Local school’s digitization signals change

By Justin Katz | gargoyle@flagler.edu

Principal of St. Joseph's Academy, Tom McGlinn

Principal of St. Joseph’s Academy, Tom McGlinn

St. Joseph’s Academy in St. Augustine, Fla. will become one of the first schools to pursue a one-to-one program where each student will have a Google Chromebook.

Tom McGlinn, principal at St. Joseph’s Academy, said the transition to digital is a natural step.

“Students today grew up with technology, so now it’s the teacher’s job to adapt to the student,” McGlinn said. “I grew up with a teacher standing in front of a classroom, writing on a blackboard, lecturing for 45 minutes. Kids today grew up using phones, iPads and computers.”

McGlinn and St. Joseph’s Academy are part of a nationwide movement adopting technology as a way to teach a new generation. The movement recognizes that students are learning in different ways than their parents and even older siblings did. These digital rollout programs seek to replace textbooks with laptops, tablets and Chromebooks.

McGlinn’s goal is to have a paperless school by next year. However, public schools are finding out this progress is not cheap.

Miami-Dade Superintendent Alberto Carvalho was forced to delay future purchases on a digital rollout after spending an estimated $115 million on various devices, projectors and wireless networks.

Despite superintendents like Carvalho purchasing a wide array of equipment, Florida missed its goal of 2.25 students to 1 device last and this school year.

McGlinn noticed other schools using iPads, but he chose the Chromebook for its economic value.

Other schools around the country are trying similar digital rollout programs.

“The kids we’re getting now had iPads in front of them at one or two years old,” said Tim Rice, director of technology at Kentucky Country Day (KCD), an independent K-12 school in Lexington, Ky. “The school needs to reflect the lives of the kids in front of them.”

Although KCD relied on other regional schools for guidance, Rice believes the time spent troubleshooting was worth it.

Not all schools that have tried digital rollout programs have had technical difficulties.

Kyle Laauser, information technology director at St. Joseph’s Academy in Cleveland, Ohio, said he visited almost 100 different schools and spent four years preparing before the school began issuing devices.

“Just walking through the school and seeing students collaborating on documents and presentations, they love it and we love it,” Laauser said. “It’s helping them learn and engage more.”

McGlinn is positive about the future at St. Joseph’s Academy.

“My goal is to have kids completely prepared for higher education and life,” said McGlinn.

Although McGlinn wants to become 100 percent paperless, he admits some tools never become obsolete.

“You’ll still need paper and pen; some people like the feel and touch of a book and there’s nothing wrong with that,” McGlinn said.

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