Last year, a small bombshell fell on the Inspiro College management department. At that time, the Flemish government put the concrete curriculum objectives for the renewed secondary education on the table. In this renewed secondary education, the distinction between ASO, TSO and BSO disappears. The new system works with basic education and differentiation packages and is based on a study choice with a clear goal: progression to higher education, preparation for the labour market or both.
"The new attainment targets were already supposed to take effect on 1 September 2019," says general director Tom Verheyen. "At that time, the first year of modernised secondary education also had to start. All in the nick of time as those attainment targets were not yet final and we were still waiting for the opinions of various education councils."
Digital integration during lessons
Exciting, then. In particular, the section dealing with the digital competences required in schools made many a heart beat faster. The management had a choice: either go full steam ahead and join the digital acceleration or keep the existing outdated infrastructure. "Basically, we only had two months to organise everything," explains general director Tom Verheyen. "We do have an IT room with several fixed computers. That works through a lending system, where everyone uses the IT room at certain times. But that offer is actually too limited for all 540 pupils in our school. We also missed an integrated system, where the devices are therefore also used during lessons and not just in the ICT class."
Laptops software deployed delivered
In April 2019, the knot was tied and the management decided to choose VanRoey | EuroSys. VanRoey | EuroSys delivered the laptops 'software deployed', meaning that VanRoey | EuroSys installs all the necessary software on the devices before they are put into use. "As a result, out of seven lessons, students now work three to four lessons with the laptop," says operations director Bart Kerkhofs. "That is a gigantic progress. We come from a class schedule where the laptop was used for 'zero' hours."
The Ministry of Education's new objective placed particular emphasis on the integrated use of ICT. That is, in addition to teaching ICT, as many lessons as possible had to be conducted via digital media. "More and more publishers are publishing digital teaching packages," says Verheyen. "We also use smartschool for our diaries. Students no longer need to buy a calculator. That's all in the laptop now. We are still looking for a good didactic package to replace our paper atlas, though."
Guidance through a central point of contact
At the next stage, of course, parents also had to be involved in the laptop project. The smooth service in case of a breakdown and the proximity of VanRoey | EuroSys was the deciding factor. "We immediately contacted the parents' council to see how we could best organise this," says Verheyen. "The parents felt it was important that if a repair was needed, they could go to a central point, preferably close by. VanRoey | EuroSys is 1.5 km from our school. We have a short communication line with VanRoey | EuroSys. If a problem arises, we are helped immediately. They also guided us from the beginning to the choice of device. In the end, we chose a Dell Lattitude 3300, with a three-year warranty as well as a three-year telephone helpdesk."
Short communication line
Through a modified financial formula, all freshmen were given the opportunity to purchase a laptop. "With this laptop project, called 'Bring your own device,' we wanted to eliminate the digital divide and use tools of everyday life in classroom practice. To do this, we applied a system of hire purchase. That means the device is their property after 22 months. The cost of the laptop now runs scattered, even parents who are not on board with using laptops now feel more technically surrounded."
Further training and dactyl lessons
The introduction of laptops also brought about an adjustment for teachers. "There is a big difference between using laptops for everyday applications and teaching with a digital curriculum," Kerkhofs clarifies. "You have to know all the features of the digital curriculum thoroughly to convey it to a group of students in an interesting and fun way. Of course, our students will still work with paper textbooks. We combine traditional and digital teaching tools. Nevertheless, some teachers have attended courses and dactyl lessons have been introduced for the students."
Fast wifi and state-of-the-art auditorium
Besides the purchase of the laptops, the in-service training of the teachers and the construction of a state-of-the-art auditorium, budget was also provided for locker cabinets to safely store the devices and a professional and, above all, fast wifi connection. "This was obviously necessary for all lessons to run smoothly," says Bart Kerkhofs. On the other hand, we do notice that the students take good care of their laptops. The fact that the device is theirs after leasing is a great motivator in that."
Located at Herebaan-West 41 in Houthalen, this secondary school has 570 pupils and 80 staff members. For three school years now, the school has stood out for its pedagogical project of talent-oriented education in a specific infrastructure. "Not only do pupils get to work actively and independently every day, there is also particularly wide scope for participation through many consultative bodies," it sounds.