Coming to a school where iPads are used every day to complete schoolwork and homework can be overwhelming. Luckily, Mercy has a student-run organization called the iWizards to teach and advise on how to use the iPad effectively and efficiently.
“[The iWizards] like to help incoming students become acquainted with the iPad through orientation,” said Mr. Larry Baker, associate principal and the iWizards moderator.
Mr. Baker began this group of students five years ago when iPads were first introduced to ninth-grade students. The goal was to bring together students who share a passion for technology so that they could come up with ideas and projects to improve the school’s use of technology in education.
“I saw the iWizards at freshman orientation and thought it was cool because I have always been tech savvy,” said Madison Konja, a sophomore iWizard. “I joined and I have learned a lot, [such as] how to edit a website.”
Beyond teaching new students apps such as Schoology and Notability at orientation, the iWizards are currently working on expanding their connections to other tech teams.
“There are about 20 tech teams from around the world and we collaborate with them on our main website,” said Konja.
Earlier this year, the iWizards held a global project where they used Skype and Google Hangouts to communicate with two tech teams at an elementary school in Texas and at another school in Israel.
“What we have been trying to do is a mutual collaboration with those other teams,” said Mr. Baker. “We talked with people last year but it was more of getting to know each other.”
The groups are able to share ideas on the tech team hub website. The iWizards are able to give and receive advice from the other teams about upcoming ideas.
“The one thing that we have been interested in from the beginning is to build an app for the school,” said Mr. Baker. “I think that is possible now that we have a coding class.”
The iWizards also do much work inside Mercy to center the school on technology. Mercy has been awarded the distinguished title of an Apple Distinguished School. All of Mercy’s staff members have been Apple Certified and the school has incoperated many Apple products into it’s education. The iWizards recently worked on their submission to earn Mercy this title once again.
“We have to submit an application in the form of a book that showed us achieving certain milestones or objectives such as technology, vision, and learning,” said Mr. Baker.
Through this book, the iWizards showed the achievements that Mercy has made using technology. Before the iWizards were created, technology orientation used to be solely for teachers and faculty. Now, the student-run group advises their peers about the use of available technology at the school.
“It’s basically students teaching students how to use the technology we use here at Mercy,” said Mr. Tom James, IT director.