The key to student engagement is teaching in a way that students love. However, reaching each student successfully depends on being able to provide a personalized learning path, one that accommodates the needs of learners at all levels. More and more schools and districts are moving towards adopting some form of education technology, to address the needs of teachers and students alike. However, the next gen EdTech is a K-12 LMS (learning management system) that enables teachers to do their work in a highly optimized way. Here are a few ways that a K-12 LMS can help reach students in a personalized way.
Educators have always known that different students in their classes have different needs. One of their biggest challenges is how to meet the individual needs of each student while facing the inevitable constraints of time, money, and resources. If a student fails to learn one idea properly, it will have a large impact on their future learning, but with large classes and many concepts to teach, how can an instructor ensure that their students understand?
I first authored an online course in 2010 and offered that same course in Fall 2010. I have been involved with online education ever since in a number of capacities: author, teacher, encourager, funder, administrator, champion, and colleague of Maplesoft. The Faculty of Mathematics at the University of Waterloo now offers more than 60 degree credit courses online, a graduate degree online and has courseware available to roughly 120,000 high school students.
My experience has made me somewhat skeptical in general. Though I continue to be thrilled by the enthusiasm of those joining the move to digital assets, there has been a certain amount of naiveté in that enthusiasm. As a result, when people advocate for this or that particular digital initiative, it occasionally causes others to ask, “What could possibly go wrong?”
In my 20 years of teaching, I never used technology. I began my teaching career in 1994, where the gold standard for breakthrough technology was Geometer’s Sketchpad. It had just had its wide release three years earlier. While I saw the immense power of GSP many times, we never really crossed paths — I was ridiculously faithful to my chalk.
I have always loved chalk. I love the feel of it. I love the sound it makes on the chalkboard. I even love the chalk powder getting all over my clothes. All these things are minor, but the whole experience of teaching with chalk — especially the use of many colors — made the whole teaching of mathematics feel more organic. The tips of my fingers were caked in different colors. Maybe it’s strange, but seeing those colored smudges of calcite made me feel like an artist, honoring the creativity/grit/tenacity that is mathematics.
So, it might seem ironic, perhaps even contradictory, that I work — quite happily — for a company that is fully immersed in creating an online/digital math platform. That is because the company sees itself as learners responding to the adapting needs of educators and teachers. That is an ethos that resonates with me because I always felt that my teaching was critically incumbent on my desire to learn.