Thursday, March 19, 2015

McKinnon Secondary College - with Ashley Evans

McKinnon  Secondary College is a large (1950) coeducational state school in South East Melbourne. It is a highly successful school in terms of State and National Assessment rankings. The school's zone is the smallest in Victoria, pushing up prices for in zone housing.

McKinnon was recommended to us by Cyclone, our IT services provider in NZ, as an early adopter of GAFE and a Google 'go-to' school. 

The school 'switched' to GMail about 5 years ago and encouraged staff who were 'interested' to have a look at the possible applications of the collaborative tools in Google's suite of apps. They also benefitted from the federal governments 'laptop for all' scheme - opting for a reduced number of the higher spec machines.

They are now in the process of rolling  out BYOD and have opted for high end chrome books. Community consultation (staff, parent and students) reinforced the idea that the devices should be able to do 'most of what most kids need most of the time.' Two year levels (7 and 10) will buy the devices over three years. The school also keeps a 'fleet' of loan machines if students devices are damaged and awaiting repair.

Considerable investment of time has gone into up-skilling staff in the use of Google tools. A Tech Support Team of 5 provide ongoing training (some of these are funded through a Tech Support in Schools Programme, some from general staffing) and professional development. A Google checklist of about 20 'must dos' was created and linked to the appraisal goals. 11 consecutive weeks of after school PD ran and staff could check off the tools as they became familiar with them. All tools are  linked to a really simple teaching application. As teachers have become more familiar with the basic tools of forms, docs, and classroom, some have looked beyond just the basics. Two test seem useful are kaizen enabling teachers to add oral feedback to documents rather than written feedback (free and speeds up feedback process) and Pair Deck for instant feedback on student learning and testing ( $). The safety net of paper versions of admin 'stuff' is slowly disappearing - no paper calendar; all appraisal online; sign ups for things such as immunisation online and all relief not just booked online - but staff notification of relief no longer on paper. 

The school's philosophy is around continual improvement - how do I move my teaching along? How can I use technology to innovate with purpose? Ashley referred to this using a Carol Dweck - staff make 'upward comparisons' - 

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