Hawke’s Bay school uses Facebook-style interface to help students learn

Hawke’s Bay school uses Facebook-style interface to help students learn
Hawke’s Bay school Woodford House has adopted a cloud-based learning management system which uses an interface similar to Facebook to help students learn.

Hawke’s Bay school Woodford House has adopted a cloud-based learning management system which uses an interface similar to Facebook to help students learn.

Schoology was introduced throughout the school this team and Woodford House is the first school in the country to adopt the enterprise version of the software. It acts as a portal for assignment setting, posting grades, conduct student-led collaborative discussion and online workshopping ideas, team projects and distance learning. In the case of this school in particular, as it has both day girls and boarders, it enables an “anytime anywhere” learning model.

"Schoology is a tool, but it is an intuitive, seamless, flexible one that doesn't let technology get in the way of very exciting, dynamic, student-directed learning,"  explains principal Jackie Barron.

"This is about 21st century learning that enhances student engagement. It's about collaboration, independence, critical thinking and problem solving skills. Each student is an individual with individual needs and aspirations, and learning styles. We've always known that but it's this new technology that supports us in making sure we can provide an education that really is tailor-made to that child," adds the principal.

She adds that the software is “intuitive” and “totally seamless” and students have embraced it easily.

"Systems like Facebook are the digital home-turf of our girls, that's where they are relaxed and open to learning new things, so it makes sense to use a similar platform to teach in,” she says.

Schoology also makes life easier for teachers. For example, it integrates with Turnitin, the international plagiarism software. "Teachers can also embed videos, track student participation, and create communities for learning within the school as well as accessing resources from other schools. A student can also join global school groups for further learning. And it's a safe closed community so it's a healthy secure learning environment for our students."

Glenn Cook Technologies was responsible for the rollout of the software in the Hawke’s Bay school and Schoology is supported by Woodford House’s bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policy. According to Jonathan Spokes, from Glenn Cook Technologies, the BYOD idea is an integral part of making technology accessible for all students.

"What was very important for Woodford House was their BYOD philosophy was designed to be device agnostic. If the goal is to provide the tools for students to learn it's about making use of devices they happen to have at home already. If we believe that for democratic reasons they really could bring to school any type of device they have then we need a platform that supports all of those choices - it could be a $100 phone or a $5000 laptop," says Spokes.

Schoology is just one of the many ways this school has embraced what it refers to as 21st century learning. Project Based Learning, the Flipped Classroom and the Blended Classroom are other examples. "The Flipped Classroom model says to students “here's some stuff to investigate and learn in your own time, when you've got those basic concepts we're going to go back and look at that information together during classtime'," explains Spokes.