As an online school from the start, TRECA has considerable experience of using learning management systems (LMS) to help students and teachers learn and communicate. However, when its existing LMS was acquired by another vendor, the organization decided to reevaluate its options.
“When we thought about running our courses without an LMS, we realized all the things we’d lose,” says McLaughlin. “It’s not just that an LMS gives you more control, it enables greater creativity in the way you interact with your students too.”
She adds: “When we saw D2L’s Brightspace platform, we knew it was the direction we needed to go for our new LMS. Brightspace offered us all the tools and the support that we needed to get started, and today the platform is really our equivalent of the school building that students walk into every day.”
One of the most important features for TRECA is the platform’s support for conditional releases and grouping. These features enable faculty to identify students with shared interests or needs, and unlock content and tools specifically designed for them. For example, TRECA runs a book club that involves mailing books to groups of students and then bringing the students together to discuss them. Using the Brightspace platform, TRECA can then create discussion boards that allow book club members to continue these interactions online.
“Brightspace enables us to really narrow our focus on students and differentiate the way we support each individual. That might mean helping them to close a skill gap, or pushing them further ahead, or even opening them up to a completely new way of thinking.” – Kristina McLaughlin, School Improvement Coordinator, TRECA
TRECA also uses the Brightspace platform for professional development for teachers. It has recently built an onboarding process to cover the first 90 days of a new teacher’s induction. Teachers start out with a student account in Brightspace, which helps them understand both how the system works and how their students experience it.
Finally, the Brightspace platform helps TRECA meet its compliance obligations by making it easy to track and report on student attendance and truancy rates. Administrators can instantly generate reports showing when and how frequently each student is logging in to the platform, and how long each one is spending on online learning.