Living in the Digital Age
Since Karafin was founded in 1958, there has been a revolution in technology and this has benefitted the school in many ways. Before the advent of computers, typing classes were utilized in the 1970s. An official computer class was not available until the early 1980s with the birth of Tandy computers making this possible. Obviously, since the beginning of the modern era, computer classes have advanced exponentially.
The core of technology use in the school is the computer class. The curriculum for the class itself has evolved to suit the needs of the individual student. Students work at their own pace through customized projects. These projects are designed with the end of the year goal of advancing the student’s knowledge of computers and of technology in general. In terms of innovation, the most recent addition to the school has been the Engrade system. Engrade is a learning management system utilized by the entire school for keeping attendance and recording grades. In computer class, projects are submitted through the website by the students themselves to be graded by the teacher. Engrade is also used for communication between different classes in the computer room. Students are allowed to create and comment on blogs and discussion pages in computer class and engrade allows comments to be exchanged between different classes.
The school website has been a work in progress for some time. The website is used mainly to express general information about the school, along with notifying the students, staff, and parents of upcoming events and school closings. This year there will be a complete update of the website. The computer class teachers, Ms. Ruiz and Ms. Luk, plan to use feedback from staff and students in the revision of the website.
One major difference from past website changes is the system being used. The new website will be created using Weebly, a web hosting service designed to allow people easy access to creating websites. In past years Adobe Dreamweaver, a web development tool, was used. In addition to the use of the website to disseminate information, communication within the faculty is now carried out almost entirely by email.
Many of the school districts that send students to the Karafin School are now using IEP direct which allows information on goals and progress to be transmitted by computer and facilitates smooth CSE meetings by making all parties privy to relevant information beforehand.
Coding is a new addition to the computer class curriculum. It is completely optional so individual students sign up to take the class. There are currently two options for learning coding. Codeacademy is a hands-on, interactive learning platform specifically designed for coding, while Khan Academy is a general educational website that teaches it at a a slower, more manageable pace. Ms. Ruiz explained that coding is an important skill in today’s job market and also allows students to see what goes into creating the things they use on computers.
Recent upgrades to the hardware include laser printers in the classrooms and additional laptops and Chromebooks for the students to use. The computers used in computer class itself were very recently updated.
Technology has become an integral part of the Karafin School. Throughout the years, the evolution of computer classes has coincided with advancements in technology. No doubt, as the advances in electronics continue, Karafin School will remain at the forefront of this evolution.