Over the last twenty years we have created a sophisticated school-wide network and acquired the latest in hardware and software to enrich our networking capabilities. This is all done with the goal of fulfilling the school’s mission to help students to learn with others and to think for themselves. Below are detailed the most important technology initiatives that we have undertaken during the past several years.
Integration of Technology into the ClassroomWe have been using software in the curriculum since the early 1990s. Our philosophy has always been to use technology to help the departments achieve their academic goals. That is the reason we have LCD projectors, document cameras, and Smart boards mounted in virtually every classroom. Faculty all have their own laptops to facilitate the creation of an innovative program whether at home, in their office or in the classroom. In addition, the school has identified basic computer skills that various academic departments have taken responsibility for teaching.
Almost all buildings on campus are connected to the Lawrence Academy network including all classrooms and computer labs, the library and all dormitories. Boarding students who bring their own properly configured computers have network access from their dorm rooms. Day students can all access the wireless network from their laptops. Students connected to the network have access to email, the online resources in the school library, their personal folder on the fileserver and the Internet.
Several years ago we upgraded our network backbone to an HP Procurve-based backbone. This backbone consists of all new switches and wireless access points. This is in addition to adding and upgrading new blade servers to our core infrastructure. During the past 2 summers we upgraded our wireless infrastructure to a wireless-N network. We will soon be upgrading our wireless network to the latest wireless – AC protocol.
Access to LA Network from Off-campus
Lawrence Academy has implemented a network tool, Citrix XenApp, targeted to day students and faculty. Citrix XenApp is a web-based portal to the Lawrence Academy network that enables day students and faculty access to all of their online documents and access to selected applications from home.
Smart classrooms create a dynamic learning environment for students giving them instant access to the internet and to other resources that further the goals of the curriculum. This kind of environment give students and teacher’s instant access to the library’s databases, streaming video, online dynamic maps such as Google Earth, and the myriad of websites that presently exist on the internet as well as access to locally and cloud-based software applications.
All classrooms are now smart classrooms. A smart classroom at Lawrence Academy includes:
- A ceiling mounted projector with a wall-mounted controller connected to a teacher computer
- A docking station for faculty laptops which is connected to the projector
- Wall mounted speakers
- A Smart board through which the teacher can control the laptop and capture or display written work.
- A document camera that works seamlessly with the computer and Smart board
A Smart board connected to a ceiling mounted LCD projector allows teachers to make dynamic and interactive presentations and to post these presentations and class notes to the class web page on our Moodle server. A document camera not only allows teachers to project onto the Smart board anything placed under the camera’s lens but to capture these images and embed them into the Smart board.
Learning Management System (Moodle)
Moodle is a learning management system designed to help educators who want to create their own class web pages. Essentially this software creates a virtual learning environment which allows faculty members to easily create their own course web page where assignments, syllabi, etc, can be posted. Online discussions and journals can be implemented, glossaries can be created by students, and tests can be administered and it has software capabilities such as wikis to enhance student collaboration. The software includes its own online grade book. Most universities use a course management system and this trend is now filtering down to high schools. We have almost 100 courses using Moodle from almost every department. You can check out this learning environment by logging in as a guest at http://moodle.lacademy.edu.
Email and Personal Folders
All students and faculty have email accounts using MS Exchange with the web-based Outlook Web Access serving as its interface. Students and faculty also have access to their own personal folder on the fileserver. Access to these personal folders allows students and faculty to access their files from their own laptop if they are connected to the campus network.
Online Resources in the Library
The library currently has an online card catalog and a multitude of online databases. These online resources include online dictionaries and encyclopedias as well as general purpose databases such as EBSCO Discovery Service, many web research guides tailored to the LA curriculum and more than 100 other databases.
We currently have a Sony Language Lab. This is a 16-station language lab controlled by an instructor-operated computer. This system provides the Language Department with a combination of technological innovations together with the ability to explore many advanced pedagogical avenues. The system provides a complete video capability, computer hook-up capability, CD-ROM sixteen computer workstations, a document camera and, a projector to display to teacher’s computer screen.
The laboratory allows language students to make use of tapes, films, computer programs, CD-ROMS, DVDs and international programs to study, at the press of a button. The equipment is so versatile that sixteen different programs can operate simultaneously. While the laboratory is for foreign language study primarily, its capabilities allow Lawrence to bolster and strengthen the Academy's ESL program during the year.
Many faculty have been given IPads to use in the classroom. They all have the ability to project the IPad screen through the ceiling-mounted projectors that can be found in every classroom. These teachers are using the IPads in innovative ways such as creating videos and posting them on YouTube for the flipped classroom or by recording the grading of a student’s papers and then returning the graded paper to the student in the form of a video.
Lawrence Academy has just built a new Media Conference Center which contains the latest in video-conferencing equipment. We intend to use this center to enable students to connect with researchers, scientists, authors, artists, and other classrooms around the world. In this way we hope to expand the education of our students globally in a more interactive and collaborative fashion.
The use of technology to further the curricular and community goals of Lawrence Academy is escalating rapidly. The expansion of the network has expanded the walls of the traditional library and is allowing students and faculty access to information that was difficult to obtain in the past. The integration of software into the curriculum to meet the academic goals of the departments has allowed us to enrich our academic programs. The integration of such devices as the Smart board and IPads has further enhanced our academic goals. Finally with the advent of cloud-based applications students are now able to access countless resources in addition to having the ability to collaborate with other students online thus extending the boundaries of the classroom. The challenge to all of us is how to harness this technology to use it to further the school’s mission. We at Lawrence Academy believe we are headed on the right path towards this never-ending goal.
Director of Technology