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Susanne Smith, (503) 947-5637

November 12, 2009

Susan Castillo Announces Virtual Learning Tools for Oregon Schools that Close for H1N1

Salem – Susan Castillo announced today that a website embedded with digital teaching tools has been created for every Oregon school should they need to close for H1N1 or another emergency. The Oregon Department of Education has developed a set of communication and on-demand web services for schools through the Oregon Virtual School District which is a classroom instruction and professional development portal available to all Oregon educators. These specialized services provide a basic web presence for schools that need it with access to web and audio conferencing tools designed to support teaching and learning in the event of a school closure.

“While these digital tools cannot replace direct classroom instruction and won’t make sense for every school in Oregon, they provide a safety net of basic resources essential for maintaining continuity in teaching and learning in the event of a school closure,” said Castillo. “Working with Intel and Cisco, we are able to make these digital tools available to any school in Oregon that needs them.”

U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has asked private sector partners and service providers to make continuity of learning resources like conference call services, webinar support, podcasting, and virtual classrooms more accessible to educators. Intel and Cisco have answered this call through a unique public-private partnership called Accelerate Oregon. Accelerate Oregon is dedicated to providing Oregon schools with the tools necessary to advance teaching and learning with technology so that all students have equal access to the academic opportunities technology has to offer.

“Intel’s unique public-private partnership with Oregon is building a model for catalytic change in education,” said Dr. Eileen Lento, Intel Education and Public Sector Strategist. “This is a model that can be replicated throughout the United States. Educators must have the tools in order to build a model 21st century system. When business and education come together to build an infrastructure for student success, we are able to leverage our collective expertise into innovative solutions quickly and effectively.”

Every school principal in Oregon has been emailed directions for activating their school’s website. This website hosts teacher forums, audio conferencing and web conferencing tools for instruction. The website is built on a web content management software system developed by the Oregon State University’s Open Source Lab, which is designed to allow users with little knowledge of web programming to create and manage web content with relative ease. With very minor adjustments, this website can be tailored to meet individual school and student needs and help provide continuity of learning during a school closure. The web conferencing feature will automatically activate in the event the school is closed for H1N1 outbreak. To view a template website go to: http://demo.oregonk-12.net/. For more information regarding the virtual learning platform go to: http://www.ode.state.or.us/wma/emergencyinfo/swineflu/h1n1-virtual-learning-platform-faq.pdf.

The U.S. Department of Education has encouraged schools to consider different forms of education delivery should they need to close this flu season. These digital learning options are one way schools can deliver education during a school closure. For more information, go to: http://www.ed.gov/admins/lead/safety/emergencyplan/pandemic/guidance/continuity-recs.pdf PDF.

Susan Castillo, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Jake Weigler, Communications Director, Telephone (503) 947-5650

Oregon Department of Education News Releases contain information that was originally released to the press as an official release.  Refer to each News Release for the details.

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255 Capitol Street NE
Salem, OR 97310-0203

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