Ensuring accessible content for all students

This summer, many faculty will work on developing or revising curricular content for their courses. One of the keys in developing new digital materials is verifying that those materials offer accessible content for all students.

Today, most learning management systems (LMS) and software programs offer some level of accessibility compliance checking. However, they are not always thorough or error-free.

Related Content: 5 steps to ensure accessibility…Read More

Using your LMS for teaching and professional learning

Picture this: You roll out a new learning management system (LMS) for students, but all of your professional learning is either hosted on a different platform or conducted in person with notes shared via email afterward. Sound familiar?

It’s more common than you think, but separating the educator professional learning (PL) experience from the student learning experience can actually have a negative impact on both parties’ experiences in the long run.

Related: 3 reasons elementary schools should adopt an LMS…Read More

3 reasons elementary schools should adopt an LMS—and where to begin

Is it really possible for young learners to effectively use a learning management system (LMS)? This is a common question administrators and educational practitioners ask when considering LMS adoption at the district level.

Through my work with educators across the country, I know the number of elementary school districts and administrators turning to LMS adoption is increasing for all grades—preparing students at a young age to use the technology they will need to master for high school, college, and beyond.

Here are three reasons why districts should consider adopting an LMS for elementary and how they can begin technological integration for all classrooms.…Read More

How to find an LMS that supports student privacy and data security

As the stewards of student data and information, our school district doesn’t take that role lightly. Proud to be one of just 13 districts nationwide to receive the Consortium for Student Networking (CoSN) Trusted Learning Environment Seal—which designates institutions that have taken measurable steps to implement practices to help ensure the privacy of student data—we knew that our existing learning management system (LMS) wasn’t up to the task.

And with that, we went in search of an LMS that could support our data-privacy commitment, which has been a key focus for at least six years and a keystone of how we make technology-related decisions. While participating in one of CoSN’s working groups, I began identifying which student-data-privacy principles were really important to us as school districts and what it meant to be a district as an exemplar in that area.

Out of that work, CoSN came up with the Trusted Learning Environment, which encompasses 25 different practices within the realm of student data privacy. Missouri’s Raytown Quality Schools was part of the first cohort of seven districts to be awarded this seal, and that meant that we not only had the right policies and procedures in place, but that we were actually implementing them and displaying evidence all the way down to the classroom level.…Read More

Why combining assessments and LMS technology is essential

Assessments are more than just measuring how well students are doing in particular subjects in school, and they can actually improve student learning. In fact, frequent assessments can have a positive impact on a student’s education from kindergarten through college. While this may make some educators cringe, the reality is that test-enhanced learning, or testing as an aid to learning, has evidence of effectiveness dating back nearly 100 years (Roediger III, McDaniel, & McDermott, 2006).

Testing can help students better retain and recall what they studied, not only for the final exam, but as part of their overall educational development. This is the “testing effect,” or the phenomenon where taking a quiz can enhance later retention of studied materials, and its effectiveness has been demonstrated many times over. Students who take quizzes shortly after they study show better performance on a final test relative to students who only study without taking a practice quiz, even when no feedback is given on the quiz (Roediger III, McDaniel, & McDermott, 2006).

The testing effect, also known as retrieval practice, practice testing, or test-enhanced learning, needs a place in today’s modern learning. It can be implemented in modern learning management system (LMS) and assessment management system (AMS) technologies, like Gauge, to help improve student learning, from their first day in kindergarten to their last day of earning a university degree.…Read More

Google adds new features to Classroom, Forms, and more Copy

As back-to-school approaches, Google has just released a grab-bag of new features aimed at K-12 educators—mostly upgrades to existing Google products like Classroom and Expeditions—announced in a new blog post.

For Classroom, Google’s still relatively new LMS, the company is adding summaries of student work that can be automatically shared with parents by teachers, who can send the summaries (or classroom announcements) daily or weekly as they choose.

Classroom’s mobile app is also getting some tweaks, namely the new ability to annotate documents, turning them into whiteboard-like screens. Teachers, too, can use the annotations to grade assignments, highlight passages, or demonstrate concepts. To help organize classrooms, teachers can now also add topics to posts and students can filter their streams for specific topics.…Read More

Google adds new features to Classroom, Forms, and more

As back-to-school approaches, Google has just released a grab-bag of new features aimed at K-12 educators—mostly upgrades to existing Google products like Classroom and Expeditions—announced in a new blog post.

For Classroom, Google’s still relatively new LMS, the company is adding summaries of student work that can be automatically shared with parents by teachers, who can send the summaries (or classroom announcements) daily or weekly as they choose.

Classroom’s mobile app is also getting some tweaks, namely the new ability to annotate documents, turning them into whiteboard-like screens. Teachers, too, can use the annotations to grade assignments, highlight passages, or demonstrate concepts. To help organize classrooms, teachers can now also add topics to posts and students can filter their streams for specific topics.…Read More

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Nampa School District 131 becomes first in Idaho to implement the itslearning LMS

As part of its on-going efforts to improve communications, foster collaboration, and bolster student achievement, Nampa School District #131 (Nampa SD) in Nampa, Idaho has become the first school district in the state to implement the itslearning learning management system. With 24 schools, Nampa SD serves 15,000 students in grades preK – 12, and will begin using the itslearning system this fall.

Designed specifically for the K-12 sector, itslearning is a cloud-based digital learning platform that gives teachers, students and parents access to as appropriate course materials, assignments, communities for collaboration, progress reports, and more. According to Dr. Nicole MacTavish, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning at Nampa SD, it was the system’s ability to centralize so many resources, data, and processes – and interact with other district systems – that sold them on itslearning.

“We wanted to provide our teachers with a way to easily access a wide variety of content, as well as the ability to collaborate on best instructional practices. Another priority was to improve parent communication and participation,” said MacTavish. “We know from past experience that adding more or different systems wasn’t the answer. If we are truly going to support teachers, students, and parents we need to streamline processes and eliminate barriers. For over a year our task force researched options and spoke with other districts and concluded that itslearning is the platform that will allow us to taking teaching and learning to the next level and beyond.”…Read More

Florida Virtual School migrates to Brightspace

Florida Virtual School (FLVS), a statewide public school district in the state of Florida and international provider of education products and services, has selected D2L, a global learning technology provider, to deploy its Brightspace platform as the district’s new learning management system (LMS).

FLVS, the largest fully accredited online state public school in the U.S., had nearly 400,000 completed semester enrollments in the 2015-16 academic year.

The Brightspace platform includes a number of advantages that were key elements in its selection by FLVS. Since the platform incorporates personalized learning, teachers can deliver their lessons with much greater flexibility and give each student the personal experience they need to succeed. Brightspace was designed with modern students in mind and offers a clean, responsive user experience as well as integrated social media, chat and advanced video features.…Read More

The simple LMS move that has made our teachers more effective

Migrating to a single platform for assessment, data analysis, and instruction has simplified most everything for one district

Teachers today are responsible for so many things.

They have to plan instruction for all of their classes. They have to tie this instruction to rigorous state and national standards. They have to assess their students’ understanding on an ongoing basis, look at what the data say, and adjust their teaching based on the results. They have to differentiate instruction for every child. They have to foster deeper understanding among their students, addressing not only core content standards but also key 21st century skills such as communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and problem solving.

Teachers can’t do all of that if they’re constantly logging out of one software system and into another. It’s far too much for them to manage.…Read More