By Laura Pahl, Vice Principal for Curriculum and Technology at Joliet Catholic Academy
Joliet Catholic Academy (JCA) is a College Prep, co-educational high school of approximately 700 students, located in Joliet, Illinois. JCA is always committed to providing our students the very best level of education. We hold true to our mission of inspiring growth in knowledge and faith and we always strive to cultivate opportunities for academic excellence.
In truly living our mission, we determined that continuing to provide those opportunities meant taking a close look at technology in today's classrooms. Two things were very clear to us during this time. One, the curriculum at JCA will always drive the use of technology in our school. Secondly, we want a JCA graduate to leave our school with a sound understanding and knowledge of how to use multiple platforms (Microsoft/Windows, Apple, and Chrome) so they are best prepared for the next level of their education no matter what fields they choose to enter.
After months of research, including several school visits and conversations with educators throughout the United States, and forming a Technology Planning committee made up of administration, faculty and staff, we have decided that we are going to be starting our one-to-one initiative. Our device of choice is the Google Chromebook. Many factors contributed to our decision to select the Chromebook. Some of the most important reasons were cost efficiency, battery life, boot time, the amount of free applications in the Chrome Web Store, the silent and automatic updates, the storage and capability to access documents from just about anywhere, its light weight design, durability, and portability, and use of various tools that strongly promote collaboration.
In order for this process to be successfully implemented, many things have to take place. First, we will be updating our infrastructure. This year we built and configured new servers, upgraded our firewall, and worked on bringing our classrooms to a uniform level of technology equity. Now, we will concentrate our efforts on increasing our bandwidth and equipping each individual classroom with a Wi-Fi access point over the course of the summer and during the 2015-16 school year.
In addition to the infrastructure, we will be providing each faculty member with a Chromebook for the 2015-2016 school year. During this year we will focus on professional development opportunities for our faculty. Our professional development will be geared toward equipping our teachers with the knowledge they need to comfortably integrate technology into our curriculum and enhance their instructional practices. The following school year (2016-2017), we will require our freshmen and sophomores to have a Chromebook. JCA is extremely excited about this new one to one initiative! The academic benefits for our students will only help provide them all with the very best education possible!