Maranatha Transitions to eLearning Smoothly, Thanks to Their Existing Technology
When the announcement was made in March to suspend on-campus instruction and activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the nation sent their students and faculty home and scrambled to convert from traditional classroom instruction practices to distance education or eLearning.
For Maranatha High School (MHS), the transition was made easier by the technology solutions and practices that were implemented by the school years prior to this pandemic. In 2013, Maranatha launched a One-to-One Program which equipped every student and faculty member with a school-issued iPad. Not only was Maranatha one of the first high schools in the nation to utilize iPads in this manner, but the program has uniquely positioned its students for success in a distance education environment.
According to Tim Parent, Maranatha’s Director of Technology, “By leveraging our school-operated mobile device management system, we have the unique flexibility to manipulate content on our school-owned devices to effectively serve the needs and sudden reality of distance learning.” All Maranatha students have school-issued G Suite accounts, enabling them to seamlessly use Google Meet for class instruction and as a collaboration tool. When a new application needs to be added, the school can “push” the app to the students’ iPads and they are automatically logged in with a click of a button.
As an added tool, Maranatha also chose to move forward with implementing Zoom, the popular video conferencing tool, through an education account using domain authentication. This again allows students and faculty a one-click Google login to the school’s Zoom account while also blocking outside accounts from accessing their digital classrooms or live streams. Another advantage of school-issued devices is the ability to monitor and protect the students on any connection using Maranatha’s cloud-based student safety management tool and content filter. This content filter “follows” the school’s devices, allowing students and staff the freedom to be completely mobile while protecting them both on and off the school’s network. “Our program is unique because it was built with ultimate mobility in mind,” Mr. Parent added. “Our students have the ability to use their Maranatha devices to enhance their learning from any location exactly the same way they would if they were here on campus.”
Over the years, Maranatha’s One-to-One Technology Program has proven beneficial for faculty when teaching in a traditional on-campus classroom setting, and even more so now that they are conducting classes online due to the “Safe At Home” order. Faculty can easily request an application be pushed to their student’s devices and the school’s cloud-based management system can send the application to the students for use in class on demand. Maranatha’s student portal, myMHS, is also cloud-based which enables teachers to prepare classes beforehand and outline their specific expectations for the entire week and beyond. Students can submit their work through the platform, access resources such as EBSCO or Britannica, post audio/video content, and access many other content types through the class bulletin or topics boards.
As Maranatha High School (MHS) collaborate with and hear from other schools embarking on distance-based learning, we are discovering just how well-positioned Maranatha was for this crisis. We are thankful to God in His omniscience for having paved the way for us during this time. We’ve had years to work out the details of our system, and even added enhancements along the way. Though we are all eager to hear just how much longer school campuses will be closed, we are secure in our format of e-Learning. God has prepared us for such a time as this, just as he did with Esther in the Old Testament.
Maranatha High School, 169 S. St. John Avenue, Pasadena, (626) 817-4000 or visit www.maranatha-hs.org.