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Technology in the Classroom: One School's Experience

In Palm Beach County Fla., St. Luke Catholic School has partnered with the University of Notre Dame's Alliance for Catholic Education initiative to provide the highest quality Catholic education to as many children as possible in under-served communities. During a three-year teaching fellowship at Notre Dame, Principal Diann Bacchus developed an understanding of the need to create a student-centered, blended-learning classroom that's enhanced with the use of technology.

The school uses technology for communication with parents, curriculum in the classroom, an automated library system, and assessments. Additionally, it uses social media such as Facebook, Twitter, and Remind to keep stakeholders informed. Communications and collaboration tools support private chat/IM between staff, and support to teachers using IM.

Technology is helping St. Luke transform from a traditional educational environment to a student-centered 21st learning environment -- and in the process, it has been able to expose students to jobs and opportunities that they wouldn't otherwise have the opportunity to learn about. For example, students are able to take virtual tours of the Pyramids, The Louvre Museum, learn about computer programming through activities such as The Hour of Code, and participate in a NASA partnership called Orion's Quest.

St. Luke uses Google G Suite for education, integrated with its school management system and single sign-on system. It currently provides 48 Chromebooks, 50 iPads, and 25 MacBooks for student use, and is looking for ways to acquire more tablets and charging stations so it can move ahead with its one-to-one initiative.

Infrastructure is vital to the school's technology initiatives.

The campus fiber backbone network utilizes Adtran Netvanta PoE switches and ProCloud; the SonicWall NSA 2600 firewall; Avast Cloud endpoint protection, and Carbonite backup.

The St. Luke campus, which includes the school plus a church, parish hall, rectory, and other buildings, will transition to AT&T Fiber, for 100-Mbps service, in May, and then begin to migrate voice and fax services from PRI, F-T1.5, and POTS over to a Panasonic communications server solution that supports IP paging and an automated bell schedule. It'll also adopt a new interactive Panasonic display that eliminates the need for short throw projectors and meshes with its online use and Wi-Fi. St. Luke will realize significant cost reductions and the elimination of redundant services and equipment.

In the enterprise, we use terms such as "best in class." In this case, St. Luke is definitely providing best in class through its technology deployments and how it's impacting student lives by providing optimal instruction time with effective and meaningful learning and effective partnerships.

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