Education has come a long way in the last 100 years.
What was once a humble blackboard and chalk is now a whiteboard and marker, and where pen and paper were used there is now a laptop.
As the tools used to educate develop, schools, staff and students must develop with them. For Ashburton College 2009 was a landmark year in which it stepped forward in many areas, particularly with the quality of another of its educational facilities.
The refurbishment of Ashburton College’s S block, used primarily for science and computer studies, follows on from the recent state-of-the-art renovations undertaken in the school’s technology block.
Many of the classrooms in S block had not been altered since their inception in 1970 meaning that, going into 2009, students were required to work in an environment that didn’t necessarily reflect recent technological advances or best cater to the learning needs of the students.
Working closely alongside now retired Ashburton College school manager Jeff Williamson, Ian Krause Architects Ltd of Christchurch and The Bradford Group of Ashburton enabled a complete structural renovation of the classroom block. The experience of both the architect and building firms, and their understanding of an educational facility’s needs, supported the project’s positive outcomes.
In addition to required structural changes, the laboratories are now equipped with modern equipment and spaces such as data projectors, individual quality working spaces and an outdoor, living stream teaching area where experiments can take place. There is also a new computer networking system involving eight stations in each room and data outlets for computer connections.
“It’s great to see students making full use of the classrooms which will remain up to date for years to come,” says science teacher Keith Gunn.
The changes to S Block now offer a more interactive learning experience for students. All of the science laboratories are now equipped with digital projectors in order to play DVDs, powerpoint presentations, and to display notes. This maximises resource use for teachers as they can make one powerpoint presentation and show it to all their classes, without having to rewrite on a board each time. A big plus of this also, is that students can access these notes from home, or be emailed them if they are absent from a class.
The classrooms now provide a wider variety of blended learning opportunities for students to study and process information. Some people prefer to read books, while others are more visual learners and need to see things before they can understand them. Datashows give teachers and students this option and has been a valuable addition.
Before the renovations and centralisation of the science department there were science laboratories scattered throughout the school. For example, one of the science teachers was isolated in T Block where there were no other science teachers. Since the renovation all science classes are now in S Block, which means it is easier for students, as they have a designated block for their class, and also for teachers as equipment is more easily shared and centrally stored.
Students are making the most of the new developments, and science as a subject is highly popular. The clean and updated environment is essential in this and the new resources available mean that learning is now more enjoyable as a whole.
Students also had the chance to contribute to the redevelopment with the refurbishment of the toilet facilities in the block. It was here that the 2009 Year 10 Council had input into the décor. These changes, and the chance to use hands-free blow dryers, liquid soap, sensitive taps and hand sanitiser, have added to the refreshing style the revamp has brought to the Block. The changes to “S-Block” were celebrated in style on September 21 with a gathering of Ashburton community members, Ashburton College Business Partners, district councillors including Mayor Bede O’Malley, college staff, and Rangitata Electorate Member of Parliament, Jo Goodhew.
S block now provides a safe, convenient and high-quality working environment for all who use it. Ashburton College’s science and computer studies facilities can now be considered amongst the best in the country and with effective teaching and learning, they will continue to benefit students, equipping them well for employment and tertiary study opportunities in the future.