Prospect High School, located just outside Launceston in Tasmania, has approximately 650 students from grades 7 to 10, and was one of 23 public schools in Australia selected to take part in the Microsoft Innovative Schools Program. While attending the Innovative Schools Forum in Perth, Prospect High School teacher Brendan Vince saw an opportunity to apply Microsoft Office Live Workspace to a learning project he and a colleague in Hobart had been developing – getting students from both schools to collaborate online to produce an advertising campaign promoting Tasmania as a tourist destination. Students were given shared folders on Office Live Workspace, where they could place files and other work elements relating to the project, providing them with flexible access to resources as well as a host of other collaboration features.Situation
Located just outside Launceston in the north of Tasmania, Prospect High School has approximately 650 students across grades 7 to 10. The school was one of 23 public schools across Australia selected by the Department of Education to take part in the Microsoft Innovative Schools Program.
The core offering of Microsoft’s Partners in Learning initiative, the Microsoft Innovative Schools Program is a partnership between Microsoft Australia, Australia’s state governments and Australian schools. The program uses grassroots, classroom-tested experience to develop models that any school can use to integrate technology into their classrooms and make student learning more accessible, relevant and engaging.
While attending the Microsoft Innovative Schools Forum in Perth, Prospect High School vocational computing teacher Brendan Vince immediately seized the opportunity to apply Microsoft Office Live Workspace to a project that he and a colleague at St Virgil’s College in Hobart had been trying to get off the ground.
Vince and his counterpart in Hobart were keen to develop a project on which their respective students would need to collaborate remotely. They hoped this would help build students communication and connectivity skills.
“The idea was to show students that if they intend to work in the computing industry they’re probably going to spend a lot of time communicating remotely with people outside of their office,” Vince says.
“The kids are already into social networking on sites such as Facebook and MySpace. I wanted to take them to the next step and help them understand how to collaborate remotely. Our objective was to get the kids to understand how computer technology allows you to build professional networks as well.”Solution
Vince decided to focus on students he’d identified as passionate about computing or who were serious about exploring a technology-related career.
“We really wanted to use authentic tasks that demonstrated connectivity and collaboration,” says Vince. “The project began with students at both schools using class time to explore and discuss examples of advertising campaigns in print, multimedia, film and television. Then they were given instruction on basic graphic design principles.
“They also spent time examining what makes Tasmania unique as a travel experience for local and international visitors,” adds Vince.
At the time, Prospect High School students were using a social networking tool as their primary platform for working collaboratively, and discussing and sharing ideas. It soon became apparent that other tools and applications might enable students to share files, photos and other resources more effectively.
Vince introduced the students to Office Live Workspace, a service from Microsoft that provides a secure online workspace.
This is an online service, which means that uploaded files are stored remotely on Microsoft servers. As long as students have access to a browser and a Windows LiveTM ID, they can open, edit, and save files using desktop Office applications as though they were on the hard drive of their PC.
According to Vince, mixed groups of students (each consisting of two students from Prospect High School and one student from St Virgil’s in Hobart) were provided with a shared folder in Office Live Workspace, where all three group members could place files and other work elements relating to their project.
“We had three kids all dropping stuff into the same Workspace area, but you can also create several different project workspaces or provide students with their own personal workspace,” says Vince. “You can even invite someone to look at something that isn’t part of Office Live Workspace. Simply send them an email link and they are given access to that single file.”Benefits
The Innovative Schools Program and Office Live Workspace have helped Prospect High School develop students’ enthusiasm for social networking into real-life skills.
“This program has allowed us to focus on what’s really important around IT at the school,” says Vince. “It has allowed us to put some clear vision and planning around the journey we’re on and where we would like to go in the future.”Anytime, anywhere learning
According to Vince, the greatest benefit was to untether students from school timetables, and free them to study and work in their own time – and at their own speed.
“I was super-impressed with the out-of-class stuff the students could do,” says Vince. “The fact that these students have access to this technology outside of the classroom means they can fit their learning to their own time scales.”
“Students were uploading documents when they got home from school and emailing each other at night. It was actually broadening the classroom boundaries. Kids continued their own kind of learning in their own time.”Better networked working
Creating a tourism campaign with students at a different school improved students’ ability to share work with anyone. It also improved their basic computer skills.
“The beauty of a web-based application like this is that students don’t actually have to save to the computer,” says Vince. “There were no problems reading or writing to disk and no forgetting to bring their USB drives to class – they just got straight onto it.”
In fact, the online service proved so popular with students that they began to use Office Live Workspace for work outside Vince’s computing classes, with many opting to forgo the USB thumb drives traditionally used to transfer work to and from school each day.
“I’m constantly amazed by how fast kids will pick up technology and find their own uses for it,” says Vince says. ”I bumped into one student outside of my class and noticed he had Office Live Workspace up on screen, so I asked him about it. He said, ‘I lost my thumb drive and I had my stuff backed up here, so I’m downloading what I need before my next class’.” Networking etiquette
Vince says that the tourism project also enabled teachers to communicate important lessons about what is considered acceptable behaviour in online, collaborative environments.
“We found during the project that there were many learning opportunities to instruct students about what information is safe to share with people you don’t know very well,” says Vince. “We asked them questions like: ‘How should you represent yourself in this situation?’ and ’What sorts of things are safe to say and what aren’t?’. It was a really good opportunity for us to inject some discussion about what is socially acceptable in the workforce.”Teacher take-up
According to Vince, Office Live Workspace has proven so useful that Prospect High School plans to roll the technology out to more students next year. But it’s not just the students who will be using the technology next time around; it will be the teachers too.
“Staff are eager to use it so they can work collaboratively – both with students and each other – rather than store items on the school network, which is not accessible from home,” says Vince. “Office Live Workspace has helped us to focus on what’s really important, which is to do everything we can to make it easier for students to learn.” Partners in Learning
Partners in Learning is a global initiative that is dedicated to enabling access to technology, supporting leadership and building community in Australian schools. Since its inception in 2003,* Partners in Learning has furthered the interests of more than 192 million students and over 8.5 million teachers and policymakers in 114 countries, with a total worldwide investment of US$500 million. In Australia, we have already reached over 142,000 students, teachers and leaders and will invest A$15 million in cash and resources by 2013.Innovative Schools Program
The Innovative Schools Program is a collaborative partnership between Microsoft Australia, Australian state governments and Australian schools
that explores how innovative schools can empower innovative learning. The program helps schools transform their learning in meaningful ways, by focusing on pedagogy, leadership, vision and culture. By supplementing the transformation with cutting-edge technologies, the program helps prepare the next generation to become innovative thinkers, effective problem solvers and more proficient contributors to a global society.
* All statistics correct as of February 2011.For More Information
For more information about Microsoft education products and services, please visit our website at: www.microsoft.com.au/education
For more information about Prospect High School products and services, call 03 63444744 or visit the website at: www.education.tas.gov.au/school/schoolsatoz/prospecth
For more information about Partners in Learning, please go to:
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For more information about Microsoft Office Live Workspace, please visit the website at: http://workspace.officelive.com/en-us/This case study is for informational purposes only. MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.