A PLATFORM FOR KNOWLEDGE
The ETFO saw huge potential in harnessing tech-enabled modern learning tools to help broaden the accessibility of its courses and promote its vision of a just society.
Walford says, “Digital technology provides new, exciting ways to improve access to knowledge. We teamed up with D2L to develop our own online learning resources designed to help elementary teachers improve the impact of their lessons.” Using the D2L platform, developers at the ETFO worked with experienced teachers to build engaging online learning resources that teachers can access at any time, from anywhere.
Walford continues, “The D2L platform is an incredible tool for enhancing learning. We were particularly impressed by the versatility of the solution, as it enables us to incorporate technologies that are already being used by teachers in their daily practice—tools like Blogster, Google Docs, YouTube, and many others.”
In addition, executive staff member Rita Cohen discussed the importance of leveraging social media, in particular Twitter. “Through its seamless integration into D2L, Twitter allows us to communicate, engage and value the voices of our learners.” Cohen says, “using the Twitter widget available through D2L allows us to invite learners into the ETFO-AQ community.”
The ETFO is also using the D2L platform’s Intelligent Agents—an automated notification system that course administrators can configure to send emails to instructors, learners, or both. For example, it could be used to detect when a learner has not logged into their course recently, and prompt their instructor to check that everything is OK. This boosts engagement, motivates learners and provides a personalized learning experience. “The elearning platform provides a host of tools to boost the interactivity of our courses— Intelligent Agents, discussion boards, and quizzes, in particular,” says Appelberg. “For instance, we have included quizzes at the beginning of each module to help propel and accelerate learning. These quizzes work by allowing teachers to assess their knowledge before and after they have completed a module so they can easily track their progress and reflect on their success”
ADDING A HUMAN TOUCH TO ONLINE LEARNING
With D2L Capture connecting learners and course leaders, the ETFO can bring the benefits of one-to-one instruction to the comfort of learners’ homes—all at the touch of a button.
“D2L Capture helps course leaders provide detailed, personalized feedback on an individual learner’s work in a friendly and dynamic way,” explains Walford. “Instant messaging, split-screen presentation casting, and video conferencing capabilities allow learners to talk through their work with course leaders. Instead of just asking learners to plough through pages of text, we’re entering a new era of instant communication.”
PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT BUILT FOR THE FUTURE
The ETFO is also using Daylight, the D2L platform’s native user interface, to facilitate learning across a variety of devices.
“With more people preferring to use smartphones and tablets for almost everything they do, it was very important for us to build an elearning solution that works well on all platforms that our educators have confidence in,” says Appelberg. “Thanks to the responsive design of Daylight, we can build course content that learners can view and interact with on any device.”
Walford says, “We’re not only impressed with the capabilities of the D2L platform, but also the excellent support that we received from D2L throughout the course development process.”
For example, the D2L Learning and Creative services team helped the ETFO build a custom widget to give learners a visual indication of their progress throughout their course.
“The widget gives learners a lot of peace of mind because they can see exactly what they’ve done and what they’ve still got to do. This helps them manage their time as professionals,” says Walford. “There’s no uncertainty about whether they’ve understood their tasks or whether they might accidentally miss a deadline.”
She adds, “The team at D2L Learning and Creative services was excellent. They took the time to understand our vision and explained how we could overcome complex technical challenges in terms that made sense to us. The ability to communicate a new idea and have the Creative team translate it into reality sets D2L apart from less versatile platforms.”