Technology

The mission of the Technology Department at Eagle Hill is to continue to foster a technology program that provides teachers with ‘cutting edge’ technology, professional development and support. Merging classroom curriculum and technology has provided faculty with the enhanced tools required to address different learning styles within their classrooms.

Overview

The Technology Department serves as a technical support group, a provider of assistive technology, and as collaborators with the various educational departments within the school. Responsibilities range from the maintenance and repair of computers, LCD projectors, and interactive whiteboards, to assisting faculty members as they integrate technology into their lessons, and supporting students as they use technology with their class work.

TECHNOLOGY AT EAGLE HILL

Technology has been clearly shown to enhance both the initial learning of subject matter and retention of content information over time. With the advent of assistive technology, we can now find innovative ways to help our students learn to read and process information.

Computer use in the classroom is meant to supplement, not replace, direct remedial instruction. Teachers are facilitators who utilize new instructional methods and strategies made possible through the use of technology. To be effective, the curriculum must drive the technology program, not vice versa. Students learn the basic skills necessary to use computers independently by participating in project-based learning in their classes.

The Age of Technology

Teaching Students to Become Digital Citizens

By Kristina Remy, Upper School Teacher

The internet is a frequent topic of conversation among our Upper School students. Discussions about Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Musical.ly, as well as a host of other social media platforms, occur on a regular basis in our classrooms. As "digital natives," our students are extremely fluent in many aspects of technology. However, when it comes to online safety, we have noticed there are some alarming gaps in their knowledge, which is also reflected in the data about teen online behavior.

According to surveys by Pew and other major research organizations, 92% of teens post their real name on their online profiles; 58% of teens don't think post personal information online is unsafe; and 69% of teens regularly receive personal messages online from strangers, and most of them don't tell a trusted adult about it.

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Recognizing the importance of educating our students about online safety, the Digital Citizenship curriculum was created, tailored to the learning needs of our students. The program was launched at the beginning of the 2016-2017 school year in Student Skills and Tutorial classes, which ensured that every student in the Upper School would be exposed to the curriculum.

The curriculum consists of five units: Netiquette, Privacy/Security, Internet Safety, Digital Footprint/Reputation, and Copyright/Plagiarism. Based on a pre-assessment given to students at the beginning of the school year, teachers choose lessons in each unit appropriate to their students' academic level and social media exposure.

During both the planning and instructional phases of the curriculum, the learning needs of our students was kept in the forefront of our minds. We know that processing language can be difficult for many of our students, which can lead to misinterpretations in face-to-face conversations. The challengers are even greater online where communication can be ambiguous at best! Our students can also be too trusting of others, especially of people they meet online. The curriculum addresses these issues by providing students with exposure to realistic online situations and equipping them with stock responses to questions they may encounter on social media and in other digital spaces.

Even experienced social media users may not be aware that they need to manage their digital footprint or, in other words, the information they share online. Our curriculum covers this important topic in detail: we use mock Facebook and Instagram profiles to facilitate discussions about appropriate and inappropriate posts, pictures, and comments and the implications of each. These, sometimes impulsive decisions, can greatly impact their future endeavors (e.g., college acceptances, job opportunities, etc.). We also discuss the difference between information that is appropriate to share online and information that should be kept private.

Our curriculum explores the differences between online-only friends and friends we know in person. Teachers instructs how to spot potentially unsafe situations when chatting online. Many of our students struggle to create meaningful social connections with their peers and find it easier to make friends online. We have found that many students believe that their online-only friends are always who they say they are. We strongly discourage our students from meeting online-only friends in person and stress the importance of speaking to a trusted adult anytime they feel even in the slightest bit uncomfortable in a digital space.

How can parents reinforce these concepts at home? The most important thing is to keep an open line of communication with your children. Just as you know your children's friends at school, you should know their friends online. One way to do this is by talking to your children regularly about things that are occurring on social media. We also recommend monitoring your children's various social media accounts, knowing all their passwords, and setting guidelines and limitations when it comes to screen time. Students who are not monitored are more likely to make poor choices, or find themselves in situations that make them uncomfortable.

We continue to work with our outstanding Technology Department to ensure that we have a secure online environment at Eagle Hill School. We encourage parents and families to do the same at home. As our students become more immersed in the ever-changing world of technology, we believe the information provided in our Digital Citizenship curriculum will help them make appropriate choices.