Manurewa Intermediate Embraces Windows 10 to Power STEAM and Future Skills Development

 |   Ashlea Lynch

Students playing Minecraft

In two years, Manurewa Intermediate has improved literacy and numeracy results through a digital transformation journey supported by Windows 10. With rugged laptops designed for mobility and managed by the Microsoft cloud, the school has seen increased engagement and improved academic results in STEAM, Mathematics and Humanities. Additionally, the IT team have deployed and managed school laptops faster and easier than ever before.

School Profile and Background

Located in South Auckland New Zealand, Manurewa Intermediate has prioritised research and careful selection of technology platforms. A culturally diverse school roll of 850 students supported by 65 staff, they embrace the school vision of “Adventurous risk takers: persistent focused achievement”. This vision is supported by foundational frameworks like the Keys to Success where students agree to look after each other, property, the environment and themselves. These values have been instrumental in helping students and teachers become good Digital Citizens during the increased use of technology over the last two years.

The Start of Digital Transformation

When Thomas Bartlett joined the school as Deputy Principal in 2017, he observed a lack of regular computer use in class work. To persuade principal Iain Taylor, he developed a Technology Integration Plan that combined external research on the use of digital technologies in education with plans for pilot classes at the school. While the possibility of a BYOD program was discussed with the whānau community, the Board of Trustees decided that school-provided devices would be a more equitable solution. At the end of the year, the school purchased 160 Windows 10 laptops and identified the digitally skilled teachers to lead further research in Pioneer classes. Throughout 2018, Head of Teaching and Learning Ben Hutchings tracked improved student achievement in these digitally enabled Pioneer classes, especially in the area of Mathematics. This evidence, along with other data points, convinced Principal Iain Taylor and the Board of Trustees to approve the purchase of an additional 400 Windows 10 laptops for 2019.

Windows 10 as a Platform for Learning

The decision to base their digital transformation on Windows 10 was simple, according to Thomas Bartlett: “The decision to use Windows 10 for devices in the school was based around having the most options for our student learning pathways in terms of future technology we may choose to integrate into the school.” Windows 10 was also preferred in the learning area of STEAM, where the use of coding and robotics often meant the devices were being moved around by students. Thomas needed educational devices that were robust enough to cope: “We researched extensively on what would be the strongest device for the classroom. We didn’t want to limit the learning opportunities for our teachers and students” Selecting Windows 10 devices designed for the classroom, combined with the school’s own Keys to Success values, resulted in only three cracked screens in 2019 (in over 10,000 hours of teaching). Minecraft: Education Edition proved particularly popular, which led to some innovative school community engagements, as Thomas describes: “Recently we had a “Boys Night” where all the male whānau came with their sons and as they rotated around the open classrooms, the whānau got to experience Minecraft: Education Edition and see how their sons learnt using technology”

Powered by the Cloud

At the start of the Digital Transformation journey in 2018, the school’s IT Manager Davi Tran was also beginning to explore more effective ways to manage the growing number of devices in the school. After an introduction to Intune for Education by the Microsoft New Zealand Education Team, he started using Microsoft Intune to manage not just Windows 10 devices but also some Apple iPads that the school owned. With additional guidance and support from the Microsoft Fast Track team, Davi accelerated the move to cloud, creating all student and staff identities inside Azure Active Directory (Azure AD) and prepared to start managing the influx of new Windows 10 devices in 2019. As Davi explained: “For Windows 10, it’s really, really easy to manage with Intune. It was the right time, right situation to move everything to Azure AD and Intune with Microsoft 365” To ensure a first-class student experience, Davi provisioned Single Sign On (SSO) in Azure AD for students and staff at Manurewa Intermediate, meaning students could use any device, sign in once with their school credentials and have immediate access to the various digital learning platforms utilised by the school. The experience has been seamless according to Davi: “One login, one user, one password and go everywhere” The simplicity of a cloud identity in Azure AD and the browser-based Intune for Education led to Davi adopting these Microsoft 365 platforms in other schools he manages to save time and improve the student experience.

Partnering for Success

To manage this rapid change, Manurewa Intermediate leveraged trusted partners like the Microsoft Fast Track and local education teams, as well as educational professional development partners to train teachers. The school offered mentoring for teachers multiple times each term, fostering inspiration for digital development and the creation of teaching resources. These partnerships have been instrumental in the success of the school, as Thomas identified: “The level of digital competency in our Maths and Humanities teachers has risen at a very fast rate over the last two years as a result of this training and access to devices” Throughout their digital transformation journey, the leadership team and wider staff modelled their school vision of Adventurous risk takers: persistent focused achievement. The considered selection of Windows 10 as the platform for their digital learning, combined with cloud identities in Azure AD and device management with Intune for Education, has enabled the school to transform their technology use while maintaining a strong focus on improved academic achievement. The future is indeed bright for the students at Manurewa Intermediate.

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