Ohio’s Information Technology Centers (ITCs) are partnering with Educational Service Centers (ESCs) to prepare districts for school closures of substantial duration. Working closely with the Ohio Department of Education, the Governor’s Office through the Management Council, and ESCs, ITCs are ensuring districts are aware of the options currently available for remote learning.
Beginning the week of March 16, ITCs will offer training for all districts on Zoom videoconference software, which enables teachers and students to engage in high quality videoconference sessions. It is encouraging to note that there are schools around the world right now that are maintaining their typical class schedules with all teachers and students participating remotely. Districts can purchase a full Zoom license for each teacher for $5, which is valid for the remainder of the school year (students are free), or you can use the basic Zoom licensing free of charge. Zoom requires no special technology; a teacher with a laptop/Chromebook and students with smartphones/Chromebooks can fully participate. Students with old phones can still participate over audio.
Training on how to leverage all of the remarkable INFOhio content will also be offered, entirely free of charge. INFOhio content is all electronic, easy to use remotely, and covers almost all Ohio standards, benchmarks, and indicators articulated in the state standards and model curriculum. Districts can contact their local ITC or ESC for additional information regarding training on both Zoom and INFOhio.
Not every student has access to a device or to broadband connectivity. ITCs stand ready to approach vendors in partnership with their districts to seek free or low-cost access to computers, tablets, Chromebooks, phones, connectivity, adaptive devices, learning management systems, and other technology that enables students to participate more fully in the learning experience.
Additionally, ITCs have coordinated a clearinghouse of important links for schools as districts consider how best to continue the teaching and learning process in the face of the health situation.
Much remains uncertain – such as the future of testing in a remote environment – and there are plenty of other issues beyond technology, teaching, and learning that districts will be addressing as this unprecedented effort in remote learning unfolds. Ohio’s ITCs and ESCs stand ready to help districts in any way possible.