High-tech school blazes a trail

Campbelltown Performing Arts High School (CPAHS) has been globally recognised as one of the world's most advanced users of technology in the classroom.

The school will represent Australia in Microsoft's 2013 Worldwide Partners in Learning schools program – an initiative to help teachers and principals use technology in schools more effectively – and is one of only 60 Pathfinder schools worldwide.

To become a Pathfinder school, the school must be recognised as being passionate about technology in the classroom and have a strong vision for transforming the learning environment.

"Technology is used in all streams of CPAHS' curriculum. It is firmly committed to enhancing learning outcomes for students, and more importantly, to equip the students with 21st century skills, enabling them to reflect deeply, think critically, work creatively and collaborate effectively," said Sean Tierney, academic programs manager, Microsoft Australia.

Principal Stacey Quince said the school was thrilled to be selected as a Pathfinder school.

"Our vision over the next three to five years is to meet the learning needs of every single student in our school through personalised and differentiated learning, primarily delivered via technology," she said.

"Students at our school are engaged in inquiry-based learning that challenges them and rewards them. We want our students to be stimulated into thinking creatively and we encourage them to take supported risks and see the school as providing opportunities for learning to occur outside the boundaries of the traditional classroom."

To embrace this philosophy, the school had adapted its resources to ensure the focus on learning was underpinned by technology. Every student (Years 9-12) and teacher had laptops, every faculty had an interactive whiteboard and the school had 10 technology labs with wireless broadband connection.

At CPAHS, dance, music and circus students used webcams to create video and audio files of their performances or musical compositions, which were then embedded into their notebooks.

Peer assessors and teachers could then provide written feedback or make notes and juxtapose/tag their comments to the key points in the student's video files. Students then used this feedback (visual, auditory and digital) to inform and develop their performance pieces, in particular, prior to final assessment.

"All teachers at the high school are engaged in helping improve the school and this status elevation is a very exciting development for us. It was only last year that we were selected as one of 20 schools nationally to join the Microsoft Innovative Schools Program," Ms Quince said.

To be selected for the Pathfinder program, schools must be members of the Microsoft Partners in Learning Network and have a vision for what they want to achieve.

Selected schools spend a year in the Pathfinder program. During that time, they gain access to a broad range of resources and support designed to help them reach their goals.

For more information about the Microsoft's Partners in Learning program go to www.pil-network.com/pd/school

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