Honywood Community Science School is on a journey towards creating a learning environment fit for the 21st Century. The current education system is still largely based on principles from the mid 20th Century with recent government changes merely shifting the decade within that. Factual recall and exam preparation play too an important part of the current education landscape in the UK. At Honywood we would much rather help develop youngsters who demonstrate a broad range of robust skills that allow them to be successful not only in qualifying within certain subjects but also when facing experiences and challenges in life that may not exist yet. We continue to invest in pedagogy and technology in achieving this.
Our curriculum design pre-dates the development of widely available, cheap and easy to use tablet computers like the iPad. It was fortunate therefore that such devices did emerge during the development of our curriculum. It has allowed our learners a greater level of autonomy and responsibility for decisions in their learning.
Our 1:1 journey began in November 2010 when we purchased 12 first generation iPads. This allowed staff to think about how these devices could support our new curriculum. These were then used as a ‘class set’ that teachers could use in their learning sessions.
In 2011 we adopted our full 1:1 rollout of 1060 iPad 2s. These were allocated to learners. This presented a number of challenges in terms of configuration and the need to increase network capacity. Designing and building a WiFi network to accommodate over a thousand new devices was a challenge, especially considering at the time that our network requirements were in excess of large commercial Wi-Fi networks like those deployed at football stadiums and shopping centres.
The value the devices have added to our curriculum is significant. They have allowed our learners to be more independent and supports our skills-based curriculum. Learners are able to explore and select information themselves from a wide variety of resources that typically would have been difficult for a teacher to resource individually. We have seen an increase in electronic communication that has helped develop stronger relationships between learners and teachers and has improved the personalisation of guidance offered. This
is not limited to the classroom and can be accessed by all at times of the day convenient to them.
Our journey continues as we have seen these devices become one of many tools that learners can make use of in their learning. They make authentic decisions on which tool best suits their needs in supporting or presenting learning. We have worked to develop bespoke apps for the iPad which add greater value to our learning model and look forward to seeing the experiences they will help facilitate for the youngsters at our school over the coming year.