Sparking The Love of Learning with The Cloud

 |   Microsoft NZ News Centre


St Therese School celebrates cultural diversity within a friendly, caring and family-oriented environment, and seeks to create passionate, lifelong learners, with a strong faith, as well as the skills and knowledge to be successful members of their communities. One of their Strategic goals for 2017 – 2019 is to develop innovative pedagogies which make use of collaborative and digital tools. At first glance, it may seem that such lofty goals require massive funds. St Therese, however, was fortunate to make smarter use of their resources with Microsoft.

Keeping the focus on education not the tools

The school’s staff were of the same mind and were committed to pursuing their vision, “Working together, everybody seemed to have a good grasp of where we wanted to go.” In terms of digital transformation, St Therese was looking to further extend 24/7 access to their learning to senior students. It needed an IT system that served as a facilitator, not a barrier to learning—an investment for the long term, not an expense.

Unfortunately, some of St Therese’s existing digital tools were not sustainable in terms of the costs entailed. The school had been utilizing Dropbox for storage but that did not prove to be cost efficient and suffered from occasional limitations around storage. This contrasted with the Microsoft Cloud which had all the makings of a comprehensive “behind-the-scenes” IT system that simply worked.

A smarter switch to the cloud

Over a period of 18 months to 2 years, St Therese made the switch to a serverless environment, migrating their assets to the Microsoft Cloud for more computing capabilities and cost efficiencies. pcMedia facilitated the school’s migration to the cloud with its Microsoft Cloud expertise, saving them considerable funds—the school was quoted fees ranging from $40,000 to $75,000 just to replace its server. Further cost savings were achieved through the Ministry of Education Schools Agreement.

The switch to the cloud also made more sense in terms of synergy, as St Therese was already on Microsoft Windows 10 Devices, and had access to OneNote, Office 365 Pro Plus and more. “They were already on Windows 10 and all we did was some minor updates to their devices. It wasn’t an enormous overhaul,” pointed out Lee, CIO at PcMedia.

What’s more, with the help of Microsoft partner pcMedia, all files and folders as well as the experience of digital repositories and interfaces remained consistent, “Everything looked the same,” as Laura, Deputy Principal at St Therese School shared.

Simplified and secured

The transition has simplified access to data and IT administration, enabling them to gain more effective control of their IT. They self-provision apps, apply flexible mobile device and app management controls that open the way for students and teachers to work from any device while being mindful of data privacy and security. “Working with pcMedia has given us more control over the admin side. We can self-provision apps, and password management is more efficient,” shared Laura, “We now have more ownership and independence over administration.” For St Therese, this integrated IT approach was a cost efficient and sustainable platform for innovative learning.

Teachers have 24/7 access to student’s work from home and no longer need to be on-site to follow up learning and communicate with students.

App management control opens the way for students and teachers to work from any device while being mindful of data privacy and security

Tools that support innovative pedagogy

As part of the switch, the school is now using OneNote as part of their classroom delivery. Students now share a common collaboration space and they can see for themselves that they are working on the same tasks with their friends, making learning fun. Students can put their ideas onto a digital canvas with OneNote, that lets both teachers and students easily add images, videos and digital ink for more engaged learning. They can create digital notebooks that help them stay organised, and do not experience lack of storage, while teachers are free to create more interactive lessons.

Teachers, in the senior school, now have 24/7 access to student’s work from home and no longer need to be on-site to follow up learning and communicate with students.

Learning from anywhere and inspiring self-driven learning

Previously, much of what students learnt at school stayed at school as it was not stored digitally. But now, they have access to school work from home, via OneDrive, and have the option to continue learning from their personal devices. This multi-touchpoint learning experience encourages students to continue learning at their own pace wherever they are.

It goes beyond that. The visibility and access to school work and curricula is aimed at getting parents more involved and up-to-date on the progress of their child’s education, making it a more inclusive experience for all. “Parents can now keep updated on what is being taught, and how their children are engaging with their education more effectively and efficiently,” shared Susan, Principal of St Therese.

Looking ahead, the school hopes its success can be replicated across other schools so that students wherever they are can access the same tools and ensure continuity of learning, regardless of the school they attend.

One of St Therese’s goals is to be a place “where children love to learn”. With tools like Minecraft, students are actively participating in class, and proactively taking more ownership of their learning. St Therese has also invested in Windows devices, opening the way for the possibility of enhancing classroom learning with virtual reality and beyond.

Nurturing the next generation of global citizens

Neither size nor funds are barriers to cultivating the love of learning and innovative pedagogies. St Therese has 12 teaching and administration staff and, with help from Microsoft, the team is on their way to nurturing the next generation of global citizens, bringing St Therese’s vision to life.

Sparking the love of learning with the cloud
“They can now see what the learning is and understand what is being taught.”
——Susan, Principal of St Therese School

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