At St. Francis Preparatory School, the school handed out about 2,800 iPads to its students. Additionally, every smart board is configured with Apple TV. In the classroom, the school uses Google Apps and students use a Google address to connect to their virtual classroom for assignments and materials.
Education technology coordinator Nicole May says technology benefits students by keeping them organized and improving communication with parents.
“It also puts visual learning into play for those students,” May said. “We can teach different modalities. Used in the right ratio, it adds more positive than negative.
“The benefit is that the whole wide world is at your hands,” May added. “It definitely transforms the classroom.”
Speaking with parents during open house events, May said many cite the usefulness of the iPad, and tell her they wished they had access to it while they were in school.
At The Mary Louis Academy, the school also keeps up with tech-savvy students through its own iPad program. Each incoming ninth-grade student will undergo a technology introductory course, while advanced technology courses can be taken as electives.
Additionally, the school’s two computer labs have been outfitted with computers that include individual speaking, listening and recording capabilities. The computers exceed the standards suggested by the College Board for Advanced Placement courses in classes such as AP Music and AP Foreign Language.
Administrators at The Mary Louis Academy fully believes in the positive educational benefits of using technology, and so computers are readily available in the resource center, library, art studios, guidance complex, faculty work areas and in offices.
To encourage as many students to use technology as possible, the school has incorporated a “Bring Your Own Technology” policy that allows students to bring their own devices to campus.
Parents and students sign a responsible-use agreement and Internet access is monitored using detection and monitoring software.
While there are Chromebooks available at Monsignor McClancy High School, students also bring their own devices to school.
“The Wi-Fi is set up so the student has to register their device to the Mac address,” said McClancy technology coordinator Jill Infante-Colgan. “Then that device will get access. That’s one way to control it so their phone won’t go on it.”
Meanwhile, every teacher at the school has an iPad. Report cards and progress are logged online, and parents have the ability to view it out at all times.
The ability to use devices certainly makes the experience easier for students.
“The child doesn't have to carry the textbook around,” Infante-Colgan said. “They can take notes easier.”
This year, Infante-Colgan teaches two computer science courses that were possible due to a grant from Amazon. The company provides all the materials, as well as the curriculum. Students learn to write code, and become familiar with programming languages like Python and Java.
Fei-Wen Pirovolikos, director of instructional technology at Holy Cross High School, has also noticed that Chromebooks and Google Classrooms have been effective in the learning environment.
Students are able to view websites, videos, announcements and homework in one place. The tools also help students collaborate. For the student, Google Drive is the core engine and everything they work on goes into the cloud.
“We cut all the unnecessary excuses,” Pirovolikos said. “Students submit homework and it’s time stamped. That’s accountability right there.”
Teachers are starting to use Google Forms to give quizzes. Furthermore, they can see what is on student’s screens through a monitoring software called Go Guardian. Go Guardian helps teachers remind students to get back on task.
“We have a philosophy from Father Morrow,” Pirovolikos said. “‘How we educate the mind will change with the times. How we cultivate the heart will remain timeless.’”
The goal of the computer science curriculum at The Kew-Forest School aims to equip students to use computational thinking and creativity to understand and change the world.
Course offerings include Principles and Practice of Computer Science, Using Python, Game Design and Development, and Advanced Computer Science. Students who complete all three courses are eligible to work on project-based independent study.
This year, the school added new high-end gaming computers to their Game Design and Development classes. The computers will allow students to incorporate high levels of detail into their projects, while keeping rendering and processing time to a minimum.
And while technology drives the computer science program, Upper School computer science teacher David Aronson said instructors also stress soft skills like working as a team, project management, and assessing one’s own work.
“We strive to prepare students who intend to major in computer science or engineering in college, as well as students who simply want to have a better idea of how technology works,” he said.
To further student engagement, students work on projects of their own design in the classes.
“Technology is one tool among many that students use and navigate,” said Tiffany Trotter, head of Upper School. “Greater familiarity with said tools in productive and educational environments will lead to greater comfort with using those tools in future endeavors.”
By utilizing the Google suite of products, teachers can track participation and see potential red flags, like outside assistance, in addition to collaboration between students and faculty and having asynchronous discussions.
St. Jean Baptiste also incorporates technology directly with each student through the use of Turnitin, a web-based plagiarism detection service.
“The anti-plagiarism service helps, since a lot of colleges are using it now,” said Katie Hedge, director of IT. “We look to integrate ethical practices in our school, and although we didn’t have a problem with plagiarism, this really helps with college readiness.”
An alum who graduated from the school five years ago has connected students with Girls Who Code, an organization whose mission is to inspire and prepare young women to enter the fields of computer science.
Whether it’s through Girls Who Code, Turnitin, 1:1 classrooms, a 3D printer, a poster printer for artwork and the latest in smart board technology, Hedge emphasized the importance of technology in today’s students.
“It’s the way we run our lives now, so it’s imperative to teach it,” she said, adding that students utilize technology in their Adulting 101 class, where they learn things like budgeting. “Schools who are not incorporating technology are not preparing their students for the future.”