Source: EdTech Digest

Navigating the best course forward through complex technology implementation issues.

juliecarterWith the growth of technology immersion in the classroom and the rise in availability of digital content and tools, navigating the best course for implementation can be a daunting task, even for the most sophisticated organizations. Experienced administrators Dr. Julie Carter and Rob Dickson (both formerly named “20 to Watch” Education Technology Leaders by the NSBA) have launched a new company focused on helping schools plan and execute their technology goals. GreyED Solutions focuses on a personalized approach to visioning and planning for both schools and the edtech industry, emphasizing that the education landscape is not black and white. Strategies for technology implementation as well as product marketing and messaging must be personalized to represent the unique needs and challenges of every organization. In this interview, GreyED Solutions co-founders share with us their insight into the creation of their company, the challenges facing schools with implementations today, and advice on where to start and what to avoid as you begin your implementations. 

Victor: Where did the vision and desire to build GreyED Solutions come from?

Julie: With our experience in K12 education we know first hand the challenges, triumphs and intricacies of well-executed implementations. Having championed some of the best technology implementations in the country we quickly realized the demand for support and assistance as we fielded questions, lent support, shared materials and worked to share our successes so other schools and districts could benefit from what we learned. Julie’s administrative experience comes from her leadership at Minnetonka Public Schools where she served as a classroom teacher and media specialist before becoming the executive director of technology. Rob’s experience stems from his work as the director of technology for Andover Public Schools and more recently in his current role as the executive director of information management services for Omaha Public Schools.

RobRob: Over the past several years we have consulted with districts nationally helping with the assessment and design of technology planning. GreyED Solutions was born out of the realization that every district has its own unique culture and fingerprint, where merely replicating models and materials does not equate success. While there is an enormous amount to be gleaned from the success of others, modifications to best fit your individual organization are necessary to ensure successful implementation. The vision of GreyED is to perpetuate the success of technology enhanced learning through personalized services which recognize implementations are not black and white.

Victor: Working with both schools and the industry is unique – why did you choose to focus on both?

Julie: We believe that it is essential for the edtech industry to understand the challenges and needs of today’s learners. Bringing leading educators together to engage in collaborative discussions with the edtech industry makes for the most innovative,

Bringing leading educators together to engage in collaborative discussions with the edtech industry makes for the most innovative, successful and purposeful uses of technology that will positively impact students. 

successful and purposeful uses of technology that will positively impact students. By using our industry knowledge we are able to impact the design and development of edtech products and we can introduce districts to great products and services that can enhance and accelerate learning in their classrooms. For us, schools and the industry work together hand-in-hand for the betterment of today’s learners.

Victor: What advice do you have for schools beginning an implementation? Is there a place to start?

Rob: Establishing your vision and desired outcomes is the place we recommend you begin. What is it that you want your students to be doing or be able to do as a result of your implementation? Beginning with the vision and listing out your desired outcomes allows you to stay focused on your goals while designing the remainder of your plan. Don’t get hung up on the perfect vision statement, but rather focus on articulating or depicting a picture of the learner and what he or she will be able to do as a result.

Victor: Why do you think schools struggle with implementation processes? and/or How do you help districts with their implementation process?

GreyED Solutions logoJulie: The implementation process is a daunting task because there are so many phases to planning and development and often numerous stakeholders to plan for and report to. Often schools are focused on the “what” rather than the “why” and begin a conversation about the product or service rather than the end result. As an example, when a district begins an implementation focused on a 1:1 initiative, we often hear and see conversation and questions about the device itself, not about the rationale or desired outcomes from the initiative. The danger here is the missed opportunity to engage stakeholders, understand the desired outcomes and design the communication, professional development and infrastructure around the stated goals. Schools also struggle in large part due to the lack of internal capacity to plan and design such initiatives. Using a third party to facilitate this process allows you to seek advice from an objective party who has championed other success stories and can leverage the best of your organization to design an implementation plan to meet your needs.

Rob: GreyED’s approach is focused on our LEARN process where we 1) Listen to your needs, desired outcomes and challenges as it relates to technology and instruction, 2) engage your stakeholders through surveys and interviews to capture multiple viewpoints within the organization 3) Analyze the information gathered, 4) Recommend goals to meet your long term objectives, and 5) help you create next steps for your implementation that are attainable and measurable.

Victor: What are the most common implementations you are seeing happen in schools?

Julie: The most common implementations we are seeing are personalized learning efforts that are commonly coupled with a 1:1 initiative. While the devices remain varied in these implementations, we are seeing a rise of BYOD in districts that have an existing population of high device ownership. We believe the personalized learning approaches are naturally pairing with 1:1 as the technology is being used to leverage opportunities for adaptability and individual creativity to personalize the learning experience in ways not previously possible.

Victor: What are some of the missteps you see districts making with their implementations?

Rob: The most common missteps we are seeing are a disconnect between the technology and the teaching and learning. For example, we see initiatives that are scaled on the technical side to be successful in terms of the infrastructure, capacity for bandwidth and high-density wireless and plenty of devices in the hands of students. However, the teacher preparedness and the transformation of the teaching and learning has not grown to scale to match the technology that is in hand. While some have seen this as a ‘if you build it they will come’ scenario, we have seen this to be detrimental to implementations where the technology becomes a glorified device for taking notes or projecting content and has not transformed or impacted student learning.

Julie: The flip side is just as detrimental to an initiative when a district has well-prepared teachers who have transformed their pedagogy and the infrastructure cannot support the devices. In these cases, the frustration seen in the classroom from the teachers and students

We hope the impact of today’s technology immersion efforts have transformed the teaching and learning opportunities in the classroom to shift the conversation towards the products and outcomes students are demonstrating and creating rather then discussing what types of devices to implement.

often halts any success as the technology is seen as unreliable and therefore not used because teachers feel the need to prepare two lessons in the event the technology is unusable.

Rob: When these two are in balance and the infrastructure and teaching and learning are ready, the misstep we see here is districts going too far too fast. While you may have laid excellent groundwork and gained significant progress, be careful not to spread your resources too thin to support and sustain an implementation that does require time and dedicated support from your organization. We are a big believer in going slow to go fast and recommend that curricular focuses can be one way to scale an implementation to assure all students have the benefit of devices without undertaking an entire district in one single rollout.

Victor: What benefits are you seeing from districts moving to devices in the classroom?

Julie: There is no question that one of the biggest benefits of devices in the classroom has been the increased use of formative assessments for teachers to monitor and adjust their instruction. Teachers report the ability to make corrections quickly and shorten the length of time on student follow-up creating a tighter feedback loop. We are also seeing data driven decision-making that is allowing for tailored learning experiences, saving teachers what they need most, more time.

Rob: Devices in the classroom are also pushing pedagogy out of the ‘talk and chalk’ technique and truly moving the teacher into the information facilitator role, rather than being the information keeper. Schools are seeing increases in student engagement, higher levels of collaboration and increased communication.

Victor: How do you feel your responses to these questions may be different if we asked them of you in 5 or even 10 years from now?

Julie: In 5 to 10 years, we hope the impact of today’s technology immersion efforts have transformed the teaching and learning opportunities in the classroom to shift the conversation towards the products and outcomes students are demonstrating and creating rather then discussing what types of devices to implement. We believe the ‘device’ truly will be agnostic in these conversations with the increased use of cloud-based technologies and cross platform compatible digital curriculum and we can finally say we have ubiquitous computing!

PR with Panache! is thrilled to welcome the addition of GreyED Solutions and Learningpod to our growing client family!

greyed logoFounded by nationally recognized education leaders Dr. Julie Carter and Rob Dickson, GreyED Solutions helps schools plan and execute their technology implementation and integration goals while also supplying EdTech providers with industry insight to aid in the development and refinement of their products and services.

For more information about GreyED Solutions, please visit http://greyedsolutions.com/

learningpod

Learningpod believes great education should be available to anyone who wants to teach or learn. With the goal of helping their community members build the largest library of free, online practice questions in the world, Learningpod allows educators to create sets, or “pods,” to help students questions study for quizzes and tests. Learningpod provides free access to over 50,000 high-quality questions on any exam or subject.

For more information about Learningpod, please visit http://www.learningpod.com/

Source: EdTech Times

MacToSchoolwebNew

EdTech Times spoke to Robert Baker, co-founder and CMO of Mac to School - a California based company that sells recertified Apple products to K-12 market. Please join us in learning about Robert and his company.

Company at Glance:

Website: www.mactoschool.com  

Founders: Robert Baker / Justin Sanderson

Founded: 2012

Category: Computer Hardware

Product stage: Market

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MacToSchool

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/company/mac-to-school

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/mactoschool

ETT: What is the market segment your company is in?

RB: Mac to School sells recertified Apple devices to the K-12 market.

ETT: How did you come across the problem you’re addressing and how did you define it – what was your process in identifying it?

RB: Apple devices are amazing learning tools. The one downside, they are expensive. So the question became, how do we deliver these devices into the hands of more students?

ETT:  And how did you develop a solution to this particular problem and what was your process of arriving at it?

RB: We took a look at the entire lifecycle of Apple devices in K12. We knew that while Apple devices are initially expensive, they do outlast their PC/Chrome counterparts and deliver great long term value. We found that we could use our expertise in Apple service to recertify devices and deliver Apple equipment that could give educators more access to the Apple ecosystem at a fraction of the price.

ETT: What it is that you’re doing differently than your competitors? And do you expect to develop other differentiators in the future?

RB: We are 100% focused on the Apple K-12 market. We stock thousands of iPads, MacBooks and iMacs in multiple configurations to meet the unique needs of our education customers. We work closely with schools across the country to unlock the most value out of their existing Apple devices through our Apple buyback program. Service is our greatest differentiator. Our post sale support and warranty process is the best in the industry. We’re constantly working with our education customers and industry partners to find new ways to improve the Mac to School experience.

ETT: Please describe your business development strategy. What we should expect to see from your company in the next 12 months – i.e. describe your potential next milestones?

RB: Our business development strategy is to continually improve our service by engaging our existing customers and to further build awareness in the education market. In the next 12 months you will see our team at more education shows and events throughout the country. An upcoming milestone for us is moving into a larger facility that will allow us to process more devices.

ETT: Could you tell us about other startups that you have been a part of and what your role was?

RB: Mac to School was born out of MacService. MacService is a nationwide mail-in Apple repair company that we started over a decade ago. My role was to help build the company’s service reputation into the gold standard in the marketplace. Many of the same lessons we learned on how to take care of customers translated directly over to Mac to School. 

ETT: Did you or do you currently have a mentor who is/has been helping you through the startup stages of the company – who is that mentor?

RB: We’re lucky enough to have a great network of industry veterans who have been instrumental in helping us navigate the early stages of building the company. Part of my job is reaching out to those that have been in edtech on both sides of the equation and learning from their experience.

ETT: Where is education technology market going in the next few years?

RB: It’s exciting to see how edtech startups are using the power of today’s devices and the Internet to enable dynamic learning. I’m of course a die-hard Apple fan, but I strongly believe that devices choice and diversity makes for a better learning environment. Businesses are finally coming around to allow their employees to pick the device (Apple, PC, Android) that is going to help the employee work more effectively. I see education technology also moving in that multi-platform direction where educators have the freedom to pick the device that is going to allow them to teach most effectively. 

ETT: What advice, if any, do you have for someone thinking about launching a company in the education technology market – especially whose service or product is tied to one company such as Apple?

RB: We often get asked, “why not sell recertified PCs or Chromebooks?” Our answer is those markets don’t work with our business model. The margins, customer expectations for service and quality, just don’t fit with how our culture is set up. My advice for someone starting any business is to focus on where your value is and work really hard to execute that. Knowing when to say “no” to a product or feature is just as important as knowing when to say “yes.” Find out how to match what you’re good at with what you’re customers want and you’ve got a winning combination.

EdTech Times thanks Robert for sharing with us his insights and thoughts, and we recommend you learn more about Mac to School by visiting their website at: http://mactoschool.com/

Source: EdTech Digest

naikuwebNaiku studentA unique and comprehensive cloud-based software that helps transform teaching and learning through more effective assessment, Naiku is used across all subjects and grades to provide deeper and faster insight into student knowledge for informed instruction that better engages students and truly supports the personalization of learning. Comprehensively used for student assessment, from instant student polling and formative quizzes to benchmark and summative tests – teachers can create, import, and share items and assessments with their team, school, or district using the platform. Teachers can instantly view student and class proficiency for any learning standard, either for each individual assessment or longitudinally over time, and collaborate with others for informed and differentiated instruction. Meanwhile, students are actively engaged in their learning: in addition to answering a wide variety of question item types, students can express their confidence and provide justification and journal about their answer. After test submission, they can review and reflect on their performance and knowledge by viewing each question, correct answer and automatically supplied answer rationale along with their answer, confidence, and justification; these research proven self-assessment processes accelerate student learning. In addition, they can automatically be provided instructional resources such as videos, ebooks and more – all personalized for them based on their proficiency.

Dr. Julie Carter and Rob Dickson to provide personalized EdTech services to solution providers and educators

greyed logoToday the K-12 and EdTech industries are getting the solution they have been seeking with the launch of GreyED Solutions.  The new company, headed by nationally recognized education leaders, will help schools plan and execute their technology implementation and integration goals.  GreyEd will also supply EdTech providers with industry insight to aid in the development and refinement of their products and services.

GreyED Solutions was co-founded by Julie Carter, former executive director of technology for Minnetonka Public Schools, and Rob Dickson, current executive director of information management at Omaha Public Schools. Carter brings years of successful consulting experience in both the K-12 and EdTech industry. During her time at Minnetonka, she oversaw one of the best 1:1 computing efforts in the country and was named a Tech & Learning “Leader of the Year” as well as one of NSBA’s “20 to Watch” in 2010.  She has since continued consulting with districts nationwide to support various implementations.

Recently named 2014’s “20 to Watch” from NSBA, Dickson’s other accomplishments include leading the first VBlock cloud data center installation in K-12 education, launching one of the fastest growing virtual schools in the nation as well as advising district leaders nationwide with their technology planning and integration efforts.

“With the growth of technology and digital content in the classroom, EdTech vendors need to hear the voices of educators now more than ever,” Carter stated. “We facilitate the discussion between supplier and consumer; it is our mission to utilize the dialog to foster the development and improvement of EdTech products and services, thus ensuring the most innovative and successful technologies in the hands of students.”

Drawing from years of experience in technology and administration, GreyED Solutions’ industry expertise provides districts nationwide with technology implementation solutions, designed to empower today’s learners. Through their personalized LEARNing (Listen Engage Analyze Recommend Next Steps) process, GreyED Solutions helps schools and districts achieve their technology goals. By gathering leading national educators and administrators together for Feedback Forums, GreyED Solutions also aims to help organizations within the EdTech industry develop and refine their products and services based on current market needs.

“We could not be happier to make this announcement. As current and former district administrators, we recognize the challenges that administrators and EdTech service providers face in today’s tech focused environment,” said Dickson. “We are here to ease the strain on both sides.”

For more information about GreyED Solutions, please visit http://greyedsolutions.com/

18-year IT business veteran will lead market expansion

TeacherMatchLogo_4colorTeacherMatch, a revolutionary teacher candidate assessment solution, is excited to welcome Elizabeth Fadil as the new Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Liz has joined TeacherMatch from SchoolMessenger, the nation’s leading provider of K12 mass notifications, where she was Senior Vice President of Sales. Liz brings fresh performance initiatives and new efficiencies to the TeacherMatch team.

Liz began her career at Xerox Corporation, where she developed a passion for working with K12 school districts, and other public sector entities. She continued to provide technology alternatives to the education marketplace at Sun Microsystems, and Information Builders

“I’ve always had a passion for expanding the use of technology in schools, and am very impressed with how TeacherMatch uses technology in the teacher hiring process,” said Fadil. “I firmly believe that in order to sell a product you need to have faith in its ability to improve the lives of your consumers. TeacherMatch does just that; it maximizes the administration’s ability to hire the most qualified and appropriate candidates. I look forward to expanding the market potential and helping school administrators.”

As the Executive Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Elizabeth will lead and oversee sales staff development, business processes, strategic planning and market expansion.

“Liz brings a tremendous amount of experience in education technology and a style that enriches our company’s values,” said Don Fraynd, PhD, CEO and co-founder of TeacherMatch. We are lucky to have her on our team and look forward to her leading our efforts to expand our reach to more and more partners across the education space.”

For more information about TeacherMatch, visit their website at www.TeacherMatch.org

Steven Anderson, Tom Whitby and Mitch Weisburgh Revolutionize online Professional Development

edchat logoToday Edchat Interactive announces the platform that replaces talking head webinars with an interactive, online Professional Development web experience.

Nationally recognized authors and social media icons, Steven Anderson, and Tom Whitby join with humanitarian and veteran edtech consultant Mitch Weisburgh to launch Edchat Interactive, transforming the way educators participate in live online professional development.

The inaugural Edchat Interactive web event takes place Wednesday October 22 at 8:00 PM EST. The first session will highlight Anderson and Whitby’s co-authored book, The Relevant Educator: How Connectedness Empowers Learning. Participants in this interactive session will examine how connectedness empowers educators to be better professionals, to share tips and techniques to save time, to overcome obstacles, and to develop new skills.

“There are so many incredible educators out there doing absolutely amazing things with their students,, “ explains Mitch Weisburgh. “But we saw that there is no effective way to transfer these practices across the country and around the world. Live face to face PD isn’t scalable, and webinars just don’t teach the way we all learn.”

“The three of us saw an opportunity to conduct PD that is more in tune with the way we learn,” stated Steven Anderson. “Educators are far too busy to sit and watch a lengthy talking head presentation. They want to interact, reflect, and participate in their learning.  We believe the Edchat Interactive model fits into the busy lives of educators. Five years ago we started the Edchat Twitter chats because we saw an opportunity for educators to direct their own development by interacting with other educators. We see a next generation opportunity today with Edchat Interactive.”

“We wanted to replicate the presence, interactivity, and social learning that takes place in great face to face PD with the scalability offered through the Internet, and we believe that Edchat Interactive provides the platform for learners to be in charge of their learning,” stated Whitby. “Participants will work in small groups to discuss the challenges faced by connected educators and how we all can over come them.”

Together these education experts and founders of Edchat Interaction bring years of successful teaching and consulting experience in both the K-12 and EdTech industry.

Steven Anderson, a former teacher and Director of Instructional Technology is highly sought after for his expertise in educational technology integration and using social media for learning.

Tom Whitby, founder of Edchat Interactive, is a highly recognized expert in Social Media for Education. He served as a social media consultant for SmartBrief and a contributing Editor for SmartBlog on Education for SmartBrief. Currently, he blogs for Edutopia.

Mitch Weisburgh, co-founder of Academic Business Advisors, applies his knowledge of business, instructional design, and systems to help organizations align their products and services with academic needs and education market funding requirements so that they can scale and make a difference to kids and educators.

For more information about Edchat Interactive and to sign up for the event, please visit http://www.edchatinteractive.org/

Source: Smartblog on Education

LU logoI can hear the fear in my colleagues’ voices when they talk about the Common Core State Standards. There is so much uncertainty surrounding the new standards and how to teach to them.

The fear is even more prevalent in the special education community, and with good reason. I spent 15 years in the classroom as a special-education teacher, and I would have been terrified if somebody told me, “We want you to teach math and science and health this year. Not only that, but we want you to teach in a way that goes deeper and requires more mastery from students than ever before.”

While special-education teachers do a wonderful job of helping students gain access to information in various subjects, they’re not necessarily experts in particular subject areas. As I’m sure you can imagine, they’re now tasked with an incredibly overwhelming burden.

In my new role as a special education academic support teacher — SEAST –, part of my job is to listen to and empathize with these teachers’ frustrations. But my next question is, “I know it’s going to be tough — so where do we go from here?”

A new perspective

Getting past a teacher’s mental hurdles is a daunting task, so I try to help them see common core in a new light.

If you’re familiar with special education at all, you might be familiar with the buzzwords “universal design for learning” — an educational framework that has been around for several years. UDL is very popular in the special education community, and it’s starting to catch on in mainstream classes as well.

Essentially, UDL suggests the most effective way to design a lesson plan or a classroom is by thinking about how it will affect every student, including students with disabilities. If you’re building a new classroom, this can save you costly retrofitting down the road. And if you’re writing a lesson plan, it saves special-education teachers the stress of rewriting their lesson to fit their students’ needs.

Naturally, special-education teachers love UDL. Their students are being considered from day one, instead of being added as an afterthought. But most teachers are a little surprised when I tell them UDL isn’t all that different from common core. In fact, I’d say a UDL teaching model is essential for common core success. Like UDL, common core tells teachers, “We want you to reach these kids in multiple ways. We don’t want you to just stand up and lecture to them.”

Teachers are also being asked to give students a variety of ways to show that they have mastered something. So instead of just telling students, “Write what you know,” excluding students who aren’t good writers, teachers can allow students to demonstrate mastery in a way that makes sense to them.

That could be by creating a PowerPoint presentation, making a Prezi, shooting a video — or, if a student wants to dance to a song they wrote about the Revolutionary War, more power to them! Common core asks students to represent what they’ve learned in their own way, instead of treating every student the same.

When you understand the goals of common core, it’s easy to see the connection between these abstract standards and UDL. For common core to work, teachers across the country will need to weave UDL principles into their instruction. If you’re a special-education teacher, that should be cause for celebration.

What you can do

Once my teachers have a new outlook on common core, I give them resources to make this transition a little easier.

We’ve found our professional learning communities to be incredibly helpful in this regard. I’ve started bringing general-education teachers to our SPED PLC meetings, which allows the general-education teachers to talk about the common core standards they’re focusing on in class and equip special-education teachers to take that information back to their students. At the same time, the special-education teachers can share some UDL principles to help the general-education teachers design their lesson plans more effectively.

We’re also relying on new educational technology, particularly products that are designed specifically for the common core. As an example, we’ve been using Learning Upgrade, an online math and reading curriculum that uses catchy songs and fun games to address common core standards in a relatable way. The courses also have built-in reporting features that make them ideal for case management.

We have so many great tools and great minds right at our fingertips, and we’re trying to pull them together so the transition to common core will be successful.

Out of all the educational movements that have been thrown at teachers over the years, I strongly believe common core has the most potential for the greatest growth for our students. Change is always a little scary, but I’m so glad I have the chance to help teachers see the big picture and inspire them to make a difference in their students’ lives.

Written by Christine Fax-Huckaby, a special education academic support teacher (SEAST) in Sweetwater Union High School District. She has worked in special education for 18 years and spent the first 15 years of her career in the classroom.

Source: THE Journal

myON logoA Texas school district is expanding use of a digital book service that helps schools address literacy. McAllen Independent School District in Texas has committed to deploying myON in all of its elementary and middle schools, 27 in total. The school system began using the company’s digital books 15 months ago in four schools.

After an assessment and “interest inventory,” myON generates a custom student dashboard that shows books based on their interests and reading abilities. However, students are allowed to access any of the books in the collection. Those include fiction and nonfiction, picture books, graphic novels, chapter books, Spanish and bilingual titles and books specifically intended for “struggling and reluctant” readers. The program includes book quizzes, and students can download up to 20 books for offline reading. Teachers gain access to a dashboard that shares student reading metrics and provides long-term reading growth projections.

McAllen, which runs one of the largest student iPad programs in the country (25,000 at last count), adopted myON to help students — including its English learning population — gain a love of reading and increase their reading abilities. It will be made available on 17,000 iPads.

“We take literacy extremely seriously… However we believe that making reading fun and engaging is critical to our students’ reading and overall academic growth,” said Brenda Huston, the district’s library and media coordinator, in a statement. “In addition to the platform’s personalization and customization features, the fact that our students are able to read books wherever they are, even without access to the Internet, was a huge factor in our decision to choose myON for our students. It has been extremely rewarding watching our students further embrace reading and taking ownership of their own academic success.”

Since the beginning of school this year, added myON President, Todd Brekhus, the students have read “over 60,889 books.”

The school’s iPad program began in 2011 as part of its TLC3, or “Transforming Learning in the Classroom,” program.

myON is also in use at Hillsborough County Public Schools in Florida, Colby Public Schools in Kansas and Oakland Unified School District in California, among other districts.

OW logo

Source: Tech & Learning 

By Kelly Hurtado

In the late 1990s, the parents of a special needs student in Tucson, Arizona were dissatisfied with traditional schooling. Fortunately, they had extensive educational expertise. They founded Mountain Rose Academy, a charter high school featuring an individualized, self-paced, computerized program for each student. On day one, they set up a card table in front of the school. Each student got a desktop computer and also participated in small-group instruction. They were expecting 40 students, but more than 100 students seeking an alternative to traditional education enrolled.

Since that time, the Rose Academy has expanded into four schools that serve 1,200 students. From the start, our teachers were pioneers in blended learning, combining computer-based instruction with individual and small- group instruction. One of our challenges was to find a rigorous electronic curriculum with an appealing look and feel that offered a variety of course options and met state standards. Originally, Rose spent time and energy developing its own computerized curriculum; however, the use of our time was best served in helping teachers implement a blended instructional model. So, in 2013, we began to look for software that would match our system of education. After thorough evaluation, we selected OdysseyWare. Our students find the new curriculum appealing, yet challenging.

Implementing OdysseyWare curriculum has allowed us to focus our time and energy on instruction rather than developing curriculum. Our instructional approach focuses on teaching students how to learn and how to perform. Teachers emphasize teaching strategies so that our students can meet academic demands. Our teachers are coaches. We educate students “how to fish” so that they can become independent lifelong learners.

We, as well as our students, are well prepared to incorporate any future innovation because our system demonstrates a step beyond competence.

Kelly Hurtado is superintendent at Rose Academies, public charter high schools that have been serving the Tucson community for more than 15 years.