Class of 1998 students at Bergen University College on the western coast of Norway were puzzled that digital tools and the internet were rarely used in teaching. So they built a learning platform for their final project and the university became the first customer of itslearning.
Travis Willard, President of US operations is in Newton, Massachusetts. Director of Education Strategy Lisa Dubernard is in the Atlanta office. They were both helpful in our exploration of the popular European platform.
Standard-linked resources. itslearning comes pre-loaded with learning objectives from Academic Benchmarks. Schools can create and upload localized learning or professional development standards of their choice.
itslearning promotes reuse with a library of internal and published content. The customizable course planner allows a curriculum department to align lessons, resources and assessments to multiple standards. Teachers can use course templates to find and modify courses. They gain insight using a learning objectives progress report.
Coolest feature? Dubernard thinks it’s the curriculum planner that allows teachers (and students) to create content.
Personal learning plans. Individual Learning Plans (ILP) can be used for students or for faculty to keep track of their progress towards goals and can be used outside of the context of an individual course. Users with mentor permissions can create individual learning plans. The ILP is managed by the user in the mentor role, but course teachers and parents can view plans. ILP can be saved as templates and shared as templates with a school, or the entire district. (For more on ILP, see this video.)
The platform is driven by teacher assignments. Resources to assign to the student come from the Library through a recommendation engine. Teachers can select which resource to assign to which student and also assign a follow-up task to see if they can now meet the objective. But the platform does not set up individualized playlists of digital content.
Dubernard calls it “a blended learning platform” because of the ability to create and manage many different kinds of learning experiences for groups and individual students. “There is a focus on collaborating and creating rather than just consuming,” she said. The platform supports online course delivery but that is not a focus.
Manages assessments. itslearning gives an assessment author the ability to map an item to a standard or to multiple standards. An assessment (test, assignment with rubric or custom activity) can also be related to a specific unit and lesson in the course planner.
Assessment results feed into the course’s Learning Objectives Progress Report. As students as assessed using standards-aligned rubrics and test questions, teachers can see in the learning objective progress report who has, and who has not mastered objectives. Teachers can assign students who have not mastered a standard a personalized task.
For written and project-based work, students can submit content as a Google or Office 365 doc. Students and teachers can also attach files to the assessment record and the working portfolio.
Standards-based gradebook. A progression towards mastery for each student is presented in a standards mastery report but that is not linked to the gradebook–that functionality is typically part of the integration between itslearning and the district’s SIS.
Parents can log in and see learning objectives, tasks, resources, and portfolio. To protect privacy, they cannot access the discussion boards.
On the product roadmap is further integration of web apps including Microsoft OneNote. Reporting systems will continue to evolve.
This blog is part of the Learning Platforms Series brought to you by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. For more, stay tuned in for the final published project, Getting Smart on Next-Gen Learning Platforms and check out additional posts in the series: