Keeping up with happenings in the world has never been easier. Even if you are one of those people who feel there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything you need to get done, finding out the latest news headlines is just a Smartphone app away.
There are many really good reasons to keep up with developments in the world around you. One of the most important is what they probably told you back in high school Civics class: an informed citizenry is one of the most important elements of an effective democracy. No one should be left in the dark about important issues being debated by our elected representatives in Washington, in the State capital, or down at City Hall.
For those of us who just don’t seem to have enough time to keep up, there is a Smartphone app called Breaking News that draws its information from hundreds of different news sources and edits them into real-time, bite-sized chunks by a team of journalists. Breaking News also has an active Twitter feed. Users can select a topic, like “economy” or “sports,” and get all of the related tweets.
Another good news app is called Sky Grid. It organizes its stories in several different ways: Top Stories is everything that is new, and other sections sort news into general and more specific categories. It allows for instant sharing to Facebook or Twitter, so users can share stories with a simple tap.
Gareth Pooleon is a high school administrator at the Oregon Connections Academy, a virtual public school based in Mill City, Oregon. He likes to keep up with current events, and refers to himself as a news junkie.
The Oregon Connections Academy is an award-winning, online K-12 public school. Its offices are centered in Mill City, Oregon, but its students are scattered all over the state.
Students at the Oregon Connections Academy received instruction from state-certified teachers with experience in online instruction. There is no tuition at the Academy, and students receive free textbooks and curriculum materials. In some cases, computers are provided to families that need them.
The Academy opened nearly ten years ago and is authorized under state law by Scio School District 95C. It is operated by the Oregon Connections Academy, a nonprofit corporation, and is governed by an independent board of directors. It is the largest online public charter school in Oregon, and its mission is to make sure that all of its students become productive, successful and confident adults.
In April of 2015, the Academy received three “Bessie” awards for its educational software programs. The awards were presented during ComputED Gazette’s 21st Annual Best Educational Software Awards program in Baltimore. The awards were presented for its Algebra 1, Business Management and Administration, and Science Club websites.
Oregon Connections Academy has also received an “outstanding” grade on the school report card issued by the Oregon Department of Education, the highest possible rating.
Gareth Pooleon is the Academy’s K-12 Lead Principal. He has twenty-five years of educational experience in teaching, coaching, counseling and administration. He holds a Master in Education degree from Western Oregon University, and degrees in Science in Secondary Education and Interdisciplinary Studies, also from Western Oregon.
Virtual classrooms may well be the wave of the future. Virtual education, sometimes called distance learning, has the potential to provide students with a richer and more engaging educational experience than do traditional brick and mortar schools. But the same issues of quality and effectiveness that have always been present in the classroom are also present in online learning.
Distance education has existed since before the advent of the Internet, but the Internet is allowing it to come into its own; it is simply one more application of the technology that has revolutionized so many areas of modern life in the last two decades. Distance or online learning is not confined to primary and secondary schools. It is also used in higher education, in corporate training, and in continuing and professional training. Internet technologies are proving to be an ideal way of providing information and training to people who are either geographically dispersed, or who for some reason are unable to take advantage of in-person learning opportunities.
Virtual education is generally defined as that which takes place regardless of location, and which uses the Internet to deliver educational materials to the student. The definition is a little fuzzy and susceptible to more than one interpretation by different groups and in different contexts.
To Gareth Pooleon, it is the online education provided to students through the Oregon Connections Academy, or ORCA. He has been the K-12 Lead Principal at ORCA since 2014, where he manages the implementation of the school’s proven and challenging curriculum, which features instruction from state-certified teachers who have experience in online education.