#ExpertSchool: Opaheke School Enhances Learning through Technology
New Zealand’s Opaheke School abides by a simple yet powerful vision: to empower its community of learners to confidently meet the challenges of the 21st century.
“The workplace of the future is changing rapidly, and we should equip students with the right skills from a young age to help them prepare for their success in the future,” explained Principal Sean Valvoi. “At Opaheke School, we want to make learning beyond just fun and engaging. We want to foster an environment that encourages students to take responsibility of their own learning, as well as promotes collaboration so they can learn better together and from each other.”
To meet its educational goals and realise its vision, the Auckland-based primary school utilised a range of digital technologies aimed primarily towards developing learner agency and enhancing its students’ learning experience. One of its more recent initiatives implemented was My Mobile Learning.
Powered by Office 365, the Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) programme was introduced to students between nine and 12 years old, which enabled them to access all the educational tools and materials they need to continue learning outside of school hours.
With My Mobile Learning, students can visit SharePoint sites developed for various curriculum areas—such as Mathematics, Literacy, and Languages—to get learning links and resources, check on homework assignments, and even retrieve permission slips they misplaced. Additional sites were also added for the various groups they belong to; for instance, school councillors have their own sites to better manage and collaborate on ongoing projects.
“The use of digital devices has enabled us to personalise learning even more than before. Students are able to choose activities and tasks to meet their own learning needs. This gets them actively involved in making decisions about what and how they will learn,” said Associate Principal Nikkie Laing.
And it is not just the students that benefitted greatly from My Mobile Learning. Teachers are able to effectively post notices and class updates, store rosters, book spaces and resources, and even request for IT support through their own site, the Teacher Space. OneNote Class Notebooks have also become an extremely popular means to getting work done, thanks to its user-friendly and collaborative features. As a result, Opaheke School has seen many Class Notebooks being created for various functions—from appraisals to professional learning.
Most importantly, My Mobile Learning lets them share new learning, professional readings, and teaching inquiries with each other. As one teacher puts it, “It provides a virtual window into our colleague’s classrooms to gain a better understanding on how they are conducting their lessons.”
But these plans are just the beginning of more digital technology implementations for Opaheke School. Over the next year, it plans to involve parents and the community in its learning hubs, encouraging them to be partners in learning for Opaheke School students. The school will also further develop digital citizenship programmes and introduce the 21st Century Learning Design framework, as well as expand My Mobile Learning to include more students across the school.
“Technology has made a positive difference to the way our children learn, understand their learning, and interact with others,” said Valvoi. “Don’t hesitate to embrace it. But let’s not forget that learning should be the ultimate goal—technology is simply there to enable it.”