Every other month we get an update on what’s been happening recently at our
Immanuel Lutheran High School, College and Seminary in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.
Depending on your age, technology can mean different things, from dialup phones to virtual reality headsets. Technology at Immanuel has changed over the years, and we can see God’s hand in providing effective tools for our students to use as they prepare for their future.
From the Apple II computers in Reim Hall in the 80’s to the coax network in Northwest Hall in the 90’s, the quality of technology at Immanuel has continued to improve. A fiber optic network backbone and internet connection currently provide a reliable, state-of-the-art online connection. This came in handy during the fourth quarter of 2020, when the school was required to convert entirely to distance learning.
The move to the Academic Center in 2009 created an opportunity to make significant improvements to our technology offering. Two forty-station networked labs were created. The network now extends down Faculty Row, providing teachers with access to the internet from their homes. Classrooms are now equipped with instant-on lampless Casio projectors to go along with Dell i7 instructor desktop computers with 500gb solid state drives. Smartboards (which are like electronic chalkboards that can be used from the computer or with erasable markers) were gradually added to classrooms to reach our current number of five. Two document cameras are currently in use by teachers. Students have access to separate multimedia rooms housing high-end video editing machines for use in computer classes and for projects in other subjects.
In 2019, Immanuel began to purchase Chromebooks and portable charging carts for use by teachers, who wheel the carts into their classrooms when needed. The Chromebooks allowed teachers to make better use of the vast resources available online. The Chromebooks also gave us the ability to provide distance learning during the COVID outbreak in the spring of 2020. Despite a bit of a learning curve for all involved in the distance learning effort, the students were provided with a good learning experience—different, but still effective. That online experience seemed to help the students better appreciate the face-to-face classes that we were able to resume last fall. Currently, we provide each student with a personal Chromebook. This allows students who are quarantined or absent for some other reason to join classes remotely. On several occasions, Chromebooks enabled students to receive instruction from teachers who were required to teach from home due to quarantine.
The software we use has changed along with the hardware. Currently our students are provided with Microsoft Office 365, Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator and more), and Google’s G-Suite for Education, which includes Google Classroom. We monitor student internet access with special security software and a robust firewall. This past year we improved student, parent, and school communication with Gradelink Student Information System, allowing online registration for the first time
All this comes at a price, but the help we receive from alumni and other members of the CLC makes it possible. The list of help provided is extensive but bears some mention. We have received significant financial help for major upgrades. Off-lease computers, with years of use remaining, have been located and provided at no cost. Members have designed and continue to maintain websites and financial management software. High end phone systems and firewalls have been donated and maintained.
Staying current with technology is always a struggle. It’s worth the effort, however, if it helps us to properly prepare our students for life after Immanuel. With the Lord blessing our efforts, and with His love moving the hearts of the school’s friends, we are confident in our continued success.
Ross Roehl is a professor at Immanuel Lutheran College in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.