Situated in Mawson Lakes, South Australia, Endeavour College is dedicated to fostering comprehensive development in students, focusing on academic, physical, social, spiritual, and emotional facets. The institution aims to help young people discover their inherent abilities and equip them with the necessary skills to be capable and well-adjusted contributors to society.
In this vibrant and ideal educational setting, secondary teacher Satchet Singh identified a significant opportunity to enhance the learning experiences of his students and experiment with innovative teaching resources. Introduced to Zenva Schools by fellow educators after a SACE workshop, Satchet initiated a one-month trial, eager to explore the platform’s capability to address the need for more engaging and practical resources within the curriculum.
The adoption of Zenva was aimed at shaping well-rounded individuals, proficient in digital knowledge and its application in real-world scenarios. The compatibility of Zenva with the Australian curriculum added to its appeal, ensuring a seamless integration of innovative learning within the educational framework at Endeavour College.
This case study delves into the experiences of Satchet Singh and Endeavour College through the implementation and utilization of Zenva, shedding light on the outcomes observed by the school and providing insightful advice for other educators looking to elevate their teaching strategies.
The initiative to integrate Zenva into Endeavour College’s curriculum began modestly, with approximately 40 students, primarily from years 9 and 10, participating over the course of one term. At the end of this term, Satchet surveyed the students to understand the overall “student voice” – and found that overwhelming students were finding Zenva Schools extremely useful.
Encouraged by the initial success, the program experienced a robust expansion, growing to accommodate around 100 students across years 8 through 12.
While Satchet was the primary teacher for all year levels, Zenva was diverse enough in its setup to later allow a student teacher, Tiana Potts, to assist with the Year 8 students. This gave them an opportunity for a deeper dive as Year 8 students were then able to be divided into ability groups based on their personal progress and understanding of Unity topics.
Satchet’s overall goal was to expand Endeavour College’s resources with new, effective materials that engaged the students while also helping to track and showcase individual progress.
In Satchet’s own words, “I found out that a lot of the existing resources that we were using were not really conducive to transfer that knowledge or to students being able to apply it. So I was looking for something interactive and a little bit different as well. And what I found with your resources is that they had not only the videos, but the lesson notes on the side, and it gave the student an indication of an idea of how much they progressed.”
Likewise, though, Satchet also wanted to ensure that the resources he was using were time-effective and suited the Australian curriculum.
Fortunately, Zenva Schools was not only mapped to the curriculum, but came with pre-made rubrics. This gave Satchet an easy opportunity to adapt the “Understanding by Design” framework, meet curriculum goals, and facilitate learning outcomes within the classroom.
The journey – both at the start and as Satchet implemented the program – was not without its challenges.
Like many teachers, Satchet often struggled to find time to engage in the course content himself before teaching it to students. This was made more challenging as students diversified their skill levels and progress, meaning Satchet had to cover increasingly more content.
There were also several technical issues related to installing Unity. Nevertheless, these challenges were met with resolve, with Satchet emphasizing the importance of problem-solving and adaptability in ensuring a smooth learning journey for every student.
Additionally, once students were able to overcome the technical issues, the rest of the learning process was smooth, meaning the focus could be on the learning outcomes.
With the initial 40 students, besides learning the content itself through the videos and lesson notes, the main test came at the end when students were tasked with building and creating a game utilizing their newly acquired skills.
The Year 9 and 10 students rose to the challenge, showcasing not only their newfound skills, but that they understood the foundations involved in applying them. In fact, Satchet noted the following, “So the great thing is my Year 9s made better outcomes than my Year 10s. So that was a massive impact, massive, massive impact.”
After such success, the program expanded to more students across more grade levels. However, this time Satchet focused on implementing the program to cater to the diverse ability levels of the students and ensure that each one could progress at their own pace.
Along with this change, Satchet also enlisted student teacher Tiana Potts with Year 8 students. After only three weeks of progress, Mrs. Potts was able to identify three different skill levels among these students. Using Zenva Schools’ systems, she was empowered to tailor the program to accommodate the situation.
“She’s able to now differentiate those students into ability groups. I mean, you can do that with other resources like Graph, but the good thing is we can do it with Zenva. And she has been doing it with Zenva by not only putting them into ability groups, but also setting up three different lesson objectives for three different groups. And so we just tell the students it’s okay to work at that level,” Satchet explained, underscoring Zenva Schools’ adaptability and its capacity to foster an inclusive learning environment.
Along with this implementation, a pivotal factor in Zenva’s successful implementation was its seamless alignment with the Australian curriculum. This congruence allowed Satchet to integrate the platform effortlessly into the existing educational structure, enhancing the curriculum without disrupting the established learning flow.
On the whole, implementing Zenva Schools at Endeavour College was a resounding success.
Satchet quickly discovered with the first set of students that not only were students learning, but actually enabled to apply the teaching to real-life scenarios. He noted the final game project in particular helped showcase this, saying, “I think for the impact part of it was that they were able to produce a game – a 2D game. And from that, I learned the impact was they actually made a game. They were able to then use that knowledge to make another game differently and add more things, making things more challenging.”
Zenva’s ability to offer personalized learning experiences was a standout feature that significantly contributed to its success within Endeavour College under Satchet’s leadership. It accommodated the diverse learning needs of Satchet’s students, allowing them to progress at their own pace. This individualized approach required a mutual learning curve, where both students and teachers, including Satchet, were navigating through the courses together, fostering an environment of mutual growth and exploration.
Drawing on his experience, Satchet emphasized the importance of teachers fully exploring the platform themselves to effectively guide the students, highlighting that a supportive learning environment is foundational to student success.
Likewise, Satchet could see the student voice reflect these two outcomes. After polling many students for feedback, it was immediately apparent that students not only found Zenva Schools useful, but fun to learn with. One student, Satchet noted, even put together their own rubric in order to take advantage of all the content Zenva Schools could offer them.
Additionally, Zenva’s comprehensive curriculum mapping and detailed rubrics proved to be invaluable time-savers for Satchet, allowing him to focus more on facilitating student learning. The efficacy of the time-saving made Satchet confident as well that other teachers would feel the same:
“We don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We can look at some of those things. If they need changing, we can tinker with those, that’s okay. But the majority of the work is done, which means students can then start learning and we’re here facilitating. And that’s where I think education needs to be better resourced – around facilitating, not teaching how to use a piece of software. It’s all about how students can create and be creators of digital outcomes and provide a need or solve a problem in society or school or the community.”
The hands-on experience and practical application of knowledge through Zenva was not just about coding under Satchet’s approach; it was about balancing foundational knowledge with real-world applications. Satchet and his team ensured that while students were immersed in digital creativity, the emphasis on the basics was never overshadowed. This balanced approach championed by Satchet was crucial in preparing the students for the future, making them not just coders but well-rounded digital creators.
In conclusion, the implementation of Zenva at Endeavour College was characterized by careful planning, adaptability, and a clear vision of enhancing students’ digital literacy. The challenges encountered were addressed with determination and innovation, reflecting the school’s commitment to providing a holistic and well-rounded education.