Alpena’s administrators decided to look for a new LMS that would provide a more intuitive and open approach to course creation. When they saw D2L’s Brightspace platform, they quickly realized that it offered something different.
“We’d been using all these clunky LMS platforms and getting frustrated,” says Dr VanWagoner. “Brightspace is the first tool we found that doesn’t put a barrier between us and our goals, so getting teachers on board and building new courses is really straightforward.”
The Brightspace platform makes it easy for teachers to upload information, videos and other content and use it directly in their classrooms.
“What I love most about Brightspace is its ability to put education in the hands of my students anytime and anyplace. It is a one-stop shop for students to find the agenda for the day, help videos, daily work and links to other classroom activities.” – Melissa Jarema, Teacher, Alpena Public Schools.
It is also being used by the ACES Academy (Alpena’s alternative education community) to build engaging blended and online courses for high school and community college students.
“I am thrilled with the fact that Alpena has incorporated Brightspace into our educational experience,” says Kris Copping from the English Department at ACES Academy. “I enjoy the ease with which I can create and share course material in Brightspace and supplement it in a variety of ways, while housing everything in one easily accessible place for students.”
Crucially, Brightspace also gives Alpena access to an open marketplace of educational content, so teachers can pick and choose the elements they need to augment the content they develop themselves. This not only saves time—it also provides a broader range of educational tools and techniques to suit a wider variety of learners.
“The D2L team have been phenomenal to work with. Our people have been delighted with the training and support from that standpoint.” – Dr John VanWagoner, Superintendent, Alpena Public Schools.
Once teachers have created their course content in the Brightspace platform, they can share it with colleagues and re-use it in different contexts over multiple semesters.
Alissa Miller, Eighth Grade Math Teacher at Alpena, comments: “Brightspace allows me to keep everything in one well organized space that can be accessed anytime, anywhere. All of the courses I worked so hard to build last year were uploaded with a click of a button and ready to be reviewed and used again this year.”
One third of Alpena’s 300 teachers are using an LMS in their lessons, and this figure is expected to rise as the district expands into project-based learning and technical education. For example, the district already offers an innovative geometry and construction course, where students learn geometry by building a house. It is also pioneering a course called “Amped Up”, which combines algebra with design and manufacturing.