The Director of Digital Learning at Lingfield College talks about the school’s plan to roll out per-student devices to every student and the challenges and benefits that come with digital transformation.
Lingfield College is a co-educational independent school in Surrey for pupils aged two to eighteen. Stefan Hagen is the Director of Digital Learning and works with his team to help drive digital learning within the school, working with the school’s partner companies – including Cloud Design Box – to deliver quality technology to staff and students.
The school has bold plans to introduce a per-student device policy – eventually rolling out touch-screen laptops to every student within the school.
In this podcast episode, we discuss the challenges of moving to blended learning, as well as the many benefits that come with a 1:1 device policy in education.
Stefan also outlines what the school has done so far to lay the foundations for this digital learning strategy and what the plan is to accomplish their goal of per-student devices.
A vision for cloud-based learning.
Lingfield College had begun looking at ways to “get digital moving”, as Stefan puts it before the pandemic.
But, things didn’t move as quickly as they had hoped and as the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns hit in the UK, the school had to move quickly to deliver quality lessons via Microsoft Teams.
“When we returned to the classroom after lockdown, I was keen to keep the momentum that we had built up going, encouraging staff members to use Teams and OneDrive,” Stefan explains.
“However, I realised that many people were fed up with computer screens and that we had to move more slowly and carefully to get everyone on board.”
It was around that time that Lingfield College began working with Cloud Design Box to create a long-term strategy that would enable the school to migrate to the cloud, which would lay the foundations for their 1:1 device policy.
Moving to the cloud.
“As they say, when you move house, you have a clear out before you move so you don’t take all your junk with you. And, it was the same as we moved from our old servers to the cloud,” Stefan explains.
Cloud Design Box worked with Lingfield College to give staff the time and training they needed to move their resources over to the cloud.
“We set up key milestones and eventually turned the old servers to ‘view-only’ to give staff who hadn’t been able to move resources over yet access without creating a confusing dual system.”
1:1 devices for teachers and school staff.
Moving to the cloud allowed Lingfield College to roll out 1:1 devices for every staff member, allowing teachers to build up their confidence with the new technology.
“This approach made the most sense to us because teachers can get used to the technology as they’re using it for teaching so that when we are ready to roll out 1:1 devices for students, teachers can help resolve some tech issues if they do occur in the classroom.”
Infrastructure challenges that come with 1:1 devices.
As Stefan points out in the podcast, there’s more to think about when rolling out 1:1 devices than simply giving everyone a laptop or tablet.
“Getting the infrastructure right is a challenge. For example, our flooring makes it difficult for us to put charging ports into our classrooms. So we’re now looking at charging lockers that can work for multiple types of devices,” Stefan tells us.
“For staff, we have installed a dock in each classroom that allows any staff member to come in, plug into the dock, charge their device and start teaching straight away.”
Introducing 1:1 devices for students.
Now all staff members have their own devices, the school is now in a position where they can plan a rollout for students, starting with year 10 and up.
“We are going to introduce a policy where Year 10s and above purchase a laptop through the school – this ensures that the devices are set up correctly and securely, and they are from our approved list of devices,” Stefan reveals.
“All devices are going to be Windows stylus-enabled touch devices.”
While spreading the word to parents that they need to spend money on a laptop for their child could be challenging, the school has made steps to ensure the transition goes as smooth as possible:
“There will be different price points so that parents can choose how much to spend on the device. And, we’ve already been using a recommended list of Windows devices over the last few years that parents have bought from, so it’s likely those devices are suitable for the new rollout.”
The school has also deliberately chosen the GCSE group for this rollout to help the students develop digital skills for the future:
“Obviously, we don’t know what kind of jobs there’ll be in the future when it comes to technology. It’s not about tying them to Microsoft and Windows, but it is about building those transferrable skills.”
Benefits of 1:1 devices for teaching and learning.
Although the student devices haven’t been fully rolled out yet, the school is already seeing huge benefits to using Microsoft 365 for teaching and learning.
“It’s a huge time save for teachers. Yes, it’s a bit of effort upfront to transfer all your resources to the cloud, but once it’s there, you can reuse the content, set up self-marking etc. It’s going to get so much quicker the more we use it,” says Stefan.
“It has driven productivity. Staff are sharing and collaborating on documents, and planning lessons as a team. Teams meetings are also more efficient – a quick call with a staff member for 10 minutes, rather than sitting through hours of in-person meetings. Also, for the longer meetings, you can multitask and get on with something else while listening.”
It’s clear that moving to the cloud has made things more flexible for both staff and students:
“One of our students can only come into school one day a week because they’re an academy footballer for a premiership club. We have quick chats and share audio notes on Teams; I send feedback on OneNote and set assignments,” he describes.
“But audio and video are powerful tools for all our students. Verbal communication is so much more powerful than written feedback. I can send video feedback via Teams and even attach it to assignments. It’s like an extension of the classroom.”
We’re excited to see Lingfield College’s vision come to life over the next few years and are looking forward to catching up with Stefan at a later stage to hopefully see students benefiting in even more ways from Microsoft 365.
If you would like to find out more about Cloud Box and how we can help your school or MAT harness the full power of Microsoft 365, SharePoint and Teams, book a free demo today.