We had an amazing day yesterday during the Flat Bush Cluster 7 conference held in the Mission Heights Schools. For the uninitiated, the Flat Bush Cluster 7 is an annual gathering of the 7 schools in the Flat Bush area, Ormiston Primary, Ormiston Junior College, Ormiston Senior College, Baverstock Primary, Willowbank Primary, Mission Heights Primary and Mission Heights Junior College. Keynote talks from notable speakers and breakout workshops enable teachers to connect and learn more about their role as educators in Aoteroa.
One great takeaway from the keynote talks was the importance of education and its role in shaping society. Chris Clay touched on the need for educators to empower learners to harness the collective will to solve the world’s problems. Grant Pix emphasized on mindfulness as a competency to be developed and Prof Peter O’ Conner related his experiences on vitality and the importance of imagination and creativity in and through learning about a world of wicked problems and our learners’ places within it. It was amazing to hear Melinda Webber; her awesome wahine toa and korero touched many in the audience.
As an ICT professional in the education industry, it has been always my view that ICT in the school should be used as a tool and an enabler. While information technology is indeed a positive tool for many, its possible abuse is too well-known and needs no repeating here, especially in New Zealand. Our challenge is how we can help raise the importance of empathy in our dealings with one another, especially in the realm of information technology. This and many more factors will be instrumental in shaping the future of ICT within the two schools.
The Pew Research Center is an American organisation that conducts research into many facets of life affecting the average American home. One of the many interesting studies it performs is on the effect of social media use among teenagers. Headlining the report is that “fully 95% of teens have access to a smartphone, and 45% says they are online almost constantly”.
Netsafe, our local Internet advisory agency, shares similar findings in its report entitled “New Zealand teens’ digital profile : a factsheet”. In 2017, “a third of NZ teens spend 4 or more hours online in an average day” and that “teens regard themselves as confident technology users”. Most of the report corelates with our experiences here in the Mission Heights Schools, with students in both schools rating their usage of technology highly in both personal and school aspects of their lives.
What is of interest here is the personal aspect, and which is not often discussed openly enough. Our teachers play an important and active role in helping and advising students in their digital lives and how to stay safe online, especially during learning advisor time. Here, there is a clear focus on digital citizenship and how to behave online in a manner that is consistent with caring for others. There is also this desire for the students to bring these practices back home.
As a result, parents also play an important role in creating this atmosphere at home. The ICT team often receives requests from parents on how to help their children at home, and the most important advice we can give anyone is that communication is a key element in building trust and rapport between parent and child. Establishment of that brings along greater cooperation among all parties alike.
For example, putting a time limit on social media use is very often a cause for strife between parent and child. In fact, the average person spends nearly 2 hours a day using various forms of social media, with teenagers using far more than that. If both parties are made aware of the consequences of spending too much time on social media, and a common goal is formed where social media use is lessened to an agreed duration, the results may be more acceptable than simply removing the device from said child.
Theere is a growing body of knowledge amongst goverment agencies and academia about the way young New Zealanders interact with digital technologies. It is our hope that we learn to embrace the opportunities and be upfront with the challenges and potential risks that these technologies afford.
Following our successful 2nd year with CYOD (Choose Your Own Device) in the school, we have reviewed our position on the type of devices allowed in the school and I am happy to announce that there is no change in the type of devices allowed in the school.
MHJC has always been a device agnostic school and we encourage students to bring devices that they already own to school, provided they meet the minimum requirements, which are as follows:-
For Windows and Mac laptops,
* 4GB of RAM * 64GB SSD
* 9.7 inch screen * portable keyboard
* 11.6 inch screen * 4GB RAM * 16GB SSD
We have had feedback from teachers and students that it is easier to finish homework tasks on a laptop or Chromebook as opposed to an iOS tablet. We continue to advise parents that if new devices are to be purchased, a Windows or Mac laptop or Chromebook should be purchased.
Chromebooks continue to be a difficult recommendation. Android applications on Chromebooks have not gained universality as it should have over the past year and in our limited testing have proven to be problematic. They are sufficient in Years 7 and 8 but parents purchasing new devices for students in Years 9 and 10 should consider Windows and Mac laptops due to the workloads in those yearlevels.
The ICT team is happy to answer any questions posed to us – feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org with your question and we will respond accordingly.