Indooroopilly’s Maths department leads innovation charge

New platforms revolutionise classroom communication

What do you think of when you hear the words High School Mathematics? If, like so many others, your first thoughts are of whiteboards full of sums; pens, pencils, textbooks and scientific calculators, prepare to have your mind blown! At St Peters, High School Mathematics has taken on a very different image. In fact, over the last few months, the Indooroopilly Maths department has led the charge in the College’s ‘innovative classrooms’ initiatives, responding to the challenges of At Home Learning in a way no one really expected.

Prior to the COVID-19 lockdowns of 2020, the St Peters Indooroopilly Maths department aspired to be technology driven, but there was no clear direction on which route to take.

“We had been using things individually,” Maths teacher, Mr Michael Cujes said. “Teachers had been using things like Edmondo Online and Google Classrooms.”

“The communication tools we had in place were really just email and other web services,” fellow Maths teacher, Mr Daley Gallagher added.

Like much of the College's academic departments, the Maths department hadn’t touched Microsoft Teams until the lockdowns.

Adopting innovation

Enter Antares and the Microsoft Suite. With a sudden need to teach and communicate online, the St Peters Indooroopilly Maths department turned to Cloud Collective partner, Antares. The Antares’ Adaptive Learning Experience (aleX) platform, and their personalised chatbot, QBot, offered the department a way to present a streamlined approach to teaching and learning despite the challenges the pandemic presented.

“The main advantage of using aleX and QBot is being able to get the right help to the right student at the right time,” Mr Gallagher shared. “Before QBot, we could always answer an email, but we couldn’t always answer students’ questions at the exact time they needed help, such as when they were doing their maths studies remotely.”

And that’s the beauty of the platform. Combined with Microsoft Teams, aleX and QBot allow students to watch class lessons, submit questions in real time, and come back to all the notes, recordings and questions when they’re doing their individual study. The subject matter and the Q&As relating to it are stored to form a database of information that will continue to grow as more classes use the technology and progress through the year levels.

“What QBot has done is allow us to capture those quality answers that we provide so that the next student who needs help with the same problem gets that same quality help at the right time—not two hours or two days later,” Mr Gallagher said.

The gift of time

While students are, on a whole, back on campus now, the teachers in the Maths department have continued to use their Antares approach to teaching and learning. Not only did the platform provide a solution that could support At Home Learning, it has accelerated knowledge acquisition by assisting students outside of school hours. Drawing on previously submitted questions and cross-referencing the in-class information recorded by aleX on Microsoft Teams, QBot has been able to answer a range of student questions, accurately, in real time.

“We didn’t realise how many times QBot was answering questions...” Mr Cujes said.

He added that, now, instead of getting the same question 15 different times and giving the same answer by email, students are guided to the answer by QBot—they’re taken to the classroom content and shown the answers already provided.

Where to now?

Currently, aleX and QBot are in place for all Year 9 and 10 Maths classes at St Peters Indooroopilly. The Maths department are in the process of onboarding other teachers and year level groups, with the hope that the entire department will be using the platform soon. Ultimately, the goal is to share their success with other Junior High and Senior School departments and have the whole College (Years 7-12) using the aleX platform.

St Peters has a long and proud history of adopting innovation. We’re looking forward to witnessing the outcomes of using these new platforms in the future, and how they’ll add to the learning outcomes that our technology-enabled classrooms have already offered to our students.

To find out more about Antares, aleX, or QBot, click here.