By: Terry Rowley
Technology in the classroom, while all the rage, is a term with many ambiguities tethered to it. We have come light years from students only being able to save a few files at a time on a giant floppy disc or having to wait days or even weeks for their teachers to return graded assignments. Even college students benefit from instantaneous responses from their professors via email or online classroom forums, rather than having to ask that burning, and often timely, question during the next lecture.
Fenwick High School, a ministry of the Central Dominican Province, has started to take advantage of modern technology’s benefits and incorporate it into the classroom experience for its students as part of the Fenwick Digital Learning Initiative. To introduce the initiative, incoming 2014-2015 freshmen became the first class to use individual iPads as part of their academic experience. Additionally, instructors use these devices to better communicate with and work on the same platform as their students, thus creating a tighter circle of learning and camaraderie.
The Fenwick website delineates the policies and practices of having iPads in the classroom, from payment to website availability during class time. But going beyond that, the more important question to ask might be: how does universalizing technology in the classroom advance the Dominican mission at Fenwick?
Study is one of the four pillars of Dominican life and serves to make individuals “useful to the souls of others.” In decades past, the lessons taught in schools served to benefit the individual student’s mind, and often encouraged the student to achieve academic prowess on his or her own. Today, students are challenged to transcend those traditional methods of learning in preference of developing communications-driven skill sets.
So how exactly do iPads facilitate a new, and yet still distinctly Dominican, form of learning?
- “The pupils learn more efficiently with the iPad as they get instant feedback.”
- With interactive textbooks and online resources, students have more freedom to pursue further lessons and answer questions for themselves immediately
- Students can learn skills useful for the 21st Century, such as coding, computer programming, and proper online etiquette
- Digital platforms allow for students to collaborate on projects with peers with immediacy and efficiency
- The skills developed through online learning and collaboration translate into tangible skills desired by colleges and hiring professionals; students with such skills offer a tech-savvy sensibility that meets the modern workforce’s demands
By having a working knowledge of basic academic subjects coupled with an advanced appreciation and understanding of modern technology’s capabilities and uses, students experiencing Fenwick’s Digital Learning Initiative will be poised to enter the professional world with technological maturity. Fenwick High School is bringing Dominican education into the 21st Century in order to produce a new generation of students who will indeed be useful to the souls of others in their knowledge and ability to communicate effectively in person and via technological platforms.