potential of long term health effects of technology use, ergonomics and posture.”
We look for partnerships to help us leverage technology. Our suppliers must have a cohesive story about where they fit into education and demonstrable proof of improving the student experience,” James says. “CompNow takes a holistic view, they see procurement as the end of a thorough process. They work closely with us for best practice deployment and teacher training”.
The latest rollout of Microsoft Surface devices has further complemented Barker’s IT environment. “The Microsoft and CompNow professional services teams brought great insight and reassurance to our new broadened ecosystem. Training has been critical to success, to maximising potential”, he says.
“The selection of the Surface has been a standout. Microsoft and the School collaboratively worked out best practice imaging for the devices that streamlines their deployment. And in their robust protective cases, they’ve even withstood the rigours of the ultimate user – Year 8 boys!”
As the Surface is ergonomically geared to long form typing, it is making a positive difference in the production of creative writing. And with its large screen’s ability to lift and tilt, student postures are improving.
The TCO is reduced through CompNow’s end to end support. “The warranty arrangement we have in place is exactly what we need. Whether it’s a BYOT, iPad or Surface issue, we have the whole mobile fleet with one, easy to deal with partner,” James says.
All procurement and repair – including remote repair for nominated devices – is processed via the portal designed for Barker. “As part of a service focused solution, CompNow has provided a pool of pre-imaged devices, covers and pens to ensure students can swap out damaged or faulty equipment and carry on working with minimal disruption”.
Where once students were constrained in access to labs and the desktops, now there are no limits. The results, say James, are that “students are handing in more creative, robust & rigorous assignments because they can work how, when and where they like.
“The strategic assessment of fit for purpose technologies is resulting in marked improvements in staff & student adoption of digital supported learning,” he says.