• Academics
  • Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • UPrep
Including, Inventing, and Inspiring with Technology at UPrep

In the last five years, we have deepened our use of learning technologies to create a culture and environment of inclusion, invention, and inspiration.

Jeff Tillinghast, Director of Learning Design and Technology

Last spring, UPrep’s Laptop and iPad programs turned five years old. While five years seems like a long time when talking about the rapid development of technology, our program continues to develop new and fresh opportunities for students. Through each of those five years, we have deepened our use of learning technologies to create a culture and environment of inclusion, invention, and inspiration. UPrep faculty are recognized as innovators and leaders in creating rich learning, facilitated by technology, and that innovative work continues to result in new curriculum and learning opportunities for all students to be “prepared for a changing world.” Seen through the lens of inclusion, invention, and inspiration, our widespread use of technology for teaching and learning places students at the center of deep, authentic, and relevant work.

Including All Learners in Technology Skills

UPrep’s commitment to educational equity runs throughout our campus, and our 1:1 device program is built upon this foundational principle of equity. Through platforms such as Schoology and Google Docs, as well as media production and presentation apps, our faculty design learning experiences that ensure that all students graduate with the collaborative, communicative, and creative skills. While industries continue to report that there is a widening gap in graduates’ preparation for a modern workforce, we treat these 21st century skills as essential elements of our education for all students, and ensure that each student has the computer skills and experience necessary to be an effective change agent in the world.

Through co-curricular clubs such as Digital Arts, Girls Who Code, and Makerspace Arts and Crafts, as well as traditional technology clubs such as Computer Science and Robotics, our faculty support both a broad entry to technology for less-experienced users as well as deep specialization for students with a dedicated interest in technology as a future career path. Students in both Upper and Middle School participate in a Student Technology Leadership Group to support their peers and help guide the school’s overall technology program.

Making Makers--Mindsets and Tools for Inventing

Throughout our classes and activities, UPrep students use their technology skills to create innovative solutions to relevant problems, as well as express themselves and their ideas through multimedia work. In Upper School Engineering, students used 3D Modeling and CAD skills to design prototypes and new inventions, and run simulations to determine how well their inventions would function. In Middle School Project Science, students use servos and Arduino boards to create robotic arms which mimic human motion in order to lift an object.

Our faculty know that inventing and “creative thinking” are skills which can be learned and developed, and they design curriculum to build students’ capacity for design and innovation. In Middle School English, students use design thinking mindsets to build empathy and understanding for literary characters. Using that understanding, they can put themselves in the place of a character and create original video diaries, social media entries, or dramatic works based on their readings. The 8th Grade Capstone project pairs students with local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and challenges the students to design solutions for a real problem facing their partner organization. Last year’s Capstone featured a wide range of creative and fabrication technologies used to design these solutions; solutions ranged from custom-built websites and interactive kiosks, to 3D modeled architecture and laser-cut prototypes of new inventions.

Inspiring Through Connections

Through our use of learning technologies, students connect to a network of peers on a local and global level. Students learn communication strategies and cultural etiquette for online communication, and interview experts around the world through email and face-to-face chat such as Skype. In the Upper School, students enroll in Global Online Academy courses, and collaborate with teammates from 75 other member schools representing 15 countries.

Students use professional tools in their learning, enabling them to experience how their academic disciplines play out in the real world. By connecting students to authentic professional tools, they can produce professional work, but also see possible future study or career opportunities. UPrep’s award-winning Journalism program uses Adobe software for photography, layout and publication. In our first Intensive term this January, Upper School Songwriting took students to a professional recording studio in partnership with Jack Straw Productions to work with their audio engineers to produce official “demo recordings” of their songs.

Preparing Students for a Changing World

This goal, laid out in our strategic plan, drives our learning technologies program. Through a culture of inclusion, innovation, and inspiration, our programs and faculty challenge students to use technology to create, communicate, and collaborate more effectively. By including all students in technology education, we ensure that all of our graduates are prepared for the leadership roles they’ll need to play in the future. Through teaching the skills and habits of mind to design and invent, and giving them access to global communities and professional tools, UPrep students are prepared for the work and challenges ahead of them.

More from PrepTalk