MOESC’s Tech Department Rises To The Challenge of Remote Learning
Technology is an ever changing field to support and maintain, which became evident to many people during the COVID-19 shutdown. In March, the Mid-Ohio Educational Service Center staff members and our client districts were given quite a challenge as schools shuttered for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. However, they all have done a remarkable job of continuing to work in this “new environment,” thanks to the assistance of the Mid-Ohio ESC Technology Department as they provided staff members with training on how to accomplish working with teachers and students remotely.
Members of the Mid-Ohio ESC staff met with Occupational and Physical Therapists, Speech and Language Pathologists, and Psychologists to determine their needs and how to best service their student population. The Technology Department then provided laptops, iPads, and whatever electronic equipment was needed for staff members to assist client districts as they reached out to their teachers and students. Once their needs were determined and equipment disbursed, Mid-Ohio ESC began offering training and any support they requested.
The support Mid-Ohio ESC ranged from connecting to WiFi and printers at home, to teaching about new software, providing remote access to Zoom, Google Meets, or whatever collaboration tools were utilized by the districts serviced by Mid-Ohio ESC.
Prior to COVID-19, many of the Mid-Ohio ESC staff members would travel between districts on a regular schedule to connect with administrators, teachers, staff members, and students. Now Mid-Ohio ESC staff members follow the districts’ new technology schedules and guidelines as they implement professional development for teachers and activities to best service their student population. Sherri Richter, from the Gifted and Talented Team, said the Tech Department has given them the flexibility they need by allowing teachers and district leadership teams to access professional learning offerings while continuing their work with their students.
Mid-Ohio ESC has always been at the forefront of looking at creative ways of teaching and training teachers and working with area administrators. Some of the new formats that have been implemented during the extended school closure may become the new norm when it comes to training and communicating with the districts served. Mid-Ohio ESC staff members have asked good questions and provided different scenarios of what they have needed to meet the technology needs of servicing their districts, requiring the Tech Department to adapt to each situation for the best outcome.
Mid-Ohio ESC has also offered webinars to help launch teletherapy, an online service used by Occupational and Physical Therapists, Speech and Language Pathologists, and School Psychologists to continue to meet the needs of IEP students. Mid-Ohio ESC has also worked with area county agencies who work with special needs students who also wanted to be involved in learning how to use teletherapy.
Ginny Utz, an occupational therapist with Mid-Ohio, said she is very thankful for the support. “Remote learning has meant diving into technology to continue to provide telehealth occupational therapy services for our students. The MOESC Tech Department has been invaluable in assisting this transition, from offering workshops on Zoom and teletherapy to controlling my laptop remotely, installing new software and helping me navigate new ways to accomplish needed tasks.”
During this pandemic, many parents have been struggling, so the Parent Mentor team began meeting and offering information to parents on a weekly basis. Cindy Wrobleski, Parent Mentor, said the tech department has been immeasurably helpful. “Like everyone, I work in the ‘Dining Room Office.’ I have enjoyed using and getting to know Zoom & Google for meetings, webinars and chats. If I did not have technology, I would be completely unconnected. I miss the face-to-face, but I am getting by…thanks to Candy’s tech expertise!”
According to Candy Bores, Mid-Ohio ESC Technology Manager, “It has been a challenge to meet the needs of not only our client districts but also the needs of our internal staff. We continue to support and work on training opportunities to make Mid-Ohio ESC staff and others feel comfortable with completing any task that is required of them to complete their job. This has been a fast-paced transition, but we all have learned new things that will make us better equipped and ready to service our client districts this summer and next fall. My philosophy is that technology is a tool that allows each of us to be more efficient in our jobs, while helping promote the educational opportunities for educators and students.”