Department Spotlight: New Maranatha High School Technology

Published : Wednesday, November 6, 2013 | 1:25 AM

The newly overhauled Technology Department has recently implemented a 1:1 eLearning Program by deploying more than 800 iPads to students, faculty and key staff. The new MHS Technology Department consists of three key elements: Instructional facilitation, Infrastructure, and Support.

The Technology Department is now capable of providing 21st century learning tools and professional development to the faculty and staff, empowering  to lead  students into a world driven by a digital culture.

Each day the support team staffs the Technology Support rooms, ensures students have the technology needed to learn and study, keeps track of iPads, manages device needs and claims, and responds to staff and student technology needs. Mr. Stephen Wyles, Director of Technology, states, “We will do anything! Customer service to the classroom is our number one goal and we do not turn away any question, concern, or problem brought to our attention.”

As with every aspect of Maranatha, faith is actively integrated into into the work of the Technology Department. The technology team meets weekly to share how  lives are impacted daily by Christ. Mr. Wyles states, “I want to partner with each member of our team to deliver a safe, Christ-Centered, digital culture of innovation and character.” They also strive to serve our students with excellence, honoring the One whom we all serve.

Our infrastructure is managed by Mr. Wyles, who focuses on network security, reliability, and scalability for all facets of technology on campus. His other responsibilities include managing technology-related contracts, servers, and inventories. Mr. Wyles also supervises the Support Team comprised of three Systems Technicians that provide on-campus support from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each school day. This team includes technicians added for the implementation period to ensure the transition to the 1:1 Program has been employed smoothly. In the next year, Mr. Wyles hopes to, “streamline the classroom technology equipment to create more uniformity for every teacher.”

While the Support and Infrastructure Teams focus on making sure students have the technology hardware, software, and safeguards necessary to learn at the highest level, the Instructional or Educational Technology Team (EdTech), works to effectively integrate technology directly into the classroom and curricula. “The day-to-day goals of EdTech are to enhance faculty preparation and student learning through the use of technology and to prepare students for college by using college-level technology and strategies,” says Christie Akins, Maranatha’s Instructional Technology Director.

Ms. Akins and her assistant, Clay Dulgarian, work to develop, utilize, and manage eLearning resources in the classroom. Thorough research on the latest tools, forums, and resources alongside a technology committee comprised of key faculty, to provide effective professional development to the teachers. On a daily basis, faculty is assisted with programs, applications, eTextbooks, and eResources; answer faculty, student, and parent questions; and work as a part of the Tech Support team to answer “TechHelp Tickets”. Regular communication is maintained with students through the EdTech website, regular Minutegram articles, and an ongoing blog via EdModo to keep parents informed.

Ms. Akins focuses on helping students and parents adjust to the new role of technology in daily lives in order to effectively integrate technology into the classroom. Recently she spoke with a student who realized he was resistant to the iPad program because he did not want his parents or his teachers “invading his territory”. Technology is something this generation feels ownership of; it is an adjustment  to share that digital space and have limits placed on it.

A primary goal for EdTech is helping students become responsible digital citizens. Key to integrating faith into the eLearning Program is helping students look at the digital profile to align it to Christian values. As an ongoing discussion, students are reminded that  digital makeup can follow throughout lives. This understanding of online presence is coupled with technology tools needed to incorporate the student’s faith independently and responsibly.

Over the next few months, EdTech will continue working with faculty to grow skills. Working with the Director of Assessment, evaluations will be conducted to ensure effective use of technology in each classroom. As technology improves and changes, Ms. Akins will continue to mold the assessments, professional training, and eLearning Resources to maintain our innovative culture at Maranatha. Our Principal, Dr. Purghart, has been pleased with the responsiveness to student and faculty needs, and the innovation and differentiation in the classroom. She states, “It is important that we remember that technology is here to enhance the classroom learning experience for students… and faculty are doing just that!”

Maranatha High School 169 South Saint John Avenue, Pasadena, (626) 817-4000, or visit http://www.maranatha-hs.org.

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