Columbus Academy embraces the responsibility to teach students to navigate their lives in a time of constant change. As technology becomes increasingly integral to our lives, it is essential that children maintain both a command over it and the ability to free themselves of it.
Pull up a stool at the “genius bar.”
Academy’s investment in technology can be seen in the Apple Genius Bar, which is facilitated by a dedicated IT manager and run by students. Set up like an actual help desk, students assist their peers with technology issues. They also learn about hardware, software and connectivity. But the Genius Bar is much more than a help desk. It is also a learning center where students discuss the ethics of technology and its role in our lives. They discuss issues of privacy, the over-dependence on technology, the pros and cons of social media and the exciting possibilities for collaboration and innovation.
Expanding the classroom—and children’s minds
Another way Academy uses technology is the “synchronous” classroom. This is when online learning enables children to go virtually anywhere in the world and “synchronize” their learning with experts in a subject. For example, when the Lower School does their unit on birds, they have “face time” with a noted ornithologist. While discussing foreign policy, Upper Schoolers have discussions with experts in diplomacy. Learning from astronauts, climatologists, actors and musicians or virtually touring famous cities or diving into the center of the earth--anything is possible with online learning.
QuestWorks is an innovative program for older students, modeled after the Skunk Works research and development labs at Lockheed Martin Company. In keeping with the Columbus Academy Strategic Vision, the program encourages creativity and a sense of exploration in Upper School students. QuestWorks provides grant money to students so that they can create, build or explore an area of personal interest that isn't tied to a specific timeline or grade. By not grading the work, students rely on intrinsic motivation that carries them through what might be several rounds of risk-taking, building, failing and regrouping. Past projects have included electronic skateboards to help cut down on automobile usage, an eco-friendly windmill and a fully operational picture-taking drone.
Whether they are using iPaint to become budding Picassos, building tomorrow’s technology or using the Internet to travel to other worlds, Academy students are encouraged to master technology to foster learning and fuel innovation.