Innovate to Educate Entry

Mountain Heights Academy

Sarah Weston, Director of Technology and OER

What innovative technology initiative or project are you most proud of, and how has it improved teaching and learning in your school/district?

ONLINE DIGITAL OPEN COURSEWARE - Mountain Heights Academy is an online, public charter school in Utah. Mountain Heights is the first secondary school to develop its own online curriculum as open source content and share it with the world. Mountain Heights remains one of the most innovative and cutting-edge digital academies today, providing equal access to high-quality digital resources all over Utah and beyond.

We have released these digital resources under a Creative Commons Attribution
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What were some of the biggest challenges to your initiative, and how did you meet those challenges?

The biggest challenge of implementing an opencourseware site was deciding on a platform that would truly allow open access. We decided on Moodle, which is an open source learning managing system that any teacher, anywhere could install. We provided full course backups that can be freely downloaded. We also created the site specifically to allow users access to all the materials without having to create an account or login. We found that many educators were using our sites by directly linking.
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What are the three biggest components that need to be in place for tech innovation to succeed are:

Funding: It is obvious that any ed-tech innovation will require some sort of funding source to move forward. However, money, by itself, will never result in a successful implementation.
Cheerleaders - It takes 2 different types of people to succeed: Cheerleaders (the early adopters and tech-savvy educators) and Skeptics (the general population, content with their current teaching methods). The Cheerleaders are willing to jump right in, but they need to also convince the general population of Skeptics to experiment and expand.
When all 3 are in place - Funding, Cheeleaders and Skeptics - and working together - Ed-tech innovation in the classroom can succeed.

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