Expanding Technology on Campus

Villa Maria Academy’s Technology Department is undergoing an extensive renovation under the current tech plan (2012-2015) and revised Tech plan (2014-2017). The department provides  opportunities for classroom teachers and students by offering new instructional technology equipment, training, and friendly, knowledgeable support to enable students, staff, and parents, to succeed in the digital age. Campus wide technology supports both Windows and Macintosh platforms, although all open computer labs and library utilize Windows 7 Professional operating systems. Macintosh platform machines are prevalent in the Fine Arts and Yearbook areas for students.  Under the revised plan, Mac computers will be sporadically added to faculty and student lab areas to enable students to work on outside projects or author iBooks and iMovies.

Student Device Access

VMA’s three main computer labs—one in St. Joseph Hall and two in Regina Mundi Hall—provide students with excellent opportunities for hands-on learning through academic studies and tech club activities. In addition, both the Library and study hall have over 25 computers for student and faculty use. In September, 2014, all student areas, both Mac and PC, will have brand new Macintosh and PC computers on campus through a campus-wide update of student machines.

Mobile technology has been introduced with a BYOD (bring your own device) program that has been in place for the last five years. Beginning in September, 2014, <strong>all</strong> students will be required to have an iPad on campus daily to support their academic studies both in and out of the classroom. During 2013, the campus updated and expanded the wireless network to offer more access to mobile devices. By standardizing on iPads, all students will not only have a small, lightweight device to access web and academic tools, but will also be able to collaborate easily with students and teachers with collaborative apps and social media projects within the scope of the curriculum.

iPads provide an equitable solution for all students. This decision was based on the many resources available in this iOS platform with both texts and Apple sites, as well as the overwhelming decision by our parents to purchase these devices independently from the school over the last few years. This truly has been the device chosen by our families. We have taken this and provided a year of iPad use and training for our teachers to become comfortable and develop and revise curriculum to incorporate this and other technologies into their teaching.

The Technology Department employs three full-time staff members. The full-time positions include the Director of Technology, a Staff Academic Technology Support Specialist and Computer Science Teacher/Student Support Specialist. The Computer Science Teacher supports all students in their technology classes, curricular projects and iPad support.

Teaching with Technology

All classroom teachers have laptop computers, an Apple TV device, iPads, interactive whiteboards, and projectors with amplified ceiling speakers to assist them with presentations and productivity. Most teachers regularly use these tools to access the Internet, connect with students via Villa email, Edline postings and Google docs, post homework on their course web pages, or give relevant presentations. All teachers use SMART Boards and some are using interactive handheld response devices (clickers) or iPad/smartphone apps, document cameras, and multimedia apps. An electronic gradebook, which interfaces with our student records system, PowerSchool, is used for live grade reports. iPads are used by teachers and students to research, create content, and simplify workflow of homework and projects for grading and presentation, all in our efforts to go mostly paperless.

All of our teachers are attending a variety of training sessions as departments, independently or one-on-one with our staff specialist to further their iPad learning in the classroom.