18 May 2021

Equity, Ingenuity, and Inclusivity — How a Wisconsin School District Thrived During Remote Learning

About the School District of Fort Atkinson

  • Located in a middle-class area
  • The student population is around 2,600
  • Began remote learning in March of 2020. Has been using a concurrent (virtual and in-person) learning model since January 2021

About DJ Scullin

  • Has worked in the technology industry for over 10 years
  • Has been the Director of Technology at the School District of Fort Atkinson since 2015

In March of 2020, when Governor Evers closed down schools throughout Wisconsin, DJ Scullin, the Director of Technology at the School District of Fort Atkinson, knew he must act quickly. 

He needed to purchase a document camera for every teacher in the district to aid in their remote teaching, but he wasn’t afforded the luxury of time to make his purchasing decision. He was against the clock.

DJ Scullin, the School District of Fort Atkinson’s Director of Technology

Learning visually

When COVID-19 forced school closure, DJ knew that a document camera would be an essential piece of equipment for the district’s educators if they were to have a shot at maintaining the quality level of their teaching during online learning.

“We needed to help students learn visually, as opposed to them just looking at a PDF on a screen”, DJ says.

DJ feels that it is necessary for students to be visually stimulated during remote learning. When students spend all day staring at pre-prepared PDFs or Google Slideshows, it can be easy for their focus to wane and for them to become disengaged in their learning. 

OKIOCAM allows the teachers to increase their students’ engagement levels during class time by allowing them to use math manipulatives, show pages from textbooks, demonstrate solutions to problems using a pen and paper, and much more.

A Luther Elementary teacher using OKIOCAM to teach
her 5th-graders about the metric system

DJ believes that “[The use of] completely digital instructional materials is not really practical, especially with younger learners”. There is no doubt that pre-prepared learning materials are hugely powerful tools, but for certain online classroom applications, and for certain groups of learners, there is no replacement for a document camera.

Creating an equitable learning environment

One of DJ’s top priorities is ensuring that every student in the district receives an equitable learning experience. With this goal in mind, DJ knows that when choosing which new EdTech tools to purchase, it is essential that they are easy to use so that every teacher can make good use of them. 

When EdTech is user-friendly, you don’t encounter a situation in which some teachers thrive, but other teachers struggle to use it effectively in their classroom, resulting in certain students receiving an inequitable learning experience. “Not all teachers have the capacity or the drive to learn new things”, DJ says, talking about how teachers have varying levels of tech-savviness and desire to learn about new technology. 

“You want all of your teachers to recognize the value [in a piece of EdTech] and use it in their classrooms with all their students across the board”, DJ says.

The response to OKIOCAM from the teachers has been “overwhelmingly positive”, DJ says. Because of how easy OKIOCAM is to set up and use, every teacher within the district has been able to use it with great success in their online classroom. As a result, all the students in the district have received an equitable learning experience. 

The teachers required minimal support to use OKIOCAM. DJ made a short video for them illustrating how to set it up the first time they take it out of the box. However, beyond that, none of them required any extra support or instructional material due to its streamlined user experience.

OKIOCAM has been used to augment the teaching of every subject taught within the district with superb results, including math, science, and art.

OKIOCAM and OKIOCAM Snapshot and Recorder
being used in the classroom with 4th-graders

Inclusivity through OKIOCAM

Since January, the district has operated using a hybrid model. Students have had complete freedom over whether they study at school or at home. However, one of the issues that remote learners routinely face is feeling as though they are not truly part of their class — they don’t feel included in the same way that the in-person students do.

To tackle this issue, throughout this period of remote learning, the teachers of the School District of Fort Atkinson have devised an ingenious method of using their OKIOCAMs as a way of creating an inclusive learning environment. 

DJ Scullin using OKIOCAM in the classroom

“They’ve used OKIOCAM as a window into the classroom”, DJ says, talking about how teachers have used it to provide virtual learners with an experience that closely mimics in-classroom learning.

“They set the OKIOCAM up on a desk, where a student would normally sit, and it gives students who are learning at home a nice wide-angle view into the classroom, so they feel like they’re learning in class with their peers”, DJ explains, elaborating on how the teachers have accomplished this.

A Luther Elementary teacher using OKIOCAM to create an inclusive learning environment for her kindergarten remote learners

With remote learning being so tough on students mentally, there’s no doubt those who have elected to learn at home have surely appreciated how their teachers’ ingenuity, together with OKIOCAM, have been able to provide them with a learning experience very similar to what they’re more familiar with.

Initial impressions & unrivaled value

After Governor Evers closed down schools throughout Wisconsin, DJ started scouring the internet to find a document camera that he could get his hands on as soon as possible. After coming across OKIOCAM, he was immediately enticed by its affordable price and unique design. He quickly purchased one to see if it would fit the bill.

“I was really impressed with the quality of it”, DJ says, recalling his initial impressions of OKIOCAM. “It’s light, which is nice. It’s not bulky. It has a really small footprint. The quality of the picture is also really, really quite good”, he says, talking about what most impressed him right off the bat.

Although he was immediately a fan of OKIOCAM, DJ decided to make a few phone calls to vendors the district had previously worked with, to see if any of them could offer anything that could match its quality for the price. “Nothing they could offer was close to being in the same price range”, DJ says, remembering how none of the vendors could supply anything that matched OKIOCAM for the money. As a result, DJ went ahead and purchased an OKIOCAM for every teacher in the district.

A true triumph

“Absolutely successful”, DJ says, when asked to evaluate the deployment of OKIOCAMs among the teachers of the School District of Fort Atkinson. “For the price point and what it was intended to do, it has checked all the boxes”, he continues.

Remote learning has been tough on everyone, but the resourcefulness and ingenuity displayed by the district’s teachers to create the very best virtual learning experience for their students is truly inspirational. The fact that OKIOCAM could play a small part in that is something that fills the entire OKIOLABS team with great pride.

If you want to learn more about OKIOCAM or you’re interested in placing an order, please contact our sales team at sales@okiolabs.com.