Alma: A Holistic Student Engagement Platform
How do you handle a student’s data from registration through reporting from the beginning of their academic journey in kindergarten all the way through graduation? And, is it possible to combine this solution with student learning? These questions drove a group of former educators to create Alma.
One part student information system (SIS), and another learning management system (LMS), Alma’s main goal is to reclaim administrative and instructional time for schools and districts balancing multiple systems.
Launched in early 2014, and headquartered in Portland, OR, Alma dubs themselves K-12’s first holistic student engagement platform. Holistic because of its comprehensive approach to student learning and data that provides users with access, and the ability to create, a myriad of student data and information sets. The platform is built around a core communication component.
Social. As Alma bridges the the gap between an SIS and LMS, a ubiquitous communication system is available in every view for students, teachers, parents and administrators alike. . Users can communicate directly while logged into Alma and can also choose their preferred method for real-time notifications: email or sms, and voice for emergency alerts. The “Notes” feature allows staff to create qualitative and anecdotal information to share between colleagues. Messages typically reserved for a school newsletter can quickly be posted on the “Bulletin Board” and “Reminders” are linked to a shared calendar allowing for synced organization of assignments. This social and collaborative function is one essential next-gen element for learning platforms.
Gradebook. Alma combines multiple modalities and sources of formative assessment, from traditional to competency-based, and achievement analytics feature data visualization. For student reporting, templates are provided, and a custom report designing tool is also included. Alma’s visual learner profiles are comprised mainly from information submitted in the gradebook.
The platform offers four different user portals: admins, students, teachers and parents. The key difference between them is content access, maintaining a consistent user experience throughout.
The freedom to curate content is up to the teacher. The Scope & Sequence curriculum designer allows teachers to embed content, and link to third party sources. Assignments can be competency-based and aligned to Common Core State Standards. Curriculum, assignments, and gradebooks are flexible for traditional and standards.
Parents have access to student learner profiles, that includes calendars, classes, attendance, assignments and statuses.
Admins who are generally district-level staff can access school reports, directory of students and guardians. Admins have access to state reporting, report cards, and student learner profiles.
Teachers, admins, and parents have access to snapshots of student performance and information. The breadth of student data is vast with Alma, from individual learning plans to health information.
Price. Depending on the school or district’s needs pricing can range from $6-12 per student. In many cases, this provides a net savings by enabling the elimination of separate fees for LMS and niche communication tools. They provide discounts to financially challenged schools for a year.
Roadmap. While the platform is mobile responsive, in the near future, users will be able to engage with the platform through a Alma app. Student submission of work is not yet implemented, but the platform does enable students to access assignments via Google docs.. Alma staff pinned this on the importance of students working with industry relevant tools for discipline specific work. Services for teachers, including PD opportunities are in Alma’s near future plans as well.
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