AN INTERVIEW WITH THE SCHOOL PRINCIPAL, MR. KEVIN MAURITSON
"Technology plays a major role in almost every part of our lives, our communities, and our homes. Yet most schools lag far behind when it comes to integrating technology into classroom learning.
We interviewed our school principal Mr. Kevin Mauritson to know some of the initiatives taken by him to introduce technology in classroom learning. And how it is improving quality of education at ATIS. Sit back, relax and read what he said.
Q: What is your idea of using technology in the school?
I think it is extraordinarily important for our students to be up-to-date with current technology trends, to be using the technology as much as possible to help in their learning. We can use technology not just in computer lab or computer science subject but across the entire curriculum. This can be accomplished with the use of the simple computers in the computer lab or with the iPads that we have introduced in to the higher levels of the students and every teacher now has an iPad in their classroom, so every child can benefit from that. I have two smartboards installed at the school, to help the students learn so that they can experience not just on a little screen but learn in an interactive way on a bigger screen and hence leverage benefits of technology for more valuable learning.
We don’t have a lot of resources at AITIS such as there is no big research library for children around here. So, by providing iPads in the classroom, I have opened a door to the world for all students. I have given you an opportunity if you use it properly to go out and not only learn about somebody who maybe is a famous scientist, but to find out exactly what is going on today in the current research. You can go to the website and find out what’s happening when we start talking about any aspect of science, any aspect of social studies, world news etc. During the Thailand floods in 2011, AITIS library was severely affected, and now we’re trying to replace all those damaged books. If you use the iPads and the computers and the other technologies, you can have access to all the books in the world. We just have to find out the website and go to it, and Boom! And for those of us who are learning English, a lot of ESL students, you can give audio books that will help the children learn how to pronounce the words properly, how to read, there are so many benefits of this whole project because it encourages the use of technology in classroom learning and you know it’s incredible!"
Q: What have you contributed so far to bring technology in our school?
"I am the one who authored the technology improvement plan, I am the one who set the goals, I am the one who set the tasks with the teachers to get on board with this program. Some teachers were skeptical, “All the kids don’t need this, we don’t want this in the classroom.” So, what were the first steps I did? I created awareness in the children about benefits of using technology in classroom, and how it would help them. Another thing we did, was arranging workshop for teachers on the use of smart boards in the classroom, and the teachers said “Yeah, okay.” And when we actually installed starboards, all teachers then unanimously agreed, “Oh, we want one!” I educated in many ways, the teachers and the staff on how smartboard technology can be intergraded with other technologies in classroom interactive learning environment. A lot of teachers think this is more work, and all of a sudden, they have to do this and have to now go to do research, but how else are we going to get the knowledge when we don’t do the research? And research is all part of education, and once we start showing them, their job becomes easier, their lesson plans become much more topic focused and they become more current.
History comes to life because we can go and look on the internet and see the different resources for history. Geography comes to life because we can go to the past and present to learn what’s happening now. We can even predict the future by using technology. Just recently when that earthquake struck Japan, we immediately visited the website and watched the tidal waves as the tsunami warning was issued as the result of the earthquake. Technology provides us the opportunity to watch live the rising waves of the sea due to Tsunami which was a phenomenon that most people don’t ever get to see. Thus technology helps us not only to predict Tsunami warning abut also helps us to plan in time to save human lives before the huge waves due to earthquake can cause damage to human life and property. These are the benefits of technology if it is put to positive use. So if there are good things of technology then I’m very happy. If there are bad things I take responsibility and try to fix it. This is my goal for the school."
Q: What do you think of the future use of technology in school?
"I think it is absolutely important to further enhance the use of technology, and it would be unfair if we do not provide latest technology tools in the form of hardware and software to our students. With the technology here, you should be able to have a vision for the future, whether you’re a male or a female, where you want to go or where you want to learn, and then we plan to provide the best available resources to you. Because we provide you the latest technology tools, you can envisage what would be the future and how you can better plan your future educational goals. I can’t predict the future and I have no idea what you need to know when you are 20 years down the road from now. Where would the world be then. So, I have to prepare you today as best as I can with all the tools I can provide, and technology is one major tool to allow all of our students the opportunity to learn and grow and realize their full potential and make their future dreams come true."
Q: What other electronics hardware would you like to add to the school?
"I think you need more coding, I think you need more access to robotics. I think that is a trend that will help you in math, that will help you in group work, it will help you in computing actually. You’ll learn how the computers will work and maybe someday you will be able to create some fantastic programs that will help other people. That would make me absolutely happy. What else would I like to add here? Probably even more laptops, more iPads in the classroom. We need more programs that will allow you to explore, allow you to build up your knowledge, and learn in a manner that helps you learn. Not all the children would want to do coding, not all the children are gonna want to do robotics, but there are different aspects of the whole scheme, that if you are more artistic and less interested in computing, you can create things that will help your fellow students and show them that it all ties together, so that there is a lot of things we are planning to introduce to address the varying interests of all students and perhaps I think the biggest one is adding more iPads and smartboards into the classrooms."
Q: Is there anything else besides technology you would like to add to this school?
"We need more up-to-date textbooks, we need more reference material so that we can reference it. If the internet goes down and we loose the wifi connection etc. then the iPads become not so useful anymore. So, if you are working on a research paper and we loose wifi for a day, and then we have encyclopedia and text for you in the library or in the classroom and you can continue your learning process. There are a lot of things I would like to add, my list is endless as I look around. I have dreams I have visions that I want to realize. And the pavilion for sports and physical education, is another thing I have been pushing for years and it’s finally almost ready. So, this is like a goal finally being realized for me. There are a lot of other things I want to do, like better canteen services, a better environment for Physical Education (PE) etc. My list is really endless…."
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