We visited Wakonda Elementary's Open House on September 14th as our first "official" event. Our goals going into the evening were two-fold:
(1) To test out basic logistics, like connecting devices to a network, finding the best place to park at the school, and determining the best flow of traffic through the Mobile Learning Unit. (Shout-out to Greg from OPS Transportation Services for building us some awesome stairs!) and (2) To have as many families as possible experience the Mobile Learning Unit and give us some feedback on programming opportunities.
What a great night! The Mobile Learning Unit was one of multiple activities happening at Wakonda that evening. We kept it pretty simple as far as programming went- basic tours, talking about the purpose, Common Sense Media handouts, and an opportunity to provide feedback. It was busy, but a couple of us remembered to snap a few pictures to document the experience.
Our programming for the Mobile Learning Unit has been designed around Digital Literacy and Digital Citizenship skills for students as well as adults. While our main focus is to provide the North Omaha community with these skills, we also realize that the community needs a voice in programming options. We don't want to do this FOR the community, we want to do it with WITH the community. So we are asking for feedback. During PTO meetings, after-school programs, as well as open houses, we are asking parents and family members what they would like to see happen on their Mobile Learning Unit. We are getting some great ideas!
I think we are most excited about the category "Educational Resources for Your Student." Parents let us know that they really want resources and ways to help their students with homework and practicing skills at home that are being taught in the classroom. What a great opportunity to pull in some classroom teachers to help with programming! This is one of my biggest hopes for the Mobile Learning Unit- that it acts as a catalyst to bring together many groups of people in the community to do what is best for students.
They say there's a first time for everything, and this day was one of those times! The work on the Mobile Learning Unit was completed the first week of September, and as soon as we got word it was good to go, we rushed across state lines to Council Bluffs to pick it up.
Stepping on the MLU for the first time was a surreal moment. As the newbie on the team, I had been a part of so many conversations from afar regarding this project, but had never actually seen it before in person. It was absolutely beautiful. Way cooler than the pictures and sketches I had seen up to this point. I was impressed by how much room there was inside (this is going to be great for students!), and the wrap on the outside looked awesome as well. We spent some time turning on every switch and trying out all the buttons and keys to see what they all did. It was like being a kid again! I immediately started envisioning what programming was going to look like-- here's where the projector will go, I will line the Surfaces up right here, parents will love to sit on this couch area...
Rob Dickson, OPS Executive Director for IMS, had the vision to make this possible to begin with. He drove the MLU back to the TAC Building that day, and I wanted to make sure I got his initial reaction after his first drive.
It's hard to explain how excited I was about the MLU...so I can't begin to imagine how these two felt. Rob Dickson along with Keegan Korf, Lead Teacher of Digital Citizenship for the district, both put in a lot of hard work to make this vision a reality. Two years of planning, meetings, conversations, and articulating the need for something new like this is not easy. It is uncharted territory, and these two did an extraordinary job of leading the way. I so appreciate Rob's vision and ability to think "outside the box" when it comes to serving students and families in our district. Keegan's ability to consistently advocate for what's best for kids and give others a voice makes her a huge asset to the team- I am so lucky to be on this "ride" with her as we provide programming for students and families! I am #OPSProud to work with such great people.
Now the work begins! Our first event is scheduled for September 14th at Wakonda Elementary's Open House. Stay tuned!
Rebecca Chambers serves as an Instructional Technology Coach for the Omaha Public Schools by supporting the district’s Turnaround buildings in their instructional technology initiatives, including the first Mobile Learning Unit which serves the North Omaha community.