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Lessons in blended learning: Making the right choice for students

  • 4 Min Read

Today’s classroom looks different than what many of us remember. That’s partly due to the integration of technology.

Schools are moving from overhead projectors and chalkboards to interactive boards and digital resources. To a certain extent, this shift reflects the goals of education leaders who recognize that technology can help transform teaching and learning.[1] One example can be found at Park Hill School District in Platte County, Missouri.

Park Hill School District (PHSD) believes in “building successful futures [for] each student, every day.” According to Susan Rizzo, Director of Instructional Technology, the district is focused on delivering a rigorous, engaging, 21st century curriculum in a relevant way. The challenge for PHSD was finding an online learning environment that could meet its high standards.

The need for a new learning platform

What do you do when your current learning management system (LMS) is no longer satisfying the needs of your students? For PHSD, it meant finding a platform that would go beyond content delivery and offer a customizable interface. An RFP process was opened to find a platform that would meet their needs. After careful consideration, Brightspace was chosen.

“Brightspace stood out against the other platforms that we were looking at. We needed a customizable interface for our whole student population in K–12,” said Rizzo. It was important that the interface was appealing and interactive. D2L ePortfolio and D2L Learning Repository also helped make big impressions.

What stood out most from the beginning was the relationship that D2L was committed to building with PHSD. Rizzo says, “When we looked at some products, it was all about what the product was and what they offered but it wasn’t necessarily about what we needed. That’s where D2L came in and was able to provide that (relationship) for us.”

Driving adoption across the district

After making the decision to change platforms, the next step was implementation and adoption. PHSD chose to begin with grades 5–12. They already had an online model in place to serve high school students and the one-to-one initiative was being launched in the middle grades, so it made the most sense to start there.

Introducing technology in the early grades was important to PHSD because they wanted to ensure students would be skilled at using that technology for educational purposes—and not just for personal use—by the time they reached high school.

Training also began with teachers in those grade levels. The district established the expectation that teachers should begin incorporating the Brightspace platform in their classrooms as a starting point. D2L Learning Repository, for example, provided an easy entry point for teachers to enhance their classes by using it to find resources that would support lesson plans. Training on 21st century learning was also included as ongoing professional development to help teachers build their capacity for leveraging technology in meaningful ways.

The primary focus is always on learning. Establishing learning goals first and understanding what they want to achieve with the integration of technology allows educators to prioritize professional development and support better instruction.

For more ideas from Park Hill School District, check out other posts on the Teaching and Learning Community Blog and the Brightspace blog.

[1] Neal, Traci. “Technology in the 2014 Classroom.” timesunion.com. The Hearst Corporation, 22 Aug. 2014. Web. 

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