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Best teaching practices for using latest digital tools

by Bob Reddy

(Florida Catholic) – For those who remember the days of classrooms filled with traditional books, projectors and blackboards, the classroom found in the Catholic schools throughout the Diocese of Venice today may seem like something from a science fiction movie.

To keep up with the latest and greatest classroom technologies, the Diocese of Venice Education Department held its annual Education Conference to offer teachers and administrators some new and practical ideas they can integrate into their daily curriculum.

Regardless of the tools used, educating young people requires balance. The cost of newer technologies must be considered and weighed against the actual benefit to students in using these tools. With Catholic schools being dedicated to educating the mind, body and soul of today’s youth, it must be determined how these tools will meet all of the students’ needs.

Diocesan Director of Education Dr. Kathleen Schwartz explained that the idea of the conference was to share how best to use institutional technology as a teaching and learning tool.

Workshops, which were taught by educators from across the Diocese of Venice and the state, focused on using technology to make better and more engaging presentations; using web applications (apps) to enhance the learning experience; appropriate technology for the younger learners; and much more.

“We shared the best practices for a Catholic school setting,” Dr. Schwartz said. “The goal was for the teachers and administrators to take something practical out of the conference and use that one thing in the classroom, with the hopes that they will build upon that.”

The conference was March 5 at Bishop Nevins Academy in Sarasota and included more than 400 teachers and administrators from each school in the Diocese of Venice, and many came from other Dioceses in Florida.

The keynote speakers were from Loyola College Prep in Shreveport, La., and they shared how their school started its journey of bringing iPads into the classroom.

Pam Varnado explained how the school transformed the teaching experience and developed a way for everyone, both teacher and student, to progress in the use of new technology.

“The process to get this started was difficult as we did not have a base starting point of what we really needed and what our goal was,” Varnado said. “Once we realized the advantages and the opportunities that were out there, we moved forward and have never looked back.”

The feedback, done via a digital survey, was overwhelmingly positive with comments such as: “Fantastic!,” “Fun and Informative,” “Excellent!,” “Great ideas!,” and “I learned so much!”

With such enthusiasm, Dr. Schwartz said she will be excited to watch how each school builds upon what they learned.


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