COMPUTER SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY PROGRAM
Heritage Academy has undergone its own boom in technology over the past couple of years. Our school has moved forward by updating machines across the board in the computer lab as well as all of the classrooms. Greater and more judicious use of the Internet has added to an already engaging learning environment. Multimedia is becoming a vital part of many lesson plans.
Recently, we were able to purchase fifteen new PCs for our lab, with enough expandability to be useful for years to come. At the same time, a number of businesses have kindly donated more than two-dozen computers, so that we have been able to place at least two machines in every classroom. That gives the students access to these wonderful tools wherever they are in the school. As the supply continues, we will be able to replace some of the older computers or rotate others for repair.
Our Internet experience has undergone a major change. Where for many years, we relied on the rather bulky ISDN network, we have switched over to cable and have increased the speed of access several times over. With the Internet such an integral part of learning, this has made for a more efficient use of students’ and teachers’ time. An aspect of this, which would not have been available under the old network, is the use of streaming video. This allows us to go online and choose from thousands of educational programs on nearly any subject. On the agenda is improving the entire network.
We recently purchased a new projector for the school that now sits on a cart with a computer and a DVD/VCR player. This gives teachers the opportunity to integrate a number of different media into their plans; be it a movie, a software program or a video off the Internet. The audio-visual cart has found its way into many classrooms in its short time in the school.
The lab office also features our “super” computer. This machine is loaded with maximum memory and has the video capabilities to match. It is equipped with video editing software and works rather well with our video cam. Installed with a DVD burner, this computer can turn out quality DVDs as a finished product.
When students go to the computer lab, they find themselves working on any number of practical exercises that will help them in an increasingly technological world. Kindergartners are learning the basics of the keyboard and practice with typing programs. By the second grade, students have a good sense of proper technique in keyboarding and they are ready to put that to use. In the elementary grades, applications such as Excel and PowerPoint are introduced, as are searching skills on the Internet. By eighth grade, the students have become so accustomed to using these tools, that they are able to put together rather complex and intriguing presentations.
Used properly, technology can be a major benefit to the total learning environment and as we continue to move forward, we will strive to maintain focus and utilize these tools to our greatest advantage.