TECHNOLOGY AT TUSCALOOSA ACADEMY

The Tuscaloosa Academy Technology Initiative was originally developed and presented to the Administration and Board of Trustees in Fall 2006. Our plan was to help provide the equipment and training necessary to meet a variety of teaching, research, and telecommunication needs now and in the future.

This has led to a significant transformation of our teaching and learning processes. Our students have grown up in an era of cell phones, iPods, social media, and instant web access. For our students, “anytime, anywhere” learning comes naturally. Our students are no longer passive consumers of material. They are encouraged to enhance their learning by conducting research, creating original material, and working collaboratively.  This initiative has not reduced or eliminated the role of the teacher. It has enabled, enriched, and empowered our great teachers to new heights.

At TA, all divisions have access to technology. Teachers may use computers, tablets, interactive boards, projectors, document cameras, and other technology in their teaching. Students learn how technology works and they learn how to use technology to communicate their ideas. Lower School classrooms have a 1:1 set of iPads. The classroom teacher can choose apps appropriate for the material they wish to present. The iPads can be used to enrich or provide remediation on a topic as well as allow the students to create audio and video productions. Middle School students in grades 5 & 6 have access to a mobile computer cart.  A teacher can reserve the cart for use by their class. A student may also request to use a computer during class time or Flex time. Lower School and Middle School students also have access to a computer lab. Lab time is used for teaching the students how technology works and gives the students an opportunity to practice skills such as keyboarding, word processing, and presentation creation. They are given instruction in using Google Drive and are encouraged to use it for their classwork. They also learn some basic computer coding and programming. Lego NXT robotics are also introduced at the Middle School level and allows interested students to expand their programming skills. Middle School students are assigned email addresses on the TA domain. They will keep their email address as they move to the next grade level. Middle School students in grades 7 & 8 and all Upper School students are required to participate in our BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) program. Their devices are connected to the TA wireless environment while on campus. They can use the wi-fi for class work and communications. TA does have a CIPA compliant web filter to ensure our students’ safety while using online resources. Upper School students are required to take at least one computer science course in order to meet graduation requirements.  Beginning in the 2016-2017 school year, students will also have the option of taking Robotics and AP CS Principles.

Online tools are used at all grade levels. TA uses RenWeb as our classroom learning management system. RenWeb allows teachers to post assignments and resources online for students to access at any time. RenWeb also manages electronic grade books, provides communication and reporting options, and allows students and parents to see their attendance and grades.