By Gina Krainchich
If you look into a classroom at one of the diocesan academies this fall, you may see the teacher holding a tablet instead of chalk and an eraser. Why?
DeSales Media Group, the technology and communications arm of the Diocese of Brooklyn and parent company of The Tablet, has arranged for a grant of more than 3,000 iPads to 32 academies across Brooklyn and Queens.
In preparation for this roll out of technology, DeSales coordinated with the Office of the Superintendent of Schools, school principals, and school technology coordinators during the 2016-2017 academic year.
Behind the scenes, DeSales’ IT department managed the coordination between Sprint, Apple and Airwatch, each of whom is a stakeholder in the technology grant. These efforts are paving the way for teachers and students to begin using the tablets at the start of the new school year.
DeSales has a unique relationship with Sprint that provides for these iPads to have Internet access via the Sprint 4G network, with all data costs included in the grant. Teachers can take advantage of Apple Classroom, the class management tool that enables teachers to monitor what individual students are doing on each iPad.
Anyone who has been around children and electronic devices knows that having iPads in the classroom requires some special considerations. As such, all student devices have been outfitted with an Otterbox case. Desktop chargers, screen protectors, and keyboard cases for teachers were also provided to help make an easy transition.
To qualify for the grant, schools were asked to meet various requirements. For example, Dr. Thomas Chadzutko, superintendent of schools, thought it was important for principals to develop a utilization plan. Some academies will be using them for first through third grades; the tactile operation of the device is great at this level. Others will be using them in the upper grades; a perfect audience for the inherent Apple creation tools.
The Three Rs have long ago been replaced by new buzzwords and acronyms for educational excellence. Teachers now focus on the Four Cs: creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration. Have you heard of STEM and STEAM? If so, you know that the ‘T’ stands for technology. Mobile technology, in particular, is the cornerstone to the Four Cs: The iPad is a tool. Because it is agnostic, the ways it can serve education is virtually limitless.
“The iPad represents an opportunity, as it helps to meet the needs of all of our students through differentiated learning capabilities,” said Francis Serpico, STEM coach at St. Joan of Arc School, Jackson Heights.
“The teachers and students will be able to use Google or Apple Classroom, create projects through the various apps like iMovie, submit digital lab reports, and demonstrate their understanding of the work through the app, Explain It.
DeSales, through its in-house team at the Catholic Telemedia Network (CTN) has designed a year of professional development events to progressively instruct teachers to be in control of the technology. They have begun meeting with principals to create practical applications to support and train educators to meet specific instructional goals.
If you are wondering about parish religious education classes, DeSales has also distributed iPads and Sprint WiFi routers to directors of religious education.
DeSales’ longstanding commitment to education includes the digital media services of CTN, the installation of wireless networks and media rooms and the distribution of computers and laptops.
Krainchich is the director of educational media services for DeSales Media Group.