Kayla Kerr 1125 

Owasso Public Schools are leading the way in distance learning thanks in part to the development of the ITSL (Instructional Technology Site Leader) team. Melinda Gallagher, Kelley Raby, Caroline Conner and Tiffanie Palmer make up the team and in this Q&A we sit down with Kelley Raby and Tiffanie Palmer to discuss the role of the team and what that means to the students of Owasso. 


VYPE: Why was it important for this ITSL team to form? 

Raby: Our group developed digital citizenship lessons, attended training on Google apps for education, and then shared our new knowledge with our faculty. We did not want the Chromebook to simply become a replacement for teacher instruction. We wanted it to be a valuable tool for teachers to use to enhance the learning process for students. 

Palmer: Technology and how quickly it changes can be intimidating for even experienced users. When you have someone sit side by side and compare notes and "what's working," it creates a real-life application that others can relate to.

VYPE: What advantages will the students see thanks to your work with this group?

Raby: We work to find the best tool for individual student needs.  If I have a student that needs to improve the readability on the computer because of dyslexia, there is a tool that will make any text on their screen easier for that student to process.  If a teacher wants to check for understanding as they deliver lectures, we help find a tool that will make the presentation interactive and engaging for the students. 

Palmer: We are problem solvers! If something (software) isn't working or is glitching, we are quick to respond...and hopefully, it is a response with a fix or solution! 

VYPE: Technology has advanced at a rapid pace when it comes to distance learning; what do you see as the biggest hurdle students must overcome to make it successful? 

Raby: I believe the biggest challenge at this moment is accessibility. Not every student will have access to Wi-Fi or access to his/her own device. Our district has made a great effort to provide hotspots and Chromebooks to those in need. There is also the social and emotional cost of not being able to be at school with friends, teachers and counselors. Owasso is working to make sure our students have access to their counselors and other necessary resources.

Palmer: Discipline to stay task-oriented. There are SO MANY distractions in this world. They have to create a space to be productive with habits to support that productivity and routine is key. Starting the day just as they would if they were coming into the classroom will keep them prepared and ready to learn.

VYPE: Teaching can be a challenging profession in a normal setting, what are some of the challenges you face as an educator with so many students moving to an online type curriculum? 

Raby: I am going to miss walking into my classroom and seeing all of their faces. I will miss casual conversations in the hall and before and after class. So, for me the challenge is connection and building that relationship with students. Group collaboration has been the toughest issue to problem solve. There are some things that just can’t be replaced with technology.

Palmer: I miss the buzz of chatter in the hallway, the smiles walking through my classroom door, the stories and books we discuss together...it's just their presence and the sounds of their voices. I know presence and discussion is achievable online, but it just isn't the same.

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