Online Learning, Blended Learning, and the Double Robot

robotWhen I completed my Shadow a Student challenge at McCord Middle School a few weeks ago one of my takeaways was that technology is omnipresent throughout the day.  Students used their smartphones to access information and practice skills and they often grabbed a Chromebook from the cart and use it to write, do research or even play a game.  What I didn’t see during my day at school was a physical textbook.  I assume our students have them, I know we purchase them, but on the day I was at McCord I never once laid eyes on one.

Technology is changing much of what we do in public education.  Our Worthington Academy program utilizes online learning.  Next year, 18 of our high school courses will be offered to students in a blended format.  In the blended format, a few days a week students will meet with the teacher for more traditional instruction, full class discussions, and other learning activities.  On the other days, students will have the flexibility to take more personal responsibility for their learning by completing online assignments, engaging in digital conversations, and meeting individually or in small groups to push their learning forward.

Technology is not only changing how we work at school, it’s also allowing one of our elementary students to stay engaged with his class while he is at home.  At Worthington Estates Elementary, we have a young man named Jacob.  Jacob is facing many physical challenges and hasn’t been able to come to school much this year. The Director of Assistive Technology of Ohio, a statewide disability technology program in the College of Engineering at Ohio State, has allowed Jacob and Worthington Estates to utilize a Double Robot, a mobile “tele-presence” device.

The device is basically a small Segway-type robot with an iPad on it that Jacob controls from home through an app on his iPad. He is able to use both iPads to watch, listen and participate in classroom discussions. If need be, through the app, he is also able to maneuver the robot throughout the school to take part in activities taking place outside the classroom. While Jacob cannot attend school physically, by way of the robot and technology, he is able to stay connected to his learning and possibly more importantly, to his classmates.  How cool is that!

-Trent Bowers, Superintendent


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