Tag Archives: technology

The Digital Generation: How Technology has Impacted Student Life

It’s now an archaic image. One lonely computer set at the back of the classroom, equipped with Netscape Navigator and Compton’s Encyclopedia. The computer monitor, off-beige in colour, was roughly one foot in depth and weighed approximately 40 pounds. Access to this new classroom technology was, in most schools, given as a reward for good behavior. This was the role of the computer in the classroom in the early 1990s­—not as a functional educational tool, but as a break from class. In fact, at the time, only 20-30 million people worldwide actually owned computers or had access to the internet. Today, there are billions who have access, with the internet being readily available in most of our pockets. Ultimately, digital devices have made their way into the classroom and are an integral part of our day-to-day. 

Twenty years is not a long time when considering the entire chronicle of the history of technology in education. However, in just two decades, technology has brought vast improvements into the classroom, assisting in the way lessons are taught, how information is stored and how students are able to collaborate. There is an ever-evolving relationship between technology and culture, and with the advent of the internet, emails and even laptop integration in schools and workplaces, we have the ability to communicate with ease and speed. At Ridley, the influence of technology has greatly impacted the role of the teacher, who is committed to evolve and grow with each new technological advance.  

We are now more connected, have more information and have even greater technological advances in the classroom than ever before. 

Connection:

We have entered an era where we are connected to everyone around us through the click of a button and at top speed. Through a simple email or text, we are linked with someone on the other side of the world. Email is used to connect students with teachers, teachers with parents and parents with the school community. Mr. Geoff Park ’80 (Department of Social Sciences) remarked on the advantages of this connection: the ease to send and receive work, to remind people about any changes taking place, to arrange to meet students for tutorials, and to send useful links, to name a few. 

Students, especially boarders, can easily stay in touch with their families near or far—a vast difference between the communiqué of 20 years ago. “When I started in 1990”, recalls Ms. Karen Oude-Reimerink (Department of Science), “most boarding students communicated with their parents once a week via a pay phone in residence. Advisors communicated once every six weeks or so (with effort grades) via a phone call. Individual teachers rarely communicated directly with parents – all communication was through the Head of House or the Advisor.”

Although we are more connected than ever before, the drawback is the risk of feeling disconnected and isolated. The fast pace of life that has taken hold of society can sometimes prove to be more of a hinderance than a freeing agent. With the convenience of digital interaction through social media and email, traditional methods of keeping in touch are falling by the wayside, thus creating a dichotomy between the convenience of digital connectivity and the closeness of our relationships. 

Ridley is cognizant of this challenge and has responded to it by implementing a number of measures to promote interpersonal communication. Devices are not permitted in the Great Hall in an attempt to encourage social interaction during meal times, students participate in daily physical activity and there are ongoing organized events and activities in classrooms and the Houses, which allow for students to nurture their social and emotional skills. 

Regardless of the negative effects of online connection, we live in a digital world and the use of technology has become an essential life skill. 

Access to Information:

With the internet being omnipresent in the classroom, there is a difference in the way students research and learn. According to Mr. Chris Gordon (Department of Classical and International Languages), “the world is literally at your fingertips; we can easily learn about the world around us and are able to collate information that, even 20 years ago, would have been much more difficult to find.” 

By having access to a vast trove of information, we obtain a richer understanding of the subjects at hand and students are granted the opportunity to examine a wider variety of perspectives on any given topic. Mr. Geoff Park ’80 supports this view, saying “we can find articles about any issues or topics from around the world. When I used to teach geopolitics and discuss Israel, I could access The Jerusalem Post and Al Jazeera, and news sources of different biases from around the world. It enabled a broader perspective.” 

“Technology allows the classroom walls to extend far beyond the confines of a physical space.” – Mr. Chris Gordon. 

The variety in which materials can be shared is useful in relaying specialized information “The access to online videos and simulations is wonderful in clarifying scientific concepts,” says Ms. Karen Oude-Reimerink. This helps to inform and assist students in forming their own unique perspectives. 

Richard Culatta, CEO of the International Society for Technology in Education, has weighed in on the impact technology is having in the classroom and emphasizes it’s value. “We’ve moved from 100 percent of learning materials coming from an out-of-date textbook, to interactive materials and students in remote locations having access to high-quality resources,” Culatta notes. “Technology has enabled learners to explore and learn on their own in ways that were harder to do when the resources all had to come from the teacher. It’s very powerful.”

The challenge that comes into play is evaluating if the information at hand is actually a credible source. How can a student tell if content is written by a competent authority? Mr. Gordon notes, “the ability to analyze and evaluate the source of information is now so much more important, and this can be a struggle.” Students need to learn how to be thoughtful consumers of digital content and discriminate the reliability and accuracy of this. 

This has been one of the new research skills stemming from our digital world. Students are now taught what to look for during the research phase of a project and are educated on both primary and secondary types of research. Through the McLaughlin Resource Centre and the Matthews Library, students have access to countless resources and can connect to the infinite information found on the web. Through required citing, faculty members are able to confirm that students are searching for evidence in the right place and getting the most out of their online practices. 

Technology:

Gone are the days of the computer lab or the one-computer classroom. The growth of technology in schools has influenced the way teachers must approach their lesson plans.

“Information technology is a great asset to education, but it is equally important that the teacher relays not only curricular content, but also demonstrates how to best navigate their systems, so that students will be more successful with the course at hand,” says Mr. Gordon. 

Mac Integration at Ridley brought about the most significant change in how students absorb the topics at hand, the way they conduct their educational activities and the way they communicate with one another. The Mac Integration Programme began at Ridley in 1998, where all faculty received school-owned laptops. Upper School students followed shortly after, with the laptop rollout beginning in September 1999. Over the years, classrooms went from having dial-up and Ethernet to wireless connections.  

“Mac Integration and the use of smart projectors has enabled us to create bespoke lessons and class note sets for each course and to provide students with a collection of materials for their learning support that is much more robust than ever before,” exclaims Ms. Rachael Scott (Department of Mathematics).

Fifteen years ago, classrooms were first outfitted with Smartboards — the go-to technology for interactive learning. Today, all classrooms are housed with Epson Smart Projectors that eliminate the need for a dedicated white board. Currently, Ridley is in the midst of adding Apple TV’s to all classrooms, allowing teachers and students a seamless way to collaboratively share and display information from their laptops without the need for cables.

Another great advance in technology and communication has been the implementation of TigerNet. First introduced in 2005, TigerNet is Ridley’s student information system that gives teachers the ability to record grades and add comments, share course assignments, tests and class notes, assign deadlines, receive assignments through a Dropbox feature and much more. Since the inception of TigerNet, the sharing and transparency of information across all roles have been game-changing. 

With the implementation of new technology, there is always the possibility for some challenges to come into play. One of the biggest challenges at hand is the opportunity for distraction. “Even the most dynamic lesson is hard pressed to compete with an online conversation with a friend, a game, a movie etc. and while teachers try to stay on top of that, if you need your laptop for that lesson, and you can’t see all the screens at once, it is impossible to prevent misuse” says Mr. Park. There have always been avenues for distraction throughout the history of teaching, the laptop is just another vehicle for this. Adaptability, innovation and an open mind is key to successfully integrating technology into the classroom and maintaining a strong student-teacher relationship.

“My teaching continues to grow and change, as does that of my colleagues,” says Ms. Scott. “We are constantly learning different ways of introducing material to students and ways of helping the students to develop learning skills that will enable them to learn anything of interest to them in the future. This is the exciting change.”

Technology is not meant to replace the teacher but rather, creates a more flexible learning environment that breeds innovation and enriches the classroom, resulting in a more collaborative learning milieu. Today’s students have never experienced a world without the infusion of technology. By embracing this new digital landscape, we are preparing students for the globally-connected world of tomorrow.

TransfORming Our Globe – Jeanette Stock ’09

For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe blog series, we’re sharing the story of alumna, Jeanette Stock ’09, who is not only taking the tech industry by storm but also paving the way for a more inclusive and diverse tech landscape.

Jeanette grew up hearing stories from family members who attended the school before her and in 2006, she was delighted to learn the news that she too would become a Tiger.

The Ridley lifestyle was the perfect fit for Jeanette, who didn’t have to choose between music or biology, sports or activities – she could do it all. She was able to explore her many interests, strengthen her academic proficiency and learn invaluable skills (beyond the classroom) that would carry over to her post-secondary career.

  

“My time at Ridley taught me not to take myself so seriously (something I still struggle to do). Having friends who taught me to see fun in almost everything (I’m looking at you, Charlotte Macdonald) helps keep me from working too hard, or becoming boring (because really, there’s no worse fate).”                                    – Jeanette Stock ’09

Jeanette gained skills to help her stay motivated and driven and was taught the power of community, leaving Ridley with strong foundation upon which she could build her career.

Jeanette continued her education at Queen’s University, studying Life Sciences and graduating with a degree in English Literature. She spent a semester abroad, studying Chinese history and global development in Shanghai. Beyond her academic career, Jeanette volunteered as an Advanced Medical First Responder and assisted in the launch of a health education programme in Kenya over the course of two summers. Upon graduating – with a distinguished resumé at hand – Jeanette began to work for Jack.org; a charity that was started after the loss of a fellow graduate.

Her path was winding, yet Jeanette’s vast experiences were able to help her discover what she sought in a career. When she was confident in the direction she wanted to move in, Jeanette tapped into Ridley’s vast network of alumni and reconnected with Old Ridleians, such as Anna Mackenzie ’07. Jeanette was able to gather invaluable advice, that helped her navigate her way into the tech industry and uncover where she wanted to be within an organization. She leaned on the guidance of Venture for Canada to help kick-start her career and now works for Highline BETA as a New Venture Associate.

Although her repertoire is already filled with evidence of determination and talent, perhaps Jeanette’s biggest achievement has been Venture Out. Venture Out is an initiative launched by Jeanette and her peers in 2016, with the goal of connecting LGBTQA+ people, working in technology, with career and networking opportunities. In 2017, Venture Out held its first conference; welcoming over 450 individuals to Canada’s first conference for LGBTQA+ students and professionals, seeking careers in the tech industry.

Since its launch, Venture Out has hosted nearly 1,000 individuals during events held at major companies such as: Facebook, Twitter, Google and LinkedIn. On the horizon is the second conference, happening March 15th-16th at MaRS Discovery District in Toronto.

“We have speakers coming from coast to coast, and sponsors and partners like Lyft, Airbnb, Shopify, Intelex, Hubba, and RBC will be hosting conversations about LGBTQ+ inclusion at their companies and beyond. It’s not just a lot of fun (though it is that) – it’s also a pretty unique experience to learn about LGBTQA+ experiences in tech and celebrate the community’s contributions to the companies and technologies we interact with every day.” – Jeanette Stock ’09

Jeanette is shaping the landscape of the tech industry; making it a more diverse and inclusive place. As she moves forward, she hopes to have an impact on the future of technology in Canada, through Venture Out and Female Funders (a learning platform and community that empowers women to invest in start-ups). She is also striving to become a tech leader herself.

As she reflects on her time at Ridley and the path that has led her to where she is today, Jeanette has two pieces of advice for Ridleians who are about to embark on their own professional journeys.

1. Reach out to interesting people. Connecting with individuals who have established varying careers can help you discover the best path.

 “It wasn’t until I stopped thinking about what I wanted to be and started thinking about what I wanted to do every day, that I ended up on the path I’m on now.

Taking some strangers for coffee and learning about the ups and downs of their roles would’ve gotten me there faster, and saved me a great deal of soul-searching.” – Jeanette Stock ’09

2. Share your gratitude and appreciation for those who have helped you reach your potential.

“Thank your parents. Seriously.” – Jeanette Stock ’09

 

 

 

TransfORming Our Globe – Jillian Evans ‘06

For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe series, we’re sharing the story of alumna, Jillian Evans ’06, a Toronto-based tech entrepreneur in the media and entertainment space.

Jillian began her Ridley career in 2001 as a Grade 8 student. During her five years on campus, she was a School Prefect, Editor of the Tiger Tribune and a member of the Rowing, Harriers and Golf teams. Jillian credits Ridley’s strong emphasis on developing interpersonal and public speaking skills with her success in careers that have almost exclusively involved networking and negotiation.

 

“Ridley was the best thing that could have happened to a bored and unmotivated twelve-year-old me. My teachers, coaches and friends challenged me to grow as a person every day, and I left with an unshakeable confidence and set of skills that have served me very well in my career.” – Jillian Evans ‘06

After Ridley, Jillian went on to do a gap year at Marlborough College in England as an English Speaking Union Scholar. She then returned to Canada to pursue her BAH in Political Studies at Queen’s University, where she served as President of the Arts & Science Undergraduate Society and represented the interests of over 12,000 students. Upon graduating, she headed to London to complete her M.Sc. in Political Communication at the London School of Economics, and worked in the office of a Cabinet Minister in the UK Parliament.

Having completed her Masters, Jillian moved to Washington, DC to pursue an internship in Public Affairs at the Embassy of Canada, working mainly on the educational outreach and think-tank liaison files. She also completed her U.S. Private Pilot’s Licence and Restricted Airspace designation, and once had to maneuver around Air Force One in midair!

Returning home to Toronto in 2013, she decided to pursue a career as a lobbyist at the provincial level, tackling files from special needs funding to telecom and everything in between. While she found the work both fascinating and rewarding, she had begun to pursue a side project that would soon require her full attention.

In March 2015, along with a couple of friends, Jillian founded PETE, a second-screen experience for entertainment television. Best described as “fantasy sports for reality TV,” PETE offers a comprehensive fantasy, content and engagement platform for fans of over 20 reality shows and four award shows, including The Bachelor, Survivor, Big Brother, The Oscars and The Grammys. With 20,000 users so far, PETE also offers brands and sponsors the opportunity to reach targeted, engaged audiences. As a company, PETE has raised $750,000 in seed funding and counts seven Old Ridleians (and two past parents) among its investors.

“A lot of people – even in the tech establishment – thought we were crazy. If you believe in your idea, get out there and make it happen. The worst that can happen is it doesn’t work out, you learn an absolute ton, and you nail it the next time. So many decisions are driven by the fear of failure – don’t let yourself fall into that trap, and keep taking big risks!” – Jillian Evans ‘06

As the media landscape evolves over the next several years, Jillian believes the balance will shift from one-way consumption to two-way interactivity, where consumers become active participants. She hopes PETE can play a role in this process by working with media companies to better engage viewers, and by pushing the envelope on what’s possible for fans with real-time interaction. She strongly encourages young Ridleians interested in media and/or tech to pursue it – and the more outside-the-box the idea or career path, the better.


TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing.

 Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to development@ridleycollege.com

TransfORming Our Globe – Ransom Hawley ‘04

TransfORmingGraphic

016_0539 - Version 2For this month’s installment of the TransfORming Our Globe series, we’re sharing the story of alumnus, Ransom Hawley ‘04, who forged
his own path to success with his app, Caddle, that allows users to earn money by engaging with the brands they use on a daily basis.

Ransom began Grade 7 at Ridley in 1998 and quickly involved himself in all of the facets of the school available to the student body. While here, he played football, basketball, and rugby. He credits Ridley with providing him with an excellent network with which he was able to establish himself professionally upon graduating. Additionally, Ransom’s strong work ethic was developed at Ridley, which he says helps tremendously with the long hours and determination his company employs on a daily basis.

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After graduating from Ridley, Ransom initially attended St. Francis Xavier University and studied marine biology. His love for scuba diving and interest in the subject matter led him to believe it would be a good fit. However, after enrolling in several business electives, he quickly realized there was another career path for him. He transferred to the University of Western Ontario and completed the Honors Business Administration program at the Ivey School of Business. Having completed his programme, Ransom began work at SC Johnson (SCJ) in their sales and marketing department.

He worked with several coupon apps while at SCJ and came up with the idea for Caddle when he began to wonder if these apps could incorporate more features – both for the consumer and for the company advertising. After seven years at SC Johnson, during which he had moved back to St. Catharines, Ransom gave himself a deadline. He had been developing his idea for Caddle for two years and while on a flight back from a business trip in April of 2015, a chance encounter with the co-founder of Apple, Steve Wozniak, finally tipped the scales. Ransom soon left his job at SC Johnson to pursue Caddle. Not only was Ransom spurred on by Wozniak’s advice, but he also motivated by several other factors, including potentially regretting not seizing this opportunity and ensuring a feeling of pride when looking back on what he’s done.

Caddle has essentially taken coupons and interactive advertising digital and put it at the fingertips of consumers. Caddle allows brands to capture more of the total dollar share they spend on marketing. Meant to fill an unproductive amount of time with a productive action, users can log in to the app and take a survey, watch an ad, leave a review, or simply provide a picture of a receipt – and earn money doing so. Caddle’s clients – among them, giants such as Pepsico and General Mills – are able to engage and educate customers while deriving instant consumer insights that gather real-time feedback; a valuable currency to any brand. Caddle earns money on processing fees, as well as by charging clients every time a user interacts with their specific brand. No half measures either; users have to complete the entire survey or watch the whole video to get their money.

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In addition to recently earning a Canadian Grocer Generation Next Award, Caddle was also on CBC’s popular entrepreneurial TV show Dragons’ Den. This appearance on a national television show provided significant exposure, spurred growth and initiated a spike in users of the app. Ultimately, the ‘Dragons’ thought it was an excellent idea, with Dan Warner, co-founder of a similar couponing platform ‘SnapSaves’, coming on board as a consultant for Caddle.

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Ransom would like to see Caddle become a platform that changes the way customers interact with brands. As an entrepreneur, he enjoys creating and operating something he can call his own. In addition to being a local company (Ransom still lives in St. Catharines) and partnering with many local businesses, Caddle also donates 10 percent of their pre-tax profit to Canadian charities.

Ransom’s advice to Ridleans considering an idea or thinking about taking the leap into entrepreneurship? “If you have an idea, take it to your local innovation hub. They will be an incredible resource and help determine if your idea is feasible.” Ransom used Innovate Niagara a great deal with looking for developers, applying for grants, and gathering constructive feedback regarding Caddle. Ransom reminds us that everyone has ideas and it doesn’t serve you well to just keep thinking about them – act on them. He encourages Ridleans to take calculated risks, “It’s only money. You will make more of it.” Finally, he says “make your future self proud of you.”


TransfORming Our Globe is a blog series where we share the exciting stories of alumni who are leading flourishing lives and changing the world. It is important to Ridley College to support our alumni and share the stories of Old Ridleians, who discovered their passion and found success and happiness down the path of their choosing. 

Do you know of any classmates that are living flourishing lives or transforming our globe? Email any suggestions for the TransfORming Our Globe blog series to development@ridleycollege.com.

 

Adding Dimension to Ridley’s Digital Learning Studio

Ensuring that our students learn and grow in an exemplary environment is a part of our vision at Ridley College. It is of utmost importance for us to provide our students with access to cutting-edge technology and rich learning experiences, whenever possible.

Thanks to our generous donors, we were recently able to fulfill this promise by introducing three 3D printers to our Digital Learning Studio! This state-of-the-art rapid prototyping device has been revolutionizing the way the world creates and what better way to teach modern technology then with hands on experience.

Last year, Mr. Giles Campbell, Co-ordinator of Design and Technology, carefully researched which model of 3D printer would best suit our students’ needs ­­– one that would be easy and safe to use, while providing high quality results. As school let out for summer, Mr. Campbell was still undecided on which model to select, until a student submitted a project he had completed using the Ultimaker² 3D printer. It soon became clear that this brand of rapid prototyping device would provide Ridleains with the best features to explore three dimensions.

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Ultimaker² printers work in a very interesting way – using high heat and fused filament to create clean and accurate 3D models of any design that is input into the system. Our Ultimaker² 3D printers, which arrived over the summer, temporarily reside in the Design Technology classroom, while a dedicated lab is established for them.

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Students have just begun their term project that utilizes the 3D printer’s capabilities to create iPhone speakers that amplify sound without electricity. They’ve begun designing their projects on paper; filling their sketchbooks with ideas and concepts.

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Next, they will bring their final design to life on the computer screen before sending them to be printed on the new printers.