As I posted last year our school is working to develop a new online Learning Platform or VLE, to support our students and teachers. The research and development and eventual testing has involved lots of my time in the past six months but has been an exciting process. It has been great to have a class this year to trial the platform, and as my students are never reluctant to try something new.
A new Learning Platform will provide an online space for communications and a platform for delivering learning resources, assessments and much more, and it fits very nicely with our thinking on learning principles and teacher practice. The platform has been developed by a Singapore based company Teamie, who have worked very hard to develop a social centric learning platform, the integrates tightly with Google Apps and has some slick curriculum delivery tools to make collaborative units. Overall our explorations of different Learning Platforms was a little disappointing. Probably the two standouts were Schoology and Canvas. Canvas despite some extensive explorations was a bit too higher education and lacked any social classroom feed. Schoology seems to be the market leader at the moment, with a clean and intuitive interface. At the end the Schoology Google Apps integration was a bit simple, and the way to share classroom resources slightly static. The one feature which tipped the balance to Teamie was the collaborative units, which can be shared or cloned from public libraries. Our teachers work in big curriculum teams so the collaboration feature is a big bonus. It is also a small Singapore company so that have been working with us on a weekly basis for six months to develop a product we are pretty proud of. Our UWCSEA version is slight ahead of the public version of Teamie at the moment.
Some of the features we are looking forward to launching over the coming months are:
- Social centric class pages; The ability to share, thoughts or publish questions to the class feed will hopefully change classroom communication and reduce email traffic for teachers
- Calendars; from within Teamie our teachers will be able to set assignment dates or set work to be completed. These dates will synchronise into a layer of the students Google Calendar. This will make event information accessible and current.
- Collaborative Units; some of the smartest features are the way the units operate to package a set of resources for students. They can be shared live between teachers, or cloned from a unit bank. Units effectively work like an interactive eBook, where files can be viewed inline, videos embedded and related assignments and discussions linked. This should provide students with a good overview of resources and greater contextualisation of material compared to the process of sharing a folder between teachers and students. Overtime these tools should support our thinking on personalised learning, flexible progression and the flipped classroom.
- Google Doc integration; Teamie supports some smart copy functions where you can share an existing or new Google Doc with students and automatically add them as collaborators. There is also tight integration between Google Drive and resources, allowing linking from departmental resources rather then uploading duplicates. Moving forward we see Google Drive as a key repository of our learning resources.
- Formative Assessment tools – We are also looking forward to using quiz and assignment tools to both gather evidence of learning and to feedback in an effective manner. This includes the use of inline marking using CrocoDoc annotations, rubrics and auto grading quizzes with rich analytics. Overtime we will see how these all link into the concept of online markbooks.
Click through the presentation below for a bigger preview. For a detailed description of the process download the overview here.