Committed to Building the Best Online Learning Environment

PA Distance Learning Charter School is committed to building the best online learning environment in the world, which is why we are pleased to announce an exciting educational experience with new technology.

For the past 10 years, our highly qualified teachers have served families across the entire state of Pennsylvania with a teacher-driven curriculum that meets the needs of all learners. In order to provide our students with a unique and rewarding learning experience that moves beyond the limitations of traditional schooling, we strive to combine modern technology with fun activities and field trips, compassionate teachers, and an engaging curriculum.


Google Enterprise and Cloudcast Education

This powerful combination will now be even further enhanced as we have teamed with a
Google Enterprise, Cloudcast Education.

This partnership helps offer more collaborative opportunities to connect with our students, enhance instruction and curriculum, as well as build positive relationships with our families.


The first new system families at PA Distance Learning Charter School will experience is Google Apps for Education, a suite of online communication, collaboration and productivity tools that are accessible 24/7 from any Internet connected device.

From a messaging and communication standpoint, Google Apps provides our families with email, instant messaging, voice messaging, and multi-person video conferencing. The new inbox isn’t just for sending and receiving email messages; it’s about connecting with people, staying in communication, and building the positive relationships that are required for success. Instant messaging, voice calling, and video conferencing capabilities means that students and teachers have more interactive opportunities, as we will be able to see who is online and connect instantly.

In terms of organization, Google Apps provides powerful search capabilities to help keep everything in reach. Labels and filters will also help students stay organized. For accessibility, Google Apps is securely powered by the internet, allowing students to be productive at home, on the road, or on their personal mobile devices. Further, we will provide students and parents with 30GB of storage, eliminating the need to delete files.

To aid in collaboration and productivity, students are provided with online word processing, spreadsheet and presentation tools that offer:

  • Real-time, interactive, and simultaneous editing: Multiple users can work together, editing online files at the same time. Real-time collaboration can either be done internally or by invitation with external subject-matter experts that teachers may invite into the learning environment.
  • The ability to manage and access files online: All Google Docs files (documents, spreadsheets, and presentations) and Microsoft Office files (Word, Excel, and PowerPoint) are available, searchable, and editable online. This allows students and parents to access and work on their files from anywhere.
  • The elimination of file attachments: Students simply share their work with teachers. Version control is easy, because there is a complete revision history where all files are saved, organized, and recoverable.
  • The ability to work with numerous file types: Students will be able to open and edit Office files directly in Google Drive and work seamlessly with traditional file formats such as .csv, .txt, .html, .pdf, and other formats.
  • The ability to present and publish through the web: Students and teachers can deliver presentations remotely through an open browser window, and publish documents and spreadsheets as internal websites.
  • The ability to embed Docs on web pages: Students and teachers can display documents, spreadsheets, and presentations in Google Sites with just a few clicks.

Teaming with Cloudcast Education, and utilizing Google Apps means our families will also experience a new system, Gradecast.

Gradecast is an integrated Student Information System and Learning Management System that is built on the Google Apps for Education platform. By using Google Apps to integrate two critical systems into one, we are able to provide students and parents with a more unified system for accessing instruction and curriculum. Our families will gain real time access to classes –including curriculum, live learning sessions, and student analytics such as attendance, grades, progress reports and report cards – in one place, using one log-in.

The system also includes Educator Dashboard, a system developed to detect early signs of academic distress in order to prevent dropouts, as based on research conducted by Dr. Robert Balfanz from Johns Hopkins. The Educator Dashboard is an early warning system that identifies potential academic challenges and provides an intervention catalog to remediate students before they become at risk for failure. This Early Warning System provides us with a vital tool to ensure effective student progression through academics.

Finally, the days of viruses, malware and having to make sure Java is installed correctly to access a live learning session are also coming to a close. Gradecast is unique in that it is completely cloud-based and does not require Java to be installed on student computers. No longer relying on Java affords PA Distance Learning Charter School the opportunity to transition to Google Chromebooks, which are virtually support free. Chromebooks do not require manual software updates, because they self-update, and they simply cannot get a virus or malware. We believe eliminating computer downtime will increase learning opportunities and create a hassle-free and family friendly learning experience.

This exciting change to Google Apps for Education, Gradecast, and Chromebooks will create opportunities for us to connect, engage and succeed with your family because it enables us to establish an interactive learning environment, where everyone and everything is interconnected. The connections will enhance our curriculum, support the needs of our students, and further develop our relationships with the families of PA Distance Learning.