Xavier School has always been in the forefront of innovation in terms of keeping its curriculum and programs relevant to the changing demands of society. One has only to visit the school Archives and see the display of technology tools Xavier has used to complement teaching and learning through the years.
From its official launching in 2011, the One2One Program has opened up more opportunities for students to learn with technology. Students are guided to tap into what the school has coined as the Five 8’s: investigate create, communicate, collaborate and contemplate; five verbs put into use to enhance their learning. Together with this, the teachers have been active in developing themselves professionally; attending workshops, experimenting with apps and strategies, and getting affiliated or certified by international educational technology communities.
The creation of the New Experiences with Technology(NExT) Team, also in 2011, provided the impetus in integrating technology across the school. The goal of the team was to encourage and assist teachers in implementing various forms of technology-enhanced learning in their particular subject areas. This was done through in-service workshops/trainings/seminars and providing on-demand support; where teachers consult with the team in preparing for their One2One enhanced lesson or request a team member to team-teach with them. The enthusiastic response of the community in embracing this innovation was the most important ingredient in the school’s movement towards a more engaging, collaborative, and authentic 21st century classroom.
Moreover, Technology Integration for Learning and Teaching(TILT) Committees were organized for both the High School and the Grade School units. These energetic groups, led by and composed of subject teachers, have taken the cudgels in championing One2One in their respective units, resulting in even more positive involvement of the departments in strengthening this culture of creativity and collaboration.
It is worth noting that the teachers have developed new skills in technology integration. More and more are incorporating technology components in their unit plans. More and more are strengthening their expertise in utilizing the One2One Program. Indeed, Xavier has become a major cog for technology integration in the country, not only because the school is a pioneer in embracing technology, but also because of its openness to share the learnings and experiences of the ongoing One2One journey to others.
This same openness has led the school to organize and host the annual Frontiers and Innovations in Teaching(FIT) Conference since 2014. Teachers, administrators, edtech leaders and students from all over the country participate in this conference which features international keynote speakers who are experts and leaders in their respective fields. The conference’s main aim is to provide a venue for sharing ideas and best practices in using technology in the classroom, and to inspire and encourage appropriate and effective use of technology in teaching and learning.
The first FIT Conference, dubbed ”Learning At Your Fingertips”, held in April 2014, featured 4 Plenary Talks, 45 Breakout Sessions, 2 foreign speakers and close to 300 participants representing 47 institutions. The overwhelming attendance and active involvement of the participants motivated the FIT team to organize a second conference the following year.
FIT 2015: Pupil Power featured 5 Plenary Talks, 47 Breakout Sessions, 2 foreign speakers and 400 participants representing 92 institutions. Recognizing that the infusion of technology in the classroom is not only a trend but almost an educational movement for schools worldwide, Xavier School has made a commitment to make FIT an annual event.
FIT 2016: Future Ready focused on the learner, the heart and soul of the teaching-learning process. What do students need to become successful in their chosen field? How can teachers prepare them to face a challenging future? How can technology help them reach these goals? More specifically, the conference placed the spotlight on Experiential Learning that enables participants to develop the necessary knowledge and skills from direct experiences outside the traditional academic setting. Two out of the box experiences were also introduced last year, the first being Playground which are hands-on exploratory learning spaces that contain the most recent educational tools to enhance learning. Playgrounds like 7D experience, Robotics, Visual Programming with Sphero, 3D Printing and STEM enabled participants to deepen learning in the classroom regardless of the subject. The second was the Industry Bazaar which enabled each participant to select an industry where one experienced first hand what knowledge and skills are needed to thrive in that field.
ERDA Tech High School, a technical high school serving low-income families, has been the beneficiary of the conference since 2014. FIT has provided the school with equipment for a Mac Mini Laboratory and contributed to its scholarship fund.
Xavier School has also been recognized as an Apple Regional Training Centre (Apple RTC), the first and only Apple RTC in the Philippines (as of this writing). The Apple RTC Program provides teachers with training, expertise and access to best practices to support their use of Apple technology in the classroom. Its objectives are (from the apple.com website):
- to provide a focus on pedagogy, for sharing best practice and gaining skills
- to introduce planned, effective, digital solutions to schools using Mac and iPad
- to train teachers to use Apple’s tools and help enable active and transformative teaching within the classroom.
- to support, enhance and transform teaching and learning outcomes
The Xavier Apple RTC has conducted nine sessions for faculty and staff to date, where participants earned certifications for the training they have completed.
Still wanting to share more, the NExT Team has started to organize Ed Tech Philippines, an association of technology integrators in Metro Manila. Its intention is to create a network of educational technology leaders and movers in the Philippines. NExT invited tech integrators from other Metro Manila schools and hosted a two-hour get together last July 2015. The event, with 50 participants, featured lightning talks on Edtech strategies and discussions relevant to the role of a technology integrator. The team is lining up future activities for the group.
Because of the school’s efforts in innovation, leadership, and educational excellence, Apple, Inc. has bestowed upon Xavier the title Apple Distinguished School for 2016 to 2017. This award is further evidence of the school’s growing international stature as a leader in technology integration.
Even on its 5th year in the One2One journey, Xavier School continues to ask questions; questions that lead us to explore, experiment with and envision new horizons. In the spirit of innovation, Xavier School has learned to see these questions as opportunities, to use them as stepping stones to discovery of new teaching methodologies and better administrative policies, and to find value in asking the questions worth asking. We continue to ask questions as we seek to prepare our students of today for a fast-changing tomorrow.