Alumni in Education Return to Campus to Embrace the Possibilities of Technology in the Classroom

The growth and impact of technology is important and relevant in every field, but one area where it is becoming increasingly significant is in the field of education. Debates about PARCC testing on computers, student access to technology, the changing nature of the classroom and the diminishing need for textbooks are just a few of the topics that are relevant to today’s educators.

In order to explore this timely issue, the Saint Peter’s Alumni in Education Network made it the focus of the affinity group’s most recent networking event on April 28. Alumni, faculty, administrators and current students gathered in the McIntyre Conference Center for the event titled, “Technology in the Classroom: Embracing the Possibilities.”

The goal of the Network is to unite thousands of Saint Peter’s alumni who are either graduates of the School of Education or who are currently working in education to learn and exchange ideas, to expand and explore new professional relationships and to connect and engage with the University. The latest event was a networking reception followed by a panel discussion. Panelists included Nicole Luongo, Ed.D., associate professor of education at Saint Peter’s University; Alfred P. Trattner ’05, technology coordinator at the Hudson County Schools of Technology; and Michael Finetti, assistant professor of education at Saint Peter’s University. Joseph Doria, Jr. Ed.D. ’68, dean of the School of Education, moderated the discussion.

The panelists shared their personal experiences regarding how technology has evolved since they began teaching and how they utilize new technology in their classrooms. Dr. Luongo discussed her role in teaching future educators about technology. She utilizes the SMART Board and tools such as Poll Everywhere to demonstrate to her students what tools are available to them. “I also prepare my students to realize that the technology they implement may fail and how to be prepared if it does,” she said.

Dr. Finetti explained that when he came to the education department at Saint Peter’s in 2008 he had very little experience using technology inside and outside the classroom; however his knowledge and usage has grown tremendously over the years. He now utilizes Google Docs with his students to provide immediate feedback on coursework and Google Hangouts for meetings and presentations. “When it comes to technology, start off slow and make incremental changes. Try to master one thing at a time,” he advised the audience.

While there is no question that technology can benefit students and teachers, many members of the audience raised concerns about the potentially negative side of technology. The attendees posed questions regarding the distractions that technology can cause in the classroom, the inequality some students may face if they don’t have access to technology at home and the lack of funding in schools as well as questions regarding what is most important to cut in the budget. The lively discussion left the audience with many questions to consider.

“My observation and question following this discussion is, as educators, are we trying to find new ways to teach the same material using technology as a tool or is technology changing the material itself,” said James Jacobson, associate professor of education at Saint Peter’s University.

The event proved to be a success and would not have been possible without the support of the Alumni in Education Host Committee, which includes Robert J. Donato ’65, RPND Consultants, LLC and retired principal of Dickinson High School; Dr. Joseph A. Giammarella ’71, principal of High Tech High School; Nadia E. Makra ’69, science supervisor for Union City High School/Academy for Enrichment and Advancement; Vincent J. McFadden ’67, executive county school business administrator for the State of New Jersey Hudson County Office; Emilio Pane ’91, vice principal of James J. Ferris High School; Dr. Joseph Sirangelo ’71, assistant superintendent for Hudson County Schools of Technology; Elnardo Webster, Ed.D. ’69, director of the Center for Afterschool and Expanded Learning; and Robert Zywicki ’09, director of curriculum instruction and technology for the High Point Regional School District.

Alumni were encouraged to bring colleagues with them to future events, even if they are not alumni of Saint Peter’s. They also had the option to support the year-long campaign to name the School of Education after Patrick Caulfield ’47, the founding father of the School of Education. To learn more about investing in the School of Education, please click here.

To learn about future Alumni in Education Network events, please click here to join the group on LinkedIn.