Cyber Solutions Initiative
What is the Cyber Solutions Initiative?
The Cyber Solutions Initiative (CSI) provides member school districts the flexible platform and relevant professional development to establish, implement, and sustain their own 21st Century teaching and learning environment to prepare students to meet the challenges of an information society. Currently, ten districts within IU1 are consortium members:
- Albert Gallatin Area School District
- Bethlehem-Center School District
- California School District
- Carmichaels Area School District
- Connellsville Area School District
- Frazier School District
- Jefferson-Morgan School District
- Laurel Highlands School District
- Uniontown Area School District
- West Greene School District
CSI trains ten teachers per district per year in how to create and manage courses via Moodle.
What is Moodle?
Moodle is an open source course management system (CMS), also known as a learning management system (LMS). It has become very popular among educators around the world as a tool for creating online dynamic websites for their students.
The purpose of the CSI program is to provide local school districts with the ability to build the capacity to fully integrate online learning into their schools. CSI is not a cyber school; rather, it is an online learning initiative that involves a comprehensive shift in the way we envision our public schools. As our world and the growing number of students enrolled in cyber schools have indicated, there is an undeniable need for all schools to embrace online learning as a viable option for students. Our goal is for each district will be able to offer the majority of their curriculum in both an online format and face-to-face, resulting in an education system where students can move seamlessly between classroom and online courses. This gives districts the ability to provide students with the flexibility of online courses without leaving the district. Through the CSI program, all district teachers will gain the required skills necessary to create and teach high-quality, rigorous, and engaging online courses that are aligned to their district’s curriculum. The consortium of schools participating in the CSI program allows for sharing of courses and resources, giving districts the opportunity to develop their online learning initiatives over time. The CSI program can be customized to meet individual district needs to successfully carry them through the 21st century.
How can CSI Benefit Our Local Schools?
- Bring back cyber students and drastically reduce funding loss to cyber schools
- Provide a full online curriculum to students in the first year of the program
- Improve 4-year graduation rates
- Offer quality credit recovery
- Expand curricular offerings to students
- High-impact professional development for teachers and administrators
- Boost technology integration in the classroom
Leveraging the Consortium
We recognize that implementing a large initiative that has such an immense impact on the school culture requires time and careful planning. Although each district’s implementation of the CSI program is unique, administrators can still benefit from the successes and lessons learned of other districts who are committed to making online learning an integrated part of their district. The CSI consortium opens the communication lines between districts to share everything from courses to best-practices and policies. Member districts benefit from the vast pool of online courses that each district has developed, making it possible to offer your students a wide variety of core, AP, foreign language, and elective courses. Each teacher teaching the courses has completed the comprehensive teacher training, ensuring a quality learning experience for students. So as a district begins to train teachers and build online content, they can offer their students a full, online curriculum through the consortium, providing an inviting alternative to cyber charter schools. In this scenario, the students still remain enrolled in their home district and can participate in athletics and school activities and graduate with your district’s diploma. The district is able to grow and develop their online learning initiative while preventing further student loss. As the district moves further into the implementation of the program, the dependence on the consortium for courses becomes less. Students have the benefit of taking their core academic courses online, and having the choice to take electives such as fine arts, band, and other courses in the traditional classroom. The program gives students the ability to get a customized, online education while maintaining important social connections at school.
Quality Professional Development
Successful implementation of the CSI program depends on strong leadership and quality professional development for all stakeholders. The IU will prepare your district as it embarks on this new journey.
Making the Vision a Reality
Intermediate Unit 1 will provide your district with a comprehensive training package to ensure that all of your stakeholders are well informed about the program. We will assist your administrators in designing an implementation plan that meets your individual district needs. Our knowledgeable staff will assist you with presentations to your school board, parents, and teachers, and prepare you to answer questions from parents and students. Your administrators have all of the control; we just help you bring the vision to life.
In order for a shift in school culture to occur, school administrators need to be fully prepared to lead their district through the successful implementation of CSI. The CSI administrator training conveys the vision for the program, tools, resources, and impact on the district. The training will help administrators envision, plan for, and implement the CSI program on a level appropriate for the needs of their district. In addition, administrators will have an opportunity to view the impact of using Moodle to supplement the face-to-face classroom instruction and to provide professional development to faculty.
Each district is permitted to send up to ten teachers per year to the CSI training. The training consists of four full-day modules that prepare teachers to lead successful online courses. The training was developed using research and expertise from iNACOL and leaders in the field of online learning. The training consists of a full Moodle training, pedagogy and assessment strategies for online teaching that demand higher-order thinking skills, best practices for communication and student engagement, as well as resources and tools to supplement and enhance instruction. Teachers will learn how to create rigorous lessons that address the needs of various learners and engage students in the content. In addition, they will learn how to use Moodle to supplement their instruction and extend learning beyond the classroom.
Building from the Core Curriculum
CSI provides each member district with a copy of the core curriculum courses for customization by their own teachers. Our goal is for districts to have district teachers teaching district curriculum. The core curriculum has been designed by CSI-trained teachers using the Pennsylvania SAS framework and open-source content. There are no textbooks tied to the content, making it easy for your teachers to rearrange, modify, add, and delete content as well as supplement it using their own textbooks in order to directly align with their district’s curriculum. The core curriculum serves to jump-start your district’s course writing process and provide teachers with a solid foundation instead of a blank course shell.
Technology and Hardware Management Included in Membership
- Moodle hosting and administration for schools
- Each participating district is provided with their own Moodle site, skinned with their logos, etc.
- Teachers in participating districts receive unlimited Moodle courses and space
- Unlimited student accounts in Moodle
- Enterprise-level backup to ensure uninterrupted service to your IU and schools
Benefits of Choice
Building Capacity in Schools
The CSI program provides districts with the tools, knowledge, and guidance to be able to integrate online learning into school districts on many different levels. This isn’t a third-party vendor that handles online learning for districts, but rather a comprehensive professional development approach that ensures districts are educating their students with their teachers and curriculum. We want districts to promote an online learning initiative as a product of the district, not CSI. The district has control to implement the program as the administration sees fit.
Changing School Culture
The philosophy behind the CSI program is that local school districts must evolve to be able to offer online learning as an integrated part of the district’s curriculum and schedule. Online learning should be an integral part of the district, not to be seen as something separate. Students should be free to participate in a blended schedule where they move seamlessly between online and face-to-face courses taught by district teachers. The CSI program will get your district there sooner than you think!
By participating in the CSI program, your district will be doing more than just offering online classes to students. Because this is a comprehensive program that will become engrained in all aspects of the school, the impact is far-reaching. Districts can utilize the program for alternative education placement, home-bound students, and credit recovery. The potential to save money and increase student achievement in these areas is enormous!
Impact on the Classroom
Teachers who incorporate the tools and strategies from the CSI Teacher Training into their classrooms have the flexibility to finish their curriculum several weeks early! Students come to rely on Moodle access as a resource outside of class, extending learning beyond the four walls of the classroom. They do everything from check homework and review lessons for understanding, to access missed class materials and discuss in-depth class topics. These tools and strategies have transformed the way we teach and the way students learn!
Cyber Solutions Initiative Coordinator
724-938-3241 ext. 405
Kristin Van Strien
Information Services Assistant Director
724-938-3241 ext. 244