Case Study - Colchester Sixth Form College
The Colchester Sixth Form College opened in 1987 and today offers courses as varied as NVQ, GCSE, A Level, and the International Baccalaureate Diploma. The 2,200 students benefit from exceptionally high standards, which are acknowledged throughout the local region and beyond. Recently the College has been awarded the new Learning and Skills Beacon in recognition of continued excellence in examination results and of consistently superior Ofsted Inspectors' reports.
These first-class results have brought an additional accreditation to the science and technology department, which in 2001 received the Queen's Anniversary Prize for Further Education. The College earned this prize through their top 100 students, who have regularly achieved results superior to those in the top 100 students of any selective or independent school in the country. For many students, working towards the best possible examination results is imperative: each year over 750 are offered places on degree courses at British universities.
As with any dynamic organisation, the College is keen to position ICT at the forefront of their development, finding innovative ways to gain student involvement and commitment through development of course structure and lesson content. The 45 laptops currently used at the College have an obvious requirement for secure storage, but perhaps less obvious is the need for in-storage battery charging. The College has a policy of sharing laptops, administered through a booking system, which means that the computers are moved around departments and lessons as required. Not only does storage need to be secure, but transportable, flexible, scaleable and robust.
The LapSafe® Mentor™ units provided the perfect answer. Our laptops are constantly in use , explains Phil Brighty, Head of Geography and the College's Press Officer. The three, twenty bay Mentor™ units provide a really tough storage solution that can be easily moved between classrooms and between floors; the fact that each unit is equipped with an alarm gives us additional security. Students are quick to accept their use and know that the laptops need to be replaced in the cabinet in order to be re-charged. Teaching staff, students, and our in-house IT team have all come to consider the Mentor™ units indispensable.
The use of laptops has broadened the College's offering to students, allowing them to use word processing and spreadsheet applications as part of their project work, as well as having access to teaching notes and a subject resource databank. Development of skills in other applications, such as presentation software, is also encouraged. With a wireless network in place, moving laptops around the College is not an issue, and students can draw information from the Internet independent of their classroom location.
All teaching staff are equipped with laptops and students are encouraged to communicate electronically, sending in work and receiving feedback from lecturers. This form of communication is likely to grow as the College introduces more technology into the learning arena. The benefits of using laptops in the classroom are enormous , comments Phil, and I can only see their use increasing. Students welcome interactive lessons, and enjoy the access they have to a vast array of information. Their personal development, as well as their academic knowledge, is enhanced as they make choices and decisions about their own learning. E-communication enables us, as teaching staff, to oversee this process and help the student realise their own potential. All this would be impractical if we did not have a method of secure storage and efficient re-charging of laptops. The LapSafe® Mentor™ units give us exactly that!