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University gives schools digital leg-up

Westover Primary School pupils using their Google Chromebooks.

Westover Primary School pupils using their Google Chromebooks.

The University of Portsmouth is helping city schools embrace the digital age with a project aimed at boosting computer-based learning in the classroom.

The University’s IT team joined forces with Portsmouth City Council to provide two primary schools with easy-to-use devices, software and improved Wi-Fi for the duration of the pilot scheme.

Westover Primary School and St George’s Beneficial C of E Primary School were loaned Google Chromebooks and set up with Google Apps for Education.

The free apps allow teachers to create classes and set work online so that pupils can make much better use of the online environment.

The project was a hit with both schools and spurred them into buying their own devices.

Westover Primary School head teacher Annie Gunthorpe said the school had now bought Chromebooks, with the University’s help.

“Before this project, IT was often seen as unreliable and dull. But the installation of effective Wi-Fi and technology that is relevant to the children’s needs and interests has inspired everyone to make the most of it. The children never tire of using the Chromebooks.”

Project manager Stuart Graves, Service Delivery Manager in the University’s Information Services department, said that most schools already have Google Apps but are not using them to their full extent.

“The schools needed us to give them the confidence to use the technology in a real-world environment. Being a university, we are geared up to support teaching.

“The biggest benefit of this project to schools was having someone they trusted, who wasn’t in it to make money, go in and say ‘Here’s a solution, we know it works, it might be suitable for you’, and to allow them to try it.”

A fun way of learning.

A fun way of learning.

The IT department also provided the schools with free technical support and advice, and worked with local school technicians to create a private online forum where members can share ideas, services and support.

The University is giving another two days’ technical consultancy this year to each school.

The project was funded by the Higher Education Funding Council for England as part of an investigation into the possibility of setting up a group that would enable costs to be shared.

The University’s findings can be read here.

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