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Educational Operations
In EdSurge Case Studies, educators share their real-life experiences with edtech in their schools and classrooms.
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Zach, @zjvv77
Director of Technology, Hamilton City School District, Ohio
1:1 devices, Special education students, High ELL population, and Low income population

Our district is a 1:1 district (Chromebooks). The adoption of so much technology highlighted certain problems with our current software. Specifically:

1. Software was siloed. Applications did not talk to each other. Moreover, this silo effect prevented insights on student performance.

2. Applications needed to be platform agnostic. This meant web-based.

3. We needed a single-sign-on solution. Ideally, we wanted one username and password.

4. Where was the simplicity and modernity of education applications? Much of what our district used was dated, cumbersome, and expensive. Older applications created hoops for teachers and consumed significant amounts of time.

5. Finally, we needed a platform that allowed educators and students to create their own solutions. We needed a tool that was open, shareable, and could be used as a learning experience.

Product Use: Abre provides a platform for Hamilton City Schools to simplify technology through the use of custom created apps. It's where school happens for staff, students, and their parents. Using single-sign-on, stakeholders are greeted with a personalized dashboard highlighting key information and displaying relevant apps.

As a teacher, I start my day in the curriculum app to plan and review my lessons. I launch assessments via Abre's assessment app and secure the assessment behind a lockdown browser app. I analyze student performance with the student app.

As an administrator, I use the student app to monitor academic growth. I use the conduct app for tracking discipline issues. I upload and deploy online handbooks and textbooks via the books app.

As a student, I see all education apps in one spot with one username and password. I can view ACT scores, grades, and Pearson Textbooks in one spot. I can download Abre and, using their tutorials, code my own Abre apps.

As a parent, I view relevant information about my students in one central location. Forms, signatures, learning plans are all located on my dashboard. Communication is directly communicated to me through one channel.

In short, Abre hosts any and all apps for doing school.

What Worked and What Didn't: Hamilton recently finished its third year with Abre. The Abre team is smart and prudent with deploying new apps. We are a beta district for testing new features. Sometimes these new features expose issues, but the team responds quickly and addresses issues.

Of note, the Abre platform performs better than previous solutions. Indeed, simply following Google's Material Design philosophy has lowered training and increased adoption rates within the district. Abre is intuitive.

Areas the company is still refining centers around the best way to display core information. For example, assessment results are clear, but I would like a simplified filtering system to compare student subgroups.

Age Group: N/A (I am an administrator)

Jun 12, 2018 Provide Feedback
Tricia, @TriciaSmithHCSD
Instructional Technology Coach, Teacher, Hamilton City School District, Ohio
1:1 devices, Blended learning classroom, Special education students, and Low income population

-Having student information in one place.
-Students being distracted when using technology in the classroom and keeping focused on a particular lesson or assignment.
-Difficulty keeping up with pacing guides and curriculum with other teachers who teach the same content

Product Use: Abre has provided a one-stop shop for all of my teacher needs. I am able to view a summary of my class data and view individual student data to allow for a more personalized learning experience. Not only do I have data that will help me make data-driven decisions for instruction, but I also have immediate access to parent contacts, behavior, and attendance. I can view all of my students based on the courses that are assigned to me; I can also create my own groups for closer monitoring of individual performance in flexible grouping reports. I can see everything that may be affecting a student's education in one place.
-Students tend to be distracted by other technologies (i.e YouTube, Games, etc) when assigned classroom lessons or activities. The Guided Learning app allows me to create a focused lesson where students are not able to leave a secure browser and can only access what the teacher has prescribed for them that day. I use the Guided Learning app when administering an assessment so students are not able to open a new tab or window and "Google" the answer. Guided Learning has been a game-changer for focused learning and better classroom management.
-Curriculum app allows for teacher teams to keep current with model lessons.

What Worked and What Didn't: I haven't seen very many things that haven't worked. The Guided Learning app sometimes has difficulty with websites that are using flash player. The screen will go black and will not allow a student to continue. Generally, a student will log out and then log back in to fix the problem.

Age Group: High school students, Middle school students, and Elementary school students

Jun 6, 2018 Provide Feedback
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