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What One Department Has Done to Create a Secure Virtual Classroom

The Department of Rehabilitation and Correction OH updated its educational materials with Chromebooks and Google Workspace to provide students with a more flexible curriculum.

Google Workspace Results
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• Deployed 10K security-compliant Chromebooks across almost 30 facilities
• Students have access to up-to-date, cloud-based educational materials instead of outdated textbooks
• Used remote classrooms to expand access to professional certifications and associate’s and bachelor’s degrees

Helping reduce recidivism by delivering quality education with limited resources
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Studies have shown that incarcerated individuals who participated in correctional educational programs had 43 percent lower odds of recidivating than those who did not. However, outdated resources & techniques within the correction systems make it very difficult for incarcerated individuals to access educational opportunities that will help them successfully reintegrate into a 21st century society.

The Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction’s (ODRC) mission is to reduce recidivism in its communities, and they currently support more than 44,396 people. The team strongly felt that their staff needed modern tools in order to provide a 21st century education to their students, but the department was limited to legacy technology and paper and textbooks, for security reasons. This meant that new technologies and systems needed to be secure and easy to use.

Building a flexible curriculum to better prepare students
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To bring its vision to life, the ODRC partnered with Resultant for technical configurations and Google Workspace and Google Classroom trainings across the department’s facilities to ensure teachers were set up for success. Resultant worked closely with the ODRC and Google to build interim solutions during implementation to meet the ODRC’s throughout the project. With the infrastructure in place, the ODRC rolled out 10,000 Chromebooks in 2019 to be used as educational tools.

With Chromebooks and Google Workspace, the ODRC has moved away from dated textbooks and a computer lab to a secure web-app-based classroom.

Chromebooks give ODRC teachers access to flexible education-focused web apps and more modern teaching methods. “Teachers can tailor their instruction in a way they couldn’t before. They can look at a classroom and build their lesson plan around what’s needed for a specific group,” says Jennifer Sanders, Superintendent of Ohio Central School System, the school district operating within the ODRC. The teachers use tools such as online assessments, virtual activities and customized content to drive engagement and participation and enhance the overall learning experience.

“Security is also an important consideration for us, and even our more cautious staff members are excited about the value Chromebooks are bringing us.”

Empowering restored citizens with a 21st-century education and resources
By offering resources, from computer skill training to degree and certification programs, the ODRC can better prepare its students for reentering their communities with more opportunity. Organizations such as Beacon of Hope that provide basic computer training to restored citizens are seeing an increase in computer literacy as people rebuild their lives.

Staff members within the department are able to support these improvements with live education materials. Where textbooks are out of date by the time they’re printed, virtual classrooms can stay constantly up-to-date, and teachers are excited to use these materials to help their students grow. "It is an exciting time for the Ohio Central School System as we maximize the use of technology in the area of correctional education. Google Workspace and Chromebooks provide our incarcerated individuals with 21st-century tools and educational skills that are a rehabilitative necessity,” said Annette Chambers-Smith, Director of the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction. “We’ve also seen a new passion in our educational staff for their roles as they see their students excited to learn using real-world tools and technology."
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Expanding access to education across state lines
Classes within the ODRC continue to grow with Google Workspace. With Google Meet, teachers can offer a course to any student who needs it from anywhere. “This is the future of our classroom space. Not just building out web apps, but creating a full virtual classroom environment to maximize the skills of our teachers in a way we’ve never been able to do before”, says Sanders.

Six states have reached out to the ODRC to follow in its footsteps and begin their own digital transitions. “We all want to provide 21st-century tools to teachers to produce 21st-century citizens,” Sanders explains. “If we want people who leave the care of corrections to become productive citizens, we must provide them with the right tools.”

*Google Workspace was formerly known as G Suite prior to Oct. 6, 2020.
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