Rural teachers receive portable devices

More than 18,000 teachers across more than 1,000 NSW public schools now have access to a portable device to help them build digital skills, access student data and streamline lesson planning.

The rollout was part of the Rural Access Gap program, a key component of the department's Schools Digital Strategy (SDS), which is a seven-year program to create connected, collaborative and digitally-enabled schools.

The first commitment was to lift the digital capability of rural and remote schools through digital teaching and learning tools, faster internet access, and professional support under the Rural Access Gap program.

Image: Dubbo PS Principal Debbie Pritchard (left) with Assistant Principal Stacey Barlow.

Students and teachers benefitting

Students benefitted from improved access to devices and now more than 18,000 teachers have access to a new device to drive digital uplift across the school community.

The delivery of portable devices also opened up opportunities for greater collaboration, and personalised flexible learning.

Dubbo Public School Assistant Principal and teacher Stacey Barlow, who was one of the first to receive a portable device under the program, said it made classes more engaging and motivating for students.

“I use mine to plan lessons, particularly in reading groups where I use Google Classroom to set tasks for individual students, so I can differentiate lessons and cater to their needs,” she said.

The SDS also allowed for greater visibility of student development. Access to real-time data on student progress gave teachers more control over how they plan for classes and enabled more tailored and personalised learning opportunities linked to student needs.

Dubbo Public School Principal Debbie Pritchard said portable devices allowed teachers to readily collect and analyse data in collaboration with colleagues.

“I give our teachers collaborative planning days. They sit down together, analyse the data, work out where the students are at, and work out where they need to go next,” Debbie said.

Teachers also had access to professional development, support, and resources to ensure they get the most out of their new digital tools. All devices were tested as fit-for-purpose for use in the classroom with support available through EDConnect and the ICT Field Operations team.

And the Rural Access Gap program also provided funding for a school-appointed Digital Classroom Officer (DCO), to help guide their school community through the digital uplift.

Stacey said the DCO at her school had been helpful for guidance and troubleshooting.

“It’s really good just knowing there’s someone you can touch base with and say ‘Hey, I need help with using this program’ or ‘Can you troubleshoot this for me?’,” she said.

“Knowing they will be there and invest that time in for you, makes it a lot easier for us because we’re so busy with other things.”

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