TA phalanx of journalists as well as Brooklyn School's Kapa Haka group greeted the Minister of Education, the Hon Steve Maharey on his fleeting visit to the school's Tablet classroom.
Escorted by the school's principal Chris Bryant, the Minister spoke to students, teachers, parents and special guests who had gathered outside the Tablet classroom. The Minister praised the school's pioneering use of the Tablets and said results of the Tablet pilot would be keenly anticipated by educators and schools alike. During his speech Mr Maharey also launched the Ministry of Education's $50 million e-Learning Action Plan, of which DigiOps is a part.
The Minister then mixed and mingled with students using the Tablets before he briefly met with CHaOS project partners, HP.
Coverage of the visit is appeared in The New Zealand Herald, The Dominion Post, and on One News, Radio New Zealand and NewsTalk ZB.
A unique trial at Brooklyn School, which will see Year 5 and 6 students using a portable personal tablet-style PCs in place of exercise books, is to be visited by education minister, the Hon Steve Maharey this week.
Known as a Tablet, the A4-sized all-in-one electronic 'exercise book', will be used for the majority of class work across most subjects. Students then get to take the Tablets home each day to do their homework.
"It's a big step to let the students take the Tablets home, but if this trial is to be successful it is essential that the students are able to access the technology at school and at home," says Project Facilitator, Dean Stanley.
Brooklyn School is part of the Digital Opportunities Project, a joint initiative between the Ministry of Education and technology partners and is looking at how emerging technologies can help improve student learning. The school's three-year project named CHaOS (Children Having Ownership of Schooling), is investigating whether pen-based technologies such as the Tablets, help increase student engagement levels and contribute towards enhancing student learning.
Partnered by technology company and Tablet supplier HP New Zealand, the Tablets are loaded with character recognition software which allows the students to write directly onto the screen with the stylus pen.
"Even though there is a keyboard all the kids use the stylus pens as they're much simpler and easier for them to use, especially for very young children."
For HP, the Tablet initiative provides a great opportunity to strengthen its commitment around helping transform schools based learning experiences for New Zealand children, while also extending its long-standing relationship with Brooklyn School.
"We are really interested to watch and learn how students will adopt the Tablets into their day-to-day education and lives," says Jeff Healey, Enterprise and Corporate Marketing Manager at HP. "HP introduced Tablet PC's to Brooklyn School in 2004 on a shared basis; broadening this by giving individual students personal Tablets is a fantastic way to really drive forward the innovation in learning that we've seen so far."
The Tablet Classroom trial follows a previous smaller study carried out in the CHaOS project's pilot year, which found that the Tablets HP provided did help motivate students and increase their levels of learning.
"The first trial showed there were definitive gains from the Tablets, but it only involved five students. By running a trial with a class of 28 we hope to show with more certainty that the Tablets are helping kids learn," said Dean Stanley.
The Tablets are battery and mains power operated, and come loaded with Windows Journal which is used in English and Social Studies, Microsoft Excel for Maths, and the Macromedia suite of software including Freehand and Fireworks for art and design.
Findings from the CHaOS project's Tablet Classroom trial will be published on the Digital Opportunities website, www.digiops.org.nz
The Minister will be at Brooklyn School on Tuesday 25 July at 9.45am.