The St Peters Digital Foundation

Over the last decade, St Peters has invested heavily in continuing to provide a world-class digital foundation to support its Mission of Excellence in Christian Co-Education. As a platform for launching students to success, our ultra-high-speed network and wifi, student and teacher devices, Firefly, Microsoft and Google software, and new technology, like WiDi (wireless displays), now occupy a key position at St Peters.

Recently, Head of College, Tim Kotzur was interviewed about our digital foundation. Below, he shares his insights on what it all means next for learning at St Peters.

Across this whole topic, people talk a lot about ICTs, but I actually like to talk about ICLTs –information and communication learning technologies. Changing this helps us to not just use technology for technology’s sake, but it also keeps us focused on asking, “where are the benefits in terms of student learning?”.


Parents see a strong digital foundation as a given for a school of St Peters standing. This is why we need to see such a foundation as a minimal level of offering now. Without a foundation of technology, it is a challenge to deliver the learning program. Certainly, our students have grown up with the internet and social media to the point that it is almost become ubiquitous and we take it for granted that students know how to use the technology. However, it is important that we continue to try to help our students know how to use technology in a more informed way to enhance learning.

Differentiation: teachers and students

Our digital foundation allows the teacher to differentiate for the children in class. It actually allows for differentiation at an adult level as well. Teachers can run with a technology that suits their teaching style and pursue different passions and interest areas—technology doesn’t have to mean everybody is doing the same thing. Depending on interest and where students are at, technology can make learning at every level more personalised and more individualised.

Beyond foundation

For me it’s about how can we next use the digital foundation to enhance student learning (as opposed to the Rudd Government education revolution laptop program, which focused on the rollout and didn’t get to focus on enhancing learning or a clear goal for why). If we are going to use technology we need to ask, “how does it add value?”, and “how do we use it in ways that improves student learning?”.

Blended learning

One way is via the blended learning model which many St Peters teachers are using. It ‘blends’ face to face and online learning with readily available resources such that, students for example, can re-watch a video on how to do a quadratic equation several times until they personally get it. It’s an approach that supports more learning outside of school and opens up valuable classroom time for richer and deeper learning to occur. Students can receive more personal interaction from their teacher.


Other ways to value-add involve identifying ways to utilise technology that go beyond just basic uses. At the moment, there is a big component of our use of technology that is about making things more efficient (for example, electronic roll marking saves administration staff a couple of hours a day as they no longer send out absence notes manually). We can identify lots of similar technical efficiencies, but my challenge is to look further—to ask what efficiencies we’ve found for teachers that allows them to spend more time focusing on teaching and learning. That is one area we need to concentrate on: finding ways to free up teacher time.


Another aspect for what we can build on the College’s digital foundation has to do with the future. If we look at the way the economy is going, there is a need for all workers to be able to use technology to create things. In schools, we are at a stage where we are starting to realise the potential of technology to enable collaboration. Creating and sharing new content is a next level from there. It is essential that we ask, “how do we get teachers to let go and be less the sole driver of learning and more co-creators with students?”.

It’s challenging, certainly in the senior years, because of the rigid nature of the syllabus. Despite this, it is still more than possible for teachers to come up with authentic tasks that support more content creation. This is indeed happening in several classrooms already (as evidenced by the stories being showcased in the ‘Inspiration Blog’ by the Information Systems team on Firefly). By telling these stories it creates what I call ‘lateral pressure’ and helps everyone think, “why don’t I give it a go?”. Its pressure for change in a good way—a pull factor towards best practice that inspires our whole community to aim higher and helps show how technology does enhance learning.