News

Santa Cruz County Office of Education Pilots New Approach to Personalize Learning, Prepare Students to Meet Common Core Standards

By Abi Mandelbaum
September 23rd, 2014

Partnering With Local Start-Up, OpenEd, Teachers Close Achievement Gaps With World’s Largest Catalog of Educational Videos, Games and Assessments

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. – Sept. 23, 2014 – With the start of the 2014-2015 school year in California, statewide teachers are focused on the Common Core State Standards as they face the challenge of ensuring that all students are prepared for the Smarter Balanced assessments in the spring. In schools in six of the districts served by the Santa Cruz County Office of Education, students will have personalized on-ramps for meeting the new, more rigorous learning goals, as the result of an innovative partnership with nearby ed-tech start-up, OpenEd.

In the first pilot program of its kind, Santa Cruz County educators are using the world’s largest catalog of educational videos, games and assessments, curated by OpenEd, to personalize learning. With OpenEd’s free Common Core assessment creation tool, teachers are creating custom quizzes to test student knowledge, identifying gaps and linking them to videos, games and other learning resources to fill learning gaps.

Of the partnership, Santa Cruz County Office of Education Superintendent Michael C. Watkins, said, “OpenEd has the potential to assist teachers and students in making learning a truly personal, anytime/anywhere experience.”

Almost a snapshot of the state of California overall, Santa Cruz County serves a socio-economically diverse population of approximately 40,000 students, with 28 percent designated as English language learners. More than 51 percent of students are eligible for free or reduced lunch.

“Our diverse student population makes it even more critical that teachers have tools to measure student knowledge and personalize learning so we can put all students on the path to success,” said Jason Borgen, program director, Santa Cruz County Office of Education’s Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership. “To accomplish this, we are focused on creating innovative schools with a community of practice focused on personalizing learning with technology.”

Continuing, he said, “Collaborating with OpenEd plays a key role in personalized learning. OpenEd’s unique approach to identifying specific videos and games that address learning gaps identified from its quizzing tool enables us to personalize learning for each student, not just the lowest performers.”

Teachers from six of the 10 districts served by the Santa Cruz County Office of Education volunteered to participate in the first phase of the pilot. During the summer, teachers participated in professional development with OpenEd’s content curators, learning to use the assessment creation tool and personalize learning with the site’s resources. Throughout the school year, they will receive professional development through a community of online best-practice-sharing, quarterly face-to-face meetings and on-demand support through screencasts and webinars.

“Reflecting the spirit of the Common Core, Superintendent Watkins has a vision for preparing students to use technology in a self-directed way to learn, making the Santa Cruz County Office of Education the perfect partner for an OpenEd pilot,” said Adam Blum, OpenEd CEO and co-founder. “As we collaborate with his team, we will forge new instructional strategies that will increase student success through personalized learning.”

About OpenEd
OpenEd was founded in 2012 with the goal of providing teachers with access to the best educational resources for their students, with a focus on finding the right resources to teach the Common Core State Standards. To accomplish this important goal, OpenEd built the world’s largest catalog of educational videos, games and assessments. OpenEd is committed to keeping all content available free to educators around the world. For more information, visit www.OpenEd.io.

About the Author:

Abi Mandelbaum

Abi Mandelbaum is CEO of YouVisit.