The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

March 2, 2013

Living in a digital age

OBA seeks to turn library into media center, incorporate digital technology

By Robert Barron, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Dallas Caldwell, headmaster at Oklahoma Bible Academy, stresses the importance of the digital age and preparing his students for it.

“Textbooks and workbooks are good, and they will continue to be part of the curriculum, but students are getting information through Internet, cell phones. We are in the age of instant communication,” Caldwell said.

Teaching kids to navigate those information sources is critical, he said. One problem concerns how teachers and staff are going to catch up with the students. Younger teachers already have it, because it is a way of life for them as it is for the students. However, older teachers may have difficulty keeping up with technology.

Today’s students have lived with technology all of their lives. They think it’s always been that way, Caldwell said. The school needs to teach those students how to manage that technology before it manages them.

His plan is to renovate the center of the school, which encompasses the library, and turn it into a media center, complete with digital offerings as well as books.

Caldwell said he wants to create a learning center, an environment that supports the kind of space the students need to prepare. The project will require extra fundraising, which already has begun. Caldwell said a silent campaign to start the project already has raised more than half the anticipated amount of $50,000.

Currently the school has a good library space but does not have the type of technology and technical support Caldwell thinks is needed. OBA is a college preparatory school and must provide the students with opportunities to navigate the same type of technology they will encounter in college, he said.

Caldwell believes three things must be done:

• Establish a hub to access information.

• Provide the unique opportunity to build the whole person in a safe environment.

• Create a comfortable, friendly place to collaborate conducive to relational work projects. A place kids want to go because it serves them well, he said.

“The kids need the knowledge, they need the facts, but they also need the skills to complement those,” Caldwell said.

The key is how the school goes about curriculum delivery. Caldwell said nothing magic will happen without a good teachers.

“You can build the greatest gymnasium in the world, but unless you have a good coach and a good team ... (or) a state of the art media center, and an academic resource center.”

That is what is needed to build students’ portfolios, Caldwell said, and a new center will be all about students learning.