St. Ignatius Catholic School became the first school in the Caribbean to be named a Microsoft Showcase School, recognized for its use of technology in the classroom.
The school has a campus-wide wireless network, and all older students get laptops or tablet computers. The school’s director of technology, Mick Whyte, said the school plans to start giving new Windows tablet computers to all high school students.
Each computer and tablet runs Microsoft Office 365, a cloud-based system that allows users to store documents on Microsoft servers and to collaborate and share them with teachers and school groups. Microsoft gives free accounts to students, but the school has to pay subscription fees for faculty and staff.
The real innovation at the school is the integration of all this technology with a central management system in the school, Mr. Whyte said.
With the award, Microsoft hopes to highlight what St. Ignatius has done and share that with other schools around the world, according to the company’s regional manager, George Gobin, who was on island Friday to present the award.
“This is a real recognition of what we’ve achieved here,” said Darren Bowyer, a consultant with the EDU365 Group who helped build the school’s technology program and network.
EDU365 workers have an office on campus – a converted classroom – to help with tech support and keep the hundreds of computers running for students and staff.
Mr. Bowyer said sometimes the teachers need more help than the students. “Students are addicted to technology right from the beginning, they don’t need any help with that,” he said.
Microsoft’s Mr. Gobin said the purpose of all this technology in the classroom is to help ensure students are “work-ready.”
“When students leave this environment, 90 to 95 percent will enter new environments that require using technology,” he said. Not every student will want to be a computer programmer, but the skills they learn will translate into any field.
“This prepares students for the world,” he said.