PDI began researching the market for learning management systems and drew up a shortlist of four possible partners. After reaching out to each of these vendors, the company quickly realized that D2L had both the right technology, the right support, and the right approach to meet its needs. “It was evident from the beginning that D2L was genuinely interested in its customers.
The D2L team really paid attention to our needs and were very responsive. And that’s been true not only during the initial sales process but also throughout our relationship. It is also what sets D2L apart from others. You aren’t just a number or sales quota. D2L seeks to help you develop and grow your business. This has been my experience with D2L over the last seven years.” – Connie Ryan, Founder of PDI
Practicing agile course development
Together, PDI and D2L built a learning management system that fits the company’s unique requirements exactly. It provides easy-to-use templates that make it simple for PDI’s course designers to collaborate with external authors and content experts, so once course content is complete, they can begin offering a new course in a matter of hours. As a result, PDI can keep up with the fast pace of new ideas in the K-12 sector and ensure its courses are always relevant to teachers’ needs.
“We review feedback from our learners every week to ensure we stay on top of the most critical education topics and build content today that teachers can use in their classrooms tomorrow,” says Ryan. “That level of responsiveness sets us apart, and it has been a key factor in building our relationship with teachers and school districts across the country.”
Creating an engaging environment for learning
The templates also enable PDI to build courses that follow a standard format, providing a consistent experience for learners across all the topics they study and allowing them to focus on learning the material rather than learning how to navigate the platform.
One learner gave feedback, saying, “The format of quizzes, projects and reflections that is consistent with all PDI courses takes the stress out of taking a class. You know right from the beginning what you are signing up for and can use the information right away in your teaching.”
To make the learning experience more engaging, PDI integrates D2L features such as quizzes that enable learners to test their knowledge and discussion boards that empower them to share ideas and strategies with their instructors and peers. When a student completes an assignment, such as creating a lesson plan, they can either share it publicly on the discussion board or post it privately via Dropbox to get feedback from an instructor.
“The unique features of the D2L platform help us build truly engaging courses that help our learners use their time efficiently,” says Ryan. “That’s extremely important when teachers are trying to fit professional development around all the other commitments in their busy schedule.” – Connie Ryan, Founder of PDI
Besides offering a flexible online learning environment for PDI’s customers, the D2L platform also helps the company automate many of its internal course administration processes. For example, instead of spending hours compiling course tracking and grade release reports every week, the PDI team has set up a scheduled report that delivers the results automatically.
“When I first talked to D2L about our reporting requirements, I thought what I was describing was a dream,” says Ryan. “The data is so complex and there are so many exceptions, I thought it would be impossible to automate the process.”
“But the D2L developers thought they could find a way, and they were right. When we saw the final version of the custom reports they built for us, we were literally dancing around the office because we realized what a complete game changer it was for our business.”