The first thought that goes through your mind when you visit Eversdal Primary School in Durbanville, and you see the amazing technology integration that is taking place in the classrooms, is, ‘Why haven’t I heard about this school before?’ The school has been selected as a Microsoft Showcase school and the badge is proudly displayed on their website. Arno Pienaar, a teacher at the school says, “We first heard of this program when we met Elsabe Hart from Microsoft. We were encouraged to join the program and this has been a great way of getting to know people and sharing our ideas with fellow educators as well as learning new skills and being updated with global trends.” Both Gys Burger and Arno Pienaar are current Microsoft Innovative Educator Experts.
The school leadership team fully on board
The interesting thing about Eversdal Primary is that not only are the school leadership team members all fully on board with the school’s ICT vision, but they are leading the way. Their vision is to equip the staff and supply a one-to-one learning experience to all their learners, without the need of individual attention. “This can only be achieved when our children are actively involved during a lesson and creating their own content, thus creating their own understanding of what has been taught,” says the principal Henk Arangies.
|Henk Arangies, Principal|
|Gys Burger, Deputy Principal and MIEExpert Educator|
Office 365 and OneNote
Microsoft programs are used extensively throughout the school with Office 365 and OneNote in the forefront. Henk says “Our school uses Office 365 for every part of our production day with OneNote being the base on which we are building our curriculum.” The teachers at Eversdal are provided with training sessions every second morning and afternoon of the week. “In these sessions, we address all the issues experienced when using the various technologies, and we explain new ideas about the technology the school is about to implement.”
Regular staff professional development
Gys Burgher and Arno Pienaar are responsible for training the staff. Gys describes himself as “a young, aspiring leader with high standards and goals to achieve at our school. My role as Deputy is to develop a Digital Curriculum and to train our teachers to use the new technologies and tools we are able to supply them with.” Arno Pienaar’s role at Eversdal is to help develop 21st century learning and thinking, and train the staff members in the use of the new technologies. Combined with the assistance from Elsabe Hart, the Microsoft Teacher Ambassador for Cape Town, they make a formidable team. When the school leadership first wanted to get to grips with the potential of OneNote they found that Elsabe gave invaluable assistance. “We asked Elsabe if it would be possible for her to give training to our staff members to introduce us to what OneNote could potentially become for our school. We were fortunate enough, that she was able to spend two days with us to do training. Since then we have given over 20 hours of OneNote and Microsoft Classroom training.”
Bring your Own Device (BYOD)
The school is equipped with a state of the art computer lab, but they also have a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy in operation. They allow the Intermediate and Senior Phase learners to bring their own devices to school. Because of the large number of learners in these phases, they first had to get their infrastructure in place so that it would support the number of learner devices in use. This is a vital step in any 1:1 program.
The Intermediate and Senior Phase learners at Eversdal use OneNote in their lessons. OneNote works particularly well on BYOD devices. “OneNote is the answer that we’ve been waiting for. It allows us to create content and share this with our learners. It also allows our learners to create content and share it with us. Working collaboratively with learners and encouraging them to be active participants in the learning process is a very successful approach. OneNote also allows us to work offline and sync changes and not be bound by online work,“ says Gys. In a typical OneNote lesson the teachers either distribute content and the learners follow and make notes on digital content, thus empowering them to be in charge of their own content; or, the teachers ask the learners to create content through gathering, analyzing and presenting work. This new active way of learning digitally also facilitates collaboration between learners enabling them to work on challenges and solve problems together.
STEM projects being planned
The Eversdal team are finding that integrating learning with the use of technology in the classroom is empowering their learners to become creative, analytical and critical thinkers. They are already making plans to take their digital learning forward by introducing STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) projects into the curriculum.