In this blog post, Director of Information and Instructional Technology Andrea Drinkwine discusses the education technology tools that are in place at Haverford, and how teachers and students were able to rise to the challenge of transitioning to Virtual Haverford and full-time online learning.
School technology departments play a critical role from day-to-day to long-term operations and success in today’s tech-centered educational environment. As a technology leader, I am able to see and understand how the school works systemically and can, therefore, better serve the community technologically, academically, and socially. Working together with faculty and administration, we can address what is changing in society that will impact teaching and learning. The unprecedented Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of maintaining strong and continuous collaboration between faculty, administration, and technology in our schools. It has strengthened our ability to mobilize so quickly during this time.
Over the last several years at Haverford, we have been laying the groundwork for 21st-century teaching and learning by developing strategies and providing technological tools that allow faculty to continue to offer students the best possible educational experience. This preparation has afforded us a robust infrastructure, mechanisms that facilitate the introduction and adoption of teaching and learning practices, professional growth opportunities, a sustainable digital environment through budgetary planning and access to digital tools and resources that support curriculum in a rich digital learning environment.
Our dedicated faculty have been able to rise to this daunting leap into online learning by relying on their own expertise and creativity, and by capitalizing on the technology tools that they have been using well before the crisis hit.
Our dedicated faculty have been able to rise to this daunting leap into online learning by relying on their own expertise and creativity, and by capitalizing on the technology tools that they have been using well before the crisis hit. Our 1:1 ratio of student devices allowed us to provide technology to any student who needed it. Our existing edtech platforms like Canvas (our learning management system), SeeSaw (our student engagement and portfolio platform) and GSuite (Google’s suite of apps) are now being used to deliver content and resources remotely. These platforms, and others, allow us to continue to provide our faculty with the tools and training they will need to run Virtual Haverford successfully.
Students can access online resources and assignments as well as their teachers and classmates both synchronously and asynchronously using these tools. A variety of other education technology tools allow students to go on virtual field trips, collaborate on virtual whiteboards, have stories read to them, create and present evidence of their learning in a variety of ways, and stay connected to their peers socially. The education technology community has stepped up in amazing ways to keep learning alive, many offering their services free for educators.
Today’s technology makes it possible for our students to continue to receive a Haverford education in ways that would not have been achievable had a crisis like this occurred just a couple of decades ago.
Today’s technology makes it possible for our students to continue to receive a Haverford education in ways that would not have been achievable had a crisis like this occurred just a couple of decades ago. While there is debate around technology use among students today, one may be able to point to some positives from this experience. I expect we will see an increase in student agency as more students assume an active role in taking responsibility for their own learning. I see an increase in more meaningful uses of technology by faculty and students, as together they find ways to use technology tools that support learning and positive social interactions in innovative ways. And, I believe we will all learn how to become better digital citizens who are informed, inclusive, engaged, alert and balanced.
Virtual Haverford is a distance learning school developed in response to the challenges presented by COVID-19. It is our pledge to fulfilling our mission as a school dedicated to the development of young men. Click here to read about our virtual lessons and read what our parents are saying about the experience >