It takes communication to achieve customization
Although HWDSB already had access to the Brightspace platform through a program with the Ontario Ministry of Education, they were looking for a solution that would meet their specific school board needs. Before anything else, a meaningful conversation was needed to establish the Board’s requirements. “We worked closely with our Brightspace account manager and project specialist,” says Hatala. “They understood our goals and were able to advise us on the best strategy without trying to include everything under the sun. They were great. They listened to our ideas and came back to us with a plan to get started.”
The plan? The first step was integrating the board’s active directory so that students would be able to log in to the Brightspace platform using the same username and password they use to access school computers. Next, they had to apply Student Information System (SIS) integration. By pulling course information, teachers no longer needed to request a course shell and didn’t have to manage their own class lists. The final step, leveraging Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI), would allow key user information to be passed to third-party applications and used to authenticate the user.
Together, these three components of the Brightspace platform create a seamless environment that affords students across the Board easy access to a variety of tools and resources—both in the Brightspace platform and beyond.
Hosting content is only the beginning
According to Hatala, teachers expected a new space to post their content and no more. Instead, they gained the ability to link all data objects, integrate lessons, and learn from other teachers. Now, they can monitor students’ progress and track their success online rather than doing it manually—and they can enrich their classroom content with other sources.
The change affects parents, too. Teachers can use the system to keep parents in the loop by reporting back with constructive information about their child’s progress. Parents can also go online themselves to see the actual resources being used by students.