Learning Management Systems

Delaware Promotes Statewide LMS

The Delaware Department of Education has signed a contract for a learning management system (LMS) that all schools and teachers in the state will be able to use to personalize instruction, provide students with access to standards-aligned content and share lesson plans with other teachers.

The new LMS, from Schoology, will replace one that educators were using to access professional development opportunities provided by the state. Now Schoology will be used for that purpose by all districts, and the state will cover the cost.

A group of six Delaware school districts called the "BRINC Consortium" that have adopted blended learning strategies are currently using the new LMS. Next, the state anticipates that districts serving about 40,000 students will sign up to use the system with their students in the next school year, with others to follow in subsequent years. The state will pick up about half the per-pupil costs.

The LMS will allow teachers to distribute documents and assignments, provide written feedback to students, post grades and access student grades more efficiently. The hope is that teachers will also learn how to personalize student learning with the new system by simplifying the work of giving each student assignments to address their specific needs and learning styles.

The state also anticipates that the LMS will let teachers align their lessons with Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards. Teachers will be able to access standards-aligned videos, source documents, virtual science experiments, educational games and other software.

The state's chief academic officer, Michael Watson, emphasized that teachers will be able to decide how to use the LMS in their classrooms. "This is a tool the state is making available to teachers, and we expect that once they dive in, they will find countless creative ways to deepen and extend students' learning."

BRINC Consortium member Colonial School District began using Schoology in January 2014. "Schoology has been the hub that allows the district to push digital curriculum and make content easily accessible for both students and staff," said Instructional Technology Specialist Thomas Gavin. "Students and staff have the ability to access files from anywhere, submit work electronically, create dynamic content, collaborate and engage in many other educational activities. Teachers can go in and grab the content and put it right into their class."

He added, "It's easy to use and fun. Teachers are really getting in and using it and figuring it out on their own."

Colonial fourth grade teacher Laura Bossert said she has been using the LMS for a month. "I'm really amazed at how fast it has changed my classroom," she noted. "What I love best is that my students can pace their own learning and can showcase their mastery of concepts using their own learning style." For example, for a lesson on how writers make dialogue more interesting, students read a chapter in a book and then wrote their own chapters. They could further show what they had learned in one of three ways: using drawing software to make an illustration, using software to make an animated video or writing a play and recording a video of them acting it out.

Schoology claims 60,000 schools as customers worldwide. Last year the company won three CODiE awards, including the "best education solution," from the tech trade group Software and Information Industry Association. This year the application is a CODiE finalist in two categories.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.