This year, Mercy College in Koondoola celebrates 40 years of Mercy education. Along with the celebrations comes the technological challenges existing in a 21st century school. The rapid advancement of information and communication technology has changed the face of classrooms around the world and the requirement for strong lines of communication between parents, staff and students has become a major focus.
Consequently, the Mercy College staff, students and families have strived to provide access to information and communications technology so that students will be prepared to take on the challenges that will confront them in their careers and personal lives beyond school.
To achieve this the College has launched an innovative program to put computers into the hands of all their students. Initially, a 1:1 laptop computer roll-out was commenced for the Year 9 students and each year since then a new cohort of students has been given access to the program. The immediate benefits have shown that students are more engaged and are more willing to participate in classroom activities. “The beauty of ICT in the classroom is its capacity to stimulate and enthuse students of all ages about a range of topics,” said Dr Curry, Principal of Mercy College.
Staff have also benefitted by being given laptop tablets that are portable and highly efficient communication tools. With the development of ICT also comes responsibility for parents who are encouraged to take an active role in their child’s education. When parents come to enrol their child in a school, they are sometimes surprised to be told about the expectations for them in the education process - once parents begin their involvement in the wider school community, they realise that ICT really can benefit their child’s education.
These days, blackboards, chalk and heavy text books are a thing of the past. As well as computers, classrooms in the Junior Learning Centre each have interactive whiteboards, which have the capability of connecting to the Internet so students and teachers can access a wide range of information immediately. However, with the introduction of new technology comes the added responsibility of safety. Mercy College is now into its second year of running an extensive cybersafety program from Pre-primary through to Year 12. “By teaching and exposing our students to appropriate ways of using and interacting on the Internet, we are going to equip them for their digital future and help them be more aware,” said Mrs Angela Hoyne, ICT Integrator.
One such tool is the new smartphone app that has been designed to allow parents to access to the latest news, events and important information about the College. App designer and Year 5 Teacher, Mr Stuart Crainie, has created an application that gives parents another tool to make communication with the College easy, instant and trouble free. With the click of a button, parents can notify the College of absentees, make contact with staff, uniform shop and view the College calendar, canteen menus and link to the College website. Mercy College is one of only seven schools in Australia to have designed an application that provides parents with such easy access vital information and are enjoying the benefits of this user-friendly smartphone application.
The vision for Mercy College was to have a sustainable program that enabled all students access to a computer at home and at school whenever they need it. With the development of ICT, learning has never before been so exciting and entertaining.
The laptops have allowed staff to:
- provide resources that can be accessed at any time
- keep in touch with other schools, organisations and teachers
- to keep up-to-date with the current curriculum
- and to keep in touch with the students to allow more productive communication.