Tauranga Girls College is a secondary school for girls based in Tauranga, North Island, New Zealand and offering the NCEA system of qualifications. It is a state-funded educational institution founded in 1958. The school has a roll of around 1400 students from years 9 to 13 (ages 12 to 18).
“The durability, ease and the price point was really good for us”Kylie Valentine, Deputy Principa, Tauranga Girls College
At a Glance
What they wanted to do
- Update outdated and unreliable hardware
- Introduce better technology to improve and stretch student learning
- Encourage collaboration between staff and students
- Allow the devices to be used safely and securely between home and school
What they did
- Introduced Chromebooks, the Chrome Education Upgrade and G Suite for Education to all students via a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) system as well as having a number of school-owned devices
- Ensured a fair and financially feasible roll out plan for a diverse school culture
- Improved student engagement through efficient and equitable access to technology
- Gave families the choice of allowing students to use the devices both at home and school, or only at school
What they achieved
- Streamlined systems both in and out of the classroom, improving results for students and staff in both learning and administration
- 95% of teachers now manage classwork with Google Classroom
- Teachers are feeling more empowered to use the tools and try different ways of teaching
- The school community is able to use the devices both at home and at school with the options provided by Tauranga Girls College
Tauranga Girls College needed to upgrade their outdated technology hardware and learning systems to improve efficiency and results, both in and out of the classroom. Staff and students were keen to move to an online approach using the Cloud to allow anywhere, anytime learning and to give families the opportunity to use Chromebooks at home and school.
Tauranga phased in the Google Chromebook strategy by starting the BYOC (Bring Your Own Chromebook) program for Year 9 two years ago. Now, Year 9 and 10 are all BYOC and next year the new Year 9 classes will also be part of the program. This will continue until the entire program has been rolled out.
Deputy Principal, Kylie Valentine and her team are working towards a complete phase-in of the Chromebooks over the next few years, focussing on ensuring staff and students have equal access to the technology and feel empowered to use it.
“It's about trying to make sure people are given the time to be skilled up enough to help others,” said Kylie. Professional learning workshops range from G Suite for Education basics, such as Forms, to more advanced practices. “We are acknowledging that people are at different stages.”
“We had what we called ‘COWS’ (Computers On Wheels) at the time. They were all Microsoft products and the boot up time was about 23 minutes. As soon as we replaced those with Chromebooks that had instantaneous start up, that was one barrier gone.”Kylie Valentine, Deputy Principal, Tauranga Girls College
Collaboration, affordability and time efficiency
While the benefits of using Chromebooks and Google tools in the school have been varied and many for staff, students and whānau (the Māori word for extended family). Kylie said collaboration, affordability and time efficiency have been the most notable improvements for Tauranga Girls College.
G Suite for Education has been intentionally rolled out across teaching, administration and support. “Google has given us a platform to all learn together and enable greater collaboration,” Kylie said.
Students are also benefiting from having the Google Classroom phased in.
“Teachers might set it up initially, but the students are so excited about being able to collaborate that they are the ones driving it. This means we can be more consistent and coherent in our approach.”
Affordable, impactful solutions
“The durability, ease and the price point was really good for us,” Kylie said. Given the students’ broad cross section in socioeconomic status, the school required a framework that was affordable, with hardware that was durable. The Chrome Education Upgrade to manage BYOC and school fleets made the transition easy, economical and efficient.
Devices for school and home
Students can use the devices for their learning at school, while families can also make use of the Chromebooks at home. Tauranga Girls’ College is one of the first schools in New Zealand to use the device off hours policy, found within the Chrome Education Upgrade, at scale. The school’s strategy has so far involved modelling and adopting safe and effective usage of the devices at home and school.
“It's been a gentle, persuasive process with all our whānau. So, it's been about ensuring they understand this is really important for their daughter’s learning,” Kylie said.
Empowering staff to embrace technology
With a student management system in place to ensure the devices are used appropriately – in addition to directing whānau towards available financial support from appropriate agencies – Kylie said the school then needed to turn its focus to training staff.
“Our ‘leaders of learning’ staff were very used to a culture of ‘being done to’ and not having a voice in strategic meetings,” she said. “There was little sharing, very little learning and even less collaboration. The result was a top-down model of meeting and communication. Use of G Suite has allowed me to tip this historic experience on its head and give the leaders of learning a voice.”
The teachers are given time to undertake professional learning so they can then pass on that knowledge to others in the school.
“We encouraged some of our staff to become Google Certified Educators by giving them extra time and the positive ripple effect is that they are then experts in the space.”
Instant boot up
Staff at Tauranga Girls College were enthusiastic about the update, but also concerned about investing their limited time into something new.
However, once they saw the instant boot up of the Chromebooks, teachers happily came on board.
“We had an archaic hardware and network system that was just so faulty. We would encourage staff to use technology for something and then the Wi-Fi would go down, or their machine wouldn't start up. Or, we encouraged them to learn something about a program and they went home and worked for hours trying to create something that wouldn't start when they went in to class,” Kylie said.
“We had what we called ‘COWS’ (Computers On Wheels) at the time. They were all Microsoft products and the boot up time was about 23 minutes. As soon as we replaced those with Chromebooks that had instantaneous start up, that was one barrier gone.”
Tauranga Girls College staff have reported a new confidence and trust in leadership, given they now have a voice and can drive discussion. A new enthusiasm has also evolved about the sharing that occurs – the newfound ease of collaboration makes teaching and learning a little less stressful, especially now that a number of important documents, tasks and discussions can all be found in the one space.
Productivity and time efficiency has increased, due to the ability to access and collaborate on documents from anywhere at any time, and the reliability and speed of Chromebooks has saved time and increased engagement.
Students and whānau are happy with the durability and price point of Chromebooks, and the entire school community is thrilled with their reliability and applications. The device off hours policy is working well. Its flexibility enables a better student and family experience with the devices. Whānau appreciate being involved in the decision making as well as the financial and technical support from the college.