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Hi-Tech Classrooms Enhance Teaching and Learning

November, 2017
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It is beyond question that technology has changed our lifestyles, our young generation and the way of school education for them. Classrooms with high-tech equipment are now an essential part of many schools today.

tech-in-classroom-joy-el-photos4Visiting the newly opened Joy EL International Academy in Beijing truly impressed in me how they enhance teaching and learning with their state-of-the-art facilities and advanced technologies installed in the modern campus.

Tech such as 60" Interactive TVs, Macbook Pro, iPad Pro and 3D printer, combined with software such as Managebac system management, Office 365, Adobe Creative Suite, Sketchup, Swift Playground and Final Cut Pro are applied here to allow each and every student the opportunity to excel academically and to aid in their mastery of necessary skills.

“The influences and importance that our technology program has on our elementary students are conducive to help mold our students to become a productive member of society from a young age on,” says Mark Abbadessa, computer teacher of Joy EL’s Elementary School section.

He adds that technology mastery skills will be needed when students are applying to top universities around the world and when competing for employment positions in the work force.

Abbadessa’s statement is echoed by Joy EL Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) Teacher Mark Hillman. Hillman argues that education isn’t just about memorizing facts and vocabulary words. More importantly, it is about solving complex problems and being able to collaborate with others in the workforce.

“Using current technologies in the classroom prepares students for their future and sets them up for an increasing digital economy,” emphasizes Hillman.

tech-in-classroom-joy-el-photos10According to Abbadessa, teachers at Joy EL apply technology throughout all subject areas in a form that allows it to be an extension of their teaching, and technology is considered as a tool that allows them to align their teaching activities with the curriculum they teach.

The technology employed at Joy EL enables students to learn at their own pace. For example, almost all apps allow for individualized instruction. Students can learn according to their abilities, needs and pace.

“This helps with student motivation as students prefer technology because they believe that it makes learning more interesting and fun,” explains Hillman.

At the same time, each device is equipped with various forms of software that can be used to monitor each student’s progression. Furthermore, all school technology devices can be used in English or Chinese to help cut down on confusion.

“Our students truly enjoy using these forms of technology in their classrooms to design and develop individual as well as group projects and presentations,” Abbadessa says.

He argues that when trying to help students develop a sense of international mindedness, technology is a useful tool to help bridge the gap of education throughout the world and allows for a leveled playing field for the students.

According to Hillman, both staff and students at Joy EL get personalized coaching from professionals who either create the hardware/software or mange it. Joy EL teachers have received numerous workshops and professional development on utilizing the technology and software available to them at the school.

In parallel, the students are receiving several sessions of IT class each week as an extension of technology integration that their homeroom teachers are using daily.

Some of them are also receiving additional training directly from APPLE INC. in Beijing and take part in a series of field trips to the Apple store, during which they participate in workshops helping them to develop effective ways to use some of the key features and software available to them on the school-provided Apple devices.

So far, the students have taken part in Apple training on Garage Band and learning how to create Podcasts using their MacBook Pros.

In mid-November, the students will go for another training session and will focus on elements of design using the Keynote software installed on their devices to create PPT presentations.

All students who have taken part in these workshop sessions have received a certificate of completion from Apple INC., according to Abbadessa.

 

By Qin Chuan

 

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