Calvary Academy is a private, multi-denominational Christian school in Lakewood, New Jersey, that will celebrate its 40th year with the start of the 2018-19 school year. In addition to academic and extra-curricular programs for students in pre-kindergarten through the 12th grade, Calvary Academy’s new Child Development Center serves children as young as 24 months.
To help improve student digital literacy and ensure that teaching methods stay fresh and modern, Matthew DeFranza, the school’s IT Administrator and high school history teacher, has been looking for ways to launch a to 1:1 computing initiative beginning with students in grades 9-12.
1:1 computing is a learning environment in which each student and teacher is given a mobile computer to access the internet and digital course and supplemental material. By introducing education technology into the student-teacher relationship, 1:1 computing dramatically increases access to educational resources and creates opportunities for collaboration and real-time interaction.
DeFranza knew that 1:1 computing would fundamentally change the way students interact with course material at school, at home, and in outdoor learning spaces. He also knew that fully integrating computers into the learning space would improve logistics and have a transformative impact on the school’s digital landscape.
As part of the school’s 1:1 computing rollout, each classroom at Calvary Academy was equipped with a wireless projector and each teacher was given a Microsoft Surface. But student computers were limited to an aging cart of tablets and a computer lab filled with older laptops.
DeFranza knew it was time for an upgrade, but the options seemed limited. Most included adware, or software that inserts advertisements onto the computer’s desktop and into programs that a student or teacher might use. Others didn’t include all of the features that high school students would need and most didn’t have the durability that DeFranza wanted.
“I was looking for a 2-in-1 computer that ran Windows 10 Pro, had the durability to last in the classroom, and offered digital inking capabilities to our students,” DeFranza said. “On top of all that, the computer had to have sufficient specs and come in at a sustainable price point.”
To help him sort through the options, DeFranza reached out to the Microsoft Store in Freehold, New Jersey. There, he spoke with Mike Cutillo, a Surface, Office 365, and education specialist, and Justin Mussell, a business solutions advisor.
Cutillo and Mussel told DeFranza they knew of one computer that would check every item on DeFranza’s list: the Atlas 2-in-1 laptop from Bak USA, a Microsoft Named OEM located in Buffalo, New York.
The Atlas is a durable, water-resistant, drop-resistant, portable laptop purpose-built for use in K-12 classrooms. It runs Windows 10 Home or Pro operating software, integrates seamlessly with Microsoft learning tools, and includes an active stylus so students can use digital inking technology. The Atlas features 2-in-1 flexibility that enables it to work as both a touchscreen laptop and a touchscreen tablet, letting students interact with course material in a way that’s right for them. And because Bak USA is part of Microsoft’s Shape the Future program, Calvary Academy was able to take advantage of special pricing on the Atlas.
At first glance, the Atlas had all of the features relevant to student use at the high school level,” he said. “The Atlas is comparable to devices offered by Dell, HP, and others. The features of the Atlas sealed the deal for me. It had everything I was looking for—Windows 10 Pro, 2-in-1 functionality, effective digital inking, no adware, solid specs, and a great price.”
DeFranza said the Atlas has transformed learning at Calvary Academy.
Many teachers at Calvary Academy use what’s called a “flipped classroom” strategy to transcend the traditional learning space. The flipped classroom allows for the delivery of online instructional content outside the classroom and moves activities—including those that might traditionally be considered “homework”—into the classroom. In a flipped classroom, students might watch online lectures, collaborate in online discussions, or conduct research at home. In the classroom, they engage more deeply with the subject matter under the guidance of their teacher.
Students frequently take their Atlas laptops home to watch lectures, use Microsoft Forms to complete digital quizzes, and collaborate with peers using Skype and Microsoft Teams, a group chat and file sharing program. To complete classwork, they’re able to type or write into their OneNote notebooks. They also use other Microsoft tools—like 3D Paint, Outlook, PowerPoint, Sway, and Word—extensively, along with Kahoot, a game-based learning platform.
The Atlas enables and defines all of this. It’s because of the specific strengths of the Atlas that the flipped classroom is made possible and embraced. The stylus and digital inking technology on the Atlas allow our students to reap the benefits of taking notes by hand and the audio- and video-recording capabilities on the Atlas have transformed the way students interact with course material. The Atlas has opened the digital world in our classrooms.”
Student reaction to the Atlas has been largely positive, DeFranza said, because “it’s close to their default mode in life: the smartphone.” Students whose preferred learning method is more traditional are quickly adapting to the change. Others, whose preferred learning methods were previously under-represented, have thrived—and several of them have also experienced a dramatic improvement in behavior and cross-curricular performance as a result.
To successfully deploy the Atlas into classrooms, DeFranza took advantage of Bak USA’s complimentary asset tagging service. The in-house customer support team helped him quickly resolve an issue with the stylus pens and tips—an experience DeFranza said he valued.
“It’s nice to be heard and to feel welcomed by the Bak USA team,” he said. “I get the feeling that my business, though smaller than what I’d imagine others have, is valued. I appreciate the specialized concern for education, the personal support, and the domestic, home-grown nature of Bak USA’s design and production.”
Transcends the classroom.
Because the Atlas runs Windows 10, it integrates seamlessly with Microsoft education and Office 365 products, giving students and teachers access to a suite of digital and cloud-based tools that can help them transcend the traditional classroom.
Atlas 2-in-1 laptops are designed for learners of all types. Students can use it as a touchscreen laptop or fold it back into a tablet, and they can use the keyboard, the stylus, or their finger to interact with course material in a way that’s right for them.
Designed for mobility.
With one Atlas assigned to each student and teacher, each person in the learning space has easy, smooth access to material. And because Atlas laptops are designed for mobility, learning doesn’t have to end when the school day does.
Built with durability.
Students are tough on equipment. Our Atlas laptops are drop- and dust-resistant and can withstand being splashed when the inevitable happens—at school, at home, or in outdoor learning spaces.
Because we’re a proud partner of Microsoft’s Shape the Future program, deploying Atlas laptops throughout an entire school or school district doesn’t have to bust the budget.