Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

The School Design Model at Brewster Academy: Technology Serving Teaching & Learning

Academic journal article T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)

The School Design Model at Brewster Academy: Technology Serving Teaching & Learning

Article excerpt

Calls for the meaningful integration of technology into the curricula of American schools echo from the days of instructional television. Since this time, technology has brought us the satellite antennae, VCR, microcomputer, multimedia and the Internet, in addition to a host of other innovations: Each has been offered as a potentially defining educational force for the improvement of student learning and ultimately to increase achievement. Much of this potential remains unrealized, and it may seem to many that the faces of technological innovation change but the song remains pretty much the same.

For technology to really "move the needle" in terms of the performance of schools, teachers and students, the challenge seems to be to find ways to embed it into the curricular life of the school, making it accessible to the whole community. This is clearly a complex matter that requires building sophisticated connections between technology and the curriculum, culture and conditions of schooling. A need exists for a clearer understanding of the relationships within and between teaching and learning, curriculum, personnel policies, physical space, professional development and school evaluation, to name a few.

To use technology in a way that demonstrates an improvement in what students know and are able to do requires not just a technology plan, but a comprehensive model and implementation plan that addresses the total functioning of the school and emanates from a focus on student learning.

* Brewster Academy

Brewster Academy, an independent college-preparatory boarding school located on the banks of Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire, is attempting to build the Connections necessary to "move the needle."

Prior to 1992, Brewster, like many public and independent schools, had a computer lab with Macintosh Plus and SE models. A number of faculty with a personal interest in technology owned and used personal computers, while a like number of students also brought their computers to school. As recently as the mid-1980s, a student was refused permission to use a computer in the dormitory because, as an "appliance," it represented a fire hazard.

Computer use was confined to a specific room or computer "lab" that was used to teach keyboarding and usually some introductory courses in programs like Microsoft Works and HyperCard. These were taught a few times per week in conjunction with the odd classroom presentation or simulation activity. The school at that time had a growing presence in CAD and graphics but lacked the resources to realize the teaching potential in that area.

The 1996 Brewster represents a total technological transformation from the 1992 scenario. Technology is infused into the very core of all of Brewster's activity. Students and teachers don't use computers a few times per week, rather, they use custom and application software with laptop PCs the way they formerly used books and pencils. Students can access the library, their teachers, fellow students and the Internet from their desks in classrooms, lecture hails and even their dormitory rooms via a comprehensive fiber-optic network. They can access teachers at all times to discuss homework assignments, get extra help and share information with peers. Teachers integrate technology into their teaching and use it seamlessly on a day-to-day basis in their classrooms. Our CAD and graphics presence has grown into a full-blown Multimedia program.

* The Brewster Model

Brewster's technological transformation is part of a comprehensive program of school reform based on a School Design Model,[1] the Brewster incarnation of which was developed and field-tested at the school. The School Design Model is a comprehensive program that includes the following elements:

* Needs Assessment

* Policy Building

* Teaching & Learning from a Student Perspective

* Curriculum

* Inclusive Instructional Support

* Professional Development

* A Personnel Model

* Technology

* Space, Infrastructure & School Organization

* Evaluation

The School Design Model has changed the way administrators administer, teachers teach, and students learn at Brewster by introducing exciting new approaches to the design of curriculum and technology, and the implementation and management of instruction. …

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