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Technology


There is no secret that education is currently experiencing the largest disruption it has seen in the last 60 years.  In the laundry list of buzzwords we hear today, we most often hear the term 21st Century Learning.  I use this a lot, and yet I wonder why?  We are almost 13% done with the 21st Century, so why are we still using this term?  I believe that question is the true source of a lot of the current disruption in education.  As a school system, it is important we stay true to our mission and what we believe.  At the same time, we have to find the best path of educating our students for success moving forward. 

The above video features a TedX talk from a teacher from New Mexico, Kevin Gant.  If you are on Twitter, you can follow him here.  The focus of his talk is based on three things that can make the greatest impact on our students education.  They are:

  • The way we teach
  • The culture we build
  • The tools we offer our students
  Let’s focus on each of these elements individually.
  The Way We Teach:
  Inquiry based teaching methods (such as Project or Problem Based Learning, more commonly referred to as PBL) are slowly becoming the norm in education.  These teaching methods empower students to become self-motivated learners.  A self-motivated learner becomes an incredible problem-solver and thinker.  These are the people that are highly sought after in industry today.
  The positive to take from this situation is there are so many wonderful examples of the power of inquiry based learning that it is getting harder and harder to find a reason not to employ it as an instructional strategy.  It truly just makes sense.
  The Culture We Build:
  As a person who has only been in public education before coming to LCSS, I can tell you that one of the most impressive things I can see about our schools is the culture.  The relationships our teachers and administrators build with their students is hard to match.  Not a day goes by that I am not amazed by the sheer number of students who willingly stay after school to work with their teachers.  
  We must continue to extend this culture by empowering our students to take charge of their learning.  Hopefully the questions they ask continue to focus more on drawing correlations in content and a desire to know more about that content. This type of questioning is radically different from questions that ultimately just want to know “how do I get an A?”  
  The Tools That We Offer Our Students
  “We give them the computer as a tool, not as a toy, and certainly, not as a teacher.”
  I love this quote from Kevin Gant.  It is truly the focus of technology in the classroom.  
  One of the great education leaders of our time, Chris Lehman, says technology should be “ubiquitous, necessary, and invisible.” This sums up any school using a form of inquiry based learning.  It’s not about the technology, but at the same time, it wouldn’t work without the technology.
  It is a busy, stressful, and exciting time in education.  Empowering students to become self-motivated, lifelong learners is something we all want.  I’m excited to be apart of this journey with all of you! 

It has been an exciting 6 months for the Technology Department at LCSS.  Between all of the infrastructure updates, providing cloud based productivity tools, and securing our backup and information privacy structure, there have been a lot of moving pieces at LCSS. It’s always nice to reflect on what has been done, it’s always best to push forward and look at what is coming.  Let’s use the Strategic Plan to guide where we are heading. Goal 8.1 To build and maintain a technology infrastructure and support system to meet all LCSS academic and operational demands, including the following considerations: a one-to-one/classroom computing strategy, use of cloud based infrastructure, security and information privacy, and wired and wireless infrastructure at all schools. We have made some serious inroads in several of the goal areas. The one area that we are excited to announce today is ‘a one-to-one/classroom computing strategy.’ This strategy is one that will take shape over the next several years, where we will be starting at Central Catholic, and then moving down into the elementary schools. This article will be the beginning of several posts for year one.   As you may have seen in the last Knightly News, we decided to move forward with putting an Apple MacBook Air in the hands of each of our Central Catholic students starting in the 2014-15 school year.   Making any decision about technology in a school system is more than just choosing the latest and greatest piece of equipment.  We have to ask several questions along the way. How will students and teachers use this device to enhance their learning and teaching experience?  How often do machines need to be worked on? How much down time is there in a class waiting on machines to wake up from being asleep?  What device will allow us to maintain a small technology staff?   While these don’t encompass the multitude of questions we had to answer, you can get an idea of our thought process.  We made sure to evaluate other schools systems (private and public) who have been utilizing technology in their classroom for some time.   Relationships will never be trumped by the tools we are using.  They can’t, and won’t ever be.  With that being said, it is exciting we are moving into this new age of learning with a partnership with Apple.  They have made a commitment to education over the life of the company (how many of you remember working on an Apple IIe?)     Over the past two years, Apple has made some really exciting announcements.  It all started January 19, 2012 with the announcement of iBooks Author.  A piece of software Apple gives to the major textbook companies to create their textbooks for iBooks.  It was announced Apple would be providing this software to anyone with a Mac for free!  Continue into this past November, when Apple made a dramatic announcement that all updates to it’s operating system would be free for the life of a device.  As well, Apple began to include its office style suite (dubbed iWorks, which contains Pages, Numbers, and Keynote) as well as it’s creative suite (iMovie, GarageBand, and iPhoto) for free with every Mac and iPad.  Add on top of the addition of iBooks to the Mac (previously only available on the iPad), and they successfully changed the model of what schools should expect from their devices.     I’m excited our students will have the opportunity to utilize these programs and devices starting in the fall of 2014.  Look for upcoming parent Q&A sessions to help with any questions you may have.

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Director of Technology and eLearning Services

Joe Willmann

Assistant Director of Technology

Steve Eddy

Central Catholic Technology Coach

Jennifer Peters

St. Mary Building Tech

Mary Farrell

Elementary Technology Coach

Kristi Serra

St. Lawrence Building Tech

Stephanie Bullock

IT Consultant

Dave Cramer

Joe Willmann

Director of Technology and eLearning Services E-Mail Me

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