Our Approach to Technology: #SmartIntegration
At RCA, one of our goals is to ensure that students are prepared to succeed in post-secondary education and careers in the 21st century—a landscape that hinges largely on the use of technology. However, we believe that we can and should accomplish this goal without completely saturating students’ school day with screen time. Why? As research continues to be published, psychologists, pediatricians, and tech industry moguls agree: too much screen time is detrimental to kids in many areas including attention spans; social/emotional interaction and skills, such as conversation, collaboration, and empathy; mental health (linked to anxiety and depression); physical activity, and sleep patterns. The American Academy of Pediatrics says screen time can have even more extreme impacts on the pre-school and early childhood age group. For these reasons, at RCA, it is important to us that students are both protected from the negative effects of excessive technology use and trained in the appropriate use of current technology so that they can leverage it effectively post-graduation.
While many schools promote a “one-to-one” (one device/computer/iPad per one student) learning atmosphere, which does have many benefits, we believe that a balanced approach—one we call #SmartIntegration—is more beneficial for the whole child. At RCA, students are not “buried” in devices hour after hour with all of their learning activities filtered through a screen; rather, we provide opportunities for the #SmartIntegration of technology in which students have ample opportunities to learn through and with technology as teachers incorporate it into their instruction and students use it to showcase their learning through projects and presentations. Classrooms are equipped with Mimio boards, and students have access to media centers/computer lab, iPads, laptops, virtual reality cubes, and online learning platforms. We believe this balanced approach—with purposeful rather than saturating use—encourages the development of sought-after “soft skills,” which employers report are severely lacking in today’s job applicants. These soft skills such as interpersonal communication, problem solving, collaboration, creativity, adaptability, manners, perseverance, and work ethic cannot be simulated through a computer and are best learned when students have more “face-to-face” rather than “face-to-screen” time.
In addition, current cognitive science research demonstrates that “pen and paper” has benefits over digital writing mediums such as typing in terms of student performance in processing, retaining, and reproducing information. In short, handwriting activates important parts of the brain that typing does not.
So at RCA, you’ll find our students engaging with technology in smart, fun, and creative ways, but you’ll also find them writing with pen and paper and engaging with each other more as they hone their listening and verbal communication skills, attention spans, and capacity for perseverance. The successful connection between these two realms is vital to students’ success in 21st century life after high school graduation.
What Technology is Available to RCA Students?
2 Media Centers and 1 lab equipped with computers (76 computers total)
2 iPad carts (60 iPads total)
3 desktop computers for student use in every elementary classroom
6 Mimios (portable device that turns a whiteboard into a “Smart” board)
13 drawing tablets
25 Merge Cubes AR/VR Holograms (work with Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality apps)
RenWeb Learning Management System (LMS): online classroom piloting for students to prepare them for online learning platforms in college