The 4 Cs of equitable statewide learning

The fundamentals of delivering accessible learning at scale, starting with a learning management system (LMS).
By: | November 16, 2020
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Dr. Tracy Weeks is Executive Director of K12 Statewide Partnerships

The disruptions in learning this year have proved challenging for educators, students, and parents around the world. What began as an extended spring break quickly evolved to the swift adoption of distance learning, which only amplified the inequities students have experienced for years—starting with limited access to the internet, devices, and viable curriculum. As schools and districts ensured students had the devices and internet connectivity needed to learn from home, state leaders began taking the next step toward equitable learning: investing in the right technologies that would allow everyone to learn together even when they had to be apart.

This new era in education has reinforced that integrated technology is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a necessity for maintaining student engagement and meeting the individual needs of each learner. When schools provide a familiar, digital classroom that’s accessible wherever and whenever students are ready to learn, they’re better equipped to maintain instructional continuity and prepare for the next pivot—whenever it might be.

A learning management system (LMS) provides a digital foundation for statewide learning that connects students to an engaging curriculum, allows teachers to easily share resources and track progress, and streamlines communication with parents. Beyond the technical aspects of an LMS that keep all key stakeholders involved in the learning process, it also provides four fundamentals needed to scale equitable statewide learning:


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Consistency

Implementing a uniform culture around instruction allows states to invest resources into supporting one comprehensive platform rather than several different learning applications. Additionally, a cohesive LMS allows everyone across the state to learn together—enabling teachers to curate all learning resources in one centralized location, allowing districts to put guardrails in place to ensure consistency at every level, and creating a one-stop-shop for learning, where students can expect a familiar starting point every day.

Collaboration

An LMS simplifies the act of sharing tools, resources, and templates with educators across the state, allowing them to unite and collaborate around common statewide learning initiatives regardless of how they’re teaching. Resource sharing is also useful at the classroom level, freeing up valuable time that can be spent adapting instruction and personalizing learning as needed—which will continue to play an important role in addressing the learning gaps that widened as a result of school closures earlier this year.


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Cost-efficiency

When states purchase an LMS, they can capitalize on volume pricing that’s often not available piecemeal to smaller or more rural districts. Adopting new tools can be expensive and time-consuming due to the training that’s needed for meaningful implementation. K–12 leaders need to ensure they choose comprehensive technologies that are scalable, reliable, and secure, which will allow them to expand and evolve their learning initiatives over time. These technologies should also give teachers the flexibility to connect their favorite learning apps and tools to enhance instruction and expand their learning ecosystem without starting from scratch.

Collective teacher efficacy

Proven time and time again, the single most important in-school factor affecting a student’s success is a quality teacher. To develop and retain great educators, states and learning institutions must deliver equitable access to meaningful professional learning that will truly support growth. Ensure that every educator in your state has access to professional development courses that allow them to collaborate with other educators, receive peer and coaching feedback, demonstrate mastery of learning, and maintain a portfolio of achievements.

As I strive to support state leaders in acquiring digital learning systems, I’ve noticed that regardless of circumstance, these leaders are united around a common goal: ensuring all districts have a digital learning environment that supports teachers, students, and parents. As learning continues to shift, states should continue to invest in tools that provide equitable access to quality content and instruction, improve communication and collaboration, and supply actionable data to improve instruction for all.

Dr. Tracy Weeks has been an educator for over 24 years, with 20 of those years in educational technology. She has held national, state, district, and school-level leadership positions, in all of which she has leveraged digital tools, resources, and applications to transform teaching and learning.


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