May 27, 2016
Sacred Heart Cathedral School is proud to announce the launch of a 1:1 Google Chromebook program in the Middle School and a significantly enhanced ratio for technology in all grades.
Sacred Heart can fund this initiative after a very successful Auction Gala in which $45,000 was designated specifically toward educational technology. Using new Qtego technology, parents donated $15,000 in less than ten minutes at the end of the school’s Auction Gala in April. Mr. and Mrs. Butch Jones and Mr. Parker Lee both very generously offered to match money raised, bringing the total to $45,000 earmarked for educational technology. SHCS would like to thank all donors for their divine gift and their commitment to this project.
What are Google Chromebooks? They are cloud-based laptop computers that run the Google Chrome operating system and Google Apps for Education (GAFE). Sacred Heart became an official GAFE school earlier this year as teachers learned to implement tools allowing students to communicate, collaborate and research using products such as Gmail, Google Drive, Docs, My Maps, Sheets and Google Classroom, a learning management system that allows for virtual teacher and student interaction.
“Sacred Heart has made remarkable progress in educational technology this year,” said Principal Daniel Breen. “We had over two million dollars in renovations and improvements to the school last summer, and that included a total rewiring of the school’s technology infrastructure. Because our internet is now reliable and fifteen times faster than it was last year, we have had teachers and students clamoring for more devices and more time with technology.” The school partnered with Net3IT on technology infrastructure improvements, including an upgrade from 1GB to 10GB switches, installation of numerous wireless access points, and a redundant bandwidth system.
Mr. Breen adds that teachers have spent time this year growing in knowledge and comfort as the school purchased two Chromebook carts for student use. The Sacred Heart librarians are using their expertise in educational technology to offer ongoing training sessions for teachers. All SHCS teachers have attended technology training this year for a total of 112 training hours, and three staff members have become Google-certified educators. Librarian Ms. Rachel Best said that she is eager to work with teachers “to expand their knowledge of technology and information literacy.” In speaking of the motivation that online math work provides her students, middle school teacher, Mrs. Shannon Briselden, said, “students enjoy the competition, extra practice, and the challenge of this approach.”
What are the benefits of using educational technology and how can it be better than the traditional approach? When students are more engaged, they can collaborate easily with peers, which they can get immediate feedback on their work, and when we meet their individual academic needs, then we can say that we are getting the most out of the technology experience. Google-certified teacher, Mrs. Nicole Erwin, summarized: “Students can express their learning in new ways through educational technology.”
The SHCS Technology Team continues to refine plans for the rollout of 1:1 in August. This program includes a Chromebook for each Middle School student and an improved ratio for 4th and 5th grades. To educate students and parents on Chromebooks, Google tools, internet safety and more, devices will not go home with Middle Schoolers in the first year of this initiative. The school is committed to best practices in guarding student privacy and will help guide students to develop them to be great Catholic digital citizens. “Screen time” will be carefully monitored and the school will be sensitive to the needs of families without internet access at home.
Sacred Heart’s growth in educational technology is an excellent development directly connected to the professionalism and dedication of the school’s teachers and the strong support of the Sacred Heart Cathedral School community. The launch of the 1:1 Google Chromebook program is an important step.