Background

Queensland

The Gap State High School


High performing book hire school takes phased approach to digital learning


The background

The Gap State High SchoolThe Gap State High School is located in the north western suburbs of Brisbane, 15 minutes from the CBD. It is one of the top performing schools in the city as measured by results, including consistent high achievement in NAPLAN testing. In 2013, the school introduced Year 7 as part of the state’s ’Flying Start‘ program.

The Gap operates a book hire scheme and relies on the financial support of parents to provide students with the full spectrum of teacher and learning resources required to support the school’s mission: educating the whole person within a supportive local school community.

The challenges

The Gap first started its digital learning journey in 2013, facing pressure from a changing market. Despite a long history of using print textbooks, there was increased expectation around the use of digital resources from the wider school community. Students coming up from primary school were accustomed to using devices in the classroom and parents were equally supportive, quickly understanding the benefits of a digital learning environment.

As more schools in the area entered the digital space, it became clear that The Gap had to follow suit — it was a question of when and how, but changing the school’s culture would not be easy. While the Mathematics and Science departments were already using Jacaranda digital resources, like many high schools, faculties ran in silos and some long-standing teachers were resistant to change. Plus, the book hire scheme introduced additional challenges, such as investments in print textbooks that needed to be managed over a longer period of time.

The solution

Alongside a new bring-your-own-device (BYOD) program, The Gap introduced the Jacaranda Digital Bundle for Year 7 students in the 2015 school year. To be successful, technology had to be ingrained in the daily usage of teachers and students so both hardware and content needed to work in parallel.

As part of its decision-making process, The Gap evaluated a number of education resources, including bundle products as they off er great value for money, an important criteria for book hire schools. Ultimately, the management team selected the Jacaranda Digital Bundle for three reasons: high quality content across all core curriculum subjects, competitive pricing and a positive customer experience.

For teachers, including Elizabeth Caperon and Rex Bertrand, Jacaranda eBooks align with the Australian Curriculum and provide scaffolding within the questions to allow students to achieve success at different levels. Media-rich content — including videos, interactivities, web links and added resources such as assessON, Jacaranda’s online assessment tool for Mathematics and Science — improve student engagement in the course material. Offline capability brings peace of mind, and students can continue to access their resources anytime, anywhere.

Roger Hallmond, Head of Information Services, and Janelle McMahon, Teacher–Librarian, spearheaded the initiative at The Gap, working closely with the team at Jacaranda from the evaluation phase through to the final roll out. A free trial for all staff across all year levels helped with the initial buy-in and learning curve, and accessible and prompt Jacaranda service throughout the implementation — including a number of in person visits and hands-on training — ensured minimal disruption.

‘Alignment with the Australian Curriculum is essential and the resources in the Jacaranda Digital Bundle do this well.’

Elizabeth Caperon, Year 7 Teacher

‘We have a positive relationship with Jacaranda — there’s a lot of trust and openness there.’

Roger Hallmond, Head of Information Services

The outcomes

After a successful first year, The Gap is now looking to roll out the BYOD program and the Jacaranda Digital Bundle across all core subjects in Years 7 and 8 in 2016. Teachers and students agree that digital is the way forward.

For teachers, digital learning resources provide opportunities for differentiation that weren’t available with print textbooks, which makes teaching a lot easier and ensures that students get the support that they need. In some classes, it has also empowered teacher aids to engage in the learning — using Jacaranda digital resources, they can become familiar with the course material before teaching a small group.

For students, it’s a natural fit. They can navigate the eBooks easily and love having quick access to everything they need from one place. In fact, The Gap is now facing pressure from students in other year levels who also want to move away from print and access their resources in a digital format.

Today, the school culture is changing, and The Gap is clearly on its way to achieving its mission ‘to engage and empower our learners, skilling them to contribute confidently, effectively and innovatively within a global community with contemporary information technology.’

‘I would not have had the time to support those students at the bottom end of the scale, or extend those at the top, if it weren’t for the digital resources in the Jacaranda Digital Bundle.’

Elizabeth Caperon, Year 7 Teacher


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