It’s been a very long, tiring week. As a member of the OSAPAC Committee (Ontario Software Acquisition Program Advisory Committee), we have been together for the last five days comparing software evaluation results from our calls to vendors for our current requirements, evaluating our current services and determining where we may go in the next year, devising communication plans, and so much more.
The mandate of the OSAPAC Committee seems very simple:
- consult with the publicly funded education system (e.g., annual survey, attendance at conferences, liaison with subject associations) to assess provincial priorities in the areas of required software titles recommended by teachers in support of learning;
- review software titles submitted under the Ministry’s Requests For Proposals (RFP), Request for Tender (RFT) and Request for Qualification (RFQ) processes that meet the indicated needs of all Ontario publicly funded schools and forward the resulting recommendations for province-wide licenses to the Ministry of Education;
- maintain for the Ministry of Education, a web-enabled database, in both official languages of all provincially licensed software;
- inform educators of the OSAPAC process and of the licensed software titles available to all publicly funded schools;
- provide additional support, including professional development opportunities, where appropriate and available for the implementation of provincially licensed software;
- maintain a web site and a conferencing system to keep all interested parties informed of the business of the Committee and to provide a feedback mechanism for software related issues;
- maintain a web-enabled database of Ontario curriculum expectations linked to provincially licensed software titles.
- consult with the publicly funded education system (e.g., annual survey, attendance at conferences, liaison with subject associations) to assess provincial priorities in the areas of required software titles recommended by teachers in support of learning.
Our group of 14 does this in addition to our day jobs. We are spread throughout the province, representing geographical areas and both official languages. The payoff for the students of the province is what is important and one of the reasons why I’ve been such a fervent member of this group. By licensing software titles, preferably in English and French, Windows and Macintosh, teachers and students have access to the same products – teachers can share common resources and techniques with the result being a community with supports for meeting the Ministry of Education’s curriculum and educational requirements.
In addition to committee membership, we also pick up additional responsibilities for the committee. For a number of years, I was the webmaster for our web presence at http://www.osapac.org. It was a communication vehicle to let teachers and vendors what was up and where the committee priorities were. In addition to maintaining the website, last year I took on the role of repository manager to collect learning objects for teachers to access to support titles licensed by the Ministry of Education. Starting yesterday, that will be one of my committee commitments for the upcoming year. I managed to get a lead on some resources even last night and so am off to a good start. If you have a resource that would support the use of a Ministry licensed software title, I’d be happy to take it and add to the repository.
Membership is so rewarding. In addition to the formal agenda, there are professional conversations with members during breaks and in the evenings. I had a chance to have a few of those “King of the World” discussions this week. While we’re a long way off from such a dynasty, we’re on track on so many aspects. All that is required is more money, more equipment, more software, more professional development, more hours in the day … but the one thing that typically is not missing is the enthusiasm and commitment that is found in the teaching profession. Kudos to all educators for doing your best for providing the environment and learning opportunity for students.
What have we done lately? The following titles were added this past year.
- Adobe Premiere Elements 7
- Adobe Photoshop Elements 6 (Macintosh)
- Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 (Windows)
- Comic Life
- CDX Automotive Resource Kit Plus
- ExploreLearning Science Gizmos
- Adobe® Creative Suite® 4 Web Standard
- Mathematics Gizmos Grades 7 – 12
- Clicker 5.27 for Macintosh
- Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) and Beyond 20 20
- Band in a Box 2008 (Windows and Macintosh)
- Simply Accounting 2008
Not a bad year’s work! Every student in the province has access to these titles to support their educational efforts. Teachers have takehome rights so that they may learn and practice before going live. The entire list appears here.
As this week concludes, I’m exhausted. I want my own pillow and my own bed. I want my own television. I want to see Bubby. I even want to walk the dog.
But, I leave with a hightened sense of excitement from what we’ve done and what we’re about to do in the upcoming year. Ontario educators, stay tuned. There’s a great deal more on the way for this year.
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