Learning Counsel recognizes OCPS for digital initiative

The district’s program, LaunchED, combines technology, digital content and instruction.

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  • | 5:04 p.m. November 30, 2017
  • Southwest Orange
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ORANGE COUNTY Orange County Public Schools gained national attention recently for its digital learning initiative, LaunchED. 

Earlier this month, the district was awarded the 2017 Digital Super Hero Award from the Learning Counsel, a research institute comprised of educators focused on the integration of digital learning in education.

“This award is a testament to the hard work of all of our LaunchED schools,” said Rob Bixler, executive director for curriculum, instruction and digital learning at OCPS. “It is the vision of the OCPS School Board and Superintendent Barbara Jenkins to be a leader in digital learning, and this recognition shows how much we are making a difference.”

Most recently, OCPS hosted a discussion about the sustainability of digital curriculum at Windermere High, where Learning Counsel members also made classroom visits. 

The district currently has a goal of converting all schools to a digital learning platform by 2021, where each student would have access to their own laptop.

So far, 32 schools have been added to the program this year, with another 44 schools set to be added each year until 2021.

“It’s about curriculum, instruction, technology, innovation,” Bixler said. “It’s not just about the device. It’s about all the things that can transform the classroom.”

Starting in sixth grade, students are assigned a laptop each year, allowing them to conduct classwork through the various LaunchED programs.

According to program guidelines, elementary schools participate in 70% traditional education methods and 30% digital learning, middle schools are half traditional and half digital learning, and high schools are 70% digital learning and 30% traditional.

“We’re going from paper-ful to paper-purposed,” said Mariel Milano, director of digital curriculum at OCPS.

In addition to cutting down on paper usage, digital learning means having almost no school supply lists at the start of the year and giving teachers the ability to monitor students’ work, Milano said.

“I like it a lot better,” said Graig Smith, a science teacher at Windermere High School. “It allows me so much more control in the classroom.”

In addition to being able to monitor what students are looking at on their own laptops, Smith said he can view their work history, easily catch plagiarism and see if students share answers with each other. 

“There’s no lost paper,” he said. “They can do drawings and all kinds of stuff. I’m a full paperless course.”

Currently, the district plans to have all middle schools and high schools equipped with its LaunchED program by the start of the 2018-19 school year.

“We are truly dedicated to making sure this works because our community is invested in us,” Bixler said.



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