Thursday, April 17, 2014

COBBS: 1-to-1 initiative, goals at OHS

By RYAN COBBS, Ottawa High School | 11/4/2013

Ottawa High School began work on its 1-to-1 Initiative in the 2012-2013 school year. The purpose of the program is to put technology in the hands of each individual OHS student. One of our goals is to become an innovator in education and technology, which obviously is the wave of the future. We think that if each student has their own personal computer, our ability to provide instruction to our students is substantially increased. In doing so, the method with which we can drive that instruction becomes more interesting, engaging and relevant to our student body.

Among the decisions already in the works, as part of this process, is developing a consistent platform to be utilized by all of our staff and students. We have a number to choose from, including Moodle, Blackboard, Quia, Lumen Touch and others. OHS has narrowed its focus to two programs: My Big Campus (we already are using this program in a number of classes) and Gaggle (a Google-based program). These programs provide a consistent way in which teachers can “push” or deliver instruction to our students and a method of return for our students. Upon implementation, this would mean that every keystroke is documented and followed, which would provide us a paperless system and ultimately a documented approach to assignment completion. We will be making a decision on which platform we will implement after each company has prepared a presentation for our school.

Ottawa High School began work on its 1-to-1 Initiative in the 2012-2013 school year. The purpose of the program is to put technology in the hands of each individual OHS student. One of our goals is to become an innovator in education and technology, which obviously is the wave of the future. We think that if each student has their own personal computer, our ability to provide instruction to our students is substantially increased. In doing so, the method with which we can drive that instruction becomes more interesting, engaging and relevant to our student body.

Among the decisions already in the works, as part of this process, is developing a consistent platform to be utilized by all of our staff and students. We have a number to choose from, including Moodle, Blackboard, Quia, Lumen Touch and others. OHS has narrowed its focus to two programs: My Big Campus (we already are using this program in a number of classes) and Gaggle (a Google-based program). These programs provide a consistent way in which teachers can “push” or deliver instruction to our students and a method of return for our students. Upon implementation, this would mean that every keystroke is documented and followed, which would provide us a paperless system and ultimately a documented approach to assignment completion. We will be making a decision on which platform we will implement after each company has prepared a presentation for our school.

We also purchased a program called DyKnow, which helps us monitor student use of their computers. The program provides a systematic approach to ensure that student engagement in the classroom is a priority and that students aren’t “out there just surfing the Web.” When students come into a classroom, they have to login to the teacher’s class through DyKnow. If they choose not to login, the teacher can log them in with the simple touch of a button. Once in the program, the teacher can control movement on the computer. For instance, if a teacher wants to limit the students to one website, it will lock them out of all websites except the one the teacher wants them to visit. Further, the teacher can communicate individually with students without the knowledge of their classmates. The message is digital and shows up on the student’s screen where only he or she can view it.

It also provides a platform in which students can showcase their talents. For instance, teachers typically have students come to the board to work on problems or work them individually at their desk. DyKnow provides this digitally and allows the teacher to give immediate feedback to all students, as well as show each student’s work via a projector to spur class discussion. DyKnow does a number of other things as well, however, I wanted to make sure the community and our parents know we have addressed the issue of students having unconditional access to information on their computer while at school.

We still are working on what exactly our curriculum will look like, although a number of classes already have implemented a digital curriculum that our students are now using.

Derek Bland also has implemented a student council that is looking at specific devices that our students and teachers think will meet our needs and be indestructible enough to have for years of service in our building. This group also will be developing a list of student guidelines with regard to the device. OHS will continue to move forward with this initiative in an effort to provide the best possible instruction for our students.

We still have a great deal of work to do, but believe we are well on our way to making this transition a smooth and seamless one. I think this movement is one that ultimately will affect our entire community.

Dr. Ryan Cobbs is principal at Ottawa High School. Email him at cobbsr@usd290.org or call (785) 229-8020.

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