Preparing students for an IT-driven future
13 Dutch primary and secondary schools for special education in Amsterdam plus 1 in the neighboring city of Haarlem: that’s Kolom. The schools focus on personalized education, using IT and educational software to bridge learning gaps and foster individual talents. Students learn in small groups where they receive tailored support and guidance, while educational projects on social and cultural issues and IT literacy promote their confident participation in society. Eric: “If you want to prepare children for their future, they need digital skills.”
From local servers into the cloud
Eric joined Kolom in 2018. “Back then, everything was server-oriented. And education was still focused on mostly direct instruction.” It wasn’t easy to convince teachers, staff and directors that cloud-based working was the way forward. He took colleagues to Google, “to show them: this is how it works with Google. And these are the tools and possibilities aimed at collaboration and interaction, like Google Classroom. With Cloudwise as the single point of contact for everything.” By now, all 14 Kolom schools have migrated from servers to the cloud, and students and staff have moved to a shared G Suite and COOL environment.
“In a perfect world, teachers would have a sufficient didactic toolbox to use IT in a functional, motivating and meaningful way. As a resource that they can use as efficiently or creatively as possible.”
Which cloud environment do you choose as a school? Eric lists the criteria: “It must be as simple as possible for the teacher, accessible and interactive. You should also ask yourself: Do we want to do the IT management in-house or externally?” Self-managing Kolom’s cloud network for all 400-450 employees and 1900 students wasn’t an option for Eric: “That’s just way too expensive.” The choice fell on Google’s simple and easy to manage G Suite for Education environment with outsourced cloud management by Cloudwise.
Improved classroom management with COOL
Kolom didn’t turn to Cloudwise just for managing their G Suite environment. Eric: “We went to Cloudwise mainly because of their COOL platform, which is based on simple, independent management by teachers. It’s very interactive thanks to the educational applications by Google and offers a lot of possibilities in terms of creativity.” He adds: “The big advantage is that teachers can decide what apps students should have on their dashboard. And as a teacher, you can easily monitor students – inside or outside the classroom.”
COOL for students
How COOL is used at Kolom schools depends on the type of lesson. “It’s used a lot for individual practice,” says Eric. “So once the instructions are given, the child can dive a little deeper into the material.” The COOL Platform lends itself perfectly for adaptive education and distance learning, and security has been improved. Eric: “And the children who can’t remember a password log in via Picture login.”
Effective learning with Chromebooks
The COOL Platform is perfectly complemented by Chromebooks. “Many technical issues have been solved by the mobility and speed of the Chromebooks,” says Eric. “There’s no more hassle with plugs and cables, and Chromebooks don’t need to be updated all the time. This means you can work much more effectively. You flip open your ‘book’ and you can start working immediately.” Thanks to a nationwide distribution of Chromebooks during the coronavirus lockdown, Kolom schools were able to introduce a one-to-one Chromebook take-home program. Eric: “Two or three schools now have devices available for every student.”
Not only COOL, but also the high quality of service motivated Kolom schools to choose Cloudwise. Eric: “Service orientation and hands-on support were decisive factors. The way of communicating. The readiness to solve a problem or issue together. Also, the fact that teachers themselves can easily contact Cloudwise with questions – and that the person on the other end understands what the teacher means.” He adds: “Whether it’s an educational matter or a technical issue, you can turn to Cloudwise with both.”
“To find out if COOL is right for your school: go experience it. And think about working in one central environment, where teachers are in the driver’s seat.”