Parramatta to offer wireless ABC and e-learning

Parramatta diocese is building a new hi-tech school or "learning community" in Sydney's north-west that plans to offer round the clock computer based "e-learning" in which study materials will be transmitted by mobile phone.

The Age online yesterday reports that the 24-hour school with no traditional classrooms and where students use mobile phones and laptops to learn is being built at Stanhope Gardens.

"Students will come online and enter into a dialogue with their tutors," Greg Whitby (pictured), Executive Director of Schools in the Parramatta diocese, told The Age.

Designers of the $40 million Catholic school for 1700 pupils say it will keep students interested in learning and reduce truancy and behavioural problems.

Pupils from kindergarten to year 12 can attend the school between 6am and 10pm.

They can also have access to their work and lesson material at any time on the internet. Staff will provide online tutorials from 8pm to 10pm.

The traditional classroom concept will disappear, replaced by "learning spaces". The school will be referred to as a "learning community" and teachers will be known as "learning advisers", Mr Whitby said. "The walls of a classroom become redundant because students are able to access real-time, any-time learning."

Technology would be a major focus of the school that will boast a "meshed wireless environment", he said. "It will be an e-learning environment using m-learning [mobile technology] tools."

This could mean a student might be sitting in the playground carrying out school work via a mobile phone. Laptop computers will be another learning tool.

Parents will be encouraged to come in and work with their children and the community will also be able to use the facilities.

The traditional lesson timetable, where students might move from maths to science to English class, will be overhauled. There will be integrated lessons where students will still learn according to NSW Board of Studies guidelines, but may be taught in mixed age groups.

"The way of delivering the school curriculum has changed - it's a fully integrated learning experience," Mr Whitby concluded.

E-volution of schools (The Age, 9/10/06)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Education Office, Parramatta
John XXIII Catholic Primary, Stanhope Gardens

Teachers need lessons in new web tools: NSW CEO Director (CathNews, 2/8/06)
New Vatican website to push interactivity (CathNews, 3/5/06)

School begins with principal (Ballarat Courier, 10/10/06)

10 Oct 2006