Our Lady of the Lake Roman Catholic School has continued to make tremendous progress in technology over the past five years. Because of the administration’s continued commitment to the integration of technology into all aspects of the school environment, government grants and the eRate program, as well as other resources, have been utilized to significantly enhance technology at the school.
Significant accomplishments include:
Over the past several years, major improvements to the IT infrastructure have been made to support the expanding role of technology in the educational curriculum and the day-to-day operation of the school. The local area network has been enhanced by incorporating a fiber optic backbone connecting all of the campus buildings and upgraded to bring gigabit ethernet access to all classrooms and offices. In addition, to accommodate the use of laptops, a high-speed, secure wireless network has been installed that provides campus-wide wireless access to the network. There has also been an expansion and upgrade to the servers that provide network services including secure login administration, user environment management and access to over four terabytes of storage space. Servers that support the student information system and the library catalog software have been upgraded as well.
During the second half of the 2006-2007 school year, MacBook laptop computers were provided to all teachers for use at school and away from campus and introduced to the sixth and seventh grade students, who used them during the school day in their classes. Beginning with the 2007-2008 school year, the Middle School students were able to use the MacBooks at school and at home. CD versions of most of their textbooks have enabled the students to have access to their learning materials without the added load of hardcopy books. Similar to what is occurring in upper education and in the work place, the school’s goal is to integrate the use of the laptops into everyday school life so that they become not only the new pen, paper, and book for the student but also become an adaptive tool for the delivery of new educational content.
Technology in the library has also been enhanced, beginning with twenty new iMac computers for student use. The library circulation program has been upgraded to Alexandria, which allows students and faculty access to the electronic library catalog at any time via campus computers. Also, beginning with the 2007-2008 school year, OLL’s Accelerated Reader Program, which is run through the library, was greatly expanded. Students now have access to the complete list of quizzes available through Renaissance Learning’s online AR program. Students may now take quizzes from any computer on campus, and middle school students may use their own laptops.
In 2007, PowerSchool, OLL’s student information system, was upgraded to the Premier edition that includes significant enhancements to the program. PowerSchool is a nationally acclaimed, complete student information system. The program was initiated during the summer of 2002, and has been completely integrated into the daily school operation. This is a comprehensive student information system that enables the school community to easily manage a wealth of information online including: grades, transcripts, and report cards; standards and assessments; attendance; demographics and activities; class and student schedules; and state reporting. In addition, parents are able to access their child’s attendance and grades in real-time through a secure website. The website also provides communication of daily school messages and email between parents and staff.
Also in 2007, the Studywiz program was implemented at OLL and will be incorporated into the fourth through seventh grade curiculum over the next two to three years. Studywiz is a dynamic online learning environment designed for K-12 that provides teachers a place to easily collect, organize, manage and add multimedia content to their existing curriculum. It also provides students a place for collaboration and personalized learning with real-time feedback and learning assessment.
Email is currently available to all faculty members, administrators and staff allowing internal as well as external communication. The Internet can be accessed from desktop computers in any classroom, the library, computer lab and administrative offices as well as from any school laptop. Service is provided through the Archdiocese of New Orleans. They provide a very effective firewall, virus scan of emails and an Internet Use policy that requires parental permission for student access to the Internet. An additional program runs on the Middle School students’ laptops to insure that inappropriate sites are restricted while the computers are away from campus. Middle School students and their parents have committed to an additional acceptable use policy for the care and usage of the laptops. Faculty members have made use of the availability of the Internet in their classes by assigning research and utilizing the Internet, as well as taking their classes on virtual field trips and to specific sites selected for their relevance to current classroom topics.
Other technology-related, electronic equipment is available to the school community. All classrooms in kindergarten through seventh grade have been outfitted with a laser printer. In addition, there are many printers networked and accessible to any computer on campus, including the color laser printers in the lab and library. Scanners and firewire hard drives are also available. Pre-First through fifth grade classrooms as well as Pre-K classrooms have desktop computers available for use.
All classrooms have televisions and VCR’s and/or DVD players. In addition, during 2006 and 2007, Promethean Activboards and LCD projectors were installed in kindergarten through seventh grade classrooms. Training on the use of the interactive
white boards was initiated in the fall of 2007 and will be continued on an ongoing basis. Digital cameras and digital video cameras are also available for checkout.
Technology at OLL has moved in a very short time from a novelty to an integral part of the everyday school environment. Computer instruction has progressed to teaching more useful applications to the students. Administrative functions are now made more efficient and productive through technology. Communication between members of the school community is enhanced. Uses not even imagined a few years ago are now considered routine. While this parallels technology improvements in the greater community, it is an accomplishment for an educational community to keep pace with this quickly changing culture. Stakeholders in OLL realize the accomplishments that have been made in the area of technology. They are also aware that the school must have a continuing plan for technology improvement to keep pace with our ever-changing society.