Innovate to Educate Entry
Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District
Chasina Worman, Information Specialist
What innovative technology initiative or project are you most proud of, and how has it improved teaching and learning in your school/district?We have started what is called the Alaska Digital Academy. The purpose of the Alaska Digital Teaching initiative is to support and increase the delivery of high quality, interactive courses to middle and high school students using evidence-based online and blended learning models.
AKDA is working on innovative approaches to engage students across district boundaries. The Alaska Digital is working with NASA on groundbreaking earthquake monitoring research in partnership with NASA. Other future projects include such things as using unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) to research and find tsunami debris. Through an innovative approach that combines digital learning, blended learning, and an emphasis in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) students will not be restricted by the traditional school day or course offerings. Visit our online portal to learn more: http://www.alaskadigitalacademy.org/
What were some of the biggest challenges to your initiative, and how did you meet those challenges?The state of Alaska has some unique educational challenges. Last year the legislature cut education spending by $100 million, and we expect to see more cuts this year. According to the Alaska state's department of Education there are around 60 small school in Alaska that are in jeopardy of closing as they have less than 20 students. With very school schools, there are limited teachers who must teacher every subject area. Restricting the courses students have access too. Many of our communities in Alaska are subsistence communities where the limitations of the traditional school day and calendar mean that they miss school often. Alaska must overcome critical educational challenges to survive and thrive in the 21st Century economy and provide quality educational opportunity to all students. Our school districts cannot meet all of these challenges through traditional face-to-face instruction and are clamoring for increased online learning resources. To meet these challenges the Alaska Digital Academy working on building a sustainable program that offers digital learning to students with highly qualified teachers who are specifically trained in how to best work with students using evidence based online and blended learning models. The mission of the Alaska Digital Academy is to 'provide Alaskan students better access to quality teachers and courses to meet each student's individual educational needs.This is done by currently offering:
- 18 Alaska Performance Scholarship Classes Offered
- 1 AP Class
- Alaska Studies
- Driver Ed
- Credit Recovery
- Grade Improvement
- Credits towards high school graduation
In addition to this the Alaska Digital Academy has:
- Teachers available on weekends and after school hours, through phone, chat, and online video conferencing
- Summer School
- Rolling Enrollment (you do not have to wait till semester to enter a course)
We have offered two week long summer conferences for our teachers to attend to learn more about using technology to provide students with an enriched virtual instruction model. Professional development and support for our teaches is key as we move to a non-traditional educational environment.
What are the three biggest components that need to be in place for tech innovation to succeed are:
Quality Standards and Curriculum
Empowering Educators by providing the professional development and support needed.