Computers and technology have played a key part in Islay High Schools teaching structure for many years from the days when a select number of classrooms would have BBC Micro and Master computers, to the introduction of a suite of Apple Classic computers with external hard drives for the Business Studies classroom and also a dedicated computer room with a host of Acorn computers ranging through the model line from the A3000 up to the RiscPC.
This Acorn computer room then formally named the I.T. (Information Technology - later to become the I.C.T (Information and Communication Technology)) Room proved to be very popular amongst students, especially the lunch time computer games drop-in club (which competed with the Library’s own lunch time Apple computer games drop-in).
It was in 1998 with the release of Windows 98 that the school started to make its first move towards students using the now familiar x86 based computers with the Business Studies Apple computers (and eventually the I.T. Rooms) being replaced with Gateway GP-6 computers and embracing the Internet on two computers for student use (with staff supervision).
These Gateway computers would prove to be very reliable and as such with some exceptions would become the schools standardised model for the next few years for many of the classrooms.
Technology moves on and as such of course these computers were gradually replaced over time with newer and faster models from both the companies providing Windows based computers and Apple themselves.
It was in 2007 that Islay High School successfully achieved funding from the Schools of Ambition Government initiative for Scottish secondary schools which was run by the Education and Lifelong Learning Directorate. Its philosophy was to:
"Raise the ambitions of schools, instil belief and ambition in pupils, extend their opportunities and transform their life chances".
The goal for Islay High School was to transform Learning and Teaching in a variety of ways, policies (such as the removal of age and stage from certificate classes) and integration of Vocational courses through an on-going partnership with Argyll College (now part of the University of the Highlands and Islands) which allowed the school to become a really forward thinking institution.
One major vision for the school which was considered a revolutionary (and perhaps to some crazy) idea at the time (though we believe we were beaten to the post by a primary school with only 3 students) was to give each student their own touch-screen enabled computer.
These computers known then as Ultra, Mobile, Personal Computers (UMPCs) were small mobile computers and the pre-cursor to the now more widely known Tablet PC (though they did run Windows XP Tablet Edition). The device which the school chose was the Samsung Q1 and later the Samsung Q1 Ultra and over the years these have been superseded by a variety of different computers up to today’s Toshiba Satellite Pro Netbooks.
Over time we have embraced many new technologies including the school purchasing its own 3D printer, better video conferencing facilities for staff and students to allow for remote courses and we are the first school within the council to fully embrace the latest Microsoft Windows 8.1 Operating System with almost all staff now using touch screen computers for every-day use and even installing a variety of open source computer games on all the computers (staff and students) to allow new students to relive the glory days of the computer games clubs.