Getting ON[the]LINE With the Best Tech Policies, Resources and News in One Place

Written by CUE Member Elizabeth Calhoon @ecalhoon

OtL LogoOne of the greatest struggles that school boards, administrators and educators have is the ability to find high-quality resources to create technology policies that make sense today. There is no doubt that we have many rich resources throughout California and beyond from which to pull when asking questions about policies, legal issues that affect educators or just really great resources.

When I was a site administrator and teacher, I knew I could go to CUETICALACSACommon Sense MediaKQED, or a variety of other spots to find fantastic resources. But I always wished that these entities could get together and give me a place to find not just great teaching resources, but the latest news about legal issues and policy as it related to the integration of technology in education.

Imagine my geeky giddiness when I joined the Santa Clara County Office of Education and was asked by Dr. Kelly Calhoun, Assistant Superintendent and CTO to join the ON[the]LINE initiative as content manager and help curate resources from partners across the state. In 2011, Dr. Calhoun initiated the work of ON[the]LINE in order to provide resources that help school districts and county offices establish education policies and practices that address the rapidly evolving impacts of technology. As such, she gathered together representatives from the following organizations and began building the ON[the]LINE resource site: ACSA (Association of California School Administrators), CCSESA (California County Superintendents Educational Services Association), CETPA (California Educational Technology Professionals Association), Common Sense Media, CSBA (California School Boards Association), CUE, Fagen, Friedman & Fulfrost, LLP,  KQED EducationSCCOE (Santa Clara County Office of Education) and TICAL (Technology Information Center for Administrative Leadership).

One of the central charges of this initiative is to help districts and county offices of education develop policies that are focused on behavior, rather than the technologies. In our rapidly changing educational and technological environment, it is foolhardy to create policies centered on technology. Rather, we focus on policies that encourage decision-makers to look at appropriate and legal use and ultimately, behavior. For example, we encourage decision-makers to make plagiarism policies that encompass all the types of plagiarism, regardless of the method. Some school policies may have one version for test cheating, another policy for homework sharing and another policy for using information off of the internet.

We try to pull that together and ask the question, “What is it we are trying to modify?” and the answer is “human behavior”! Policies and legal issues are difficult to follow when they are not streamlined and clear. Through our work, we have also been able to make many of CSBA’s policies available, as they apply to the issues we cover on the ON[the]LINE site. In turn, our efforts to stay focus on behavior and learning outcomes over technologies has allowed us to provide help and insight for CSBA’s policy development process.

Since our soft launch in November, 2012, we have been asked to present our work across the nation, including at the ISTE Conference 2014 in Atlanta.

We post articles and resources from across our partners, who provide in-kind work and resources, including the following most recent topics:

  • “Bill Watch” – Educational policy timelines and updates from CSBA
  • Legal “Newsflashes” as they arise
  • LCAP Technology recommendations and resources from ACSA, CUE and TICAL
  • BYOD best practices, resources for implementation and guiding questions when considering a BYOD program from CUE, Common Sense Media, CSBA, Fagen, Friedman & Fulfrost and TICAL
  • CAASPP / SBAC / PARCC Preparation Checklists from CUE and TICAL

In addition, we are in the process of curating all of these resources and placing them in our “Events” calendar for easy access to conference, webinar and event information from all of our partners.

As our work becomes more and more intertwined, it is imperative that we also streamline these resources and ON[the]LINE is our attempt to pull together the strongest names in Educational policy, news and resources and make the access to that information as powerful and accessible as possible. To that end, we are also on Twitter and Facebook and ensure that every new article is posted there, as well. We encourage readers and users to provide feedback and let us know what hot topics you need to see on our site by using the “Contact Us” link on our site. For a complete overview of the initiative, click here and watch the fantastic introduction video by Dr. Calhoun. Visit our website and let us know what you think!

Liz SmallElizabeth Calhoon is the Manager of Educational Technology Services and Content Manager for the ON[the]LINE Initiative for the Santa Clara County Office of Education in San Jose, CA. She has been a Vice Principal in a 9-12 and a 6-8 school, as well as a high school English Teacher, Curriculum Leader, Department Chair and New-Teacher Coach. She is constantly seeking better ways to connect more closely, communicate more efficiently and collaborate more effectively, using innovative learning technologies, in order to provide the best learning opportunities for students and teachers.

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Elizabeth Calhoon

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