New Technology Implemented at Malvern

As Malvern shifted into a hybrid model of school, some factors were changed to combat the new style.

Matt Hess, Managing Editor

“I think the most challenging part was the unknown,” Associate Director of Technology Mr. John Street said.

As the COVID-19 pandemic made its way into the U.S. in March of last year, the technology department realized changes would have to be made for the upcoming school year.

“This year was very special with COVID. It was in March when we realized we had to make some changes for this year. Initially we planned for everything to be fully remote. Assume for the worst hope for the best kind of situation,” Help Desk Administrator Mr. Nathaniel Duane said. 

Over the summer, the technology department faced challenges. Chromeboooks were challenging to get due to the high demand and Street was worried they would not arrive in time.

“One of the things I was worried about was the supply chains for equipment. Right now, there are so many schools across the country that are trying to get chromebooks into their hands, so the supply chains are not as quick as they used to be. I was really worried that we wouldn’t see devices until November,” Street said.

Even with the difficult circumstances, the Technology Department realized some factors were in their favor from the beginning.

“Because we had this stuff for Google already in place, when we transitioned to online learning, Google Meets was already there. There were a few hiccups, but it more or less just worked,” Duane said.

Street plans to make sure everything flows properly on campus during the first couple of weeks.

“Right now, if there are any weaknesses on campus, we are trying to improve them,” Street said. “We won’t know until after the first couple weeks of school that we know where our shortcomings might be and where our positives are.”

Street understands what this pandemic is doing to everyone, and is grateful that Malvern students have adjusted.

“I appreciate everyone’s patience. I know this is tough on everyone, including us. I think as a school we adapted really well and we’ll continue to do so. I hope as we move forward we can make it even better than it is now,” Street said.

Ms. Katherine Lee, the Ceramics teacher at Malvern, discusses how her classroom is different this year.

“There is a very heavy MyMalvern experience. Everything is on MyMalvern, including videos, diagrams, visuals, and any way that I could connect with a specific way a student learns. A lot of videos were made to demonstrate techniques that were taught in the classroom,” Lee said.

Aware that students need time to work on their artwork, Lee plans her Zoom calls strategically.

“We start out with a weekly Zoom meeting on Mondays just to look over the entire week’s objective together,” Lee said. “I give about 50% of the week to independent work. At the end of those class periods, I ask everyone to take a picture of what they made so far, submit that, and then I can give you feedback throughout the night.”

In recording techniques and what students need to do, Lee uses the technology that she is given to her advantage.

“The big part is recorded demonstrations. I give a live demonstration for the students via Zoom, but if a student wants to record the technique, I record a separate demonstration so that students can revisit that whenever they want to. They have all the resources even though I might not be physically there with them,” Lee said.

Happy that students are given this opportunity for extra help, Lee explains how online learning has allowed students to have access to a new way of learning that was never available before.

“I think the strength is that it allows students to get a review at their own personal time. I know when I was a student I felt nervous asking for help, but because there’s so many resources that I supply, because we have to, they’re able to go back to a video from three weeks ago if they want to, without having to ask for help,” Lee said.

Chris Corrielus ’22, is one of the many students that are trying to get back into school mode. He points out how the short span of online school last year helped him prepare for what to expect this year. 

“No it wasn’t hard because I started the online school last year. It was confusing sometimes with the schedule because with clubs they want us to come in on some days when we don’t have on-campus class,” said Corrielus.

Although the advantages online learning brings are great, Lee misses having students in her classroom.

“I truly miss having students in class. It is a pleasure to have at least three at a time, but I do miss the energy [the students] bring to each other. Being allowed to be in the classroom and listen in on your jokes is something I miss,” Lee said. “Hopefully we continue to follow CDC guidelines so we can increase the amount of students coming onto campus.” 

As she takes everything into consideration, Lee is hopeful for the future. She has high hopes and an optimistic outlook for what’s to come.

“Malvern is already going against the norm. I can’t wait to see how Malvern continues to do that and value what it is here, which is community,” Lee said.