Campus Network at Ferny Grove

By Beryl Ashby

Ferny Grove State High School, Queensland has succesfully implemented a campus wide network linking the library to department teaching areas. Beryl Ashby, HOD Resources shares the experience.

1996 has been a landmark year for technological innovation at Ferny Grove High, a school of 1,480 students in Brisbane's northwestern suburbs. With funds provided by the P&C Association, enthusiastic support from Principal Ralph Took and Deputy Principal Pam Coughlin, the HOD Information Technology, Ken Capps together with a small committee of teachers and a parent representative, has developed a three-stage Campus Network Plan. This direction will eventually see the whole school linked to the Internet, CD ROMs and many other software packages via fibre optic cabling and Novel networking software.

The Resource Centre is now equipped with fourteen networked computers, a scanner, a laser printer and students will soon have access to a colour printer. HOD Resources Beryl Ashby and Teacher Librarian Maureen Hancock have undertaken the large but rewarding task of orientating all students to the wonders of the Internet and the CD ROMs. Students are making the most of the opportunities this new technology presents for their assignments and the Resource Centre has become a much busier place!

The CD Tower provides access to three encyclopedias, the atlas program Maps 'n' Facts, two indexing services Austguide and Sage, and Biologica -with many other CDs projected to join them in the near future. Forty computers located in other departments are also able to access these information sources as well as Microsoft Office. The Science Department included ten notebook computers in their hardware purchase this year to determine the flexibility of notebooks vs desktop machines.

Currently, the only Internet access is on ten of the fourteen Resource Centre computers and this is proving to be an appropriate supervised location for its introduction. Senior students, in particular, have appreciated the wealth of resources it provides for assignment support. Further Internet outlets are planned for subject departments in the near future.

It will be interesting to watch how the 'novelty factor' of this new technology will progress with time and to see how traditional library resources will integrate with the technology in this current phase of teaching and learning.

The nature of how students research has shown interesting signs of change. Senior Chemistry students, for example, have been required to call upon several resource formats to complete the assigned task of researching the chemical impact on humans of the Greenhouse Effect and Ozone layer problems. Students were expected to research from all available media: books, journals, encyclopedias, audiovisual and the Internet. This teaching approach has been a deliberate attempt to integrate information literacy across all sources in the belief that students today need to master access skills for both the new technology and traditional sources to equip them for life long learning. The Campus Network has presented the T /Ls with a number of new challenges. It has involved us in learning to use the new technologies, to run in-service workshops for our own staff, visiting teachers and Department Heads and to develop policies for the use of these new information sources. The experience has proved to be both energising and rewarding.

Beryl Ashby

HOD Resources

Ferny Grove State High School