Online Learning and Technology in the K-12 Classroom

One of the fastest changing aspects of teaching is the technology used to do it. Teachers have moved from using chalk and blackboards to offering online course material and interactive whiteboards. Lessons housed online can be updated quickly to comply with standards. Clickers and interactive whiteboards allow teachers to tailor education to their students, avoiding a “one size fits all” approach that may not help all learners. When used in the classroom, technology helps teachers bridge the gap between high-end achievers and struggling learners.

This month, we spoke with Dan Badea, EETT administrator with the Office of Curriculum and Instruction at the Ohio Department of Education. The Office of Curriculum and Instruction provides “leadership and technical assistance for research and development, implementation and assessment, and continuous improvement of products and practices supporting standards-based education.” Badea discussed teaching technology and online-based learning, including what teachers may be using now and what they are looking to use in the future.

What kinds of technology and online learning resources are popular in K-12 classrooms?
Badea:
In Ohio, we do have the Ohio Technology Academic Content Standards (available through the Ohio Department of Education Website) which define what students should know and be able to do. The Ohio Tech ACS provide a broad definition of technology focused on three literacies: Information Literacy, Computer and Multimedia Literacy, and Technological Literacy. As a result, you could see various applications of these three literacies in Ohio’s K-12 classrooms.

In terms of specific tools and online resources, teachers are using learning management systems (e.g., Blackboard, Moodle), off-the-shelf products (e.g., Plato Learning, CompassLearning, Study Island, Riverdeep, Agile Mind), interactive whiteboards (e.g., Prometheus, SmartBoard), online video (e.g, UnitedStreaming), and various Websites (e.g., NCTM’s Illuminations, Infohio, Ohio Resource Center, Edutopia, TeacherTube.com).

Online learning is starting to be a standard offering in higher education. Are online classes taking hold with school districts?
Badea:
There are currently 33 online community schools in Ohio that obviously offer their curriculum online. However, in the traditional schools — online classes have not really taken off yet. School districts are looking more into the feasibility of offering online courses to students.

What are the advantages for both teachers and students using technology and online learning in the classroom?
Badea:
As teachers effectively integrate technology into the classroom, they become more excited about their teaching because they see their students are engaged and excited about learning. Through technology, teachers can make the curriculum more real-world-based and relevant to students.

As we prepare our students to function in the 21st century, it is vitally important that we integrate technology into the curriculum. Through technology, students can become more active learners as they engage in real-world problems/scenarios. Through online learning, students are presented with educational opportunities that they may not have had before.  

Are there any emerging trends in classroom technology and resources?
Badea:
Due to budget cuts and/or budget restraints, many school districts across the nation and in Ohio are beginning to look at Open Source Content and tools. Educators are also looking at how Web 2.0 can be effectively used in the classroom.

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