We live in a world that is rapidly evolving due to advancements in technology. In days past, computers used to fill entire rooms, and now we have access to computers within the palm of our hands. Technology has transformed from the days of dial-up internet to Google Fiber. As technology use has grown, so have academic avenues to deliver information to students. At GAC, we recognize that students in today’s society are unlike students from past generations. Students are digital natives, having grown up with access to smartphones, the internet, FaceTime, Netflix, and other forms of technology. Over the past two years, technology use for students and working adults has grown even more. “Through the pandemic, we realized the world is changing—the way we work will never be the same, and how we learn should not be the same,” explains Dr. Josh Thomason, Vice President of Finance at GAC and Executive Director of the Ethos School. Parents seek flexible learning opportunities for their children to prepare them for college and new, ever-changing work environments. Being a school that is obsessed with finding a better way, GAC has introduced new, innovative ways to incorporate technology into the academic world.
The Transformation of Teaching
It’s no surprise that the world has changed since the COVID-19 pandemic began in the Spring of 2020. At GAC, we are proud to say that our teachers have adapted to the changes in education to give our students the best experience possible, whether in the classroom or as a virtual student. “Over the Summer of 2020, GAC added advanced technology to our classrooms. Teachers worked diligently to learn the new technology and how to enhance the virtual learning experience for each student,” said Dr. Betty Morris, Director of Academics and Teacher Growth.
Shane Woodward, High School Principal, explains, “Because the DNA of who we are is to be innovative and push the envelope, our community expected this innovation. It has not been easy, there are still growing pains, but there have been so many creative solutions that have come out of it.”
Online Education Moves Forward
We have realized at GAC that online learning is effective for many students. Sometimes, students who engage in online learning can outperform the traditional face-to-face student.
“When I was a student, I can recall sitting in my High School Trigonometry class; I misunderstood a foundational concept taught by the teacher in the first five minutes of the class, and I was lost for the next three days. In the digital setting, this problem goes away; students never have to worry if they miss something a teacher says - they pause, rewind, and watch again. And, they still have access
to a teacher if they seek additional clarity...interestingly, if digital learning is designed correctly, less time is spent delivering content (e.g., lecturing), allowing for enhanced active learning opportunities and greater social interactions with a teacher and peers.” - Dr. Josh Thomason, Vice President of Finance and Executive Director of the Ethos School
Families desire flexibility and personalization for their students, and high caliber online education is the way to make that possible. With online educational opportunities, families can be with each other more often, and students can pursue their passions and dreams outside of their studies. As education modalities continue to evolve, GAC will remain one of the leaders paving the way.
Modalities of Education at GAC
Over the past three years, GAC has introduced new forms of technology into the classroom. These modalities allow students to complete classwork either face-to-face, virtually, or a hybrid of both.
Synchronous Learning, also known as “GAC Sync,” is a new learning initiative that began during the 2020-2021 school year at Greater Atlanta Christian School. GAC Sync is a learning modality offered to our students who regularly attend GAC in person. If a student cannot attend class in person due to illness or other reasons, they can utilize the Sync platform to log in and virtually attend their classes in real-time. These remote students can still see and interact with their teachers and peers as if they were physically present.
GAC Sync provides this live interactive experience using adaptive, all-in-one monitors that utilize AI technology with sixteen smart- focus-audio microphones and a 4K camera that tracks each speaker and face. Additionally, the class is automatically recorded for later reference by the student. GAC Sync offers families ongoing flexibility while not compromising on a robust education, including class collaboration and content sharing. This learning modality positions GAC as a front-runner in innovative education.
In 2017, GAC launched its online school, called Ethos School (Ethos). Founded with a desire to foster an engaging, relational,
and high-quality online learning experience within a faith-filled context, Ethos now serves nearly 600 students from across the globe, with over 100 courses available for grades 4-12. Students enrolled in online courses at Ethos School develop crucial online learning skills. All classes and teachers maintain the same academic excellence and faith-infused curriculum of the GAC community. Ethos students can also collaborate and learn with peers from other cultures, further preparing them for the global workforce. They gain the flexibility to add classes, deepen areas of study, and pursue extracurricular activities. Ethos courses are asynchronous, allowing students to view the material and complete their coursework any time that works in their schedule. Some students use Ethos courses to replace traditional courses during the day to allow sports or arts training to further their personal passions. The success of the Ethos School model is being proven through positive testing performance, productive relationships between teachers and students, and the outcomes of our students.
In collaboration with our online school, Ethos, GAC offers a dynamic hybrid program designed to meet the needs of
students who are pursuing their passion at the elite level. Students create a tailored schedule that combines in-person classes with our online platform, Ethos School. Half-days on campus allow students to be connected to the GAC community. They become an integral part of the student body and can engage in every possible activity, from academic teams to homecoming dances to musical theater. With access to a diverse student body, expansive co-curricular opportunities, high-quality teachers, and state-of-the-art campus facilities, students can enjoy a rich school experience from a well-recognized educational institution with a strong collegiate reputation that prepares them for greater opportunities in college and beyond.
Key to Success: Stellar Faculty
We recognize that a critical factor in the future success of GAC utilizing technology in education will always be our dedicated teachers. We are grateful for their diligence and dedication to continuous growth in their practice. We do not take this for granted. Thanks to our stellar faculty, we know that academic excellence
in education will remain the same whether a class is in person or virtual. There is no doubt that the advancements in technology in education have enhanced the learning experience for students and will continue to transform academics moving forward.