Customer Solution Case Study
Australia schools collaborate to create a truly
connected learning experience
Overview “We had created a community of learners. The sense of
Country or Region: Australia
Industry: Education achievement, purpose, and pride was uplifting…many
students commented that the Partners in Learning
Drummond Memorial Public School is a project had become the most enjoyable experience in
medium-sized urban school in Armidale
(population: 25,000). Of its 110 students, their school lives.” Michael Wilson, Team Leader, Drummond Memorial PS
60% are Aboriginal. The school struggles Michael Wilson, Team Leader, Drummond Memorial Public School
with socio-economic challenges.
Drummond Memorial Public School (Drummond PS), an urban
Business Situation school in Armidale, Australia, began its Connected, Creating,
To create a connected learning
environment, partner schools would need
Collaborating program in 2006. Working with Microsoft Partners
to bridge racial, social, and economic in Learning, the two and a half year partnership between
divides, as well as address varying ICT
skill levels in teachers and students.
Drummond PS and three other remote schools comprised an
effort to develop more creative uses of information and
Working with Partners in Learning and
communication technologies (ICT) in the classroom, bridge
using Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007, social and economic differences, and create a truly connected
other Web 2.0 tools, Drummond PS and
partners connected students and staff in
learning experience. Using Microsoft® SharePoint® Server 2007
a true collaboration of sharing and and other Web 2.0 products such as wikis and blogs, students
and teachers collaborated with partner schools to develop their
Benefits ICT skills and learn from each other.
Attendance increased up to 98%.
Technology skills increased in 100% of
Use of online ICT increased to 90% of
teachers and students.
Text comprehensive increased among
some groups to 100%.
100% of participating students would
like to do it again.
Situation launched a nationwide program to
“The excursion program Drummond Memorial Public School is a investigate ways for senior elementary
medium-sized school in the large country students to shape their own learning and to
provided purposeful town of Armidale, in New South Wales. bridge the disconnect between ICT used at
learning and social Drummond PS teaches children from home and in school.
kindergarten through grade 6. Of its 110
experiences … and led to students, 60 percent are Aboriginal and the As part of this program, participating
socio-economic status of the school is low. schools were provided with project
a huge amount of management, mentoring, and expert
published material.” Although Drummond PS already had a high consultant coordination by DK2. Microsoft
local profile regarding innovative use of ICT provided funding for ICT innovation,
(information and communication complimentary travel to forums and
Michael Wilson, Team Leader, Drummond technology), much of that was in the use of conferences, and access to tools like
Memorial Public School CD ROMs, interactive whiteboards, and SharePoint Server 2007. The NSW DET
other teaching materials. The school provided up relief days for the 2006/2007
wanted to create a more connected school year.
learning environment with other schools,
and use ICT more creatively. However, there “(Partners in Learning) is committed to
were significant hurdles. education. They have provided an
opportunity that my teachers wouldn’t have
Drummond PS and its partner schools experienced otherwise. I’m honored to
suffered from economic isolation or have had Partners in Learning as a partner,”
disadvantages, such as widely disparate ICT said Jim White, a Regional Director for the
skill levels among teachers and students, NSW DET.
and large physical distances between
physical locations. They also needed to The partnership
overcome a resistance to change and a Wilson was put in charge of Drummond’s
reluctance to accept multimedia as a program because of his previous
legitimate educational tool. Yet another experience directing integrated ICT
challenge was the social and racial activities in the school and district.
differences among students, since more
than half of the students at Drummond PS “I wanted to provide meaningful
were Aboriginal, while partner schools were opportunities for the students to
completely non-Aboriginal. communicate with each other and to
publish their work using a range of media
“Aboriginal Australians are the single most in a variety of genres. I wanted the teaching
disadvantaged group in the community. staff involved to see the creative
There are still lots of barriers—social, possibilities that ICTs offered their
economic, and cultural—between students,” said Wilson.
indigenous and other Australians,” said
Michael Wilson, a teacher at Drummond PS. The project was titled “Connecting,
Creating, Collaborating. Connected For
Solution Life.” Three small, remote schools were
In 2006, the NSW Department of Education invited to join. All three had few students
and Training (NSW DET), the Australian and no Aboriginal students:
Council for Educational Research (ACER), Yarrowitch PS—20 students, 90 minute
consulting group DK2, and Microsoft drive from Armidale. A mostly rural
and farming community with some Weekly discussions covering topical
affluent families. issues and focusing on moral choices
“I have enjoyed going on Niangala PS—12 students, 90 minutes and value decisions.
from Armidale. A rural farming and The creation of student blogs, for both
excursions, making mining community with a mix of individuals and groups.
podcasts and making affluent families and poor, isolated Wiki-driven, shared writing projects.
families. Student-produced video and podcast
movies. I think it is great Rocky River—36 students, 30 minutes advertisements for their schools and
from Armidale. A mix of alternate home areas.
to be able to lifestyle, professional, and academic An excursion-based experiential
communicate with other families, making it more multicultural learning program where each school
than the other two schools. would host the others locally.
schools.” Visits to the Armidale Film and
Connecting, Creating, Collaborating Television School.
Jake Plowes, Student, Drummond Memorial
The project focused on students in 4th
through 6th grade. Seventy students Benefits
participated, with 55 percent of these The final result of the two and a half year
identified as Aboriginal and attending project was a truly connected learning
development, teacher support, interaction community. Students and teachers bridged
between students from different schools, social and racial divides by creating
and writing opportunities. But not all of friendships and bonds through excursions
their early efforts succeeded. and online collaboration.
“Many of the earliest attempts at “We had created a community of learners.
connectivity failed. For example, it soon The sense of achievement, purpose and
became obvious that chat rooms don’t pride was uplifting. On their blogs many of
necessarily work very well for eleven year the students commented that the Partners
olds who hardly know each other and will in Learning project had become the most
not wait their turn. So the project retained enjoyable experience of their school lives,”
a sense of flexibility, almost aimlessness for said Wilson.
the first six months or so. There was still the
feeling that the connectedness and the Starting as part of the wider national
sense of a community of learners was not program provided inspiration and
really happening,” said Wilson. authenticity, in addition to a place to
discuss ideas and find solutions to
The turning point problems.
In June 2007, the team met in what was
essentially a crisis meeting. Wilson The excursion aspect
proposed changes to the plan and the Students and teachers from the partner
team adopted the idea of using Microsoft schools met regularly, getting to know each
SharePoint Server 2007 as the central other well and forming friendships. Each
learning gateway. A new plan was outlined: school took turns hosting excursions to
Regular Web-based research projects, special places in the area. Host students
with results presented using planned and organized the activities.
multimodal applications the students Students were then required to post
were learning how to use. reports and videos using a wide range of
technologies to the central SharePoint
Server 2007 location. Students used publishing, Internet research, and use
discussion forums to comment on and of peripheral tools such as cameras.
critique each other’s work. The ability to develop a Microsoft
“(Partners in Learning) is Office PowerPoint® presentation grew
“The excursion program provided from 20 to 99 percent.
committed to education. purposeful learning and social experiences The ability to identify the purpose of a
They have provided an that meant something to the students and text grew from 40 to 75 percent.
led to a huge amount of published The ability of Aboriginal students to
opportunity that my material, providing a catalyst for the identify similes and metaphors in a
successful learning and social outcomes descriptive piece of writing and write
teachers wouldn’t have achieved,” said Wilson. using more complex imagery grew
experienced otherwise. from 5 to 100 percent.
Jake Plowes, a student at Drummond PS, At the start of the program, only 10
I’m honored to have had agreed. “I have enjoyed going on percent of Drummond students and
excursions, making podcasts and making teachers could explain what a blog,
Partners in Learning as a movies. I think it is great to be able to wiki, or voicethread was. By the end,
partner.” communicate with other schools. It is also 90 percent could use these
fantastic to get to know the [other] kids.” applications.
Jim White, Regional Director, NSW DET When surveyed, 97 percent of the
The culmination of the project was a series students regarded the skills they had
of visits to the Armidale Film and Television learned to be useful for their future
School, where experts led the students schooling.
through every aspect of film making. The 97 percent of the students said they
students prepared short projects that they would like to be involved in a similar
filmed, edited, and uploaded to showcasing project in the future.
“Before the program, computers meant
“I found the students were very excited either work or games, and then after it, we
because this was something new, learned much, much more of what you can
something they hadn’t heard of before. The do with them,” said Sonya Tadman, a
students from here just love going onto the student at Drummond PS.
computers and they also enjoy going on
excursions and meeting other students,” “Many students identified the fact that they
said Pam Miller, a teacher at Niangala had learned about and from each other,
Public School. enjoyed reading each other’s postings on
the site, and felt more confident about their
Increased attendance and skills ability to participate and learn. [Student]
The benefits of the program were surveys paint a picture of the explosive
substantial: development of technology skills, self
Participating student attendance at confidence and purposeful learning as the
Drummond PS rose from 89 to 94 project proceeded,” said Wilson.
percent. Attendance on excursion days
and training days was 98 percent. Innovative Teachers Award
100 percent of the students showed In 2008, Wilson won the NSW Innovative
marked improvement in technology Teacher Award for his work on the
skills such as keyboard use, desktop connected learning program and his long
term commitment to the integration of
For More Information technology into teaching and learning. He Microsoft Partners in Learning
For more information about Microsoft also received a scholarship and several For more information on how the Microsoft
products and services, call the Microsoft other accolades. Partners in Learning initiative is increase
Sales Information Center at (800) 426- access to technology and improve its use in
9400. In Canada, call the Microsoft “Being an innovative teacher has opened learning, please visit:
Canada Information Centre at (877) 568- my world in so many ways. Most www.microsoft.com/partnersinlearning.aspx
2495. Customers in the United States and importantly, being an innovative teacher
Canada who are deaf or hard-of-hearing means encouraging your learners to take
can reach Microsoft text telephone risks with the way they learn. We can all For more information about Partners in
(TTY/TDD) services at (800) 892-5234. learn so much from each other,” said Learning in Australia, visit
Outside the 50 United States and Wilson. www.microsoft.com.au/partnersinlearning
Canada, please contact your local
Microsoft subsidiary. To access The future of the program
information using the World Wide Web, Although the national program officially
go to: ended in 2008, an online Gifted and
www.microsoft.com Talented project continues to run across
the region. Drummond PS has continued its
For more information about DK2 partnership with Niangala PS. Their
products and services, call 61 3 9370 students remain in regular contact and
0658 or visit the Web site at: continue to use SharePoint Server 2007 as
www.dk2.com.au a collaborative, creative, and showcasing
site. A teacher’s communication network
For more information about Drummond was established with online timetables,
Memorial Public School products and Wilson has also begun working with ten
services, call 02-6772-3736 or visit the other local primary schools to develop a
Web site at: new learning community using a
www.drummondmemorial.moss.educatio collaborative SharePoint Server 2007 space.
“There has been significant change in
For more information about MARVIN school programs as a result of our project.
software visit the Web site at: This change has spread to a district and
http://www.marvin.com.au regional level. The creative component of
the project and digital literacy initiatives
continue at all schools. Teachers at this
school continue to explore opportunities to
use Web 2.0 technologies and multimedia
in their teaching programs. This is a major
positive outcome of the Partners in
Learning program,” said Wilson.
Software and Services Third Party Software
Microsoft SharePoint Server 2007 MARVIN
Microsoft Office PowerPoint
Microsoft Photo Story
Microsoft Windows Movie Maker
This case study is for informational purposes only.
MICROSOFT MAKES NO WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR
IMPLIED, IN THIS SUMMARY.
Document published April 2010