Schools walk tall

The schools category of the Computerworld Excellence Awards is among the most popular for entrants. This year's finalists are Aranui Primary School, Birkdale Intermediate, Wellington Girls' College and the Kelston Deaf Education Centre.

The schools category of the Computerworld Excellence Awards is among the most popular for entrants. This year’s finalists are Aranui Primary School, Birkdale Intermediate, Wellington Girls’ College and the Kelston Deaf Education Centre.

Aranui Primary’s entry is for its school film festival, Walking Tall with Short Film, held last December.

The festival featured films made by pupils with school ICT (information and communications technology) resources, such as digital video cameras, DV-capable Apple Mac computer and i-movie3 and iDVD software.

As well as the school’s staff, pupils and ICT resources, input was given by educational advisors from Australia and the US and from Apple Education, graphic designer Time Zone One and the Aurora Centre venue in Christchurch.

Birkdale Intermediate’s entry relates to its problem-based learning community. Five teachers, known as The Kiwi Team, are building the community in order to develop higher thinking and independent learning skills in pupils.

At the school, each room dedicated to the project will have a data projector, two broadband-enabled computers and internet access for another 16 devices, on the “just in time” model developed by technologist and former teacher Jamie McKenzie.

Five rooms are to be re-fitted for this purpose and a new teaching tool, a Quest, consisting of multimedia material, will be part of the project. The technology behind Quest includes Alias wavefront Maya 4, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Photoshop, Macromedia Flash and Flash MX.

Wellington Girls’ College’s entry involves a group of girls called the Tech Angels. This group of girls interested in IT has grown from a membership of six in 2002 to 47 this year and they are teaching their teachers about ICT by providing personalised support in the field.

Rather than bring in costly outside IT tuition, the school turned to the Tech Angels and the angels also engage with people outside the college.

Areas in which the angels will be working this year include network training, Dreamweaver/Photoshop, intranet troubleshooting, basic repairs and maintenance of peripherals and cables, switched and hubs and Adobe Acrobat file management.

The fourth entry, by Kelston Deaf Education Centre, relates to the centre’s production of multimedia CDs for use in teaching deaf children.

The CDs include NZSL, New Zealand sign language, developed especially for New Zealand and represent an advance on the previous way of recording it, videotape.

The CDs allow deaf children to see themselves and their peers, using their own language and in their own environment and so far, 20 different CDs have been produced, the early ones using technology including analogue video converted to digital, rendered into .avi files and made into a multimedia package, burned to CD.

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