Students helping students with tech at the Calgary Girls’ School

By: Annie Lougheed, Jeff Orsten and Joel Melashenko at the Calgary Girls’ School

At the Calgary Girls’ School, we focus on using technology progressively and intentionally. This has been an important driving force in our pedagogy, and has led our learners to many wonderful and sometimes unexpected places. For example, both students and teachers have felt the inconsistency in how iPads and apps are deployed as we experiment with different approaches and mobile device management platforms. This has been a wild ride at times, and we have work closely with Apple and JAMF to make the use of these devices as smooth and seamless as possible.

We have also faced some serious and difficult challenges, from organizational and privacy issues to barriers with hardware and software. Connectivity has been a constant area of focus for improvement, as far too often our access to the network and internet has been intermittent and thus an impediment to teaching and learning.

However, we are elated to say that with our increased bandwidth, many of these issues have been mitigated, if not solved.

The increased bandwidth that we have been able to afford by partnering with Axia (SuperNet) and Cybera has allowed us to increase our use of technology each day, as well as provide better backup and recovery strategies between our campuses. We are also able to support more students online simultaneously, without the impediments of bandwidth we previously experienced. Removing these barriers has allowed teachers to achieve greater ease and fluency of technology use in the classroom.

In an effort to implement a strong technology support program and encourage a growth mindset, we have developed a specialized team of “Techsperts” made up of students who are leaders in technology in our school. The Techsperts at our Bel-Aire grade four and five campus is comprised of 20 students, and the Lakeview campus has more than 25 “TechGirls” who support technology in their individual classrooms and learning spaces. This team of students meets twice a week to explore various technology tools and iPad apps. They are also a technology support for other students who have questions.

This model is extremely effective at both our campuses. Thursdays after school sees yet another group of students dive into topics like 3D printing, 3D printing design, and coding projects. Raspberry Pi projects, including programming our new ‘Pi Wall’ at the centre of our “Tech Deck”, will be a focus for students this Spring.

We are also currently working towards creating a MakerSpace where the focus will be on student creation rather than consumption of technology. Students will have access to simple tools, crafting materials, and recycled items that they can reuse and upcycle to create their own inventions.

We are excited about the innovative focus of Cybera and look forward to a long partnership with its staff as we continue to develop and redefine the integral role technology can play in learning.

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