Dublin Villager

District tech center

Options for online learning set to grow

By ThisWeek Community News  • 

When Dublin City Schools purchased the building at 7060 Coffman Road, it was inhabited by raccoons.

Now the building that neighbors the central office hosts the district's technology center and promises to aid the district in the long run by saving money and adding to learning options.

A perfect storm is credited for bringing about the new technology center, Superintendent David Axner said. The building's proximity to the central office and price after foreclosure, along with unexpected state funding, helped the district purchase and fix up the former site of a day-care facility for $491,203.

"Sen. (Jim) Hughes pushed really hard to recognize districts like Dublin," Axner told a large crowd assembled for the grand opening of the center Monday, Feb. 4.

The state recognition got Dublin City Schools $17 per pupil for being rated "excellent with distinction" on the state report card for two years.

"That more than paid for the building and the technology," Axner said.

The technology in the new center comes in the form of four large interactive display TVs, cameras, a green screen and other elements.

"There are lots of different pieces," said Mike Voss, district chief technology officer.

The idea behind the new center is to provide a place to host meetings and classes with the aid of large flat-screen TVs that have overlays that allow interaction with a pen-mouse or touch of the finger.

Cameras installed in the building allow video conferencing and live streaming online, Voss said. Cameras also let one educator teach at several buildings at once.

Chinese I has been taught with the help of the technology center since fall.

"The teacher teaches at all three high schools," Voss said. "It saves the district money that way and kept the Chinese program."

Teacher Dun Zhang interacts with students three times a week through video conferencing. Students at different schools can see each other and Zhang. Two days a week, students work on online lessons.

The technology also enables the class to listen to guest speakers from China.

Although other district buildings do not carry the same technology as the new center, Voss said a laptop computer, smartphone or tablet can be used to conference with people at the technology center.

"You can use Skype on a phone," he said.

The new technology center also has been used for professional development and can easily be manipulated for meetings or classes.

"We're starting to get administration and teachers to rethink what classrooms should look like," Voss said, noting the setup at the technology center encourages comfort and collaboration.

The technology center currently is being used to develop new online classes offering students blended learning that allows for time in the classroom as well as online learning.

"We have about 20 classes ready to kick off (in the fall)," Axner said. "We have 14 built and more in the hopper."

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