- 20% reduction in class preparation time for teachers—plus they can prep anytime, anywhere
- Ensure consistent curriculum delivery from teachers globally, who are able to collaborate to create interactive, innovative lesson plans
- Significantly reduced time for new teachers to learn the ropes and get up to speed
Shillington is a private, independent higher education institution focused on preparing students to be outstanding communication designers. Founded in 1997, Shillington started out in Sydney, Australia and now has campuses in Melbourne, Brisbane, New York, London, and Manchester. With 420 students and 40 teachers, Shillington delivers an innovative world-class education that results in its graduates being snapped up for employment even before they have certificates in hand.
It's no small feat to create and maintain a core curriculum that meets the accreditation standards of two different educational systems. Right from the beginning, Shillington has used information technology to help manage their teaching and curriculum creation process. The college was using a dedicated server in Sydney as the primary repository for all curriculum and supporting content around the world. Whenever an update happened, Shillington’s internal automated processes would kick in.
“Because we were using a server-based system, all of our updated content had to be pushed up to the cloud and then pushed down to local servers. It was unreliable,” says Anthony Wood, the Director of Teaching at Shillington Australia.
Sometimes documents made it all the way to the destined servers; sometimes they didn’t. Or they’d arrive corrupted and unusable. Or the wrong document would be overwritten. It meant that curriculum content was inconsistent across the different locations.
Shillington also used an internal blogging system to improve internal communications among teachers. The problem was that any discussion about the lesson plans was kept separate from the curriculum itself. (A limitation of the blogging system.) This resulted in wasted hours piecing together dozens of different discussions and documents together to make sense. The hardest thing was communication between the three continents—particularly the time difference, which meant that whenever teachers met at the same time at least one group was in their pajamas.
“We needed a better way to create our lesson plans and a better way to ensure whatever updates were made were delivered on time and without any problems," Anthony says.
Initially, Shillington migrated all of its curriculum and support materials in Australia onto Samepage. “We now use the native Samepage format to write up our creative briefs—these are real-world creative briefs used by companies and agencies to produce graphic and web design work,” says Anthony.
Shillington’s creative briefs are, in effect, class assignments used by lecturers to teach specific principles. Their students then apply their new skills to the brief deliverables using industry-standard software. The native Samepage format speeds the updating process because it eliminates having to create separate documents in various applications.
“Samepage has completely changed how we collaborate on our curriculum. Instead of the discussion being isolated from the content, Samepage puts it all in the one place. If someone has an idea for a lecture, those comments are attached to that exact lecture in the curriculum and a worldwide discussion can take place among the teachers," says Anthony. "These online dialogs help the teachers as they’re prepping to deliver the content—they learn about how a teacher in the UK tried something and it worked, so now other teachers can try it and report back. If the results are good, we can amend the curriculum to reflect their experience. And all this can happen in a matter of days, instead of weeks or even months.”
The Shillington teachers are collaborating like they never used to, with ideas flowing frequently and fluidly. Teachers are keen to share their ideas and experiences because they can see the immediate positive impact on students in the classroom. Teachers now feel like there’s a level playing field, instead of one campus dominating the core curriculum development. Shillington’s Australian campuses have fully migrated to Samepage, and in a few weeks, London and New York will be as well. Come the end of September, all the old servers will be gone.
“The results have been great,” says Anthony. “We're actually in an interim period of using Samepage on the administrative side of the college—managing budgets, training staff, and planning our marketing campaigns. We think it'll become just as effective as it is now on the academic side.”
Samepage has helped to speed up Shillington's innovative content creation, expediting the college’s response to industry changes in its curriculum, and fostering an atmosphere of collaboration and camaraderie that makes teaching, and learning, a pleasure.