Technology Innovation

Keeping Stride with driving forces in 21st Century Education
In the summer of 2013, the OPTIONS Program transitioned to a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) model for all students enrolled in classes at OPTIONS.  The transition to a BYOD model was only one part of a larger digital transition that has occurred at OPTIONS and local colleges and universities over the last few years.  (Learn more about BYOD with WIRED Magazine)
BYOD was a logical next step to support OPTIONS’ mission.  Students already use technology everyday for their course work, to communicate with friends and family; for class research and homework.  Allowing them to use their devices alongside the instruction they receive at OPTIONS helps to reinforce good study habits and allows the staff at OPTIONS to help the students build strategies and personal accommodations that will help them live independent lives and overcome their individual learning disabilities.
To support these new initiatives, the Technology Department made a significant investment into the infrastructure at the Academic Building.  Since its launch, 1000’s of gigabytes of data have passed across the OPTIONS network.

OPTIONS – Digital Collaboration

OPTIONS has also made a strong commitment to leveraging Google Apps for Education to support both education and operational objectives of the program.  Staff use collaborative folders on Google Drive and Google Calendars to coordinate student’s daily schedules, to plan meetings and to coordinate communication across multiple sites and remote staff offices.  Google Apps for Education provides the opportunities to teach where instruction is needed, like Independent Living Skills in the students apartments, while also being connected to the same information they would have if they were teaching from a classroom.
One exciting opportunity for staff that is currently being piloted by Rodrigo Ramirez (OPTIONS Life Skills Therapist), is Google Classroom.  Google Classroom is the latest feature of Google Apps for Education that is designed to help teachers create and collect assignments paperlessly, including time-saving features like the ability to automatically make a copy of a Google Document for each student. It also creates Drive folders for each assignment and for each student to help keep everyone organized.”(https://www.google.com/edu/classroom/)

What do I need for Classes?

Deciding what technology is right for your young adult can be a difficult task.  To that end the Technology Department has put together some basic recommendations for computers and technology for OPTIONS students.

Laptop
Office 365
Other Items

First and foremost, every student needs to have a laptop computer.  While tablets and other mobile technology can be very useful to a student’s education, the need a laptop more, and not just for typing papers.  Many assistive technology applications require a fully fledged laptop to function at the level necessary to support special education needs.  These recommendations are meant to be baseline computer systems that would perform in a traditional classroom environment. Laptop systems with higher performance capabilities may be needed for coursework and individualized education programs. The staff at OPTIONS can discuss these needs with you further. General guidelines to follow when looking for a computer are:

  • Intel i5 processor or higher (or AMD equivalent)
  • 8GB RAM Recommended
  • Integrated WiFi
  • 128GB or larger hard drive storage
  • Microsoft Office 365 / Office for Mac

For specific brand recommendations, please look at the post on the School’s Technology Website.

*** There are known hardware compatibility problems between the Cisco wireless hardware and Microsoft Surface computers.  For that reason, we do not recommend them to students. ***

** Students who are enrolled at Brehm Preparatory School as High School Students but taking classes at OPTIONS qualify for a Brehm issued laptop as long as they are enrolled in high school. Details can be discussed with OPTIONS Staff. **

What do I need for my Apartment?

Student needs at the apartments will vary across three programs at OPTIONS (Standard, Modified and Extensions).  Students living at the Aspen Court Apartment Complex on Grand Avenue are provided with wired Internet with their rental agreement.  If students wish to have WiFi internet in their apartment or they have a large number of devices to connect, like gaming systems, desktops and TVs, they will need to purchase a wireless router of their own. Students living in other accommodations will need to talk with their landlord or  the OPTIONS staff to determine what action they need to take in regards to internet service in their house or apartment.

 

Recommendations for that hardware can be found on the Technology Department FAQ.

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