In 2014, DeKalb County, the third largest educational district in Georgia, began looking to shift the way it delivered education. School administrators in the district were eager to use new technology, eyeing a more blended experience that gave students the opportunity to learn in a 24/7 environment. With this goal in mind, it was important that the new technology would support DeKalb county’s teachers with comprehensive professional development resources.
Choosing an LMS Solution
As a large district with over 7,100 teachers and administrators, any solution chosen would have to be iterated across a range of environments. The solution would also need to interact seamlessly with the district’s extant technology. And, perhaps most importantly, it would have to be a platform that teachers understood and wanted to use.
After a lengthy process and rigorous comparison of five different learning management systems (LMS), DeKalb County chose the itslearning LMS to support their blended learning transition. User experience was extremely important to the district, particularly how easily teachers could get accustomed to the platform and how well they would be able to use it to teach. Additionally, the consistent and continued support provided by itslearning stood out among all of the platforms.
Professional Development for a Smooth Transition
Once the district decided that itslearning was the ideal LMS partner, the next challenge was professional development. All educators in the district needed to be able to not only use itslearning to effectively teach, but also grow and change with the platform as teacher and student needs evolved.
To accomplish this goal, DeKalb County created a three-year online professional development plan in 2017 called Ignite U, where educators could take courses on the itslearning LMS to help transition them to the new platform. As the educators are trained on itslearning, they also get accustomed to using it, so that by the time they are ready to apply it to their own classrooms, using the LMS is second-nature.
Success with a Custom Professional Learning Community
DeKalb’s three-year professional development course takes teachers through three stages of familiarity with the itslearning platform: Basic understanding of the LMS and how to use it, Proficient understanding of how to integrate the LMS into the classroom, and Advanced understanding that is enough to be an ambassador and lead other teachers in using the platform.
In year one, DeKalb reached its goal of getting 80 percent of teachers to the basic level. In year two, the district aims for 80 percent of teachers to reach the level of proficient. For year three, DeKalb is aiming for at least one advanced user per school, though it is optimistic that that number could be significantly higher.