Finding the right technology model - The Fraser Primary story

Fraser Primary School is a large primary school in Belconnen. They have always been interested in innovative approaches to learning and new technologies, but they don't race from one new innovation to the next. Their approach to implementing technology across the school is considered, strategic and well-planned.


Leaders model good practice

As with any successful implementation of technology, Fraser principal Sue knew that she needed to understand it too. While she wouldn’t call herself a ‘techie’ type, she knew that technology like Google Apps for Education, Chromebooks and the cloud had the potential to transform learning in the school, so she made it her business to learn more about it. She was then able to drive some of the adoption of Google Apps through her communications with the staff via the Google platform. One good example of this is the way that the executive team use Google Classroom for tracking and feedback related to staff Pathways goals, modelling the feedback processes for their staff.

Slow is Fast: whole-staff professional development 

One of the keys to Fraser Primary School's success with technology has been the collaborative, whole-staff approach to any technology implementation. When they started to think about 'going Google', the executive was very aware that not all staff were ready. Instead of waiting for a couple of confident teachers to embrace Google, they decided to go with a team approach. They wanted sustainable change and not ‘pockets of excellence’. All of their planning reflects this and professional development is designed to complement this approach. After becoming familiar with Google Apps through admin tasks, the entire Fraser Primary School staff attended the 2016 Summit. They were all empowered by what they saw and learned there, and now can move forward together on implementing Google Apps across the school.


Developing staff

The Fraser Primary executive team knew that teachers would not use platforms like Google Apps for Education until they were comfortable with them. So instead of asking teachers to use it straight away in the classroom, they began using Google Apps for a variety of staff-development tasks. School-based professional development was facilitated through Google Classroom, planning was done with Google Docs, and teachers shared thoughts, data and ideas via Docs and Sheets. Staff also began to record formative assessment data collaboratively using Sheets. For the first time ever they were able to collaboratively record and track student progress against the essential skills. Approaching it this way meant that teachers were immersed in the technology, and naturally began to see ways that they could use it in the classroom. The staff at Fraser used Google Apps for 12 months before they started using it with students, and it has made a big difference to their confidence and the quality of the activities that take place within the platform.

Engaging with Parents

As with any parent community, there was some initial uncertainty around the use of these changing technologies. So it was important for the school to engage with their community. They held several information nights designed to give parents an overview of the types of technologies to be used, but they also demonstrated the learning potential of those technologies. It was important to speak one-on-one with some of the more reluctant parents and really listen to their concerns, which they found particularly effective. Activities such as providing a Google Classroom demonstration meant that parents could see exactly how their children would interact with the technologies.It was only then that they could get true engagement from everyone.

Teachers and students also interact with parents through podcasts posted on the school website of via the school’s YouTube channel. These podcasts present stories about the learning in visual and engaging way, and each unit group in the school has their own blog that parents can subscribe to, which makes it easy to follow the learning.


Pedagogy before technology

Fraser Primary teachers had access to Chromebooks right from the start, but it was important for them to articulate a need for them in the classroom. The executive asked the staff to consider the purpose for using a Chromebook, and come to them with that purpose. Only then were they allocated one to use. Using this approach meant that there was some rigour to teachers’ planning in relation to devices. It allowed them to consider the pedagogical impact of the device first, before trying to fit their teaching and learning to that device.

Devices for students 

At the moment, Fraser Primary School is using devices purchased by the school for their students. They have purchased enough Chromebooks to have one available for every student in year 5/6 and 1:2 for students in year 3/4. However the school’s philosophy is that the devices belong to everyone in the school - not specific teams - and they have been used where they are needed. 

As a result of the successful implementation of Google Apps for Education, Chromebooks are in high demand right across the school. Fraser Primary School's plan now is to implement a BYOD approach from 2017. As you would expect, this approach is well-planned and thoroughly organised. They have written policies and are currently consulting with staff and the school board. The next stage will involve providing lots of information to parents and the community.

This post outlines just one way to approach technology adoption and change in the school. We encourage you to read this and other posts on this subject when trying to find the best fit for your school. You might find one way is perfect, or you might find that the best approach combines a variety of ideas from lots of different schools. We'll publish more of these stories over the coming weeks.