Blended Learning at Sacred Heart College

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At Sacred Heart College our vision is to prepare each student to leave the College well-grounded in his faith, and ready and able to participate in a complex and changing world with the determination to succeed at the highest level in personal and professional life.

In 2012 the College reviewed how the current curriculum was being delivered to students and with our vision statement firmly at the centre of our thinking, investigated the potential of introducing devices through students bringing their own (BYOD). First and second hand research was completed by Jason Cornford (Academic Director) and Rob Pepping (Deputy Principal) and the Senior Leadership team recommend to the Board of Trustees (who gave their approval) to give the go ahead to begin a phased introduction of iPads.

The vision that we have developed is focused on the premise that having a personal device allows the learning to become more effectively personalised, available to the student anywhere, anytime and at the pace that works for the individual. We call it blended learning - where the best of the existing approaches is blended with the best of what the technology has to offer. We are seeking to maximise engagement with the hope that better engagement leads to deeper learning, more intellectual, conceptual and creative thinking with greater understanding and retention. This in turn will lead to better results, and students who are able to interact extremely positively in the post school environment and make valuable contributions both locally and further afield.

The pedagogical theory is seated in the SAMAR model (Substitution; Augmentation; Modification and Redefinition).

  • Substitution; the computer stands in for another technological tool without significant change in the tool’s function.
  • Augmentation; the computer replaces another technological tool, with significant functionality increase.
  • Modification; the computer enables the redesign of significant portions of a task.
  • Redefinition; the computer allows for the creation of new tasks that would be inconceivable without the technology.

The College chose one device because the biggest challenge that we faced in making the program a success was getting the teachers on board. By dictating that all students were to come with the same device meant that all the teachers -who were equipped with a device at the start of 2013 (a whole year before the students walked through the door with the same device) - had time to learn how the device worked, explore it’s capabilities and develop the ability to solve low level issues that arose. More importantly it gave teachers time to trial and develop ways in which the device could change their approach in the classroom. This developed confidence and empowerment in the teachers that would not have been there if their class of 30 students had all began walking into class with (potentially) 30 different devices.

The iPad was chosen as the device of choice by the College for the following reasons:

  • Excellent battery life
  • Very stable platform (Apple’s proven track record for reliability is second to none)
  • Closed system (the college did not want devices brought that could potentially compromise our network).
  • The quality of the product is excellent (the quality of the touch screen, the camera, the intuitive nature of its usage)

To ensure the maximum success of this program the College set up the Lead Teacher model for Professional Development, with 18 teachers selected to lead the change within their respective departments. These lead teachers were given additional professional development themselves to assist with this process. Whole staff weekly professional development sessions (ongoing) supplemented this together with two professional development days per year (that has included the use of Apple Distinguished Educators). On top of that the College has continued to support existing and new staff with one on one professional development from Cyclone Computer’s Julia Parker.

The College’s infrastructure has been radically overhauled, starting with the installation of Ultra-Fast Broadband in 2013 and the complete replacement of the network, together with server replacements and complete fit out of Wireless Access Points. All of this underpins the smooth running of the rich, digital content resources that we now depend.

Setting up your iPad
Once you have the iPad in your hands then turn it on and follow the on screen prompts to set it up. If you do not already have an Apple ID then you will be required to do so. You are able to complete this step without giving over your credit card details or using a gift card. Further detail on setup information can be found in the Resources panel.

If you have any questions regarding purchasing through Cyclone Computers please contact the company directly. If purchasing an iPad will be difficult for your family financially please contact Br Gerard Mahony (Co-Director of Pastoral Care) to discuss. The College has in place a facility to assist you.