Technology in the Classroom at Shepherd’s Hill Academy
Shepherd’s Hill Academy offers an “unplugged” experience in our wilderness program; however, in certain specific instances, we incorporate the use of technology into our program. In our academy and other main on-campus activities, we allow technology use when it provides a resource for our students.
The use of digital technology is unavoidable today, and it is important for our students to learn how to go through their lives with a balanced and healthy view of digital technology. While our culture tends to lose sight of the fact that digital technology is a tool and a privilege, we want our students to understand this fact.
How Teachers Use Technology in the Classroom
At Shepherd’s Hill Academy, we recognize that technology can be useful in the classroom. Because of the nature of our students and our program, our teachers prefer to use tangible, real-world examples when possible. When teachers decide it is appropriate to use technology, it is typically implemented for the following purposes:
Presentations – Software like PowerPoint and Keynote makes it easy for teachers to display information. This can enhance lectures or other presentation materials.
Videos – Sometimes videos can be very useful tools for teaching, and are the best way to relate images, examples, and other information.
While technology may be used to enhance learning, our preferred and more traditional styles of teaching include the following:
Interactive Lab Activities – Our teachers use real-world examples in the classroom. For example, students might have a geometry lesson on the basketball court.
Q&A/Lectures – Our teachers lecture and facilitate questions from the students. Our low student-to-teacher ratio of 5:1 is beneficial for this kind of personal interaction.
In the academy, our teachers strive to integrate a balanced view of life that helps each student learn and grow. We also want to provide a quality education and make sure our students have similar resources and opportunities as other students. Our hands-on approach, with a mix of technology when appropriate, helps us accomplish these goals.
How Students Use Technology in the Classroom
We know many of the issues that students at Shepherd’s Hill Academy face are somewhat connected to our digitally obsessed culture. Because of this, we are very careful with how we allow our students to use technology in the classroom. In fact, we even require our students to do homework and write papers by hand.
When students are allowed to directly interact with computers, we create a safe environment for them to do so. Students will typically use computers to participate in the following activities:
- Georgia Virtual School – Shepherd’s Hill Academy offers students a chance to take online Georgia Virtual School courses. Through Georgia Virtual School, students have access to a wide variety of accredited class options.
- College Dual Enrollment – Our students have the opportunity to begin earning college credit by pursuing college dual enrollment and taking online classes.
- Research – We prefer that our students use physical sources, i.e., like books for research. If the need arises, students are allowed to research various topics online.
Creating an Environment for Safe Technology Use
When students use computers in the classroom, our teachers ensure the students are using them in a safe and productive way. If a student is using a computer for an online activity such as a Georgia Virtual School class, a teacher’s aide monitors him or her throughout the entire process. While on the computer, students must ask for permission to advance to a new page on a website or click on any link. This process is very structured to ensure that students do not use computers in a non-permitted way.
How Does Technology Fit in with Our Wilderness Program?
Carefully regulated and thoughtful use of digital technology is permitted at Shepherd’s Hill Academy, but it is limited to use in the main campus buildings only. When students return to their campsites, they return to an unplugged, wilderness setting. Digital technology is useful, but it is often overly abused in our culture. We believe the wilderness aspect of our program simplifies life for our students and reminds them that there are more important things in life than what goes on with their smartphones. At the same time, we want our students to be equipped to have a healthy relationship with the technological tools that will surround them after their stay at Shepherd’s Hill Academy.