The great iPad rollout: Remarkably smooth at Alemany

Three months into its iPad for every student program, Bishop Alemany High School in Mission Hills held a recent gathering of San Fernando Region educators who were told that, in contrast to the problem-ridden rollout of iPads at LAUSD schools, implementation has been remarkably smooth.

It helped that Alemany started building their infrastructure more than five years ago, “because we needed it, but also we were seeing that technology was already growing and the big need was wireless devices,” said Michael Schaaff, technology director.

He noted that some of LAUSD’s iPad implementation program centered on infrastructure issues and counseled those in attendance to make sure to have Internet and Wi-Fi infrastructure in place before they “even think about purchasing iPads for students.”

According to Schaaff, LAUSD also relied too heavily on Apple’s built-in restriction systems as opposed to controlling iPads centrally using an MDM (mobile device management) System. Alemany’s MDM provides software that secures, monitors, manages and supports the iPads, allowing over-the-air distribution of apps.

The school can push data and modify content to the iPads, which are on a two-year lease from Apple at an annual cost to school families of $495. E-books are available for most classes at an average price per book of $14.

Students use their own Apple ID to order books and apps, making the leased iPad feel more personal. “LAUSD didn’t give students a sense of ownership,” said Schaaff. “We’re allowing the iPad to be customized; students can add their own personal apps, music and games as long as they save room for books.”

At school, the MDM system monitors the students to keep them from venturing to unsafe websites. At home, where students do homework on the iPads, Alemany turns over the Internet monitoring responsibility to the parents.

“When they’re here, there are places they can’t go; we block them,” Schaaff pointed out. “We can also look to see what’s on the iPad as far as what apps have been installed.”

Richard Guante, director of studies, noted that Alemany is one of the first high schools using Canvas for its learning management system to track student progress and performance. An online course system, Canvas allows students to submit classwork and homework to the teacher and offers collaborative tools for group work as well.

“This Canvas system just opens up a whole other world of engagement with our students,” noted Guante, a government and economics teacher who was pleasantly surprised that his classes were able to go totally paperless the first week.

“Soon we have to be thinking on the high school level about going to hybrid classes, where some of it is purely online for the students; where they come in and we just hold discussion sessions or problem-solving sessions,” said Guante, who noted that adding a seventh online class to a student’s six-class schedule was in the future realm of possibility.

As part of a classroom demonstration, Matthew Judge, religion teacher, explained how educational technology is helping students develop the “4C” skills needed in today’s world: critical thinking, communication, creativity and collaboration.

“The iPad in one sense enables us to present the world of the Internet to students to enable them to consume content, but it’s not just about that,” stated Judge. “The best thing about this technology is that it provides lots of different ways in which students can demonstrate their learning to us and demonstrate what they’re doing and use these tools to communicate and to share their work.”

For example, Canvas allows students to self-select into groups and meet in Google Docs to work together on the same document at the same time, while the teacher can observe what they’re doing and step in as needed.

“There are discussion boards on Canvas and we’ve been using those,” said Judge. “We can attach discussions to particular assignments and, once students are in a group, that group appears on their iPads through the Canvas app. They can run discussions through just that group, so the functionality is really flexible, really broad and enables us to do lots and lots of really good things in terms of developing their skills in collaboration, communication and creativity.

“The great thing about this isn’t, for me, what you can consume on it but what you can create on it,” using tools like the iMovie app and podcasts, noted Judge. “It provides a lot more breadth in terms of getting the students doing active learning rather than passive learning, and really stretching their ability to think.”


Iowa and us in a Year of Mercy

Kathryn Jean Lopez

It was in the general-purpose room of St. Francis of Assisi Church in West Des Moines that Donald Trump made his last pitch to Iowa voters, inside a caucus room. He wanted to make sure people remembered that not only will he build the wall on our border with Mexico, but that he’s the only candidate who will make Mexico pay for it.


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February 6, 2016

  • Saturday, February, 6

    Second Annual Sisters of Notre Dame Nun Run 5K & 1-Mile Fun Run, 8 a.m., Hosted by the Sisters of Notre Dame and La Reina High School and Middle School in Thousand Oaks. Course starts on Dover Avenue in Thousand Oaks and finishes in front of La Reina School. Open to runners and walkers of all ages and ability levels. Professional chip timing technology will be provided to 5K runners by Vendurance Sports. Participants will receive a free T-shirt (while supplies last); pancake breakfast available after the race. Pre-registration is $35 per person for the 5K, and $25 for the 1-Mile. All proceeds support the Sisters of Notre Dame Life and Ministry Fund, allowing the sisters to continue their ministries in Los Angeles and Ventura counties. For more information, contact Chloe Vieira at, or visit 

    Math Competition for Middle School Students & Problem-Solving Workshop for Teachers, 7:45 a.m., Don Bosco Technical Institute, 1151 San Gabriel Blvd., Rosemead.A mathematics competition for fifth through eighth grade students. The 44th annual event will offer awards for the highest scoring individual and teams. Participants must register by Feb. 2 Space is limited. The cost is $8 per individual and $5 per person for teams of four or more, up to 15. Check-in begins at 7:45 a.m.; one-hour test starts at 9 a.m. Free activities offered and food available for purchase. Award ceremony follows the competition at 11 a.m. For more information, contact Valeria De Luna at


    San Fernando Regional Day of Prayer for the RCIA, 1 - 4:30 p.m., St. John Baptist De La Salle Church, 16555 Chatsworth St., Granada Hills. An afternoon of prayer for those who will celebrate the Rite of Election and Call to Continuing Conversion this Lent. Catechumens, candidates, sponsors and team members will come together in prayer with Bishop Joseph V. Brennan. To register or for more information, contact Sandy Cole at (818) 368-1514 or


    Second Annual Valentine's Dinner/Dance, 7 p.m., St. James School - O'Gorman Center, 4625 Garnet St., Torrance.Dance music from the 50's to the present; $20 per person. Proceeds will benefit our seminarians. For more information, call the parish office at (310) 372-5228, or Ely at (310) 944-3355.  


    Snowflake Swing Dinner/Dance, 6 p.m. to midnight,St. Francis of Assisi Church, 1523 Golden Gate Ave., Los Angeles. Great food, door prizes and dancing (assorted music), featuring the LA Trio. Tickets $25; RSVP by Feb. 2. For reservations, call Liza at (323) 664-1305 or Renee at (213) 413-3036. 

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