How a K-12 LMS can promote continuous learning and address the top issues facing educators.
It’s no surprise to teachers, administrators, and school districts how problematic running a professional learning program can be. With all the work needed to be done to enhance academic standards, shouldn’t we expect more from professional learning practices? These programs tax resources like crazy: time (and cost of salary) to take teachers away from teaching, travel costs, printing materials, assessing progress, you name it. It’s no wonder that only 34% of teachers think that the “one-time workshop” format is even effective and a greater number favor informal collaboration above all other activities.
Are we, and our students getting the value for the dollars spent? Unlikely. With costs estimated at around $6,000-$8,000 per teacher, per year, there has to be a better, more efficient way to deliver a high-quality professional learning program that will engage and excite teachers — and actually deliver the skills they need to succeed in today’s classrooms. One of the ways to manage a professional learning program is with technology. In this post we’re making the case that a learning management system (LMS) should be considered as part of the strategy to improve the value of teacher learning and training. So let’s take a look at the top problems with the current, status-quo and see how a K-12 LMS can help to provide a solution.
It costs too much
Teachers are often required to travel and attend in-person events. While these are still great opportunities for teachers to learn and connect with each other, the expenses can be, well expensive. Think about the cost of staying in a hotel, eating in restaurants, flights, transportation, etc. Whoever is shouldering the burden of these costs is not going to be pleased with the final bill. Even the simple costs of photocopying pedagogical material, distributing numerous booklets, and mailing them back to administrators can be a tedious amount of labor and incur expenses of their own. And really, how effective is handing a teacher a thousand-page book to review before a quiz or assignment?
The K-12 LMS solution
A K-12 LMS can be leveraged to provide exactly the right material to exactly the right teacher looking to take a course. They can focus on the specific area of learning that matters to them most. And because of mobile accessibility, teachers can study from any location and at any time. Online seminars and course material can totally relieve the need to travel. And what’s even better, all the communication, material, and additional resources can be saved and reviewed long after the event is done. Personal reflections can also be added to the LMS and be reviewed by teachers or administrators later on.
Teachers aren’t engaging with the material
So you may have some great, courses, filled to the brim with cutting-edge pedagogical material, but for some reason, teachers simply aren’t engaging with it. (If a PD program falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it…) You get the point. Like stated above, handing a teacher a bunch of books and papers to read isn’t that thrilling. Any teacher will tell you that they wouldn’t practice the same teaching style on their own students, so why are we treating them differently?
The K-12 LMS solution
An LMS is a great tool to deliver fun, accessible content to students as well as teachers in a learning program. Animations, videos, discussion forums, music, YouTube tutorials! These are the things that teachers actually respond to. Using a K-12 LMS, you can easily capture, assess, and reward moments of informal learning and personal reflection. And let’s face it, being able to access course content from mobile phones and tablets makes it extremely attractive to a busy teacher on the go. Using a K-12 LMS for professional development and learning, teachers are more prepared and energized to use the same technology in their classroom – because they’ve practiced using it, they’re familiar with it and they’re ready to pass their skills and knowledge (and excitement) on to their students. And of course, it doesn’t hurt the bottom line to have a single platform to serve two sets of learners.
One and done isn’t cutting it
Attending a conference or workshop takes a lot of time and budgetary resources. We already mentioned that. But where’s the value in a conference that then drifts to the back of a teacher’s mind. What if they could continuously be engaging with the material and resources they discovered at a conference, before, during, and long after the conference is over?
The K-12 LMS solution
A single location for course content, discussions with peers and advisors, personal reflections, feedback from advisors, is essential to keep the learning on-going throughout the year. Teachers are encouraged to be more proactive about their learning because they can continue to engage with the material and other teachers in other schools, districts, states, and even around the world. Now we’re describing more than just a typical PD program (a check-the-box and walk away) solution. We’re talking about a global shift to embracing an eco-system of professional learning that extends beyond the workshop, beyond the text book, and into the on-going, daily lives and work that teachers are doing.
Not to sound too grandiose, but this is important stuff we’re talking about here. It costs a fortune, we need value for our spending, and our students deserve to benefit from the results.