Digital Content and Learning Management

11/1/2012 By: Dr. Henry C. Thiele

Our two discussions about digital content and learning management were structured around key questions designed to dig into how schools are becoming more digital in the content resources available to teachers and students. The goal was to discuss what this virtual content might look like, how to manage it all once we have accumulated a large amount of digital resources, and how Common Core standards may impact this process. Although both sessions were built around the same set of questions and included a debate over the future of digital resources, one group saw the Common Core standards as something that might help us with resources moving forward while the other team saw the Common Core standards as a huge detriment in the future.

Q How are you managing it all?

We had worked with Moodle over the last several years, and have also had success with assignments being digitally submitted via active directory and Dropbox. We are in our second year of utilizing Blackboard and our teachers especially appreciate easy-to-use plug-ins such as TurnItIn, and NBC Learn.
—Traci House, director of technology, Joplin Schools, Joplin, MO

We have been using Angel (by Blackboard) for five years now and it is vital to the success of our one-toone program. This LMS platform has allowed us to digitize much of our content and it has inspired collaboration between teacher-to-teacher, teacher-to-student, and student-tostudent communication. We commonly call it the glue that holds it all together.
—Scott Smith, chief technology officer, Mooresville Graded School District, Mooresville, NC

Unfortunately, we do not have a single integrated system to manage it all. We have a variety of tools, as they all do one thing or another better than the other. Our challenge continues to be the back-end management of all the tools in a federated fashion. Wherever possible, each tool is tied to our AD for authentication, integrated into our SIS for staff-student relationship management, and where applicable, a management tool used for managing the devices.
—Steve Smith, CIO, Cambridge Public Schools, Cambridge, MA

Tools to manage online resources

* Blackboard
* Compass Learning
* Dropbox
* edmodo
* Follett Aspen Curriculum and Learning
* Google Apps for Education
* iTunes U
* Moodle
* My Big CampusSharepoint

From the SchoolCIO Summit keynote by Karon Cator, Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education.

Q What sorts of data gathering are you doing at the same time that will help measure progress towards district goals and readiness for CCST assessment?

We have invested in a data and assessment system that will be able to track all student data and be able to deliver formative and benchmark testing that will allow teachers to be able to determine the individual needs of students relative to the Common Core standards. We have also invested in personnel to work with teachers to explore student data and understand how to use data to make decisions that affect each student.
—Dean Farar, director of technology, Yuma Educational Technology Consortium, Yuma, AZ

We use assessment management software to store and evaluate standardized as well as in-house assessments, lesson planning software to track standards and individual lessons, and year-long program evaluations to evaluate effectiveness and relevance of each program.
—Rick Cave, director of technology, West Windsor-Plainsboro RSD, NJ

We use a variety of data systems to help align and analyze for state assignments. Eduphoria Aware is used the most and we really pushed to have more common formative assessments throughout the year utilized by all teachers. This helps us fully vet the curriculum and instruction across the district and helps teachers and students use assessment for learning rather than of learning.
—Carl Hooker, Director of Instructional Technology, Eanes ISD, Austin , TX

Key Takeaways

* There is no perfect tool on the market yet.
* Ease of use leads to greater teacher buy-in, but easier products can be missing essential tools that make a management system powerful.
* Once the information is in a system it gets stuck because it is difficult to move between systems.

‘‘The tools we select to support teaching and learning are and should be independent of the content, yet flexible enough to align and support any content. The curriculum is continuously changing in a cycle while the technology tools, although also continually changing, need to be flexible enough to deliver any content.
—Steve Smith

Smarter Supply and Demand

* Aggregated Purchasing
* Advanced Market Commitments
* Shared RFPs - Open RFPs
* Rapid Research
* “Consumer’s Union”
     • testbed
     • test kitchen
     • expert curation
     • consumer panels
     • crowd-sourcing ratings and reviews

From the SchoolCIO Summit keynote by Karon Cator , Director of the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education .

How are you integrating the move to Common Core standards with digital content?

Let’s measure innovation and creativity alongside the Common Core standards and create opportunities for real-time inquiry to real questions.
—Ken Wallace, superintendent, Maine Township 207 Schools, Park Ridge, IL

The move to Common Core standards gives us a great opportunity to take a deep look at our curriculum and instructional practices. It also allows us to provide the professional development necessary to learn strategies for better utilizing technology and digital content and to help students master the concepts within the Common Core curriculum.
—Jeff Hauswald, superintendent, Kokomo Schools, Kokomo, IN

The move to the Common Core standards has made us look at the way we deliver instruction. We are currently expanding our study of differentiating instruction as well as the concept of “flipping the classroom.” Both of these instructional concepts will rely more heavily on digital content.
—Bob Dyer, superintendent, La Grange Highlands School District 106

‘‘Coach your board of education on these changes and what they mean, including how data are important and drive instruction.
—Jeff Hauswald

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