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March 23rd, 2012
Companies aim to help schools create digital learning environments
As more schools make the shift to a digital-based teaching and learning environment, a number of new products and services have emerged to help ease this transition.
From digital content collections intended to help educators personalize instruction for every student, to learning management systems that contain built-in analytics to help students succeed, here’s an overview of some of the latest offerings.
Knovation (formerly known as netTrekker) has announced its newest product, icurio, a digital curriculum content solution for delivering personalized learning. Icurio, which includes a collection of 330,000 digital learning resources aligned with state and Common Core standards, is intended to help schools make the transition from teaching with print to digital materials. Students can build and organize content collections on their own for homework and projects, or access specific topic-based content that is organized and prepared by their teachers to address their individual learning needs.
The introduction of icurio comes on the heels of Knovation’s corporate transformation announcement, which reflects a new name and broadening vision for the company formerly known as netTrekker.
“Knovation is much more than a new name, it is a new mission,” said Joe Grieshop, president and managing officer. “This corporate transformation will allow us to build on the solid foundation of netTrekker Search and deliver breakthrough and disruptive learning solutions that focus on a fundamental shift from a one-way, one-size-fits-all approach to education to a learner-centered approach that minimizes environmental, emotional, functional, and stylistic learning barriers and is customized to the unique needs of every learner.”
Next-generation learning management
The Salt Lake City-based firm Instructure, whose open-source Canvas learning management system is available through a cloud-based model hosted by the company, has caught on in higher education, with more than 100 colleges and universities now using the software. At the Florida Educational Technology Conference in January, Instructure announced a new version of Canvas designed specifically for K-12 schools. One of its early adopters is North Carolina’s Rockingham County School District.
“Rockingham held big expectations for Canvas, and I’ve been extremely pleased with its performance and the reaction of our teachers,” said Dennis Frye, director of instructional technology and media, in a press release. “Our implementation process has been a huge success.”
Canvas K-12 saves teachers time and engages parents in their children’s education by co-enrolling parents in the software. Parents can opt for push-based notifications when their children miss an assignment or have a test scheduled. They also can log in to view their children’s grades and class participation in and to communicate with the teacher.
“With Canvas K-12, when a teacher makes a change to the calendar or to class assignments, parents are automatically notified through an eMail, a text message, or a Facebook notification,” said Brian Whitmer, Instructure co-founder. “The days of teachers having to stuff backpacks with paper are over.”
Canvas K-12 is pre-populated with state standards and Common Core objectives, so teachers can choose the relevant objectives and align them with course assessments. What’s more, it contains built-in learning analytics to help guide student success.
Another next-generation learning management tool is itslearning, which promoted its digital learning environment during the Texas Computer Education Association conference in February. Itslearning offers a range of tools to help educators plan, engage, teach, assess, reflect, and report, the company says—all with the goal of giving students a more personalized learning environment.