Connie Kolosey, Ed.D. is the Director of Media, Textual content and Digital Studying for the Pinellas Faculty District in Florida. Like most of the districts in Florida, Pinellas is a big, county-wide district serving over 100,000 college students. It’s the seventh largest district within the state and the 26th largest within the nation. Lately, the Studying Counsel’s Charles Sosnik spoke with Dr. Kolosey to learn how know-how can current challenges at scale and what options she has discovered.
Studying Counsel: How does being in a big district create challenges of scale? Why is consistency necessary?
Dr. Kolosey: Know-how has grow to be an enormous element of our educational supply system and distributors have been fast to reply with quite a lot of choices. Fairly often these choices are marketed on to academics on a “freemium” foundation. Different distributors attain out to principals to buy hardware or software program options. Nevertheless, in virtually all instances, these purchases require skilled improvement and technical help. In a district with 100,000 college students and eight,000 academics, it’s actually unimaginable to have know-how help personnel out there who’re educated in each mixture wanted if there isn’t standardization throughout faculties. Moreover, our academics (and college students) change faculties and lecture rooms, and so consistency throughout the district turns into essential. Identical to once we pull into McDonalds, we anticipate a Huge Mac to style like a Huge Mac whether or not we’re in Florida or California, academics and college students want to have the ability to transition with out having to study an entire new system of operation. Consistency is essential for environment friendly consumer help and content material supply.
LC: Your district makes all of the buying selections for curriculum. What’s the course of for ensuring purchases match with the core curriculum?
Dr. Kolosey: Our faculties are literally resource-rich with quite a lot of instruments and platforms out there. Nevertheless, they do have some flexibility in buying digital content material or units. We have now a proper course of to make sure that purchases made with school-based funds do align with our core curriculum and know-how infrastructure. Our IT Governance Committee is comprised of cross division prime district leaders together with Educating and Studying, Know-how and Info Methods, Finance, Space Superintendents, CTAE, Operations, and Evaluation Analysis and Accountability. Faculties full a primary type describing the specified buy together with the price and the required help. The committee critiques every request to find out the appropriateness of the acquisition. Most are finally authorised, however this overview course of offers a chance to maintain committee members knowledgeable on elements that must be thought-about from different division views and ensures that faculties comply with district processes reminiscent of acquiring knowledge sharing agreements and utilizing our district single signal on.
LC: Why is collaboration necessary? How does collaboration create challenges in private duty?
Dr. Kolosey: Many platforms require cross departmental collaboration, help and buy-in with a view to perform. Nevertheless, it’s straightforward to fall right into a sample the place nobody truly “owns” it. Thus, when issues come up, nobody has the complete authority or duty to repair it. Sadly, it’s the finish consumer that suffers on this state of affairs.
We’ve got lately skilled this phenomenon associated to our college information broadcasting system. The present system was bought a few years in the past by individuals not with the district. It was designed to switch coax cable and televisions. Nevertheless, many faculties didn’t make the change and continued utilizing the TV’s till they broke down or till the cable firm put in digital cable packing containers lately. When the present multicast encoders have been bought, they required an extension to be put in on each instructor system and naturally that software program wanted to be up to date periodically. The instructor machines all needed to be hardwired for it to work and this was at a time when academics have been starting to benefit from the freedom of working wirelessly, inflicting frustration.
My Library Media Division employs the one TV Broadcast Technician within the district and her job is to assist faculties with the gear wanted to broadcast their morning information exhibits. Nevertheless, she has no jurisdiction over the coax cable system, TV repairs, or putting in entry factors. The truth is, this course of concerned our upkeep division, our telecommunications division, our know-how info division, the cable firm, the seller, and the classroom instructor’s consumer proficiency. A breakdown at any level alongside the best way means the varsity information program doesn’t broadcast. When the printed is inconsistent, academics cease logging on. We’ve got just lately bought an answer that when arrange will streamline this course of. Earlier than adopting this answer, we met with all impacted departments and developed a collaborative implementation plan. We’re hopeful it will result in success.
LC: How do free curriculum assets have an effect on your course of? Do these free assets ever make it to the district-wide degree?
Dr. Kolosey: We in fact love free assets! You’ve gotten heard the saying, “whether it is free, it’s for me!” Sadly, nothing is actually free. As talked about above, many distributors attain out to academics to offer “free” assets, nevertheless, these could be a actual concern for knowledge safety, communication archiving and accountability. As with all giant group, communication is a serious problem. Getting the phrase out to academics about our district insurance policies is not any totally different. As soon as we as a district attain out to the seller to discover a strategy to make the useful resource out there whereas following district and state coverage, instantly the “free” useful resource turns into very pricey. We no sooner get one product underneath management than one other one pops up as a priority. There are a couple of “free” purposes that we now have been capable of make out there district-wide via knowledge sharing agreements and rostering by means of our single signal on.
LC: How does the whole lot work together with your single check in answer?
Dr. Kolosey: We’ve got been capable of make it look to the top consumer that they’re accessing all of the assets by way of our single signal on portal. Lots of our distributors do companion with our single signal on, however others use OneRoster and we will present a hyperlink on our single signal web page.
LC: Are you able to inform me about your personalised studying platform constructed by college students?
Dr. Kolosey: Our Personalised Studying Pathway (PLP) is a challenge that got here on the cross part of our work with the Gates grant for personalised studying and our Bridging the Hole plan which seeks to shut our achievement between black and nonblack college students. Our Deputy Superintendent envisioned a digital platform that might tie individualized scholar knowledge to focused classes for remediation and enrichment. He needed this platform to be out there 24/7 and a spot the place mother and father, mentors, and group members might direct college students to go to encourage educational work outdoors of the varsity day. We reached out to our college students on the Middle for Superior Know-how at Lakewood Excessive Faculty who had lately designed a hurricane shelter administration website for the district. By way of collaboration with the district’s Digital Studying, Evaluation, Accountability and Analysis, and Know-how Info Techniques departments, and distributors, the scholars developed the PLP on a Share Level website. They designed the look and coded the info tables.
In fact, they bumped into obstacles that required transforming and rethinking. One such impediment was managing the sheer quantity of the info to be processed. One other impediment was the platform required a degree of interoperability between our distributors that was not in place earlier than we began. The scholars labored throughout class time for 2 years. In the course of the intervening summer time, about ten college students have been paid for his or her work. The 2018-2019 faculty yr was the primary full yr of implementation. Over 43,000 distinctive customers have logged on. College students coming to the location for the primary time are very intrigued by seeing their very own image and knowledge indicating their progress towards commencement. This consists of their present GPA, credit necessities, credit earned, SAT/ACT scores and even their standing for NCAA eligibility. As soon as on the website, they’ve entry to standards-based classes constructed into playlists.
LC: How does the Pinellas Digital Faculty match into the equation?
Dr. Kolosey: Pinellas Digital Faculty was developed in response to new laws that college students would have alternatives to attend a full-time digital program. It was developed with a purpose to hold college students underneath the umbrella of the district slightly than lose FTE and to maintain college students on tempo with the district’s studying expectations as they transfer to digital to conventional and again. We presently have about 2,000 college students Okay12 who’re profiting from this chance.
LC: If you turn out to be a 1:1 district, what sort of a distinction will that make?
Dr. Kolosey: Pinellas has not set a objective of attaining 1:1 standing. Presently, we’re at about three:1. We now have a number of particular packages which are 1:1. This presents each alternatives and challenges. The plus is that every scholar all the time had a tool which creates a extra versatile alternative for academics to combine know-how. Additionally, single customers on a given system makes accessing personalised platforms simpler. On the draw back, the analysis doesn’t help that college students use units all day day-after-day and so we then have an costly useful resource sitting idle. Additionally, for a big district the administration, updates, licenses, and alternative prices are prohibitive.
LC: In a number of years (5 or so), how may know-how harm, assist or change the best way content material is delivered to learners?
Dr. Kolosey: Presently, we’re seeing push again to an excessive amount of display time. Know-how can’t be used as a babysitter changing nose to nose educational time with the instructor. Nonetheless, know-how offers an incredible alternative for differentiation and for creation and collaboration instruments. Over the subsequent 5 years, I consider we’ll proceed to see this rigidity for stability.
This interview was initially revealed by The Studying Counsel, a analysis institute and information media hub targeted on offering context for the shift in schooling to digital curriculum.
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