Education Opinion

Learning Management Systems: What about Assessments?

By Matthew Lynch — June 27, 2016 3 min read
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Technology makes personalized learning more possible than ever. From students working at their own paces within learning modules to teachers collaborating on lesson plans from any computer with a simple login, personalized learning technology has grown leaps and bounds just in the past few years. From the perspective of an educator, anything that streamlines the lesson creation process means more time that can be spent in one-on-one learning pursuits. Personalized learning also means more opportunities for in-depth learning that is more inclusive of students who are minorities, from lower socio-economic brackets, or who are English as a second-language learners.

There are a lot of learning management systems out there that have cropped up to meet the demands of students, educators, and districts. The ease of use of these systems varies in sophistication and so do the actual tasks available. All have the same common goal, though: curating content in a streamlined way for learning stakeholders like teachers, administrators, students, and even parents. What happens after that learning takes place, though? How can educators be sure that what is learned in these content management systems translates to the assessments that they are required to deliver based on state requirements?

I recently got the chance to preview a technology platform atttempting to bridge the gap between learning content and assessment of that material. Schoology, a learning mangement system where teachers create content, design lessons, communicate and manage the learning process - including the option to integrate third-party content -- has just lauched its newest offering: the Schoology Assessment Management Platform (AMP). This platform taps a natively embedded assessment engine that builds on the learning features and content in Schoology’s already-established learning management system. In other words, it takes the content educators and districts are already creating and allows them to build assessments within the same interface.

What struck me the most about the platform is that is allows teachers and groups of teachers to develop and deliver assessments within the learning management system -- and it allows school districts to develop and send assessments to designated teachers in any area. Districts who use Schoology can deliver assessments in Spanish and other languages, too.

Kellie Ady is the District Instructional Technology Coordinator for Cherry Creek Schools in the greater Denver area and her district took part in a beta test of Schoology’s Assessment Management Platform, using Algebra I classes and testing.

“Algebra I was our first priority. We have over 4,000 students take this assessment every year and it has always been very laborious to distribute, score and then gather all the data in one place,” Ady said. “We used the Schoology AMP and teachers had immediate feedback on how their students performed. It also simplified compiling scores for the district.”

Ady says the district has plans to roll out the AMP to other courses, based in part on the ease of use for educators and the district, but also due to its ease of use for students.

“We’ve found that students perform better when they are somewhat in their comfort level. Since they already know and use the Schoology learning management system, taking assessments in this interface boosts their confidence,” Ady said.

The ability for teachers to collaborate and inform their assessments is definitely a plus of the system, in my opinion. I can’t think of an educator I know who enjoys receiving assessments blindly from the district or state. Building tests based on the state standards and what is actually being taught in the classroom seems, to me, to be a better approach to test taking. It also seems to be something that has thus far been missing from the learning management landscape.

I’m interested in hearing what other educators think of this concept. Would you welcome a learning management system that also contained official assessments and gave you the chance to create them?

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.