Tech at Hephatha
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The History of Technology at Hephatha Lutheran Church and School
Hephatha Lutheran has long made it a priority to reach our students through cutting edge academic practices and policies. Throughout the changes in education, over time, one thing has become increasingly apparent: technology has a lasting role in our classroom. In fact, this generation of learners has been labeled “21st Century learners”. In our desire to meet the needs of this new generation of students, Hephatha has been taking the necessary steps to ensure our students gain essential tools needed for their future. Since 2010, we have been preparing our 21st Century learners for their future. Starting with continual updates to our computer lab, we have been taking the steps to creating a unique, technology-integrated education. In 2011, we overhauled our school internet network to support a stronger wireless signal that could sustain a large number of users. The following year, we implemented the “Bring Your Own Tech Tool” program for Middle School, which enabled students to have greater access to the innumerable resources available online.
As we addressed the growing need to provide our students with the opportunity to access the boundless resources available, we began to evaluate the next step in the process of providing students with these resources. This next step was how to address the needs of students in grades 4 and up, and how we can provide the opportunity to put technology in the hands of all of our students. After many hours of research from various Hephatha stakeholders, including: administration, teachers, school board members, the PTL, and school parents, the School Board has voted to transition the 4th and 5th grade classrooms to a “1 to 1” technology setting.
With step 1 of the process taken care of, we began to adjust our focus on step 2. Step 2 involved addressing how we would implement the new technology setting. We knew that technology would allow for great resources, tools, and applications that would provide new learning opportunities for your children. While there is a wonderful opportunity to add technology in the classroom, the thought that technology does not make for great teaching can come to mind. We have addressed this in part by sending all staff to “Tech 21” training. The Tech 21 program is a district-wide program that runs for 10 months and provides teachers with the insight, resources, and collaborative opportunities to enhance their lessons through technology. Furthermore, we began to reach out to other schools to find out what types of resources are being implemented on their campuses; many wonderful ideas were shared through this process. We also began our own research into what education methods using new technology could be used, while remaining focused on the basics of education. Our desire was to make learning more thought-provoking and lasting for your children.
One tool we found very exciting is the Google Apps for Education system that is offered by Google. The Google Apps for Education system gives schools a private domain for their campus. Staff and students are given individual accounts that enable them to services and storage. Services include: the ability to email, work with programs similar to PowerPoint and Word, experience collaborative learning with classmates, and share these documents with only the people associated with Hephatha’s private domain. Students are able to save through Google drive, which saves all their work on the cloud, preventing devices from being bogged down due to storage issues. This also facilitates the submission of assignments to the teachers, and helps eliminate the possibility of lost papers.
After working through these steps, we then turned our attention to the type of technology platform that would best lend itself to Hephatha as a whole. There are countless varieties of technology platforms available today; we wanted a device that would meet all our needs. Those needs included: efficiency, affordability, ease of use for young students, and durability of product. The least amount of maintenance or troubleshooting for our stakeholders were areas we considered while researching a technology platform. At the conclusion of our research, we came to the conclusion that a newer device on the market, the Chromebook, most sufficiently met our needs. The Chromebook is simple to learn and requires very little maintenance. The Chromebook is a web browser device that allows for access to the internet while not needing software downloaded, or suffers from virus troubles that are problematic with other devices. We are excited for this next step in our technological growth at Hephatha Lutheran Church and School. It is yet another part of our vision in aiding with the individual growth of our students through a unique learning environment that positively distinguishes us from others.
Thanks to Christ, Costa Mesa for sharing Chromebook information!