Story Chapter 3
When we left off, the summer of 2013 was approaching. Now, we continue the journey as the summer of 2015 approaches, two years later and many miles down the always interesting path that began with the iPad. Shall we speak of the multiple trips to Australia and New Zealand, or perhaps the return trips to China? Or shall we speak of the ECW 13 conference, whose success left the previous year's event in the dust? ECW 13 is best defined in Mr. Sharp's words, "We can't do it any better than that." Much of this is described in the iBook, The First iPad School: An Honest Story, available in the iBook Store, which details the first three years of our iPad journey.
In the last two years, the iPad has still maintained its dominance in the market while Chromebooks have begun to surge as a result of public school adoption of this cheaper product whose management is simple enough for any school to adopt. Microsoft seems to be constantly losing ground in the educational space, but its recent launch of the Surface 3 for only $499 has people wondering. Google Glass came and went, with rumors that Google will soon re-launch the project, while other companies experimented with wearable technology, and Apple recently stole the show in the category with the Apple watch. Meanwhile, the word on everyone's lips was "the cloud", though most of us weren't really certain what that meant. Google's head start with shared documents proved to be a valuable strategy in conjunction with free gmail accounts and free software, driving customers to their cloud services, as well as making the 2014-2015 school year launch of Google Classroom an attractive option. Apple and Microsoft were busy making their suite of office tools cloud-based and shareable, but playing catch-up with Google. Microsoft dragged its feet with different pricing options for office 365, until finally coming to its senses and offering these free with their new operating system: a truly remarkable though completely overlooked accomplishment: a single OS for all its devices. And in the background, though mostly unnoticed, that old giant seemed to awaken from its slumber, advertising its cloud based solutions--shall IBM once again rise to the top?
At Monte Vista, we've stayed the course with our iPad program, while continuing to share best practices with other educators, and staying abreast of technological developments which could impact education in the days to come. But looking back upon the developments, the iPad now seems to have been the catalyst for growth in so many other areas of how we now conduct business. Our teachers have developed global connections. Our curriculum has evolved into one which includes the overt teaching of skills in conjunction with content. More software and hardware are being used on a regular basis in our classrooms than ever before, while digital workflow is now the common expectation, and paper is the exception. Our learning spaces have undergone, and continue to undergo re-design that promotes collaboration both for students and for teachers. Digital citizenship is being developed within a Biblical context, while Biblical integration is birthing into a new, universally applied philosophy across all grades and all subjects. The iPad was just the beginning. The iPad forced us to become a 21st century institution, which has meant discovering exactly what that means, while simultaneously integrating what we've learned into our environment.
The crowning achievement, and perhaps the greatest challenge that Monte Vista has recently faced came in the 2014-2015 school year with our accreditation review. It had been 6 long years since Monte Vista had gone through the self-evaluation followed by the confirmation of a visiting committee, and now it was once again time to take a very close and honest look at how our school was doing. Accreditation is a curious process, in that success is determined by a school's clarity, that is, does a school's expression of its strengths and weaknesses look very similar to what the visitation team observes? In Monte Vista's case, our vision was clear, and the visitation committee pronounced us to be a healthy school with a healthy future.
Accreditation takes place during the school year, and that means that business as usual must carry on, and so it did, Monte Vista style! New administrative groupings, new furniture, new staff, a new Engineering program, a new gymnasium, new theater, new classrooms--change is the modus operandi around here! Our sports teams met their foes honorably, our fine-arts performed with distinction, and individual students accomplished many praise-worthy aspirations, not least of which was the publication of two iOS Apps. One, by sophomore David Moon, helped students and visitors navigate our campus, while another by sophomore Kye Shi, helped chemistry students with a customized Periodic Table--but here's the catch: neither of these students were asked to do this. They did it on their own.
That simple anecdote is where we'll leave the story for now, because there is great hope in our future where such stories become the norm rather than the exception Stay tuned. The story is just beginning!