“Students are unique, and they each have preferences in learning styles. If you are able to take that into account in how you structure learning, you can achieve a huge improvement in learning productivity and education outcomes.”
Dr Richard Eden, Associate Director-General Operations, Queensland DETE
In 2004, the Queensland Department for Education,Training and Employment (Queensland DETE) devised a strategy that has revolutionised education in state schools in Queensland. Called ‘Smart Classrooms’, it involves using IT to help transform education at every level: automating student record keeping; improving digital learning materials; enhancing how teachers use the technology in the classroom; and providing virtual environments where students can collaborate practically anywhere at anytime.
With Microsoft as a strategic delivery partner, Queensland DETE staff have brought Smart Classrooms to life. They created a single, centrally managed identity management system for over 555,000 school students and teachers and deployed a managed operating environment across 380,000 computers, enhanced with high-level security features. A variety of portals provide online access to student records, departmental communications and digital learning materials.
Now, approximately 490,000 state school students have virtually anywhere, anytime access to many of Queensland’s best digital learning materials, and can easily collaborate in state-wide virtual learning environments. 65,000 teachers and school staff have online access to essential administration, curriculum and digital pedagogy resources, and the department can support applications and storage at over 1,300 school sites.
| Queensland DETE selected Microsoft as the technology platform to transform teaching and learning across 1300 schools, from the underlying software infrastructure through the student and learning management systems.|
National Sales Lead,
Education, Microsoft Australia
In 2004 The Queensland Department for Education,Training and Employment (Queensland DETE) announced a vision called ‘Smart Classrooms’ which aimed to use technology to improve education outcomes.
Queensland DETE then selected Microsoft technology to bring the five components of Smart Classrooms to life.
My Learning Space
To enable almost 555,000 school students and teachers to access their own learning spaces, Queensland DETE built a centralised Microsoft SharePoint portal where students can search, access and store their own learning materials.
Along with providing all 42,000 teachers with a Windows 7 laptop running Office 2010, every teacher was provided with structured training and mentoring on how to make the transition to digital teaching.
Through the Partners in Learning program, Microsoft also became the founding sponsor of the Queensland ICT Learning Innovation Centre. This delivered digital education programs to help teachers design innovative curriculum, deliver learning technology and enjoy professional development opportunities.
Digital learning materials
During 2010, Queensland DETE introduced a Microsoft SharePoint front-end to their learning management system. This included workflow for curriculum creation providing a collaborative approach and mechanism for sharing ideas and feedback on digital courseware and assessment.
Mark Kenny, National Sales Lead, Education Microsoft explains: “The Queensland DETE SharePoint ‘Learning Place’ is now the single site for all teachers to access approved curriculum and the tools needed to create and share new digital learning content.”
Queensland DETE has also provided all 270 secondary schools with access to the Microsoft IT Academy online courseware. This gives teachers and students the opportunity to develop skills recognised by the IT industry. Access to the IT Academy cloud service is provided in a secure manner where no student information is stored offsite.
OneSchool student management system
Using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 and the Microsoft .NET framework, Queensland DETE replaced 1,300 schools-based student records systems with a centralised online application that includes academic reporting, curriculum planning, timetabling and finance management tools.
“OneSchool also records interactions that occur between the student or parent and the school, including exam results, teacher reports, attendance, curriculum preferences and parent information,” says David O’Hagan, Chief Information Officer, Queensland Department for Education, Training and Employment.
In a massive desktop operating system overhaul, Queensland DETE and Microsoft created a centrally managed operating environment with a standardised Windows 7 and Office 2010 desktop image. At the same time, Queensland DETE staff provisioned a new 10-node database cluster using Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 to store student records and portal resources with business intelligence tools.
| Now, students and teachers have almost anywhere, anytime access to many of the best learning resources in the state.|
Chief Information Officer,
Queensland Department for Education,
Training and Employment
Microsoft System Center was implemented to manage the fleet of 3,800 Windows Servers and 380,000 PCs and laptops, all connected to Active Directory and integrated with Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM has been provided to help different sections of Queensland DETE to create their own applications to manage their business. This gives them a great toolset to build an interface, workflow and database.
With ready access to digital resources, teachers are making individualised learning personal and powerful.
Creating new learning environments
490,000 students now have easy access to accredited and organised virtual learning environments, with security protection. This helps make personalised learning a practical reality because it gives students a huge degree of choice in how and where they learn. This opens up future possibilities for how schools deliver teaching and the way in which schools are designed.
Stimulating innovative teaching
Teachers now have access to a growing portfolio of programs and resources to help them implement the Smart Classrooms vision at the school level. Queensland DETE created the ‘Pedagogical Licence’ program to deliver professional development for teachers on how to use ICT in the classroom. This has proved motivational for teachers as they progress through the three levels of their licence. Schools also have a ‘Schools ICT Index’ which is a three-level ranking system based on how well a school has integrated ICT into their business and teaching practices.
Guidance and mentoring is available for both programs to ensure teachers are developing their skills. The culture of the Pedagogical Licence and Schools ICT Index is creating a pathway and goal for all teachers.
Assembling superlative teaching resources
Students and teachers have almost anywhere, anytime access to many of the best learning resources in the state 24/7.
The learning management system also connects teachers to the creator of the digital learning material so they can share best practice use.
The .NET-based learning management system is reducing duplication in the production of digital curriculum by providing a platform for sharing high-quality approved courseware without the need to search the internet.
Simplifying schools administration
By centralising student records, the Smart Classrooms project cuts down on administration and improves service delivery. Approximately 80,000 state students change schools every year but now their records and reports don’t have to be re-recorded because authorised staff can access information centrally.
OneSchool also provides business intelligence tools that enable senior executives to compare enrolment numbers, performance and attendance across the state and make informed strategy and investment decisions.
Efficient technical support
By deploying a standardised ICT platform and a single operating environment across its schools, Queensland DETE has centralised IT support and development, reducing costs and improving responsiveness.
Centralising digital materials, content, curriculum planning and materials helps improve the quality of teaching techniques, and provides more efficient education delivery.
| When you take a state-wide view of Queensland digital learning, what we have done is simplify it dramatically, collapsing a lot of different networks onto each other.|
Chief Information Officer,
Queensland DETE is working with Microsoft to evaluate cloud-based services such as Office 365 and Windows Azure, integrated with their existing identity management system. They are also collaborating to determine how to best use these resources while complying with local legislation and policy. Queensland DETE already has one of their vocational colleges running Office 365, and plan to add more during 2012.
Internationally recognised schooling
Since 2004 Queensland DETE has been involved in the Microsoft Partners in Learning program. Two Queensland schools have now attained Mentor status within the global 2011 Microsoft Innovative Schools program which recognises schools as global exemplars of innovative teaching practices.
A further 3 schools are selected each year by Queensland DETE to participate in the Partners in Learning National Pilot Schools Program.
Within the ‘Building Skills for Tomorrow’ program, 255 schools have been reached with 867 teachers and schools leaders involved.
Microsoft product that was featured
Microsoft SharePoint 2010 helps people collaborate. It offers a familiar Microsoft Office experience so that people can quickly and easily access the information they need to get their jobs done. It helps reduce costs by consolidating intranet, extranet, and Internet sites on a single platform—on-premises or in the cloud.
Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 is a comprehensive set of database technologies and tools that help staff extract maximum value from database information. With easy-to-use analysis and reporting tools, non-technical staff can investigate data and generate pervasive insights for themselves, which helps organisations operate more intelligently at every level. SQL Server 2008 R2 combines high levels of security, performance and availability with a low total-cost-of-ownership.
Other products employed in creating Smart Classrooms include:
Microsoft Forefront Identity Manager
Microsoft System Center
Microsoft BizTalk Server
Microsoft Remote Desktop Services
Microsoft Project Server
By combining these technologies, you can build comprehensive and easy-to-use infrastructure and applications that make essential information and collaboration tools available to a state-wide audience.
For More Information
For more information about Microsoft products and services call the sales and information line on 13 20 58 Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm AEST. To find a partner or solution, visit www.microsoft.com/australia/findapartner/