In an earlier post I talked about 1:1 schools and the questions they need to answer before setting off on their quest for paperless computer dependency. Okay, that’s extreme, but not too far off. A proper Course Management System will help with some of the pitfalls of the 1:1 school district. These CMS are some of the software needed to make things work smoothly.
How will students receive computer assignments? Where can they get handouts and other resources for the class? Where do they turn in assignment? Where is their incomplete material stored prior to submission? For how long? Is this a secure enough place to allow student testing? Is make up work available? Is there extra credit available? Can students ask the teacher a question electronically? Can they ask from home? Can they ask from their home to the teacher that is also at home/vacation? Are there alerts for the class/grade level/school/neighborhood/town (don’t forget we are in the pool next week, not the Health room!)? Can parents see? Can students and parents check grades and other progress? Can students meet in a forum and discuss the class or collaborate or a certain assignment?
A good CMS should consider all of these questions. My Westminster would be an example. The more of these questions that are answered or policed, the more successful and effective that system will be. Avoid the example of good old XYZ School District again. They had a Blackboard derivative that did not do half of what they wanted so they switched to something else that following year. They repeated this system switching for some five years until they found Angel (still black board but customized for the district)! By then, teachers were skeptical, unwilling to learn yet another new system, and were unwilling to use the new systems that would break down, lose material, or simply not do the necessary actions. The students were also doubtful until stability was established. The point to a 1:1 school is to be a culture that embraces technology and sees it’s value. If the technology fails or fails to be of value, disinterest grows and the culture reverts.