Five tech-savvy schools that focus on ed-tech

Each classroom is equipped with a ceiling-mounted projector with Apple TV. Teachers use their iPads or laptops to wirelessly connect to the projector, and students have access to the wireless network and have filtered access to the internet.

Students collaborate with teachers using wikis. Many of the courses taught have electronic books which are either loaded on the iPad or are available on another website.

We use technology to streamline school administration by sending all communications between the administration and parents electronically. We publish report cards electronically, schedule parent-teacher conferences electronically, and distribute documents, such as the student handbook, electronically. These are published via Genesis, our student management system.

We financed our technology initiatives through a building referendum, eRate funds, and grants. The building referendum allowed us to build a new school. In building the school, we knew that we wanted to move to a completely digital environment.

Our biggest challenge has been convincing the public that education has changed. We are constantly attempting to educate the citizenry on the importance of digital education. This is an ongoing process.

This digital education is what your students want and need. If you are preparing your students for college or the workplace, then the ability to solve problems is a natural outcome of a digital education.

4. Muskegon Catholic Central High School, Roman Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids, Michigan
Robert Bridges, Head of School

We are ending the first year of a 1:1 Acer netbook program for all students in grades 7-12. To set ourselves up for success, we took a full year last year to train and prepare. Our teachers had eight days of technology training in the classroom regarding how to use their HP Elite devices, which they have used this year. Teachers prepared eight one-day lessons for students to complete online while they were at home last year, as a part of these teacher training days. These assignments were posted on the teachers’ Moodle pages. One of the most effectively implemented online programs is the TenMarks math program. The teachers flip the instruction so the students do the TenMarks assignments at home, then work through trouble spots or difficult problems in class.

Updating our school policy book was such a cumbersome task that it had been pushed beyond the back burner for years. This year, one of our tech-savvy directors showed us how to use Google Docs, and we shared the policy book with the appropriate people, and the updates started occurring immediately.

We have used local funds/donors to finance the technology initiatives as part of a 5-year strategic plan. The plan includes a financial plan, which calls for the three phases of the technology plan: infrastructure, purchase of technology devices, and maintenance and replacement.

We are most proud of the training model, with the eight teacher training days. This was a win-for-all initiative, and one that I believe larger districts could use to their great benefit. This also was our biggest challenge. Many teachers were very resistant during the training phase. But that has changed. To the great credit of the teachers, especially the veterans, they have embraced the whole program.

Make sure to have a technology specialist who can help the students and relate to the teachers. Our specialist is probably reason No. 1 that we have been successful.

Laura Ascione

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