In 1993, Brewster began a school change process that affected every aspect of the school. What was then called the School Design Model (SDM) is now referred to as simply the Brewster Model. The technology part of this change process manifested itself by Brewster becoming a 1:1 laptop school, which was quite a pioneering endeavor at that time. The conception of technology integration at that time was described in the 1997 Brewster Program Handbook as follows:
“The Brewster Program is based upon the belief that technology is an important tool for learning. Technology is employed in the Brewster Program to enhance teaching, learning, evaluation, communication and administration. Technology used should be planned, linked to the Brewster Curriculum and its learner outcomes, and evaluated.
Brewster Academy recognizes that computer and multi media technology is a powerful interactive vehicle for teaching and learning. Brewster also recognizes the explosion of technological development, which is redefining schools and education. Brewster Academy is committed to graduating students who are among the technologically enfranchised. Brewster’s graduates can compete in a high tech world among those who are the haves, those who will succeed in the information age. The Brewster approach requires a fully integrated system of technology, which supports, guides and responds to the teaching and learning activities that are essential components of the daily lives of teachers and students in the Brewster community. Network technology is used for the management and implementation of instruction as well as research and communication. The Macintosh Powerbook is as common as a book bag at Brewster. The new Brewster classroom is a technology rich study center linked to a world of information beyond the walls of the academic building to the vast potential of the Internet.”
It is remarkable how, two decades later, this conception of educational technology integration fits with our current goals for this area. This vision highlights how technology is not a separate entity, but has always been an integrated part of the program that serves curriculum, evaluation, data gathering, communication, etc.
Being one of the first 1:1 laptop programs in the country, and providing universal access to both intranet and internet networks, Brewster quickly developed a reputation for being “that technology school”. Literally hundreds of visitors flocked to our doors to learn about how to implement a 1:1 laptop program. Today, many schools now have 1:1 technology programs in many different forms, so this begs the question: Is Brewster still “that technology school”?
In an attempt to answer this question, the offices of the Dean, Admissions, Advancement, Communications and IT are coordinating a fact gathering exercise that will take place over the next few months. To gather information about Brewster’s technology strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT), focus groups will be formed to represent the entire BA community – students, faculty, staff, parents, alumni, trustees, and prospective students and their parents.
The goal of this project is to use the information, along with a survey of peer institutions, to determine:
- what makes Brewster special when it comes to technology use and integration
- what areas of technology need to be improved
- what technologies must we implement now to stay ahead of the curve
- what technologies must we consider for future innovation
Stay tuned for future messages which may be asking for your involvement in this Technology SWOT process.
Note: Parts of the text above were extracted from Brewster’s Dean of Studies, Peter Hess’ white paper from October 2014 titled “Technology at Brewster Academy”