Schools can double the value of their technology by using their LMS for teaching and staff development
You are introducing a new learning management system (LMS) for students, but all of your professional learning is either hosted on a different platform or delivered in-person with notes exchanged via email afterwards. Sound familiar to you?
It’s more normal than you think, but separating professional learning (PL) experience from student learning experience may actually have a negative impact on both parties’ long-term experiences.
The use of the same LMS for teaching students to host Professional Learning is a proven best practice. It helps teachers to learn as their students do, while at the same time offering opportunities for asynchronous PL and making learning easier to translate in the classroom.
We use LMS to transform both our classroom teaching and Professional Learning experience for our educators. For years, I have been providing PL expertise to teachers and staff, as well as giving side-by-side coaching to teachers. I have a passion for learning opportunities that train students to be active and competitive in the 21st century. The combination of my professional experience, including 10 years in the classroom and 3 years as site coordinator for the new teacher induction program, helps me to relate to everyone, no matter which side of the desk they are on.
The LMS provides a central location for all devices, so students only need to go to one place. There is no need to enter a particular URL for another website or go to another platform for more information. We put all of this in LMS, Teachr. I’ve found that students are adapting to technology right away – there’s hardly a learning curve. Currently, the only complaint I’ve learned from the students is that the teachers don’t use it sufficiently, and they want continuity with their different teachers. Using the same LMS for teaching and PL is extremely helpful in solving this problem.
Using LMS for Professional Learning has been an extremely positive experience. Regardless of the way our PL is delivered–face-to-face, blended or online–we do it all on LMS. For our blended PL, we typically work with a cohort of teachers to transform their instruction. Each session builds on the previous one. We utilize the LMS to house all related resource materials as well as to provide the pre- and post-work to guide the focus of the learning experience.
For face-to-face PL, we use LMS to post presentation materials and additional tools to make it easy to find, whether it’s an ice breaker, fact sheet, URL, etc. We also use it for our induction program for new teachers, where we connect other first-year teachers around the district, both in digital and face-to-face environments. When a new teacher gets hired, we have online new-hire modules for them to complete at their convenience.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of getting staff to use the LMS more is that they are experiencing the same platform students do. They find resources and submit assignments just like their students would. We ask the teachers to consider the learning experience from two perspectives: the student perspective and the instructional design perspective. We also find that the personalization aspect that comes with this digital hub is important. The tools built into and integrated with LMS would be overwhelming if they were used individually, but in the LMS they all function together in one place.
Starting with the flipped classroom idea and model helped our school adopt the mindset that using LMS for teaching as well as PL is best for our district. When I would flip my instruction, for example, and assign videos for students to watch at home, parents found it helpful because they could see what students were learning. We began thinking, “Why can’t we do this for the PL? Why can’t educators have access to these materials beyond this brief in-person session? “The answer: we can do this with the help of LMS.
Overall, the benefits we’ve seen from using LMS for teaching and Professional Learning have been incredible, and we’re excited to see what we can do next in terms of collaboration and really get the most value from the platform. There are endless possibilities. We also need to keep encouraging educators to meet every student where they are and give them access to the tools they need to be effective.