How this rural school principal turned the tables

How this rural school principal turned the tables

Adversity is an ongoing challenge for Australian schools, leaving principals and educators constantly searching for new ways to deliver outcomes and create opportunities for diverse demographics of students.

Wodonga Middle Years College (WMYC) knows these challenges all too well. WMYC is not only a publicly-funded school but located in a rural community and attended by 800 students from a very wide spectrum of socio-economic backgrounds.

Using the Brightspace LMS, Steve Fouracre, assistant principal at WMYC, developed a strategy that allows each individual student to capitalise on the opportunities of equal and flexible education from anywhere and at any time.

The initiative began when Fouracre went on the hunt for an effective Learning Management System (LMS) to streamline and improve the way that teaching and learning happened across the College.

Fouracre, who had previous experience with D2L’s Brightspace LMS when he was working at another school, organised the College to trial the software at the end of 2015.

The College formed a working party which subsequently conducted an evaluation to determine whether or not the Brightspace LMS would be the ‘right fit’ for the school in terms of addressing the challenges it needed to overcome.

Fouracre said there was “overwhelmingly positive” feedback from the working group, who decided to adopt the platform.

“We needed a platform to support teachers with their delivery of content, so they could have consistency from classroom to classroom,” Fouracre told The Educator.

“Once we had a consistent platform for the curriculum to sit on, teachers had a collaborative space where they could work and plan together to overcome some of the obstacles the school faced in the past.”

WMYC now has a personalised learning environment that encourages continuous engagement through Microsoft Outlook, Dropbox, YouTube, active links, interactive tools and more. As a result, students can develop their knowledge and skills so they are better prepared for life after school.

Four years on, the Brightspace platform is being “consistently used” by 100% of the College’s student population.

“Learning should be available kids anywhere and anytime, so this platform means that learning doesn’t have to finish when kids leave the classroom,” Fouracre said.

“This platform also gives the College instructional consistency across its campus. It ensures that the best practice is happening in every class while retaining the art of teaching.”

‘A more interactive learning experience’

Fouracre said now that the College has just finished its three-year strategic plan, the focus will be on observing and measuring its impact moving forward.

“While I think that, looking back, the goals we set for the College were quite modest, we surpassed those goals half-way through last year because of the level of interest and engagement from the staff,” Fouracre said.

“We can now extend the way teachers think about how they interact with the kids. Now that we’ve got the content, the kids are engaging with the tools and have a more interactive experience with their learning.”

Fouracre said a big step for the College next year will be to engage its parent community within the LMS portal.

“If we include parents in the portal, they will be able to have immediate feedback on how their children are performing academically,” he said.

“This will increase the accountability of teachers within the school and keep parents better informed about what is happening within the College.”