Welcome to the Classroom, Technology

By Rachel Greco

A fly buzzes in the corner, the only sound in the composed classroom. This isn’t just any classroom, but a classroom at Ukarumpa International School (UIS), Papua New Guinea. At the moment, these children—from Australia, Canada, Papua New Guinea, the United States, South Korea, and other countries—whose parents work toward Bible translation, study silently. But even in this school far away from their home countries, they have access to up-to-date technology when they need it.

For many years, though, the only technology available to students and teachers at UIS was a handful of document cameras and data projectors that teachers had to share among their countless classrooms, as well as a host of overhead projectors.

A class at the secondary campus

The need to upgrade the classroom technology at UIS generated a request to JAARS for help. We purchased mountable data projectors, screens, and document cameras for every classroom at both the primary and secondary campuses. According to Greg, one of the principals of UIS, the importance of the project was twofold: “First, UIS seeks to develop life-long learners to be successful in all aspects of life. In order to train students technologically for the 21st century, we needed to have 21st century technology in our classrooms. Second, our accreditation through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges required us to upgrade our school with technology. This JAARS-funded project allowed us to meet that accreditation requirement.”

According to Craig Whaley, VP of Strategic Information and Integration here at JAARS, “Accreditation enables UIS students to enter the universities that would otherwise be beyond their reach. If UIS cannot provide them an accredited education, SIL* may not be able to attract or retain staff with school-aged children to serve in Papua New Guinea.” And if we are unable to retain staff, then the rate of Bible translation might decrease or stop altogether.

The necessity of assisting those who support the tapestry of Bible translation with the yarn of their lives cannot be understated. Greg says, “When our school is offering the best education it can, the educational needs of the families serving here are being met, which in turn allows them to remain overseas and continue their work in support of Bible translation.” The work can’t be done, after all, without people.

The newer technology “is a huge step forward,” Greg says, “in providing the kind of education that truly prepares [third-culture kids] for the world they will live in when they return to their passport countries.”

It’s not only the students who are falling in love with the new technology, though. Greg relates that it’s also a huge boost to teacher morale and that the “teachers love the newer technology because of the ease of beefing up their classroom lessons with images, videos and camera shots of classroom demonstrations. The document cameras are simple enough that even grades one and two can learn to use them. So, not only is the classroom tech being used to transfer information, it is becoming part of the learning process as well.”

The Lord sees each of these students and teachers and holds each thread of their lives in his hands. We too see them, and we too value them.

*SIL is a partner organization of Wycliffe Bible Translators and JAARS.