In 2011, Peninsula Catholic embarked on a two year journey to implement a 1:1 initiative, where every student would have an electronic device to use at school. The initiative evolved from a deep commitment to create a 21st century learning environment for our “digital native” students. We envisioned an environment that promoted:
- Increased interaction and collaboration in the classroom
Problem-solving and creating
- Enhancing our present curriculum
- Preparing students for what they will face when they go to college
- Increased ability to access, find, evaluate and use research
- Creating independent opportunities for learning/self-directed learning
- Increased opportunities to differentiate instruction
- Meeting the Diocesan technology requirements for students
By 2013, we had installed wi-fi throughout the building, piloted a Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) program to test the system, researched and explored which device we would invest in and trained our teachers to be 21st century educators. We created Google Apps accounts for all students and faculty. We invested in sophisticated security measures, keeping all activity monitored both at home and in school as long as students are logged into their school account.
We selected Chromebooks as our device as this device is a perfect fit in a Google environment. Chromebooks work with a wireless connection. However, a wireless system in the home is not mandatory. Students can still access their Google accounts on any home computer that has internet access. Many applications, such as Google Drive, are available offline, and syncs once the student reconnects to the internet.
In the fall of 2013, we launched our 1:1 initiative, giving students in grades 8-10, their own Samsung Chromebook and equipping them and our teachers with Google Apps for Education and many other web-based tools for use in the classroom.
Peninsula Catholic was transformed! It is now commonplace to Google, Chat, Blog, Share, Video, Post, Link, Record, Collaborate, and Submit. Students and faculty use tools and apps such as Youtube, Padlet, Prezi, Movenote, Backchat, Diigo, Pear Deck, Kaizena, Boomerang, Socrative, and too many more to count! Students can research anything, anytime. Classrooms are even more interactive, creative, and differentiated, with even more opportunities for faculty to teach in such a way that students’ critical thinking skills are constantly engaged. All the while, students learn what it means to be a good Digital Citizen.
In the February of 2015, Newport News (and the rest of the country) was hit hard by snow. Peninsula Catholic had already developed a policy to implement “Digital Learning Days.” Students logged in and interacted with teachers and classmates throughout the day, thereby avoiding the dreaded “make-up days” that so many school systems were forced to add to their calendars. Check out our story on WAVY-TV and The Daily Press.
We are proud of our ever-evolving 21st century learning environment, and continue to train and develop our faculty to be premier 21st century educators. They are involved in professional learning networks to keep them connected to the ever-changing technology available. By the time our students graduate, they are well-prepared to use technology as a tool to learn and create, doing so in a responsible manner.