Rx for Success: Tools for Understanding the Health of Your eLearning
Virtual Digital Discussion Series
How do you know if your student’s eLearning is effective? In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, every school and district has increased its level of virtual instruction. But additional virtual instruction doesn’t necessarily translate into additional learning. In this episode of the Learning Counsel’s Back to (e)School Tactics discussions, some of the nation’s top eLearning experts explore new ways to take your students’ temperatures when it comes to actual learning and retention. How healthy is your eLearning program? Watch the virtual discussion and find out.
According to LeiLani Cauthen, CEO and Publisher at the Learning Counsel, “Everything you do, your websites, your portals, cataloging paywalls, the use of social media portfolios, pre-serving pre-testing, we’re seeing that all evolve right now. And then these other pieces, data warehouses, middleware, your campus management systems. And then you have content, everything from a tiny calculator app to full digital courseware, to repositories that hold all your eBooks. One of the missing pieces to all this is the routing and caretaking of the pieces from a pathway orientation for individual students, because normally in a brick and mortar environment, you are doing the routing physically, moving from class to class or assigned to a teacher. People are calendaring Zoom meetings over the top of each other, left and right. And parents are complaining. Some received a hundred emails in one day, it was a mess.”
Bryan Seymour, Director of Instructional Learning, Pinkerington Local School District in Ohio said, “We can have all the greatest metrics in the world, but if we don’t have the right of valuation to buy the things in the first place, it’s not really going to work out very well. So, this is a process that we started a few years ago that really allows us to make sure that we’re picking the right stuff to start out with. We go through it every single year for every single piece of software, digital content, anything like that, that we do. Here in Pickerington, we have a very, strong connection between the technology department and the curriculum department. We work hand-in-hand. And that’s really made us move forward a lot easier. At one of the Learning Council National Gatherings. I met Dr. Kristie Sailors, who is down in Houston, and we worked together to create this very nice EdTech software application rubric. It’s a rapid cycle to figure out if a program will work for us or not. And then what we do from there, after it passes we then run teachers, principals and technology folks through different committees and we ask them all different questions to determine, is it truly working for us?”
Ryan Gravette is the Director of Information and Technology at the Idaho Digital Learning Alliance. According to Gravette, “When we’re talking about analytics and curriculum utility, we see this in three different layers. The first layer is the layer of access. What is the utility at the access layer? And what’s the activity at the activity layer or what is being clicked on? And then, what really is the achievement that is going on? And how do we analyze that from an analytics perspective? So really three different layers here. I’m going to walk you through each one of these layers and give you some information about the data that we collected. These different layers can answer in terms of questions or activities. And I always like to say that any data that you collect without an associated activity, that you are going to take, is pretty useless data.”
Will Goodman, Director of District Programs, also from the Idaho Digital Leaning Alliance, said “We’re a state agency that partners with school districts and charter schools around the state to provide supplemental education. It’s a partnership that allows us to work directly with districts. One example is attendance. When they sign up a student and that student takes a class from us, we do not take any of their ADA (average daily attendance), which is how schools in Idaho are funded. We’ve been trying to help support students and districts during COVID on how that attendance can be moved and adjusted. First, we adapt a code, which is our administrative code, but has the power of law. It says for a school district, a student has to physically be present for a full day under the guidance and direction of a teacher, which really hurts the district’s ability to take attendance in any way, other than having the student physically at the school in a seat. Idaho code specifically says if a district does a distance learning program, they need to track the number of hours that a student is in that program. Whether they’re sitting in a computer lab or however it might be, they actually have to they count their seat time, which is not a great indicator of student success. And this is something we’re helping to support districts in moving to our code, allowing us to track attendance completion on coursework. We can see if students are completing their coursework, if they’re progressing in the course, if they’re moving along, we can count them as being present. That’s something that we’re recommending the state look at for our charters and districts and everybody else who’s trying to provide supplemental online education right now, or have kids that are unwilling to come back to school and need to provide them extra online education.
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How can you gauge the effectiveness of your virtual learning program? Watch these national eLearning experts discuss new ways to quantify the efficacy of their eLearning instruction, and you can bring home new techniques to help in your own school or district.