What does Christ-centered educational innovation look like? What does an engaging classroom look like? It’s an incredible time to be a learner right now, but’s it’s only incredible if students are given access to the resources that are going to allow them to do great things. A few years ago, Western Christian Schools began the 21st Century Classroom Initiative, and funds were raised for interactive whiteboards, portable iPad labs, digital science equipment, and a new iMac Lab at our high school. Yet, we believe that there is so much more that God has in store for the education of your children.
This year, contributions to the schools’ Legacy Annual Fund will be used to prepare our school for the next big step: a “1:1 initiative” where each student would use a personal electronic device as part of their curriculum. While we are leaning towards the iPad, we are still in the process of evaluating alternative devices. We want our students to be responsible, innovative, and effective with technology. More importantly, however, we want our students to discover new ways of proclaiming Jesus Christ to bring Him honor, praise, and glory.
As the school has transitioned from chalk boards to white boards to SMART boards, now is the time to transition from stagnant, antiquated print resources to interactive, engaging digital resources. Here are eight reasons why transitioning to a 1:1 environment at Western Christian is necessary for our students:
Students need to be equipped, disciplined, and prepared for what will be expected of them in college.
Our children are “digital natives”. Technology is a part of their everyday lives, and, therefore, the tool they best learn from naturally.
Paper text books are too heavy, too expensive, and too often out of date.
A 1:1 environment will facilitate needs for students of every learning style: visual, aural, verbal, physical, logical, social, and solitary.
In addition to the written word, technology can provide video, audio, and interactive lessons and experiences.
Google exists. Let’s teach our kids how to responsibly and effectively use it.
Teachers have access to limitless curricular resources.
Students are primed to become leaders, innovators, and pioneers of a digital age.
1:1 Initiative | The Plan
Many schools around the nation are launching similar programs. Various news reports have highlighted some of the difficulties these schools are facing. Fortunately, Western Christian has been preparing for this transition for quite some time. In 2011, funds were raised for iPad carts at each campus. The availability of iPads in the classroom has allowed us to familiarize our faculty and students with opportunities available in digital curriculum. It has also helped us identify potential issues that could limit the success of this initiative.
One of these issues is limitations in the schools’ current internet, wireless, and network technologies. In order to successfully launch a 1:1 program, it is necessary to upgrade this infrastructure to properly handle and secure the number of electronic devices that will be dependent on it. Donations to this year’s annual fund will be used specifically for this purpose.
The school has already hired a second computer technician, Mr. Cody Anker, who will serve as an Instructional Technology Specialist to help plan for and facilitate our 1:1: program. Additionally, research is being conducted to discover the opportunities for digital curriculum with special attention to digital textbooks. While it can be difficult to pinpoint the dates for the various steps involved, the following represents a proposed timeline as we move forward:
January – February 2014: Upgrade the network and wireless infrastructures of both the Claremont and Upland campuses.
February – June 2014: Conduct pilot programs with select middle school and high school classrooms using iPads as a primary curricular device.
June – August 2014: Assess pilot programs to determine feasibility and further timelines for school wide 1:1 deployment.
When the program ultimately launches, we will begin only with middle school and high school students using personal devices. Elementary students will be given expanded access to both iPad carts owned by the school.
How Parents Can Get Involved
As we prepare for this transition, it is important for the school to partner with parents. Your children are the ones we seek to lead and serve. There are still questions to be answered and plans to be made. We would like to include you as we move forward. If you are interested in being part of a parent support committee for this project, please get in touch with Brandon Doolittle, our Advancement Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is a very big step for Western Christian, and we understand how important it is to move cautiously and purposefully. We believe wholeheartedly in God’s leading in this transition. Our goal is to provide a meaningful and relevant educational experience for our students so that they are equipped to engage the world with their passion and talents and proclaim Christ as Lord.
With one more update to go,
Blair A Bryant
Western Christian Schools
The 21st Century Classroom Initiative began a few years ago with funds raised for iPad labs at each of our campuses. Many have supported and given to this cause over the recent years. As funds have continued to come in, amazing tools have been added for our students. Here are some of the things that were put in place this school year.
New iMac computers were purchased for our high school computer lab. This has allowed us to modernize and expand the curriculum of our technology and media courses in order to engage, inspire, and equip our students to become the pioneers of the future. The computers that were replaced were relocated to the library creating a second lab for our high school.
Interactive whiteboards were installed K-2 just before the start of this school year effectively completing our goal to equip each classroom K-8 with this tremendous instructional technology. Teachers have a new level of innovation and freedom in the classroom and students are engaged and enlivened like never before.
The high school acquired new science data collection equipment. This technology will provide new ways for students to collect, analyze, and share data from their experiments. With these tools in the hands of our students, we are developing the next generation of Christian doctors, scientists, and engineers.