Remaining cutting edge on tightening budgets.
For Hardenhuish School, remaining innovative in its use of new technology to support teaching and learning was becoming difficult. Until the ICT Strategy Group saw potential in the cloud supported by Salamander.
A secondary school with 1600 students in Chippenham.
- To remain cutting edge on tightening budgets and with ageing machines.
- To explore the cloud as an alternative to the constant pressure to replace equipment.
Finding the Solution in the Cloud
Matt Evans, ICT Innovation Manager explains, “We started to realise that simply replacing computers would be too expensive and, at the same time, the cloud was beginning to take off in education.”
Adam Lloyd, a student member of the ICT Strategy Group explains, “I recommended we move to the cloud because it’s a richer and broader experience. Students can access resources beyond what they are being taught and there are different ways of delivering content.”
Researching the options
Google Apps for Education or Office 365?
Once the school began exploring the cloud, the strategy group began visiting other schools to confirm it was the right decision and which tools to use.
Matt Evans explains, “As an established Microsoft user, we realised that Office 365 would be familiar to everyone and moving to Google would have meant a fresh start.”
Considering a virtual learning environment
Matt continues, “We use Moodle but it takes a level of in-school support that we don’t have the time to provide. Even though it is a free product, developing it further wasn’t a cost effective.”
Based on their research, the school was clear that it wanted a cloud-based teaching and learning environment based on Office 365.
Matt explains, “We don’t have the resources to manage our own SharePoint portal and choosing SalamanderSoft took away this pressure. The pricing point is very good and it offers value for money.”
“We knew that Salamander offered completely customisable and adaptable products that would grow with us, without additional costs.”
Highlights for the School
Direct links to the management information system
“Our SharePoint portal was launched in September 2015 and all set-up with our customised class and subject sites with live student data from SIMS.”
Staff rapidly realised the value of one of the key features which is quick interaction and feedback between student and teacher. David Clarke, Assistant Headteacher,
“It’s a really useful tool for bringing teaching and learning alive. The live tracking of progress is key. Being able to see a paragraph, say why it’s good, make changes and perhaps share it to the screen, that’s exciting.”
Tim Phillips, Lead Practitioner in Technology and Computing Teacher explains,
“The students upload material to their drop-box which is an area their teachers can access. I correct it and feed it back, all within the portal.”
A real community of learning
David Clarke, “We’ve talked about encouraging a community of learning but not been sure what we mean. Now we have the chance to tap into the confidence students have with social media. It’s so much better than work sitting in folders. It’s quicker and more exciting and we can all chip in.”
An instant hit
Most remarkable is the way that everyone has quickly seized on the benefits for teaching and learning.
After only one term, the potential is clear. The school is moving towards one-to-one devices which will further support their aims for the portal and the community of learning. Carla Fenwick, ICT Teacher, “When students have their own devices, their learning won’t stop when they leave school.”