Independent Education Summer 2020

Independent Education • Summer 20 68 From the ICT guy: Q & A with Matthew Hains 1. What is your full job title at SAHETI School? I am the head of department: computer applications technology, and the information and communication (ICT) technology development officer. 2. How long have you been in this position? At SAHETI, nearly three years now. I have also been involved in computer applications technology more generally for nine years. 3. How ‘online’ was SAHETI before lockdown? In terms of our ‘online’ status, SAHETI was already using Microsoft Teams, e-mail and other forms of digital communication and class management. Teachers were all well-equipped with SMART boards in every class and there was internet access throughout the school. Using Office 365 for Education meant that every student had an e-mail address and full access to the relevant Microsoft products online and offline. Teachers were making use of Teams and also OneNote for digital portfolios and file management for students. SAHETI employs a Bring Your Own Device policy and students are welcome to bring any digital device that enables them to work online. We have a professional ICT support department and the staff manage and maintain the servers, LAN and Wi-Fi infrastructure and student/teacher ICT support for any technical issues that occur. 4. How ‘ICT-prepared’ was SAHETI when lockdown happened? I think, as was the case with many other schools, we saw it coming… but never expected it so suddenly! We had begun preparing some time before the lockdown, but when the lockdown happened, we still had much to learn. However, I believe that ‘experience is the best teacher’ and let me tell you, it didn’t hold back any punches! We had already started setting up our school teams and channels in Microsoft Teams and I implemented ‘crash-course’ training workshops for teachers who had ‘deer in the headlights’ looks on their faces. We knew the wave was coming and about to crash and there was nothing we could do about it. We were as prepared as we could have been at the time, knowing, however, that there was still much learning ahead as the reality of lockdown and online teaching took one step closer. On the plus side, our infrastructure at the school was very well prepared. We had spent R10 million on system upgrades over four years and we were running a 1GB fibre line.