Now, two of its teachers, Jonathan Keck and Marcus James, have been honored as Apple Distinguished Educators. They are the only two teachers from Inland Southern California to earn the distinction, given to educators who use Apple technology to transform teaching and learning.
“This is a validation that what we’re trying to do here is being recognized as pushing the boundaries of what education’s been,” Keck told the San Jose Mercury News. “Pushing into creativity and tech to transform learning has been rewarding and enriching for my students and myself, but it’s nice to see it recognized by such an institution as Apple.”
Keck, who teaches Latin and Ethics at Aquinas, says that he’s used the iPad to shift the focus of his class from lecture-based to collaborative and project-based learning. James, a science teacher at Aquinas, has used the iPad device for similar means. His students spend most of their classroom time in a collaborative, problem-solving setting, where he acts as the facilitator.
“This tool is for creativity,” James told the San Jose Mercury News. “Students can really learn through processing the material in a deeper way by producing and creating, rather than consuming.”
Keck, who has shared his experience of using educational technology with Catholic school teachers in several in-services, surveyed students last year and found that their learning and performance increased by 70 percent when they were allowed to “get creative” with their assignments.
Aquinas has utilized a one-to-one technology environment since 2013. School families pay a technology fee each year so that each student is equipped with an iPad. The device is the central learning tool, containing text books and serving as the means to track and submit assignments.