Bishops is a technology rich school. Our staff and pupils have access to a wide range of technologies and know how to use these tools appropriately and effectively. Although staff and pupils use mobile technology we do have some fixed PCs. Such facilities include a computer room of 26 PCs equipped with data projector, printer, scanner, digital projector, digital cameras and digital video cameras; a library equipped with PCs; a wide range of educational software; a “Sound House”, equipped with PCs and electronic keyboards suitable for working with sound, images and video to generate multi-media creations.
Each pupil has Internet and email access. This is available both off and on campus. Internet access is monitored and access to unsuitable sites is restricted. Part of our ICT curriculum includes teaching and guiding the pupils in the appropriate use of the Internet. Our Acceptable Use Policy sets out the rules and conditions for using Internet and E-mail resources at Bishops.
Bishops' Intranet systems allow pupils, staff and sports coaches to communicate effectively. Each pupil has access to his own personalised profile which includes all academic information (timetable, reports and marks for each task in each subject), extra-mural activities (cultural and sporting), behavioural information (including comments from teachers and the Guidance department) and personal particulars. In addition teachers are able to create an online record of homework set, test and project dates, and other deadlines for each class which they teach, and this is reflected on the profile of each student in their class. Staff are able to leave individualised “notes” for their students (or groups of students, teams, orchestras, etc) and any new notes left for students will “pop-up” when a student logs in to the network. This is not specifically related to academic work, but is a useful feature for coaches, leaders and course coordinators. All this information is available to the staff, tutors and also, importantly, to parents via a secure portal nicknamed MyBishopsLife.
Most routine communication with parents is electronic, and the web-site offers an easy and comprehensive way of finding out what is going on, being kept abreast of news, developments and events. All teachers are easily reached via e-mail.
Bishops launched a laptop programme in 1999, after two years of preparation that included talking to parents, installing a campus-wide network, training staff and building an academic intranet of learning programmes. The laptop programme is now so very much part of what we do at Bishops that we no longer refer to it as something separate. It is quite simply the mainstream of how learning andteaching is conducted. Today all staff and pupils have laptops and every academic building and many public spaces have wireless networking available, in addition to high-speed network points.
We believe that offering a standard laptop to every student guarantees compatibility and reliability, and provides well-supported access to our rich technology resources. The recommended laptop comes as a bundle, with a school-specific image and all hardware and software support. The Help Desk, HelpMeOffline, is located in the Wind Tunnel, near the Library, and is manned each day of the school year by a fully qualified technician, available at break, lunch and after school to help boys who have any hardware or software difficulties with their machines.
The programme is about learning, not technology. The laptop is an instrument by which teaching and learning have been transformed. By using technology to learn basic curriculum, boys also learn about technology and will leave school with the attitudes and skills necessary to become capable and confident in a technologically rich future. Central to the laptop programme is the academic Intranet which provides students with access to course resources, learning programmes and collaborative tools wherever and whenever they need it. Our learning programmes are developed by teachers in html format with Internet integration. The learning programmes harness the machine to enable teaching and learning to occur in ways that were simply not possible before. Different departments use the technology to greater or lesser extents, but always to add value. Individual subjects arrange their Intranet pages differently, but essentially the material to be covered, the ways in which it must be investigated and the ways by which it will be evaluated are all clearly laid out. In this modern age the role of educational institutions is not so much to provide information as to teach students how to select, interpret and work with the various forms of information and data. Mobile technologies not only provide easy access to a wealth of information - they are also an indispensable tool for handling it.
The school has a full-time staff ICT integrator who works with academic departments and individuals to improve skills and to help develop teaching material. This ensures that technology is used to enhance both traditional learning and teaching processes and also, importantly, to explore new possibilities. This helps teachers keep up to date with the newest developments and opportunities.
Learning occurs in a wide variety of activities, and these include sport, culture, the spiritual life of the boys, and their social participation. Using new technologies in addition to traditional classroom practice encourages active thinking, collaboration and communication. For all the exciting features that our school’s technology-rich environment has, the heart of our involvement with technology beats with the conviction that technology enhances learning (in the fullest sense) and enables exciting and innovative teaching.