Friday, February 17, 2012

District begins rolling out ?e-Learning? environment

The Reynoldsburg school district has taken steps this year to implement districtwide digital learning and education technology.

Reynoldsburg High School assistant principal Denise Lutz, who is overseeing the development and rollout of the systems, said the focus is on improving student learning.

Lutz said that since September, efforts have begun to build capacity around “e-Learning,” in which students use technology in or out of the classroom to personalize the educational experience.

Teachers could provide contents of the coursework online for the students to access on their computers or other digital devices at anytime.

The district is using an online tool called “itsLearning,” where students log in online to participate in a class.

The website address is Teachers upload content in a written or video format, allowing students to log in and view it anytime during or after school hours, Lutz said.

“You can learn anything, from kindergarten math all the way up through college-level mathematics, where you watch a video and learn how to do the problem at night for homework,” she said. “Then when you’re with the teacher the next day, you’re working through the questions and getting the individualized attention that you need. É Instead of doing problems for homework, you’re learning the content for homework.”

The district is installing SMART Boards in all classrooms to enhance the digital technology application.

“With SMART Boards, teachers have the ability to video or record a 10-minute lecture, audio or by capturing the screen, post it on the website and say, ‘Here’s your homework for tonight,’” Lutz said.

Teachers are using this technology at the Summit Road high school STEM academy.

Lutz said that in the next few weeks, all classrooms throughout the district would have SMART Boards installed.

Lutz said teachers and staff members in all grade levels have been trained on how to use the system specific to their individual needs.

“We’ve been systematic at rolling out training. It’s a K-through-12 platform, so there’s different looks and feels for a kindergartner or first-grader when they log in, as opposed to an 11th-grader,” she said.

Lutz, who has worked in education and technology-based systems for 22 years — the past three in Reynoldsburg — said another advantage of using online technology is that a school building would not have to use a calamity day.

“The learning would continue online, so you could be exempt from a calamity day, but the requisite is that every teacher in your building has to have a site and maintain it so lessons are current,” Lutz said. “It extends learning beyond the classroom. A teacher has a class for 50 minutes, and, say, they have started this great discussion or something really engaging. How do you continue the conversation once the student has left the classroom and building?

“Using the itsLearning system, with built-in discussion features and conferencing features, allows kids to continue what was so vital in the classroom,” she said.

Also, Lutz said, using the online technology offers advantages to students, allowing them to view the coursework and content multiple times.

“That’s another piece to posting the content online,” she said. “If you’re a student that needs to watch or read it six times, stop it or pause it or rewind it, you can do that. It’s anytime, anywhere learning. They always have access to their courses or content.”

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