Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Thinkgate Selected for Ohio's Online Learning, Data System

The states of Ohio and Massachusetts have entered into an agreement with Thinkgate, LLC to provide an instructional improvement system (IIS). The company will create a system that allows teachers to analyze student achievement while selecting the best learning resources.

According to a statement released by the Ohio Department of Education (ODE) Friday, both states agreed to create an online learning platform as part of their federal Race to the Top (RttT) grants. The states teamed up to conduct a competitive procurement.
 
As part of Ohio’s system, ODE will collaborate with the Ohio Board of Regents to incorporate iLearnOhio.org, described by ODE as a one-stop home for high-quality K-12 content that is aligned with the state’s new learning standards.

iLearnOhio is the product of a collaboration of the Ohio Resource Center, Ohio State University's College of Education and Human Ecology, and the regents.
 
“It has never been more important for educators to use modern technology to give students customized learning options based upon real data about their needs,” said Michael Sawyers, acting superintendent of public instruction. “Creating a statewide instructional improvement system is truly the beginning of a new era in Ohio education.” 
 
The IIS will enable teachers to accelerate and personalize the education experience by providing the following:
 
- Online access to curriculum and standards.
- Curriculum customization.
- Easy-to-use paper, online and clicker test administration options that teachers can use to determine what progress students have made and what help they need.
- Data analysis and reporting capabilities.
- A portfolio of all students’ work.
 
“Our goal is to provide educators immediate, relevant information that allows them to make instruction more personal for every student, every day,” Thinkgate CEO Eric Waynick said in a statement. “Our instructional improvement technology provides this benefit when used by committed educators. Ohio and Massachusetts have proven to be innovative leaders in education and we are excited about this partnership.”
 
Thinkgate was selected through a competitive bid process and a procurement partnership between the Ohio and Massachusetts education agencies. By pooling purchasing, the states received better prices. Ohio’s split of the development cost is $138,367. An additional $1.7 million is being spent to implement the IIS in Ohio, which includes connecting the IIS to other resources in the state.
 
Under the contract, the Thinkgate IIS will be available to all RttT schools funded by the ODE using the RttT grant for the 2013-2014 and 2014-2015 school years. All schools could then pay a per-student price that will be based upon how many districts ultimately adopt the system. Estimates indicate that the cost will be between $2.75 and $5 per student. Use of the Thinkgate system is voluntary.
 
Integrating iLearnOhio.org into the new system will assist schools in selecting:

- Full-year courses, such as Advanced Placement courses for students who are ahead (state tuition waivers offered) or credit recovery courses for students who must repeat a course.
- Online college courses for students still working on a high school or home school diploma.
- Learning objects to assess a student's learning level to match him/her to appropriate level resources.
- Webinars and other extra help for students needing remedial assistance.
- Reduced costs for fee-based resources resulting from state bulk purchasing.
 
The new IIS is still being developed and tested, but will be available to RttT school districts beginning next school year.
Story originally published in The Hannah Report on January 4, 2013.  Copyright 2013 Hannah News Service, Inc.


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