Nearly four years ago, Mater Dei’s Administrative Board seriously contemplated the addition of a 1-to-1 (that’s one device per student) computer program into Mater Dei’s educational system. Much needed to be considered: cost, ease of use in a learning environment, device usability and durability, manufacturer support and training, power, connectivity for all users, and the infrastructure necessary to support a network totaling nearly 2,300 (students and teaching faculty). During our years of research, something was never quite right with ALL of the possible devices, platforms, and methods needed to create a working 1-to-1 system.
Friday past we were able to announce this much-anticipated program. We would like to provide more details to you over the next few weeks.
And that brings us to today. Last week we announced that the 2011-12 school year will bring exciting changes to Mater Dei High School with the introduction of the iPad to every student and teaching faculty member.
Why the iPad you ask? “It can’t even do this or that. Or the iPad is so Apple.” I am sure you are asking a million questions. Maybe you are angry. Maybe you think we are crazy or maybe we are on the verge of something better than great – something truly amazing…
To answer these concerns and questions, we have to consider the goals of our academic 1-to-1 computer program:
1. We aim to have a 1-to-1 program that could utilize the device in every classroom, activity, and location at Mater Dei. In other words, this program must be fully integrated into the holistic learning environment that is Mater Dei.
2. The device must offer true value. Not only must the device be affordable and accessible to the entire Mater Dei community, but it must also give value back to the end user (our Mater Dei students). We aim for the iPad to be an enhancement to the excellent academic program already in place here at Mater Dei. At the same time, it could be a replacement for traditional printed textbooks (which as we know can be quite costly and heavy) and general school supplies (calculators, notepads, agendas, supplementary workbooks, etc.).
3. The platform and applications must aid in preparing the Mater Dei graduate for college/university, professional life, and most importantly accurate, active, and appropriate critical thinking. The world needs people who can use the various tools in life, adapt to the challenges about us, and respond appropriately in an ever-changing world.
This 1-to-1 computer program must be a success! It will be a success. By success, I mean that it will be utilized daily throughout a variety of academic disciplines as well as extracurricular activities. The iPads will not collect dust or remain in a locker or backpack. Teachers will be better and more effective educators because they have the correct teaching tools in their hands. ALL teaching faculty at Mater Dei will have iPads for daily use in curriculum and instruction.
To prepare our teaching faculty to be the ambassadors of our 1-to-1 program, we will provide days of professional development and training from Apple concerning the use of the iPad in a classroom. This training will be tailored specifically to Mater Dei’s unique environment and teaching standards.
As a result of this 1-to-1 program, we believe our students will be educated in a way that allows them to adapt to various computer platforms, applications, and Internet technologies. Surprising, but true – the iPad allows for users to learn and master core computing skills in MULTIPLE computing platforms. For example, this blog entry was drafted on multiple iPads, a Windows 7 computer, and a MacBook Pro using Google Docs.
One of Mater Dei’s ESLRs is: “A Mater Dei High School graduate is a person LITERATE IN MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY.” We do not want a student to leave Mater Dei with a tunnel vision view of technology. We want a graduate who can pull up a chair (or grab a portable device) and say “Sure, I can use this! What would you like me to do?” Mater Dei students will also become educators and innovators because they are using a device that intrinsically changes the way computing and information sharing is done. This device, just like this 1-to-1 decision, forces Mater Dei to rethink the possible, change the old, hold fast to traditions, and leap into the future – all with our students leading the way. How exciting!
Finally, it is important to see what is coming to Mater Dei High School as a result of this 1-to-1 program. We will have a wireless network that is capable of providing ample Internet access and device management to the over 2,200 brand new computerized devices on campus. We will have enterprise level management of these iPads (something the critics have often said is not available–but is real and only getting more powerful each day). We are planning to offer both Apple iOS and Android application development classes in the future to our students. We are eager to see our methods of teaching, learning, collaborating, and assessing student outcomes change from paper to the iPad at Mater Dei High School. And we are excited to evaluate and respond to the continuous flow of new ideas and challenges that come up as we take this journey into the future together.
Director of Computer Services