Focus school: Baradene College, New Zealand

Today we are excited to place the spotlight on Baradene College and the wonderful work the school is doing in incorporating technology into the classroom. Baradene is one of New Zealand's leading schools in its level of technology adoption and integration, and it is having a visible impact on the school's students and teachers.

Baradene College of the Sacred Heart is a Catholic girls' school in Auckland, New Zealand. The school teaches students from Year 7 to Year 13, with a school roll of 1,150 girls. Deputy Principle, Theresa Bosch, is spearheading the school's move into the digital age. Baradene is reinventing their approach to teaching, using Microsoft technologies as the platform.

Baradene College has set up Office 365 accounts for each student under its licensing agreement. This enables all students to download a free copy of Office - including Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote - onto their primary device for schoolwork, and on up to four other supporting devices. Theresa Bosch believes that Office Mix and the OneNote Notebook Creator "are proving to be very popular platforms for Baradene staff and students alike".

To ensure that no student gets left behind in their digital literacy, Year 7 and 8 students at Baradene receive training on the Office programs, with the intention being that by the time students enter Year 9 they will have passed Word, PowerPoint, OneNote and Excel exams and be proficient users.

Baradene College is now in its third year of a student one-to-one BYOD device program. The program was first trialled on Year 9 students, and has since been extended to include all students from Year 7 - 11. The BYOD program has proved to be successful across all year levels. Theresa Bosch says, "we have learnt valuable lessons along the way and believe the use of a personal device has become an important part of the toolkit that supports students learning".

Based on this success, Baradene will continue to ask Year 7 students joining the school to bring a specific device for classroom use. The school has seen many advantages from its BYOD program so far. According to Theresa, "a student owned internet capable device gives them instant access to unlimited online resources and enables them to support, extend, communicate and share their learning in a way that will prepare them for the future".

Theresa has listed the below benefits that the school has seen from their current BYOD program:

  • Anytime, anywhere access to class resources, support and extension activities through Ultranet, the school's learning management system, and Office 365 sites
  • The ability to develop “digital” folders and exercise books for their classes (that can’t be lost, and never need replacing) through OneDrive in Office 365
  • Unlimited access to the school library e-books, database and catalogued web resources through Oliver
  • Greater ability to communicate with teachers, parents and peers to support their learning through instant access to their student email that is set up for them through Student Advantage
  • The ability to draft, redraft and publish their work at the click of a button with Office Products online or from the Student Advantage Office Products that are downloaded onto their devices,
  • Access to world recognised qualifications via the Microsoft IT academy program
  • Allowing students to become active partners in their learning as they acquire 21st Century learning skills.

Baradene's recommended BYOD device is the Microsoft Surface Pro 3, which is a premium Ultrabook/tablet hybrid. This device has proved to support students' learning, and it has "a long battery life, and is light enough for the students to carry around to their various subjects". With its unique click-on keyboard connector and an integrated kickstand, the Surface Pro 3 is adaptable and versatile. Students can use the Surface Pro 3 in the way that best suits them - as a laptop, tablet, or digital writing paper with its high-tech pen technology. Theresa believes that the use of the digital pen is becoming increasingly important, especially when teaching non-linguistic subjects such as Music, Mathematics and Science and character-based languages such as Japanese and Mandarin. Devices with digital pen capability are becoming especially crucial as it becomes increasingly likely that curriculums will move to digital assessment.

OneNote is the primary learning tool used by teachers and students at Baradene. The effectiveness of OneNote as an education tool is maximised using the touch and pen inputs available on the Surface Pro 3. Using OneNote, staff can mark the students' work with their digital pens and provide instant feedback to students, which proves invaluable to staff and students alike.

Theresa Bosch says, the "OneNote Notebook Creator with the Welcome section, Collaboration space, Contents library and notebook for each students has revolutionised the way we deliver the curriculum." Theresa described how the teachers at Baradene typically use their OneNote Class Notebook:

  • "In the Welcome page we generally add an introductory page and includes our Achievement standards so that students can access this at any time." 
  • "The contents library is just that – a space to add all the resources. The students copy these resources to their own space and then complete the work as required."
  • The Collaboration space has proven to be by far the most useful space for us. Teachers add class list with columns where students add emoji to indicate if they understand the work. This way a teacher can see at a glance if the class feel comfortable with the content. Collaboration is such a useful learning tool and the possibilities are endless."

OneNote as a learning tool is enabling staff and students to be more productive, collaborate and communicate more efficiently, and be more effective in the learning process. As Theresa says, "the more staff use OneNote Notebook Creator, the more we see the amazing work that is taking place. Each faculty has a different need and the ease of these Notebooks makes the process for staff seamless". 

Whilst OneNote is great in the classroom, it also makes the job of teachers a lot simpler and easier too! Baradene found this when they moved their staff handbook to OneNote a few years ago. Previously, the printed staff handbook had proved to be a major frustration because it was out of date almost immediately. After moving the handbook to the Staff OneNote the teachers at Baradene can be confident that the information they have is the most up to date, and it can be accessed anytime, anywhere on a device that connects to the internet.

So where does Theresa Bosch see Baradene going with technology in the classroom in the next year? She says, "we still have some staff that are apprehensive using the devices but as their confidence grows and as the students know more the uptake will keep increasing. Our Y7 and 8 program includes training though the Microsoft IT academy. The knowledge they gain in this course will move throughout the school and their confidence will remove any barriers for using devices to enhance their learning. We are taking all possible steps to remove any barriers for staff and students and as soon as our broadband is increase though Network for Learning (N4L) there will not be anything holding us back. These are indeed exciting times."

For more information on Baradene College's technology story check out Our Flipped Learning Story put together by Sharon Kan, a Teacher of Mathematics & Statistics as well as Digital Literacy at Baradene College.

We look forward to watching Baradene's progress as the school continues to integrate technology into its classrooms. It is exciting to see a school move forward at such a rapid pace and make the most of the tools and technologies available!