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CA BOCES’ Online and Distance Learning Program Earns Place on Stage with Renowned Author

By Christina McGee, CA BOCES Learning Resources Teacher

Ms. Betsy Hardy, Distance Learning Coordinator for Cattaraugus-Allegany BOCES, was invited to present on a panel at a national conference last week -- alongside renowned author, Michael B. Horn.  Mr. Horn is the co-founder of Clayton Christensen Institute and author of Blended: Using Disruptive Innovation to Improve Schools.  Ms. Hardy was asked to attend the 2016 iNACOL Blended and Online Learning Symposium as an expert on implementing blended learning programs.  During the panel, Betsy was asked a number of questions on strategies for introducing online and credit recovery programs, and utilizing online portfolios in the classroom.  She cited many real life examples of ways school districts have been successful in the Cattaraugus-Allegany region.  She also noted how program implementation must be based on district individuality and specific needs.  Some of the recommendations included having a team set up the program, having a specific teacher or aide with students at all times while students work on their classes, and setting up multiple in-depth professional development opportunities for teachers.

Betsy Hardy (at center with microphone) answers a question during the panel discussion.

One of the many remarkable insights Ms. Hardy brought to the panel discussion, was her unique understanding of how rural districts utilize online and distance learning programs to help broaden the scope of student transcripts and give students unique opportunities to experience courses which otherwise would not be offered.  She also discussed how online programs broaden student skill sets and student exposure to a plethora of ideas and prospects.  Betsy also noted the important role (academic) credit recovery has played in the CA BOCES region; sometimes increasing graduation rates by as much as 10% in well-established programs with a dedicated aide for students working on their classes.

Ms. Hardy also shared the noteworthy achievements and best practices of districts in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties as they move toward a blended environment, and assist students in obtaining important 21st century skills.  According to Ms. Hardy, area school districts should be proud that their implementation of blended practices has garnered national attention.

If you have any questions, or would like to learn more about blended learning opportunities and professional development, please contact Betsy Hardy, Justine Lombardi, or Christina McGee at (716) 376-8281.