It’s an exciting time to at Bishop Kelley High School! We’re about to welcome our largest freshman class ever, enrollment is up across the board, we have new buildings, new programs, and the same great education for students because of amazing and dedicated teachers. The 2017-18 school year will also bring a new innovation: Google Chromebooks in the hands of every student.
Through the generosity of a local foundation, every faculty member was given a Chromebook last October. That gave our teachers time to explore, experiment, and get used to the new technology. At orientation this year, all 930 students will be handed their very own Chromebook. This was made possible by the 2017 Bishop Kelley Auction. We are so grateful to the donors who made this possible!
One concern we’re hearing from some parents is that our students are already so tied to technology, why would we give them another device. It is a valid concern and one that we share as well. Today’s students have phone, watches, and tablets to which they are tied night and day.
In the March 2017 edition of the Journal of Catholic Education, Carol Wyatt of Jesuit High School in Portland lays out a wonderful look at technology in the classroom and offers suggestions on how to keep a classroom Christ centered while students and teachers are so plugged in.
The most important point she makes, put in the context of Bishop Kelley, is that we are NOT a “Google Chromebook School” but rather that we are a Catholic high school in the Lasallian tradition that happens to use Google Chromebooks as one of many tools to teach and engage students. The Chromebooks are just that, a tool. Our teachers see it that way and we expect that the students will as well.
The advantages this device offers are numerous (and Ms. Wyatt makes them clear):
- Instant access to the Internet
- Access to reliable research sources
- Encouraging alternative points of view to a discussion
- Utilizing different problem-solving methods
- Access to multimedia presentations
- Lighter backpacks due to the increase of digital books
- Better tools for collaboration and project based learning
The downside, as Wyatt notes, is distraction. Here at BK, we’re implementing numerous safeguards to minimize this.
Ultimately, we will work to find the balance with our teachers and students to make sure these Google Chromebooks don’t dominate our lives but are seen for what they are, a tool to help students to get ready for college and to prepare for heaven. There are downsides to be sure, but through a partnership with parents and the students themselves, we see this innovation, made possible by the generosity of so many, as a positive step for our school.
God bless you!