By Tim Wilhelmus
The seamless integration between an enterprise LMS and Google creates a powerful ecosystem that supports teachers and students.
Teachers and students find Google Classroom and G-Suite for Education easy to use and helpful. These tools simplify the assignment submission processes and enable collaboration with little effort. Google offers user-friendly solutions in digital environments where resistance is the norm.
But despite the popularity of Google Classroom and G-Suite, innovative districts and educators that want to transform teaching and learning know that they need a good Learning Management System (LMS) to build scaffolded learning experiences aligned to learning standards.
In this article, we explore how the collaboration between a K-12 LMS with cloud suites, creates a powerful ecosystem to support learning, collaboration, assessment-as-learning, assessment-of-learning, data to inform learning, district reporting, and teacher collaboration.
Building Coherent Digital Environments
One of the most important needs in K-12 is a robust content repository enables effective searches by keyword, learning standards, grade levels, resource types, language and digital formats. This frees up the time teachers need for collaborating, focusing on the learning process and student needs.
What districts do not want is for teachers to spend excessive time searching for learning resources. To overcome this challenge, some districts are building coherent digital environments that support the management of learning processes, eliminate teacher frustrations, and enhance educational outcomes.
Our district recently adopted itslearning as the centerpiece of its digital ecosystem. Using single sign-on (SSO) and our LMS, teachers now have access to a digital content repository or LOR with learning objects meta-tagged to keywords, standards, grade levels, resource types and library collections. They can also upload, create and share lesson plans and learning materials, provide opportunity for dialogue, questioning, practice, analysis, reflection, synthesis, student productivity, and critical thinking. Finally, the data-rich environment gives teachers, learners and parents easy ways to interpret analytics of student progress.
Populated with a large quantity of purchased and open educational resources (OER) that are aligned to state and national standards, our LMS serves as a repository for materials that can be easily added to courses, lessons, assignments, and even test questions to generate standards-mastery reports and track student progress. These functions give users 24/7 access to high quality instructional materials while providing just-in-time data. Teachers are empowered to differentiate learning and provide flexible pacing based on daily activities without adding extra work to their busy schedules.
Wanted: Easy Google Integration
When selecting a new LMS, some of most important “must haves” included a platform that offered good support for our district-wide 1:1 program, and one that easily integrated with G-Suite for Education. And because having to change systems is hard on both students and teachers, we wanted an LMS that our entire school corporation could commit to.
Having an LMS with built-in Google integration meant that our teachers could continue to utilize Google Slides, Docs, Spreadsheets, and other programs without the need for customizations. They wanted to know that they could have the same experience as simply using Google Docs, and pull it into the LMS so students could easily access the content.
By integrating G-Suite into our LMS, teachers and students can fully leverage Google’s collaborative atmosphere. For example, instructors can create an activity based on a Google slide deck, and then ask students to contribute to that slide show. That can all happen right inside of our LMS, so teachers don’t have to send pupils out to a different digital space to complete their work.
In the end, students are more likely to be successful if they’re working intuitively in a space that they’re comfortable in--and not having to figure it all out.
Combining a Full-Featured LMS + G-Suite
For our district, the choice was simple: combine a centralized, full-featured, enterprise LMS with the power of G-Suite. Google Classroom is a good starting point for collaboration and effective assignment submissions. With G-Suite for Education embedded within the itslearning LMS teachers and students can also align content, assignments, and assessments to support collaboration and personalized learning.
That means our teachers no longer spend inordinate amounts of time searching for content. Instead they can spend precious instructional hours supporting students, providing guidance, facilitating discussions, reflections, incorporating timely interventions when they are needed, and collaborating with each other. It’s a win-win proposition for everyone.
Tim Wilhelmus is Evansville Vanderburgh School Corporation’s innovation, curriculum, and technology specialist
The opinions expressed in Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12 are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.