Digital Learning Day, hosted by Betsy Hardy, Distance Learning Coordinator for Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES (CA BOCES), was held mid-March this year at the Main Center in Olean. There was a record turnout from neighboring districts, with more than 55 educators from across the region including attendees from six regional BOCES, traveling to learn about implementing online learning in their districts or how to enhance current programs.
The day was split into rotating sessions with vendors that CA BOCES currently has partnerships with or with vendors that may be of future interest to any district hoping to broaden depth of transcripts, assist struggling students with unit, quarterly or full credit recovery, or generally provide multiple pathway of learning for their students. The day’s focus was on credit accrual or electives through Edgenuity, world languages, CTE courses, and electives through EdOptions Academy, unit and credit recovery through APEX Learning, homebound tutoring with iTutor, middle school content through Spider Learning, and K-12 collaborative and customizable digital content aligned to standards through Buzz at OHM BOCES.
Overall, the day was a huge success. At the beginning of the day, two rotating sessions with 25 minute overviews of the various kinds of curriculum and implementation methods were held. Lunch and breaks provided time to meet up individually with vendors to ask more district specific questions. The day was rounded out with presentations from Andover, Franklinville, and Allegany-Limestone sharing successful implementation stories of language programs, electives, and credit recovery programs respectively.
Fortified with information from the day, many districts are developing a plan for digital learning and reaching out to CA BOCES as they bring new curriculum to students across the region. For more information on online learning, please contact Learning Resources at 716-376-8281.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources
What is blended learning? Are we truly blending learning in our region? Yes we are! Below are examples of Michael B. Horn - The Christensen Institute’s blended learning models that are taking place across our region, and quite successfully!
While blended learning began in simple applications to serve students in situations where there was no other alternative, it has grown exponentially over the past ten years in the Cattaraugus Allegany region, where our region is recognized as the leader in online learning in New York State BOCES regions!
Michael B Horn’s and Heather Staker’s book, Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools, lays out the process in a useful level of detail making it a must read for educators that want to take full advantage of tech-enabled learning. Staker shared, "I feel deeply sad when I see how many children do not have equal opportunities to high-quality schools. It's wrong that in a rich country with universal public education, zip code determines quality." But she feels fortunate to be living through the learning revolution where internet connectivity and personalized learning is “decimating old constructs about who gets what and introducing a new paradigm of shared access to the best learning experiences, regardless of geography.” (Education Week article - http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/on_innovation/2014/09/blended_a_conversation_with_michael _horn_heather_staker.html)
What educational “trend” do you think is helping students? Is there a trend that is getting in the way of learning? Michael B. Horn adds, “Online learning, particularly in blended learning schools, gives students more and more ownership of their learning, this is a big deal as it can allow schools to individualize for each student’s unique learning needs.” (http://dailyedventures.com/index.php/2012/11/08/michael-horn/)
How do these online learning opportunities benefit students? Danielle, from Allegany- Limestone, replied, “I wish that I could have studied this way from the beginning of the year. When I’m in a classroom with people, I get distracted, but using APEX is great. The program is really straightforward. It tells me exactly what I need to know. Some days I let it read to me and sometimes I read myself. I came from Pennsylvania and the work was harder and my Biology class was in a different place and the online class is helping me.”
To learn more about successful blended learning models in schools, join CA BOCES in an Online/Digital Learning Showcase, where you can ask questions and view demos of 7 different online solutions for:
For more information about Digital Learning Day on Wednesday, April 19, 2017, from 8:00 a.m. - 1:30 p.m. at CABOCES Olean Center Conference Rooms, go to: http://dev.caboces.org/iss/calendar/2017-04.
By: Betsy Hardy, CA BOCES Distance Learning
Betsy Hardy, Distance Learning Coordinator for CA BOCES, was invited to present on a panel at a national conference last week alongside renowned author, Michael B. Horn. Michael B. Horn is the Co-Founder of Clayton Christensen Institute and author of Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools. Betsy was asked to attend 2016 iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium as an expert on implementing blended learning programs. During the panel, Betsy was asked a number of questions on strategies for introducing online and credit recovery programs, utilizing online portfolios in the classroom, and cited many real life examples of ways that districts have been successful in the Cattaraugus-Allegany region, as well as how program implementation has to be based on district individuality and specific needs. Some of the recommendations she gave included having a team set up the program, having a specific teacher or aide with students at all times while students work on their classes, and setting up multiple in-depth professional development opportunities for teachers.
One of the many remarkable insights that Betsy brought to the panel discussion, was her unique understanding of how rural districts utilize online and distance learning programs to help broaden the scope of student transcripts and give students unique opportunities to experience courses that otherwise would not be offered, as well as how online programs broaden student skillsets and exposure to a plethora of ideas and prospects. Betsy also noted the important role that credit recovery has played in the region, sometimes increasing graduation rates by as much as 10% in well-established programs with a dedicated aide for students working on their classes.
Betsy, alongside a renowned author, shared the noteworthy achievements and best practices that districts in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties have made as they move toward a blended environment, helping students obtain important 21st century skills. School districts should be proud that their implementation of blended practices has garnered national attention.
If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about blended learning opportunities and professional development, please reach out to Betsy Hardy, Justine Lombardi, or Christina McGee at (716) 376-8281.
By: Christina McGee, CA BOCES
Distance Learning, Blended Learning, Online Learning...just some of the names we use in the region to describe virtual learning. The Distance Learning team is always busy working with students and teachers. Check out this infographic: https://infograph.venngage.com/p/19994/what-is-up-in-distance-learning_