Long Review: Lightspeed’s My Big Campus and learning.com’s STEM curriculum

2/29/2012 By:

The Long Review: Learning.com

Tech & Learning follows Illinois’s Oak Lawn-Hometown District 123 as they implement learning.com’s STEM curriculum in conjunction with the district’s new 1:1 computing initiative.

This is the first in a series of posts about our year-long pilot with the STEM Web-based curriculum from learning. com. The site allows teachers to assign math, science, and technology lessons or units to individual students, whole class, or specified groups. Units are leveled by grades 3-5 and contain interactive introductions, activities, games, quizzes, and journals.

Rollout: As teachers prepared for rollout day, they explored the curriculum and chose general math topics that all of the students need to review. I visited with each of the classrooms to assist in explaining parts of the site to the students. Students had no problem using their Google Apps names and passwords to log in to their new learning.com accounts.

Before implementation, I was concerned about our bandwidth limits and wondering if our network could support the use of the site when multiple classrooms per school were utilizing it. I am happy to say our network has held up well even with the rigorous use of the site. We have had no problems with slowness or use of the Flash portions of the site.

Immediate Feedback: Teachers loved that the quiz grades were immediately updated in real time in their online grade book. Students appreciated the feedback after every question and knowing their final percentage when they finished. Since the quizzes focus on one skill in various problem styles, students are able to keep working towards understanding.

After the quizzes were submitted, we discussed what questions students got wrong and reviewed those specific skills. The students were very open about expressing which questions they struggled on and some wanted to take the quiz again. In the future, I would like to see a more in-depth breakdown of the pattern of incorrect answers and maybe suggesting the student go revisit a certain thumbnail in the introduction.

Teachers and students enjoyed the game portion of each unit of study. Even the storylines of the games are academic and prepared the students for problem solving. Each game offers three levels of complexity and teachers can see the amount of points students have earned in each game. We used this data as another formative clue to see what group of students needed more support.

Differentiation and the Next Step: Next, our teachers will be using the site to differentiate math groups and add their own exit slips as journal assessments. They will begin using a science portion as well, but some of the units in the Foss portion are not completed so they will supplement with another curriculum piece on the site.

Overall we are pleased with the site and excited to see how we can use it to better meet the various needs of our students.

Peg Keiner is an instructional technology coach for Oak Lawn- Hometown District 123.

The Long Review: My Big Campus

David Andrade tests Lightspeed’s My Big Campus. Read more about his experience each month at techlearning.com.

My Big Campus, from Lightspeed Systems, is an online service that allows schools to create an engaging, collaborative online environment. The standalone version of My Big Campus is free and chock-full of some great features. You can also purchase My Big Campus with a Collaborative Web Filter.

There are some really great features about My Big Campus that make it an extremely useful tool. “Bob Campus” is a help “person” that lets users post questions to his “wall,” and then “Bob” will reply with an answer. Users can also scan the wall to look for other people’s questions and answers. “Bob” also has a blog that has some great tips and ideas for using My Big Campus.

The Students love using it. Features like blogs, pages, document sharing, wall posts, and more are familiar and powerful. They work similar to other social media and class management systems, are easy to use, and are powerful learning tools.

My Big Campus is also a safe, secure system. Only you and your students can see and access your class pages and resources. This helps students feel more comfortable sharing and discussing things online, and eliminates the worry about outsiders joining in when not wanted.

My Big Campus is turning out to be a very useful and powerful tool. I’ll be exploring more features each month at techlearning.com.

David Andrade is a Physics Teacher and Educational Technology Specialist in Connecticut.

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