March 26, 2018

A universal tool for districts across a county

Boardworks provides content that teachers can use across all of Miami County’s K-12 districts at consortium pricing and without annual costs

 

David Larson is the Curriculum Director for Miami County Educational Service Center. Mr. Larson provides curriculum and instruction support to school districts throughout Miami County, Ohio. Before serving as the Director of Curriculum & Instruction for MCESC, Mr. Larson served as the Assistant Superintendent for Piqua City Schools and the Superintendent of Convington Exempted Village Schools, two districts in Miami County.

The challenge

Miami County sought a universal resource that could motivate teachers and students across a group of districts with varying access to funds

“In the capacity of Curriculum Director for the Miami County Educational Service Center, I provide direct curriculum and instruct support to several school districts across the county. While we do have a few larger districts of 3,000-4,500 kids, for the most part, our districts are small and rural, and therefore sometimes have limited access to resources.

“As a county, we want our districts to be a place where all students want to learn, all teachers want to teach, and all parents want to send their children. First, this means we can’t just hire quality people – we also need to get quality resources into the classroom to support our teachers. We are always looking for efficient ways to provide teachers with more resources to convey the content. Secondly, as a leader in my district and in the county, people ask me all the time, ‘You say you’re preparing students for college and career readiness, but what skills will they really need in the future?’ We don’t truly know, but we do know that it will involve manipulation of technology. We need to prepare them for this reality.”

"All of the Miami County superintendents I consulted with agreed that Boardworks was a no-brainer as a purchase."

David Larson, Curriculum Director

The solution

Boardworks provides content that teachers can use across all of Miami County’s K-12 districts at consortium pricing and without annual costs

“All of the Miami County superintendents I consulted with agreed that Boardworks was a no-brainer as a purchase. I don’t think a lot of superintendents are used to being able to purchase something that is not going have an annual subscription or replacement cost associated with it. The only resources available for a one-time purchase are books, which become outdated quickly. The one-time purchase model of a technology product is very advantageous.

“Also, as a superintendent, very rarely do you get to purchase a product that impacts so many people in the district. You may buy a piece of technology that gets into a third of your classrooms. I think the biggest benefit from the superintendent’s perspective is knowing that you purchased something that is usable by 90% of your staff and students. I certainly recommend that other ESCs look at Boardworks. It is a fantastic opportunity for the service centers to provide their school districts with a universal tool that so many staff members can benefit from.

“In order to get high-quality instruction, you of course need to have high-quality educators. However, for the people who may be struggling a little bit, we mitigate their challenge in finding strong resources by putting Boardworks at their disposal. It especially helps with teachers who need support in engaging their students.

Implementation

Boardworks’s familiar interface and offline model, as well as the quality customer service, made county-wide implementation quick and easy

“Many of the districts in Miami County are making a transition towards online resources. Almost every product I have worked with has had challenges in implementation: you end up creating 400 passwords for kids, or your bandwidth isn’t able to sustain every kid on the site at the same time. What sets Boardworks apart is the ease of use. One of our high school principals, who is not a super tech-savvy person, said, “I could definitely show somebody how to use this.” The interface is very user-friendly; it works right out of the box. There is not a lot of set up, and very little training has to go into using the product because it’s on PowerPoint, a tool we are all familiar with. That’s critical for busy teachers and school administrators, who don’t have time to spend weeks training and learning how to use something. Plus, it’s great that it’s not web-based so you’re not reliant on the availability of internet to utilize the product.

“Working with the people at Boardworks was also a really positive experience. A lot of times, companies will sell you something on the front end, and then you get something completely different when you get to the point of implementation and training. With Boardworks, we had one person who worked with us from the initial presentation through to the follow-up, making sure that things were being utilized correctly and effectively. That made us all much more comfortable.”

Results

Boardworks encourages a student-centered learning model with resources that are aligned to state standards

“Boardworks takes a style of instruction which is typically teacher-centered and makes it more student-centered. With Boardworks, we have seen more interaction between the students and the content because the interactive slides encourage this kind of involvement. This is very valuable for learning because the students know they might be called to the board to answer a question. It has definitely increased student engagement during the lesson.

“I also like having confidence that the material is based on the correct Ohio content standards. A lot of our teachers are looking for resources on their own and right now, we are just trusting that they are finding consistent resources that are tied to the content standards. With Boardworks, we have the assurance that all the resources teachers are using are consistent with our standards.

Boardworks encourages use of existing classroom technology, both from beginner and advanced teachers

“Before Boardworks, almost every district in Miami County already had some sort of smart technology, whether a SMART Board or a projector. What we are seeing is the technology that is already in place is being better-utilized because of Boardworks. One of the science teachers told me that they never used a lot of technology in the classroom, but they found Boardworks very helpful in encouraging them to use their technology.

"At one point, I emailed the staff to say: ‘Let me know if you are using Boardworks and if you need any help.’ I got tons of e-mails from teachers saying, ‘Yes, I’m using it. I’m using it all the time.’ A teacher from one of our high schools who is using the To Kill a Mockingbird resource contacted me the other day. She said it’s phenomenal. It has added a lot to the content she already had. This is coming from an advanced teacher who was using good resources to begin with."