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Here’s what digital learning is like for Orange County students

Digital tools are used to make learning flexible and engaging

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. – School leaders in Orange County gave News 6 a tour of their virtual classroom platform as distance learning measures have been implemented to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

Maurice Draggon, Senior Director of Digital Learning for Orange County Public Schools, said the programs that are being used by the district have been in place for several years.

"Almost everyday, (students) interact and use all the resources we're using now for distance learning," he said.

Anyone utilizing digital learning at home would sign-in to "LaunchPad," which is a web portal where students can access a wide range of learning tools. The platform also features programs teachers can use to interact from afar.

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"BigBlueButton" is a video conferencing tool that teachers use to communicate with students and has the ability for chat and small breakout rooms.

"You can do math problems (on a white board interface,)" Draggon said. "As I'm presenting to my students, I can temporarily give my students rights to also present."

For lessons, the district uses a program called "Canvas," which allows for student engagement, while also providing flexibility.

"If a student may have to care for a younger sibling at the time when that lesson is being recorded, they can go back and they can watch that lesson," Draggon said.

"Canvas" also allows students to record thoughts and questions for further feedback while watching video lessons.

"It actually puts my comment exactly where I was confused, so now the teacher gets to see where students are having difficulties," Draggon said.

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When distance learning was launched for all Orange County students on Monday, the district said there were some initial problems for people trying to log-on due to an influx of online traffic.

Draggon said work is being done to improve access for all students and teachers are available to answer any questions.

“Parents just need to know they’re not in this alone,” he said. “They have the whole entire system still working hard to make sure their child is getting what they need.”

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