The Hills School Northmead, Sydney, NSW has a strong professional interest in determining uses of ICT as a tool to improve student engagement and learning and to support teaching and learning for students with severe and complex difficulties including Autism. At the beginning of 2011 our school purchased 4 iPads. We could see the great potential of the iPad as a tool to support teaching and learning. The iPad motivated students and was adaptive to individual needs.
In August 2011 our school began the development of an exciting ICT vision for ‘liberating communication’. While we could see the potential of the iPad as a tool to support teaching and learning, we wanted to strategically measure the impact of the iPad on student learning outcomes. A two day event, The Action Research Planning Conference, was organised and attended by five staff and a parent representative from The Hills School community and lead by Greg O’Connor from Spectronics. This action learning group was strategically chosen to include key people from across all learning stages of our school. There was a sharing and analysis of current and relevant information and proposals were formulated. IPAD apps were downloaded, tried, tested, catalogued and retained or discarded according to an iPad specific rubric. An action research project was formulated.
With the support of Spectronics, NSWDEC and strategic school planning our original vision has been clarified and our ‘Liberating Communication’ action learning has been formally launched by our school research team. Our school now has twenty two iPads, five iPods, staff iPad focus times in learning stage meetings and a staff iPad sandpit (play) times. We have organised a loan of an iPad for two weeks for each staff member. We are endeavouring to implement this for students’ families. We sent an iPad home over the Christmas holidays with each teacher on staff with an easy and fun project to give staff the opportunity to increase their expertise and skills. Their efforts have been shared during weekly staff meetings and fortnightly teacher forums.
At The Hills School everything iPad is strategic and measured. Greg O’Connor is an ongoing professional partner and critical friend, his participation and involvement in this project is invaluable.
With an ongoing commitment to expanding staff knowledge and skills, The Hills School has introduced the use of iPads in each classroom with a focus on motivation for engagement, supporting successful activity transition and teaching targeted behavioural change. We have commenced a trial with targeted students using the app “Pictello”. After this trial time period the research team will collect data, report and review findings according to their action research criteria and teaching and learning cycle.
How much impact will an iPad have on learning outcomes for students at The Hills School and will The Hills School see the iPad as an effective and engaging teaching tool to support positive student behaviour? The findings of this project will hopefully mirror the research findings on the potential use of iPad in education learning programs.
This blog has been written and posted on behalf of The Hill School, Northmead, NSW, Australia. For more information contact Peter Gurrier-Jones, Deputy Principal, The Hills School, Mary Street, Northmead Email: firstname.lastname@example.org