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Tech upgrades total $180,000
Catholic schools replacing old equipment

Evan Kiyoshi French
Northern News Services
Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Aging computers in city Catholic schools are on their way out after trustees approved $180,000 in technology upgrades for all three facilities.

NNSL photo/graphic

Lindsey Woodford, 9, of Weledeh School, used a tablet to make a short video abouther their favourite animals during David Dowe's Grade 4 and Grade 5 computer class on Monday. - Evan Kiyoshi French/NNSL photo

Yellowknife Catholic Schools (YCS) superintendent Claudia Parker said the district is ditching its old equipment in favour of new gear.

"We did an inventory of our computers and it's time for a lot of them to be replaced because they're seven or eight years old," said Parker, adding they'll be increasing their stock of Google Chromebook tablets.

"We're taking a look at - in the future - moving to the Chromebooks because they're less expensive but they serve the purpose," she said.

The schools have around 200 PCs between them, said Parker, and also have about 100 Chromebooks.

Weledeh School was able to get a number of Chromebooks last year when Simone Gessler - then principal - was named one of 40 winners of the Outstanding Principal Award. The Chromebooks were part of her prize, Parker said.

Weledeh vice-principal Jenny Reid said the schools have moved to an entirely online platform.

In the past, students collaborating on projects could either work together in person or connect by e-mail to co-ordinate their efforts. On the new platform recently unveiled to staff, students will be able to work together online more easily.

"Now, it's a real-time operation," said Reid.

"While I'm typing in a document or working on a slide, my partner in a remote location is also editing that same slide."

She said technology is playing an increasingly dominant role in classrooms.

Last year, students working on a group project carried out computer-assisted research and worked with community organizations to test city drinking water.

Reid said students are picking up the skills needed to operate in an increasingly tech-based world.

"We're in the process of showing the kids how to use (the Google platform)," she said.

"And a lot of the time, the kids surpass where we're at because they're a lot more engaged in technology than we are."

On Monday, nine-year-old Lindsey Woodford, of Weledeh School, used a tablet to edit a short video about her favourite animals - cats - during David Dowe's Grade 4 and Grade 5 computer class.

Woodford said she loves getting her hands on new technology and has aspirations in photography.

"When I'm older, I want to be one of those people that takes pictures," she said, while superimposing herself into some feline footage, using a green screen.

"We want to be green screen masters," said Woodford.

Parker said staff are assessing what they need to replace and have yet to post a tender for the work. Meanwhile, she said, Weledeh School and St. Joseph School are in the running to win even more technology for their classrooms, because both have made it to the semi-finalist stage of the Soul for Tomorrow Education Challenge - run by Samsung Canada.

The final stage is still months away but if successful, Parker said the schools could each win up to $50,000 in technology prizes.

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