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La Salle Launches New Innovation and Design Department With Support Of Ambassador's Fund For Catholic Education

The Ambassador’s Fund for Catholic Education has awarded La Salle College High School a grant in the amount of $100,660 for the 2021-22 academic year. This funding will help establish an Emerging Technology in Business and Design (ETBD) program and establish the next logical step in La Salle’s development of academic technology.   

The new program, a collaboration among three departments – Information Sciences and Technology, Institutional Advancement, and College Counseling – formally begins in July 2021. A change that is already underway is a rebranding transition of the school’s Information Sciences and Technology Department to the Innovation and Design Department, which will house and manage the program.   

La Salle’s ETBD program will be marked by an innovative and aspirational course curriculum, inventive teaching techniques, and groundbreaking opportunities for La Salle students, middle school students in several archdiocesan grade schools, and professional partners in the Greater Philadelphia area. 

 

Pace-Setting Program for Today’s Students  

Through teaching, research, and experiential opportunities, ETBD is an example of liberal education in a 21st century world. Students will apply and integrate content knowledge from their traditional arts and sciences courses with digital media. This program is unique across the area’s private Catholic, archdiocesan, and independent schools in that it spans teaching and team-based learning in interactive media, digital game studies, innovation, writing and development, esports, and entrepreneurship.   

Powered by industry-standard software from Microsoft, Adobe, and Autodesk, the Innovation and Design Department offers more than 20 electives during a student’s time at La Salle.  In fact, this department provides a pivotal part of the new freshman experience course, Introduction to Technology and Design, by establishing the groundwork for a student’s successful integration into La Salle’s academic technology. From the first day of his freshman year, each student will be provided modules in all the various design options in video, digital images, programming, networking, and engineering that are available as electives starting in his sophomore year.  

All of these selections offer La Salle’s students not only the most current academic technology but also a taste of possible technology-centered career paths, especially in the explosive esports industry following further study at a number of well-respected colleges and universities.  

In 2020, more than 200 colleges in the United States offered over $15 million in scholarships related to eSports. Institutions with established programs include Miami University of Ohio, Stanford University, Chapman University, and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, while Fairfield University just recently opened an esports lab.   

 

Looking Inside and Beyond the Classroom 

ETBD will be immediately implemented in La Salle’s current course offerings starting in fall 2021. Details of all current courses are available at www.lschs.org/innovation

In addition to updating its freshman course for 2021-22, La Salle will consider its senior capstone independent study courses as “internships” with a focus on implementing elements of emerging technology and business in hands-on student-focused setting. Many additional exciting changes will be implemented over the next four years. Another distinguishing aspect of the new program will be the creation of a dedicated computer lab for Innovation and Design Department courses. 

Outside of the classroom, characteristics from the ETBD program will also help foster the growth of La Salle’s various innovation and design extracurricular programs, such as WEXPtv, Lab Managers, Robotics, and eSports Clubs. A further key feature is the outreach that La Salle will offer to selected archdiocesan elementary schools. Interested boys and girls in grades 6-8 will be invited to participate in a Saturday pilot program that introduces students to the principles and application of esports technology. La Salle also looks to eventually develop a middle school academic competition to help introduce students to ETBD concepts. 

While “eSports” might imply only fun and games, the reality is a challenging academic program that drives student competition in creative design and programming in addition to developing team-building, communication, and leadership skills. Additionally, this program incorporates the North America Scholastic eSports Federation (NASEF) curriculum and "Beyond the Game" challenges to promote creativity and competition among the members while sparking interest in STEM-related careers. 

Funding to Make It Happen 

The creation of the Emerging Technology in Business and Design program would not be possible without the support that La Salle is receiving from the Ambassador’s Fund, which was known up until February 2020 as the Archdiocesan Educational Fund.  Matthew H. McCloskey, Jr. (1893-1973), building contractor and U.S. Ambassador to Ireland (1962-64), created and funded the Archdiocesan Educational Fund in 1967 to advance Catholic education and evangelization throughout the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  

The Ambassador’s Fund grant was awarded in response to La Salle’s first-ever proposal to the charitable organization. The proposal requested a portion of the first two years of start-up costs to launch this innovative academic technology program. Nearly 90 percent of the requested and awarded funds are allocated to course development and related equipment, with the remainder focused on faculty training. Evaluation of funding for the second year (2022-23) of the two-year grant projected at approximately $46,000 will be reviewed at the interim report stage in January 2022.  

Learn more about the future of this new initiative at www.lschs.org/innovation

 

 

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