Externship Provides Rural Teacher with Technology Experience

A OneNet externship has provided a teacher with hands-on learning experience in internet-related fields. Margaret Giles, a computer science teacher at Haileyville Public Schools, participated in the externship from June 17- 21.Margaret Giles headshot

The externship program is sponsored by the State Department of Education (SDE), and aims to provide teachers with experience related to the subjects they teach. Each summer SDE matches teachers with organizations where both will benefit from the program. SDE worked with OneNet to develop a job description and interviewed and selected the teachers for the program.

Haileyville Public School is a rural school located 15 miles east of McAlester on 270 Hwy. Haileyville is a K-12 school with an annual student population average of approximately 300-350 students. Ms. Giles is the computer science teacher at Haileyville Public Schools. She also provides tech support for the school. Ms. Giles was one of two teachers selected for this externship by the SDE.

During the week of the externship, Ms. Giles spent time with various OneNet teams to learn about OneNet’s operations and services. Specifically, Ms. Giles spent time with the network operations center, systems group, cybersecurity engineers, optical specialist and provisioning team, learning the technical aspects of OneNet and the network. She learned about OneNet services and the Oklahoma Community Anchor Network (OCAN). The team also briefed her on OneNet’s next-generation classroom initiative, including recommendations for incorporating 3-D printing in her classroom. Ms. Giles also had the opportunity to attend a meeting with Ocupath, a local company that produces educational virtual reality content.

Each day, Ms. Giles worked on a lesson plan about networks, the internet and OneNet. She presented the lesson to the OneNet team at the end of the week. “I learned many things during my time at OneNet,” said Ms. Giles. “I was unaware that OneNet is a division of the Regents for Higher Education and that they are involved in the creation and upkeep of the Oklahoma Community Anchor Network (OCAN). Living in rural Oklahoma, OCAN has affected my area for the past several years, and I was unaware that it existed.”

HPS recently upgraded to a 1 Gbps circuit with OneNet, bringing the school closer to the FY20 State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) recommendations for a school of its size. Ms. Giles understands just how critical high-speed bandwidth is for rural schools.

“High-Haileyville buildingspeed bandwidth is important to Haileyville because teachers, students and staff use the internet on a daily basis,” said Ms. Giles. “Not only is it a vital resource, it is used for accounting, student management and teaching.”

Ms. Giles said the turn-up of the new circuit went smoothly, and the new bandwidth is supporting lessons well, such as those streaming video. Following this experience, she now feels that she has a larger tech support base using OneNet. She believes the relationship between Haileyville Public School and OneNet will continue to flourish as the organizations work together.

OneNet Executive Director Vonley Royal believes high-speed bandwidth is a necessity in the classroom. “OneNet’s goal is always to support Oklahoma’s teachers with new technologies,” Royal said. “We want to make the next-generation classroom a reality by providing high-speed bandwidth for the schools we serve.”

Opportunities like this externship are beneficial in more than one way. Teachers gain industry knowledge that they can use to improve their lessons. Ms. Giles has also already altered some of her lesson plans to include information about OneNet and OCAN, and is planning a field trip to give her students a look at what OneNet does. She said, “During my time at OneNet I think I was most surprised by all the different aspects they covered. It was not only an internet service provider. Everyone at OneNet was eager and willing to assist schools in improving education in Oklahoma.”


Story by Abbey Wood, OneNet Strategic Communications Intern Fall 2019

Leave a Comment