There is no denying that remote learning has been difficult, both for teachers and students. But one thing has made it easier for me and that is the ability to use itslearning.
itslearning provides a platform for so many types of learning to occur, even from your home. My students can discuss, watch videos, take assessments, and conference with me. For these reasons, I am glad that Harford County Public Schools has been utilizing itslearning since 2014.
I was lucky to be introduced to itslearning 6 years ago when I was given a class set of Dell tablets to use in my World History classes at Edgewood High School. The part I was most excited about was the Page feature, which you can see here:
In my mind I envisioned the future – no more whiteboards or PowerPoints. Students walk into class, grab their laptop, and log on to the days ‘page.’ I’m a sucker for tradition though, and honestly sometimes a Page isn’t the best option for every lesson. Until now! My students literally do not have a whiteboard at home, or a teacher for that matter, and the itslearning Page feature is hands down saving my instruction right now. Here are some reasons I love to use the Page feature:
• I can post directions or an objective at the top of the Page
• I can link or embed websites, videos, audio recordings, and images
• I can attach assignments and tests, which are embedded into itslearning
• I can add polls
• I can still use several of my other favorite web tools like Flipgrid and Padlet
My students were already familiar with the itslearning platform. They knew its many features because we used them in class. itslearning is a program that is used throughout our county for every grade level, so all students know how to use it.
Distance learning for…more!
Another great thing about itslearning that has been useful during this global pandemic is the app. Unfortunately, not all students have equal access to technology, and several do not have home computers or laptops. Being able to access itslearning from a smartphone is saving many students from missing out on instruction right now. It is certainly not ideal, but is anything about this situation ideal?
In the images below you can see what my AP World History students might see on their phones when they click on one of my announcements. It has a link to a Teams meeting, which they could do on a phone or computer, and then it has a Page for the week’s assignments.
Lastly, I have been able to work with itslearning from the role of a curriculum writer. I had the pleasure of collaborating with a team of teachers to create online curricula for World History. itslearning made it simple to infuse standards, objectives, and goals into the Plans section of the platform. We were able to easily upload documents from the curriculum, make discussions, and create assignments for students. These instructional strategies could all be set to ‘inactive’ so that teachers throughout the county could activate them when needed. This keeps students from getting ahead or overwhelmed with content.
Below you can see a screenshot of the plans for US History, created by the Harford County Public Schools’ Social Studies Office. As you can see it is well organized by unit, then experience. The plans include teacher notes, standards, student resources, and learning experiences. This design is allowing for the most novice teacher to succeed with distance learning.
I am thankful that HCPS acquired itslearning 6 years ago. It has bettered my instruction in the classroom, and now out of it as well. I cannot imagine how I would share content in a structured way without its use.
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