How has your school financed its technology initiatives—through grants? e-Rate funds? Local funds? Corporate partnerships? Or some combination of these techniques?
For funding, we have used state and federal grants and also our WPU (Utah’s state per-student funding).
What ed-tech project or initiative are you most proud of, and why?
OHSU has released 10 OER (open education resource) courses that are Creative Commons-licensed and openly available to instructors and schools worldwide to use as a curriculum building block. An additional set of 20 courses will be released this fall, with subsequent course releases in following years.
OHSU has joined with TwHistory and the Utah Education Network (UEN) to develop a series of lesson plans and content targeted at Utah social studies standards using TwHistory. TwHistory is a historical-based platform that uses excerpts from journals, letters, records, and other primary-source documentation to literally broadcast (via Twitter) a stream of history in real time. OHSU is currently working on a Twitter reenactment—Freedom Riders—that will be released to correspond with a PBS special. It will be promoted at the state and national level by UEN and PBS. Four additional reenactments will be completed, accompanied by informational videos and teacher in-service workshops available to all Utah teachers.
What have been your biggest challenges in integrating technology into instruction and school processes, and why? How have you overcome those challenges?
One of the biggest challenges is training teachers. Even teachers who come to us with a Masters in Instructional and Technical Design have little experience with the cutting-edge tools being used in eLearning in the K-12 environment.
We have found one method of finding teachers who have an “aptitude” for online teaching. When we interview teachers, we usually start with a web-based video conference. It allows us to see how a teacher interacts in the online space. A face-to-face interview follows. An additional part of the interview process is having the teacher audition by creating an example of an online lesson incorporating the tools of our current teachers (Moodle, Sliderocket, Voicethread, Screencasting, etc.). From the beginning, it is very clear who is a good fit for the online teaching environment.