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District : Vista Unified School District

State : California

Level : P-12

District Enrollment : 10,001-40,000 students

Community Type : Suburban

Related Tags : #GoOpen, Digital content, Openly Licensed Educational Resources

Transparency in Technology: Vista Unified School District’s Transition to Digital Learning

Vista Unified School District serves a diverse population of students, including more than 3,000 in special education programs and more than 6,000 who are English Learners. Enrollment has declined over the last several years from about 26,000 students in 2000 to about 22,000 in 2012. Vista Unified is committed to meeting the needs of ALL of students and we are committed to providing students with the appropriate tools, support, and materials they need to become successful adults. We also want to promote engagement and purpose for everyone.

In order to provide a challenging, relevant, engaging curriculum, Vista Unified created a Blueprint for Educational Excellence and Innovation plan, which prompted our district to #GoOpen. This blueprint is aligned to our Local Control Accountability Plan budget and addresses project-based learning, real world problems, personalized learning environments and the development of personalized learning paths for all students.

Vista Unified’s vision is to provide students with the tools, resources, and education that will allow them to graduate from our schools truly career and college ready. We knew the only way we could provide that education was to train teachers using the many relevant open resources available online.

We currently have three established OER initiatives in our district:

Our California, Ohio, Wisconsin (“COW”) Project
This is a multi-state collaborative project where 6 teachers from three states had their students work together to answer the following question: “What The Earth Does For Us; and What We Do To The Earth.” We used open resources for this project.

High School Multidisciplinary Course
The Vista High School Personal Learning Academy is a pilot program, beginning in the 2015/2016 school year, in which 8 teachers and 200 students (juniors) are collaborating in pursuit of an alternative to traditional schooling.

Vista Visions Academy and Online and Blended K-12 Program
Open source materials are used in conjunction with district-adopted materials to create a blended and online alternative K-12 school program.

In California, districts must consider the Williams Case when providing course materials to students. Under this case law students need to have equal access to instructional materials, which has proved to be a challenge our district faced during our #GoOpen transition. One of the stipulations brought out in the Williams Case is that schools cannot require work that is done on the Internet to be done at home unless all of the children in that same grade level have Internet access. We have provided students who do not have access at home with Internet hot spots. Unfortunately, it is cost prohibitive for us to provide this option for all students.

The advice we would give other districts preparing to #GoOpen is that they should be transparent about using OER and to celebrate small wins. The celebrations can be in the form of using social media to give “shout-outs” to hard-working staff members, highlighting ideas and programs at meetings, having open discussions at all curriculum related meetings and weeding out what no longer serves the students.

Additional Resources

From the Vista Unified School District:

From the U.S. Department of Education:

Point of Contact

Erin English, Ed.D.
Director of Blended and Online Learning

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