The educational climate is constantly evolving and educators have the primary responsibility to continually meet the needs of their students. The latest technology is available every day for students at Sacred Heart Cathedral School through our comprehensive technology strategic plan.
Sacred Heart Cathedral School is proud to announce the launch of a 1:1 Google Chromebook program in the Middle School, and a greatly enhanced ratio for technology in all grades. Sacred Heart is able to fund this initiative after a very successful Auction Gala in which $45,000 was designated specifically towards educational technology. SHCS would like to thank all donors for their sacrificial 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 on 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? The driving question is: How can educational technology be better than the traditional approach? Google certified teacher, Mrs. Nicole Erwin, explained, “When students are more engaged, when they can collaborate easily with peers, when they can get immediate feedback on their work, have their individual academic needs met and they can express learning in new ways, then we can say that we are getting the most out of the technology experience.”
The SHCS Technology Team continues to refine plans for the rollout of 1:1 in August. This plan includes a Chromebook for each Middle School student and an improved ratio for 4th and 5th grades. To educate both 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 a wonderful development directly connected to the professionalism and dedication of the school’s teachers and to the strong support of the Sacred Heart Cathedral School community. The launch of the 1:1 Google Chromebook program is an important step.
SHCS also utilizes Net3IT for IT Support. “Net3 has become a very valuable partner to Sacred Heart Cathedral School in the implementation of the school’s mission and vision. Our students are better served and the organization’s needs better met through our partnership with Net3IT. They listen and execute our school’s mission, not their own,” says Principal Daniel Breen.
In fall 2017, SHCS added a 3-D printer, the da Vinci Junior (shown above) to its growing arsenal of unique technological opportunities for students.