St Dominic’s College provides a blended learning environment where traditional classroom experiences are enhanced through the use of technology. All of its classrooms are fully-equipped multimedia centres, with electronic textbooks and innovative educational resources used to assist and reinforce student learning.
Currently, more than 1,100 students from across Greater Western Sydney attend the college, tended to by 120 staff.
St Dominic’s was interested in pursuing a BYOD strategy to allow students to learn in a more flexible environment. As a mission statement, it wanted to be seen as a leading educational institution driven by technology.
The college was interested in testing with a subset of the school, Year 7 students, before introducing BYOD to the entire school. Within a short timeframe it needed to engage all the stakeholders in the school, set expectations for parents, and arm teachers with the skills to be successful in what was a major change to their methods of teaching.
There was also an expectation from parents, and the community, of a more effective one-to-one teacher focus and experience for students, which the college was struggling to deliver within its budget.
The college also had 800 shared computers that were nearing end of life, and a new 200 mbps NBN connection it wanted to utilise better.
Datacom and St Dominic’s outlined a new technology roadmap as well as the production of an overall strategic plan for the implementation of the BYOD programme, and the other educational initiatives. This involved a combination of pilots utilising the Office 365 platform, as well as the guidance of Datacom’s Professional Learning team to assist the college in the best use of the Office 365 platform including OneNote, Office Mix and Office ProPlus apps.
Datacom’s Professional Learning team is a unique proposition in the market. It consists of practising teachers, versed in relating to and training educational staff in best technology and business practice, as well as in the latest pedagogical techniques.
Datacom Education’s combined solution challenged school leadership fundamentally to rethink how they applied these new technologies in the classroom.
Students can now work from anywhere, collaborate in real time, and sync their work anywhere. Teachers can now implement ‘flipped classroom’ teaching methodologies, and students are far more engaged with technologies that work with them, rather than limit their creative possibilities. The feedback from senior school administrators and the college community at large has overwhelmingly been positive. This has led to the programme being rolled out across the entire school.
One of the recommendations identified within the strategic roadmap developed by Datacom was for the college to consider the benefits of migrating specific workloads from an on-premise server infrastructure into the cloud. This initiative found resounding support from the St Dominic’s College executive team as it met several of their key objectives, delivering to financial imperatives, in addition to enabling anytime, anywhere learning.
The resulting migration to the Office 365 environment required no additional new hardware; this provided a considerable cost saving over the anticipated $50,000 expense of replacing the existing computer labs. It also enabled the retirement of the Microsoft Exchange environment, and Datacom has extended the life of the customer’s existing wireless network, enabling another 12 months’ usage out of this system that would otherwise have been replaced at a cost of approximately AU$120,000.
Eighty per cent of staff surveyed “strongly agreed” that BYOD has had a positive impact on the college.
“We want our staff accredited as Microsoft Educators and we want our school to stand brightly on the hill where other schools can come and learn from our journey. We strongly believe Datacom can assist us in becoming a flagship school and this is just the first step.”
David Sheil, Director of Teaching and Learning, St Dominic’s College