Each year, High Tech High hosts thousands of visitors across our three village campuses. A frequent type of visitor is a school district, university teaching program, or research team that wants to learn about how HTH utilizes technology in the classroom. For many visitors, new teachers, students, and families, the name High Tech High infers that there are racks of iPads in every room to which students are hardwired in order to access computer programs to learn math and English. When you enter a HTH classroom for the first time, however, there will be computers in bookshelf stations or mobile carts, but you probably won’t see what you expected to see when you think about “High TECH High.” So what is the TECH in High Tech High.
There are three main distinctions in the way that High Tech High schools utilize technology that differs from traditional schools. These are:
- Cooperative IT infrastructure that supports learning processes.
- Embedded IT specialist at every HTH school site.
- Technology is used as a “real-world” tool.
Cooperative IT Infrastructure
HTH is a self-organizing cooperative system of teachers and students. This cooperative structure is one of the main ways in which learning is supported and extends through the application and utilization of technology. This technology infrastructure includes:
- Dynamic decentralized network with wireless access points placed strategically throughout each campus for secured Internet access for in-house and student-owned devices.
- Site specific IT process for inventory, group decision-making in software utilization, and equal distribution of technology equipment throughout the campus.
- Easy access to the Internet by teachers and students with access tied to individual login.
- Collaboration between school site administrators/teachers and IT in order to ensure adequate technology support.
- Utilization of Gmail and Google services including Google Drive to share work online and optimize collaboration.
Embedded IT specialist at every HTH school site
HTH employs IT professionals with degrees and certifications in computer science, electrical engineering, networking, and security. Each school site has a dedicated IT Director that coordinates technology. Each IT Director receives training, support, and organizational direction from HTH’s Director of Information Technology. Students and teachers also have direct access to their local IT Director for individualized daily support.
Technology is used as a “real-world” tool
Just as we use our cell phones and computers to assist us with tasks in our daily lives, students and teachers use technology as tools to assist in learning. Multipurpose tech is chosen over devices that have a singular purpose. For example, laptops are the tech of choice when it comes to computing devices in terms of cost, ability to configure, flexibility, upgradability, and maintenance. Industry-standard software packages, such as Adobe Master Collection and Microsoft Office suites, complement an array of alternative free and open-source programming. In addition, utilizing the Google suite, allows students and teachers to work on projects outside of school that increase collaboration.
To summarize, what is the TECH in High Tech High?…TECH is synonymous with collaboration. To quote Vint Cerf, one of the creators of the communications protocol TCP/IP that helped give rise to the modern Internet, “When Bob [Kahn] and I did this design, we thought we were building a system to connect computers together, but what we very quickly discovered is that this is a system for connecting people together.”* Like its pedagogy and learning delivery systems, TECH at High Tech High is a process and system for connecting our community of learners.
*Learn more about Vint Cerf in his Ted Talk on the Interspecies Internet @ http://www.ted.com/talks/the_interspecies_internet_an_idea_in_progress.html