Farwest 1506842856

California Independent School Seeks Flexible LMS

Using a combination of socratic and blended learning, this new, small innovative school in California is currently in a soft launch this Fall 2016. They seek a learning management system.

State: California Number of Students: N/A
School Type: Independent School Free and Reduced Lunch: N/A
Grade Level: 6-12 English Language Learners: N/A

School Context

This quest-based school will use blended learning and socratic seminars and discussions as its primary methods for instruction. Students at this school won't be constrained to traditional classrooms, but will participate in a variety of learning opportunities. Students will learn partially online, collaboratively, and will have face-time with teachers in some subjects. The school also focuses on non-cognitive skill development as they seek to teach the whole student.

State of Technology

The administrator is looking to replace their current learning management system with a robust tool that has flexibility in content creation, standards/competencies, but creates a centralized repository for teachers to access content and creates a transparent learning environment for students. Moreover, they are looking to make a shift from a solution that is teacher-centered and put more control in the hands of the students.

Currently, the school uses Schoology, and for the most part, likes many of its features. Schoology at the moment is too pricey, forcing the school to look at other options. They dislike that they cannot embed material into the tool. They feel that the integration with outside content is a less intuitive and does not have a nice user facing interface. They do like that the back end is customizable and integrates with their e-texts and has google integration.

Tech Needs & Requirements

The school is looking for a flexible, customizable learning management system that can handle multiple methods of instruction from flipped classroom, to standard, linear pace and sequence of assignments.

Most importantly, they want to the learning management system to aesthetically and functionally match their culture of teaching the whole child and giving the student opportunities for self-directed learning. Ideally, they would like a solution that is able to handle non-standard, non-cognitive lessons and assessments,requiring that the tool be able to handle multiple forms of assessments. Teachers must be able to give feedback in assignments and assessments. The school will use a variety of methods for feedback, including rubrics, holistic and narrative feedback, and the feedback tools should be varied and flexible.

They would also like a calendar for students to be able to see their assignments and plans for the week. Additionally, they would like a calendar with incredible visibility so that teachers can see what assignments the students in their classes might be tackling in other classes to avoid overlap of major projects and assignments. This can be handled by Google calendar if integration is supported.

The tool should ideally be able to embed content from third party curriculum vendors, but if they cannot there needs to be at least a way to integrate third party content. Teachers should be able to embed video, e-texts, and create content. They would like a tool that supports a single learning map for students but also might be flexible to create different pathways for different students or groups of students. Also, they would like the ability to build a central repository so that teachers can share lessons and assignments.

The tool should have the ability for students in shared classes or teams to collaborate. Announcements should be a feature for groups and classes.

Students should have some control over content and pace and sequence if the teacher has set it up to support that. Otherwise, students will follow the same sequence and path as other classmates. Students should have the opportunity to collaborate with other students, but the communication functionality of the tool is really there for convenience and social interactions when participating in distance learning, otherwise students will work collaboratively in person. Students should be able to show mastery in multiple ways.

Teachers should be content creators, see where students are in pace and sequence, but become facilitators of learning in a less teacher-centric environment.

The tool must allow for custom competency standards (like non-cognitive skill strands), be able to create within the tool, have flexibility when designing scope and sequence of assignments and lessons, provide a feedback loop that is customizable but can be asynchronous, have a robust calendar feature, and provide a central repository should be built for teachers to share materials. The school allows bring your own devices and provides mostly Chromebooks. The school would like to see student data, but aggregating large data sets is not a priority of the school. They would like to see results from formative data and talk very specifically about students strengths and weaknesses on skills. The tool must integrate with Google Apps For Education.

*Content From 2016

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