The tools they use and love
Having tools and resources available in a handy location makes everyone’s job more efficient. As James explains, “we transitioned to D2L because it can aggregate a lot of different learning resources. Alternative LMS solutions and standard email were not efficient. We needed to centralize everything into one platform.”
The Assignments tool in the Brightspace platform allows the STEAM Academy to collect evidence of learning, with the data stored for review even 5 years down the road. As well, courses can be created more efficiently and they can be easily improved with each iteration. “Brightspace stores content, which allows us to re-cycle materials, saving time. What you’re building isn’t just for this semester.” This approach to continuous improvement means that courses and material can be enhanced, based upon what works and what doesn’t. And this information can be determined by the level of engagement they can monitor through reports on their student data.
As well as overseeing the technology development James is also a Healthy Active Living teacher. One of the things he loves is being able to show evidence of participation in his class, and then, of course, sharing this evidence with other educators or, more importantly, with parents. For example, he prints off QR codes that get scanned when students perform a certain physical activity. Performance-based assessment (such as shooting or passing of a basketball) can be immediately uploaded into Portfolio.
“Rather than having to recall and manually record at the end of class, or on my own time, I can capture this data on the fly.” James Medway
SNP STEAM is required to provide data for inspections conducted by the Ministry of Education. They need to be able to demonstrate how course materials are meeting the Ontario Curriculum Expectation standards and are mandated to create lesson plans with the same criteria and level of scrutiny.
“Brightspace Lessons allows us to meet Ministry standards. It allows us to ensure accountability, which is incredibly important.”
By creating their own HTML templates and then turning them into lesson templates, the STEAM Academy can ensure consistency between objectives and outcomes. This ultimately creates a reliable methodology that ensures compliance with standards. There is also a need to collect evidence of student learning and progress. The school requires a system that will house this information for years into the future, or upon request and Brightspace provides them with the security of having student data available to deliver granular information about each students’ grades or other relevant details.
“Reporting is a big part of our job. The student data provided by Brightspace is invaluable.”