May 28, 2024

International School of Western Australia

ISWA device update drives personalised learning and staff productivity

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Objective

The International School of Western Australia (ISWA) wanted to invest in modern devices and explore an ‘as a service’ model that would empower teachers and students to take full advantage of digital learning advancements in the modern classroom.

Approach

ISWA sought a Device as a Service (DaaS) solution that would reduce administrative burden while providing a higher level of service to families, students and staff, whom were tightly involved in the process.

Outcome

The Data#3 DaaS portal lets us log support calls and order stock of laptops – the whole platform is great and provides a set of tools for us that is very useful.

Staale BrokvamIT Director, ISWA.

For families seeking an international education in Perth, the International School of Western Australia (ISWA) has earned a reputation as an innovative school that prioritises student wellbeing and individual success. With a student body representing more than 60 nationalities, ISWA embraces diversity and welcomes different perspectives.

Technology is seen as an essential tool to help students explore the world, and to help teachers continuously provide an engaging and thought-provoking education. As a previous device program neared its conclusion, the school had an opportunity to further enhance digital learning.

The Challenge

As an international school, ISWA is unique in Australia in that it offers the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum following the Northern Hemisphere school year that runs from July to June. The IB ethos promotes an understanding of diverse viewpoints, and ISWA principal Dr Caroline Brokvam said that technology is central to tailoring the experience to each student’s needs.

“The idea with technology and the IB is using technology as a tool for personalised learning, which is one of our school’s commitments. Individuals learn in different ways, and we support that by harnessing the power of technology in pursuit of deeper learning.”

“The aim of the IB is to create a more peaceful world, with a philosophy that other people with differences can also be right, something that is especially important now. We foster an appreciation of different perspectives, and technology can help to access so many perspectives online,” stated Dr Brokvam.

Where previously the students and staff had numerous types of laptops through another provider, this arrangement was nearing its conclusion. Typically for devices reaching end of life, the older laptops had an increasing number of issues. Teachers were dealing with different device models in the classroom, making it a more complicated learning experience, and they were keen not to lose any teaching time. Resolving the issues was time consuming and frustrating, and Dr Brokvam said that at times the small, busy IT team became a “complaints department”.

Deploying, maintaining, and supporting devices typically consumes a significant portion of skilled IT time for small and mid-sized organisations, often leaving an IT team with less than a quarter of the day for innovation. Furthermore, modern devices are more secure, better protecting users online. This challenge was only too familiar to ISWA IT Director Staale Brokvam, who was keen to remove the impact on teachers and students.

“Battery life was particularly an issue, which comes with the territory as a device gets older. Weight was also a key consideration; compared to modern machines, older devices were heavier and not as durable, with cables that were suffering from wear and tear.”

“Support for our devices had expired at the tail end of the previous lease, so if any of our devices were broken, they weren’t covered by warranty. The lack of support meant there was a lot of frustration.”

The more predictable pricing schedule of a Device as a Service (DaaS) agreement was attractive to ISWA, as this would allow them to work on a per user, per month cost with no surprises. After the challenges of procurement during times of global shortages, the school was keen to find an easier way to ensure supply and minimise disruption.

“Like everyone, we found it hard to source devices when needed, and it took more time and effort than we could spare,” reported Staale Brokvam.

IT Outcome

The school was familiar with Data#3 and their connection with the Association of Independent Schools Western Australia Microsoft Enrolment for Education Solutions arrangement. As Western Australia’s largest education licensing partner, which includes Microsoft 365 Education suite, it made sense to seek input from a partner with a wealth of understanding of the education sector. The choice of device was narrowed down to two machines, with the feedback of students and teachers prioritised. The overwhelming favourite was the HP ProBook, with upgraded memory provided by the Data#3 Integration Centre.

“The students liked the general feel, like keyboards and weight, as well as the battery life. It is a bit intangible why they liked this machine so strongly, but it was uniform feedback. The form and feel of it fits our needs very well,” recounted Staale Brokvam.

“They had the required specs, the students liked the fold over tablet mode, and we could get the required number at the right time for a good cost.”

The complete device lifecycle was included in the DaaS solution from Data#3, from procurement, image deployment and delivery through to support via the ServiceNow portal, and secure, sustainable decommissioning at device end of life. The solution is provided through a monthly billing cycle, eliminating capital expenditure on this key technology. Almost 300 devices were deployed in the initial batch, and the portal makes it easy to add more as needed in a few clicks. Support, too, became easy, helping to free time for the innovation in digital education that is a hallmark of ISWA.

“The portal where we can lodge cases has all previous communications, so we can see updates on each case, which is quite useful. We also have someone from Data#3 who comes onsite as needed,” explained Staale Brokvam.

“We now have a supplier we can rely on, and getting new devices has never been a problem. As the models change, we know we can get the equivalent specifications in the latest device.”

With newer, more reliable devices, support needs have been low, and Staale Brokvam noted with approval that the respectful behaviour promoted at ISWA has extended to the laptops.

“Our students are responsible, and Data#3 has commented that we have a lower number of damage cases than at most schools. Working with Data#3 has been problem free.”

While the most welcomed advantage of the DaaS program from an IT perspective has been the streamlined process and reduced management required, the principal said she has observed something special among the student population. “Students can do graphing, calculate complex maths equations, and create art. We have a student media team, and they are remarkably creative in how they work with the laptops. The technology facilitates the inquiry-based learning that is at the centre of the way we work,” said Dr Brokvam.

Students can do graphing, calculate complex maths equations, and create art. We have a student media team, and they are remarkably creative in how they work with the laptops. The technology facilitates the inquiry-based learning that is at the centre of the way we work.

Dr Caroline BrokvamPrinicpal, ISWA.

Conclusion

International schools have seen a 52 percent rise in student numbers in the last decade, and ISWA is intent on repaying the faith of its growing school community by giving students the best possible experience and outcomes. For today’s digital native youngsters, the right device is central to school performance, and Dr Brokvam is confident that their needs are fully met.

“I don’t get complaints from students or teachers because the devices do all that we want them to do. They have a long battery life, and they just work. Teachers don’t have time for interrupting lessons to mess around with technology, and the best thing is when you don’t hear much about it, because that means everyone is able to work unhindered.”

“It supports us to do what we want to do in terms of our educational goals. Students do a lot of independent research, and this is an excellent tool for them. We use technology to remove barriers to learning and to be more inclusive. For example, we can use technology to give dyslexic students different ways to access learning that work best for them so they can continue learning and achieving.”

While the highlight from an organisational perspective has been to support the diversity and inclusion that comes from catering to the needs of every individual, from an IT point of view, Staale Brokvam said the right partnership has made a real difference. The DaaS model has helped reduce IT workloads by up to 16 percent and a strong working relationship helps to realise those benefits. “We have regular meetings with Data#3 where they keep us up-to-date and check in on any issues that arise. They’re quick to respond when there are any cases needing attention. It helps that they are a knowledgeable partner that works with many independent schools, so they understand the way we work and what is important to us. That helps us to focus our attention on giving our best for our students, families, and staff.

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