St. Columba Anglican School is located in a rural town in New South Wales, Australia—about 240 miles north of Sydney, and 350 miles south of Brisbane. “We’re always working to overcome the tyranny of distance,” explains Matt Richards, the school’s director of e-learning and educational technology. When students grow up in a beautiful but remote coastal town far from a major metropolitan area, “collaborative technology helps keep us connected to the rest of the world,” he adds.
Teachers seek out ways to bring experiences with other students and educators into St. Columba classrooms. “We’re out to prove that being geographically remote doesn’t prevent you from being a leader,” Richards says. Embracing all technology, no matter the platform or device, was a step in technology leadership.
“We were one of the first schools in the area to adopt a BYOT, or ‘bring your own technology’ policy,” says Richards, who also teaches hardware and software development, digital literacy, coding, and robotics to St. Columba students. “That means everything—Mac or Windows, Chromebooks or laptops, and any kind of phone or tablet.”
The challenge for this liberal BYOT policy was compatibility and access. “To make BYOT work we needed a web-based communication and document system,” Richards says. “We needed access to our programs and documents from any device. The only way to make BYOT work was to place all of our learning and teaching applications in the cloud.”