Supporting Mastery Learning in a Pandemic, and Beyond | D2L
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Supporting Mastery Learning in a Pandemic, and Beyond

  • 3 Min Read

We’ve all learned there are lots of things that are more difficult – but not impossible – to do during a pandemic. You can still enjoy restaurant food, but you may have to make it a delivery. You can still get your Christmas shopping done on time, but you might have to order a few things online. And you can still do mastery learning in a classroom – but you may have to improvise.

It’s clear though that education should get more support during these challenging times – it’s not as easy to just flip learning to virtual.

In a pandemic, particularly, we can’t afford any gaps in learning. Students are especially at risk of falling behind right now, and we need an effective and efficient way to identify the gaps in their learning and give them the targeted help they need to get back on track.
That’s why I’m so excited to announce that we launched a new feature in our Brightspace platform. Think of it as kind of an early Christmas present.

Mastery View of the Gradebook will give teachers and students an at-a-glance view of some highly complex variables that, taken together, measure the student’s mastery of a subject. This will allow teachers to save time and optimize instruction with a simpler, more wholistic view across activities and tied to outcomes without having to individually view each assignment, quiz, or other activity.

This means it will be easier for teachers to:

  • scan the entire class to identify learning outcomes where student proficiency is below desired levels,
  • match instruction to a student’s comprehension level,
  • identify opportunities for major or minor changes to the learning activities based on their students’ learning gaps,
  • better engage with a student about learning goals, progress, and curriculum across all their learning activities, and
  • encourage students to take ownership of their learning.

MasteryView K12 screenshot

To support a culture of continuous learning and mastery you need better access to the status of both a student and the classroom. Mastery View enables both detailed student views and quick full class views of performance related to each outcome, as well as the ability to publish the student-specific mastery directly to the learner. It also flexibly helps our schools and educators continue to evolve their policy and practice.

For some educators, this means being able to optimize instructional time by identifying and intervening for students at risk as well as for high performers. For school systems innovating their policies away from seat-time, this means moving to a mastery-based model where students progress when they demonstrate proficiency and can accelerate through the curriculum accordingly.

In any case, our Brightspace learning platform now provides a convenient way for educators to configure a suggested level of achievement based on a student’s performance on an evaluation and outcome, and then adjust where appropriate. This is a fabulous addition to Brightspace.

I think that far too often, students don’t understand achievement status or how it relates to the goals of a course. During this pandemic especially, this new tool will help parents and students working remotely to better understand where the student stands, and to take action together.

Not only does it give clearer feedback on strengths and weaknesses – Mastery View can further simplify the mapping to additional learning and practice activities. By mapping learning outcomes, assignments, and curriculum, students have a clearer view of their goals and needs and are further empowered and encouraged to take control of their learning.

As I’ve said before, I see mastery learning as the best way to make sure that all students can become proficient. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Even at the best of times – and especially during a pandemic – it can be a bit messy trying to manage multiple student pathways across multiple activities and dashboards.

Mastery View makes that easier. It’s the next way that we are helping to bring order to a complex activity, to empower teachers and learners, and support the journey toward continuous educational improvement and student mastery.

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