4-page Case Study - Posted 8/10/2012
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St Catherine’s School

Microsoft software and slate PCs foster 21st century learning at leading independent school

“This learning program gives our students the tools they need to be the best they can be, and it gives our teachers the tools they need to support them.”

Dr Julie Townsend, Headmistress, St Catherine’s School

When staff at St Catherine’s independent girls school developed their one-to-one learning strategy, they envisaged each pupil using one dedicated tablet device – at home, in the classroom and during independent study. However, they needed robust hardware that students could use intuitively, and applications that stimulated collaboration, feedback and creativity.

In 2011, IT staff trialled the newly released Samsung Series 7 Slate PC, which uses the Windows 7 operating system. With touch-screen and digital-stylus capabilities, the slate PC enables students to hand write notes, comments and equations directly into Microsoft OneNote 2010 files. By deploying Microsoft Lync onto teachers’ computers, they can monitor each other’s presence, and start instant messaging, voice and video calls with one click.

With these applications, students and teachers are pioneering innovative techniques to drive 21st century learning. They record audio tracks to OneNote homework projects that help personalise feedback, create novel audio-video recordings of science experiments to aid revision, and record class discussions to assist remote learning. As a result, learning is more enjoyable, students are more creative and teachers can stay in touch throughout the school teaching day.

* OneNote became a key part of our one-to-one strategy. In conjunction with styluses, it empowers students to research material in multiple formats  and logically arrange it. They can insert hand-written notes to capture their thoughts and comments as they go along. *

Paul Carnemolla,
Head of Information,
St Catherine's School

Business Needs

Founded over 150 years ago,
St Catherine’s independent girls school has a proud history of fostering confident, compassionate girls within a strong Anglican tradition. However, the school
also reflects its metropolitan environment, with students
from over 49 different cultural backgrounds.

The school’s philosophy is to provide staff and students with the most appropriate learning environment and applications, as well as the skills and tools they need to succeed in the twenty-first century. As a result, the school maintains a large fleet of laptops, which are shared amongst the student population.

St Catherine’s School’s Head of Information, Paul Carnemolla, saw the potential of even more powerful learning tools. “Technology has been a key part of learning at St Catherine’s for many years, and it seemed a natural progression to move to one-to-one learning,” he says.

The one-to-one learning strategy involves each student having their own device so that whether they are working at home or in a lesson, they‘re using the same technology. Staff believe that establishing a seamless technology experience encourages students to embrace digital learning styles, helping them to work more creatively, collaborate more effectively, and research
more widely.

However, Carnemolla believes
that providing technology and applications that correspond
to the way students work is essential.

“I am a very strong believer in stylus technology because it allows students to use PCs as digital notepads – making handwritten notes, drawing diagrams and working through equations quickly and in the most natural way,” he says. “As I researched suitable solutions, I knew I wanted tablet PCs with digital styluses and applications that allow students to use them to maximum effect.”


In late 2011, Carnemolla started experimenting with Samsung Series 7 Slate PCs, which have Windows 7 operating systems. He decided that these devices would be ideal for the school’s one-to-one learning program.

“We chose the Samsung Slate PCs because they’re portable, powerful and have stylus capability,” he says. “They also have Gorilla® glass screens, which keep them intact in the robust school environment.”

Carnemolla combined the slate PCs with a suite of Microsoft Office applications that include Microsoft OneNote. This free-form note-taking application is designed to help students research and collate information. They can paste and arrange a variety of text, visual and audio content into a single file, and then write directly into the file using a stylus.

“OneNote became a key part of our one-to-one strategy,” says Carnemolla. “In conjunction with styluses, it empowers students to research material in multiple formats and arrange it logically. They can insert hand-written notes to capture their thoughts and comments as they go along.”

With Microsoft SharePoint 2010 students can easily store and share their OneNote files with specific groups of students or teachers. If OneNote is used to complete projects, teachers can access the files at any time to guide or review, so that feedback is rapid and targeted.

* We have just started using Lync with our staff, which means that teachers can seize intermittent opportunities to contact each other throughout the school day. *

Paul Carnemolla,
Head of Information,
St. Catherine's School

Carnemolla also introduced classroom management software called DyKnow, which allows teachers to monitor each girl’s screen, enable and disable specific web sites and provide real-time feedback. By controlling each individual device, teachers can feel comfortable in introducing a wide variety of applications and digital content into the classroom.

Lastly, IT staff deployed new teacher communications capabilities using Microsoft Lync Server 2010 with the Microsoft Lync client application uploaded onto teachers’ slate PCs. Using the presence function, staff can see at a glance the contact status of all their colleagues, and judge when to initiate instant messaging, or a voice or video conversation. In addition Lync enables contacts to share desktops, so one teacher can immediately see what is appearing on another’s screen.

“We completely changed our ICT office over the last Christmas holidays to be able to support one-to-one learning,” says Carnemolla. “We made the office into the type of facility where students can drop in with their slate PCs, sort out their problems and move on. We also retain a bank of 30 devices to loan out if individual problems prove too time consuming.”

By February 2012, St Catherine’s had issued the slate PCs to all students in years 5, 7 and 10, becoming the first school in Australia to commence a large scale deployment of the Samsung Series 7 device.


The ease of working with digital styluses, the freedom of OneNote document creation and the instant accessibility provided by Lync have combined to shape personalised learning at St Catherine’s that will help foster 21st century skills in the students. With collaboration and communication skills honed in a digital environment, St Catherine’s girls can approach the modern global economy with confidence and excitement.

Personalising teaching

Staff and students have started using OneNote’s audio features as they complete homework, recording the reasons they have tackled problems in a certain way.

“The synchronised audio feature in OneNote enables us to get an insight into student learning that we otherwise wouldn’t be able to achieve,” says Carnemolla. “When students talk their way through solving a maths equation, teachers can get an insight into what the student is thinking at each step and any misconceptions can be quickly addressed by the teacher.”

“Feedback is critical to student success,” he adds. “OneNote technology is exciting because it allows us to focus on individual students, providing targeted, timely and continuous feedback in a way not possible before.”

New teaching capabilities

With Lync on their own slate PCs, teachers gain the ability to instantly contact other teachers whenever they are free, wherever they are in the school. “We have just started using Lync with our staff, which means that teachers can seize intermittent opportunities to contact each other throughout the school day,” says Carnemolla. “Lync also allows us to experiment with video conferencing and screen sharing. Ultimately, we want to take these capabilities into the classroom as well.”

Creating more powerful education resources

The combination of OneNote, slate PCs and SharePoint document sharing has also spurred students and teachers to change the way they create resources.

Students now create video recordings of science experiments, and then record audio tracks to accompany the videos in OneNote. This helps them preserve critical learnings for when they need to prepare for exams.

Teachers also transfer course content onto OneNote files, updating it frequently and storing it online using SharePoint.

“Now you have a record of everything you’ve done, and you are able to collect work from students more efficiently,” says St Catherine’s School’s Head of Biblical Studies, Tessa Repp. “Wherever you go, you have all the work that you need. It really has made my life as a teacher so much easier.”

Fostering collaboration and remote learning

Because OneNote documents can be shared live and teachers can monitor screen activity using DyKnow, learning dynamics have changed and classwork has become more participatory.

“The girls can work individually or in groups and the teacher can monitor them,” says St Catherine’s School’s Headmistress, Dr Julie Townsend. “It has really brought the classroom alive.”

In addition, girls who are away from school can log in remotely, join lessons and participate as well. Alternatively, teachers can make audio recordings of class discussion synched with any writing, drawing or interactive content used in the lesson. This helps bring absent students up to speed and refresh students’ memories when they need to revise.

Exploring even further

Plans to start using a specially packaged suite of applications, called Microsoft Office 365 for Education, are already far advanced. This will include familiar desktop applications such as Microsoft Word and OneNote as well as hosted services such as Microsoft SharePoint Online 2013.

“We are certainly focusing very much on global communications and global interactions, and our one-to-one program is the first step on the journey,” adds Townsend. “This learning program gives our students the tools they need to be the best they can be, and it gives our teachers the tools they need to support them.”

Microsoft product that was featured

Microsoft OneNote 2010

With OneNote 2010 you can collect and organise everything you need – notes, photos, videos, and web links – for any project you are working on. OneNote keeps the information you need at your fingertips, and with powerful search capabilities you can easily find exactly what
you are looking for and share
with others.

For More Information

For more informaiton 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/

Solution Overview

Organization Size: 150 employees

Organization Profile
St Catherine’s School in Waverley, Sydney, is Australia’s oldest independent girls school. Founded in 1856, the school promotes strong Anglican traditions in a diverse, multicultural environment of 970 students, ranging from Kindergarten to Year 12.

Business Situation
Staff wanted students to learn critical 21st century skills, such as research, collaboration and creativity, in a digital environment, with each student using the same dedicated slate device at home and in the classroom. They required robust, adaptable devices and a mix of on-premise and cloud-based software.

In 2012, the school deployed Samsung Series 7 Slate PCs to students in Years 5, 7 and 10, who use both touch and digitised styluses to write directly into Microsoft OneNote files. With the addition of Microsoft Lync, staff can also use the slate devices to track others’ availability and make instant voice and video calls.

  • Personalising teaching and learning
  • Creating more powerful education resources
  • Fostering collaboration and remote learning
  • Exploring even further

Software and Services
  • Windows 7
  • Microsoft Lync Server 2010
  • Microsoft OneNote 2010
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010

Vertical Industries


Business Need
Unified Communications

IT Issue
  • Document and Records Management
  • Interoperability
  • Cloud Services
  • Digital Content Management
  • High Availability
  • High Performance Computing


Samsung Electronics Australia Pty LTd