Diocesan Technology Initiative works to provide systems, tools to enhance school curriculum, missions
(SNR) - When talking about technology, St. Maximillian Kolbe once said “good people need to use it for the glory of God.” It’s that idea of good people using good technology for the greater good that serves as one of the principles of the Lincoln Diocesan Technology Initiative.
The Education Technology Initiative started in 1996 through the generosity of longtime Lincoln residents Tom and Rhonda Peed. Since its founding, the initiative has worked to supply state-of-the-art technology to diocesan schools and institutions as a way to improve the education process, enhance curriculums, and assist teachers and school administrators throughout the Lincoln Diocese with their missions to provide students with an education that brings them closer to God.
The goal behind the technology initiative is to provide all diocesan schools with access to the same standardized technology and tools, rather than implementing programs and technologies that vary from one school to another. That’s no small undertaking, as the initiative currently works to support and supply more than 8,500 users throughout 32 Catholic schools in the Lincoln Diocese with desktop and laptop computers, servers, SMART Boards, and iPads and other tablet computers.
As part of the technology initiative, students have regular exposure to technology such as computer labs, keyboarding, library automation, and creative learning scenarios. Teachers and administrators each have their own laptop for use with electronic gradebooks and communication with parents through the ParentConnect portal. Since 2008, virtually every classroom has been equipped with a SMART Board, which has had a significant impact on education by engaging students in ways traditional presentations may not. Through use of the SMART Boards, students and teachers have access to the Internet and subscriptions to video and interactive lessons that offer a variety of resources for learning.
One of the group’s newest initiatives in recent years has been outfitting schools with wireless networks that will provide a backbone to support the use of iPads and other tablet devices in classrooms. To date, five schools throughout the diocese have been supplied with a cart of iPads, and three schools have had the traditional desktop computers found in computer labs upgraded to iPads. Beginning this fall, teachers at one school will each receive iPads along with regular faculty development in preparation for a January rollout of a 1:1 initiative that will provide iPads to each student in the upper grades.
Although each school develops its own model for learning and using the technology, the Diocesan Technology Office provides the ongoing faculty development, training, and support needed to keep the systems up and running. The technology office is led by Msgr. John Perkinton, superintendent of schools; Sr. Mary Kansier, director of technology, and a team of laypeople who meet weekly to determine priorities and define the direction of the initiative. The team includes specialists and technicians experienced in running and maintaining the data center, networking, servers, storage, software, and wireless technologies needed to keep administrators, teachers, and students connected.