MIDLAND, Pa., Nov. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- PA Cyber Charter School has created a technical resource website for its 11,000 students, their parents and its staff – and is sharing the site with online students no matter what school they're enrolled in.
The PA Cyber Resource Center was launched Oct. 31. The address is http://help.mypacyber.org/.
"As a leader in online education, PA Cyber has always freely shared innovative thinking with other schools. We see that as part of our responsibility," said Dr. Nick Trombetta, CEO.
Brian Laquinta, director of technology and innovation, said, "This is the best technical self-help site for an online school I've seen. It has easily followed tutorials and how-to instructions on the most common problems users have with Internet access, email, iPads and general computer use. Of course we have geared it to the learning management systems used by PA Cyber, but many other schools use the same programs and their students probably have the same issues."
Laquinta said the site provides links to help sites in popular learning management systems such as Elluminate and Schoology, and to curriculum sites like Lincoln Interactive and Calvert. There is a link to the appropriate-content search engine netTrekker and to academic improvements sites like DORA-DOMA and Study Island.
The PA Cyber Resource Center website was conceived and built as an in-house project by Mark Narad, a research and development specialist. Narad is a former PA Cyber help desk technician who wanted to create an online resource that would be available 24 hours a day, providing quick answers to the navigation and usage questions that technicians most often hear from students.
"This doesn't replace tech support. It just gives students more tools, especially if they get stuck when they're working late at night," said Narad.
Laquinta said fast, effective technical support is an absolute necessity for an online school, and that PA Cyber has always prided itself on quickly turning around student requests for technical assistance. "Most problems are addressed the same day or within 24 hours of the call," he said.
Narad originally conceived the site as a resource and training aid for the school's help desk technicians, but realized many students and staff could learn on their own if the information was made available to them in an easy-to-use format. When good tutorials already existed, Narad simply linked to them. For other problems, step-by-step guides with audio instructions were created with the help of other PA Cyber staff.
"The site has other useful information about PA Cyber, such as all our office locations," Narad said. "If you open up an office location on an iPad or iPhone, it knows your current location and will give directions from there. Open from a cell phone and it will offer to dial the phone number of that office for you."
Because the online world is constantly changing, the Resource Center must continually be updated and improved, said Laquinta. Adding video tutorials for some topics and in-depth technical information strictly for the school's help desk technicians are among next steps as the project evolves.
"Congratulations to Mark for coming up with this concept and running with it," said Dr. Trombetta. "He has created a very useful resource for our school and for anyone enrolled in or working at an online school."
The Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School is an online school providing a free publicly funded education for children of Pennsylvania residents in grades K4 kindergarten through high school senior. Founded in 2000 in a small western Pennsylvania steel mill town, PA Cyber now enrolls 11,000 students from every part of the Commonwealth and is considered a leading innovator and national model for online K-12 education. The school website is www.pacyber.org/.
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SOURCE PA Cyber Charter School