At Reynoldsburg City Schools in Ohio, USA, school is never out because Reynoldsburg has itslearning, which teachers and students use to keep in touch over the summer. So when the dog days of summer set in, students have the option of doing schoolwork. Students in the school’s advanced placement classes use itslearning to submit book reports and keep in touch with their teachers. Keith W. O'Neal, head of Technology Integration at Reynoldsburg City Schools, says students use the platform to keep a journal, chat, participate in online discussions and complete assignments set by their teachers.
Head start on the semester
“They read books they would not otherwise have had the time to read at the beginning of the year. On the first day, they have already read the book, and already had the discussions. It really gives them a good leg up. It gives the teachers an added benefit,” Keith explains, adding the extra work is optional.
This is just one of many innovative ways itslearning is being used at Reynoldsburg, which implemented the itslearning platform in 2011.
User adoption goes from 25 teachers to 100 in one year
Since implementation, itslearning user adoption has skyrocketed at Reynoldsburg. The school chose gradual implementation, at first only introducing the platform to 25 of its 400 teachers. Today, over 100 teachers use the platform.
“Within a few months of implementation, we had more teachers using itslearning than we ever had using our old platform,” Keith says. “We have 428 staff in our itslearning system, we have 6,500 students, 398 courses (some teachers have multiple courses) and in the past week we had 1,500 active users online.”
The school used Moodle for six years before adopting itslearning. By the time Reynoldsburg started using itslearning, only 25 teachers were using Moodle full time. Keith says itslearning’s user-friendliness partly explains its popularity among Reynoldsburg teachers.
“itslearning is very user friendly. Everything is explained very well and it is very well laid out. The teachers see the flow a bit better. The drag-and-drop feature makes it easy to move things around,” Keith says. “The teachers are loving itslearning. They are really utilizing it.”
Teachers like early learner animal skin
The itslearning custom skins have also been popular among Reynoldsburg teachers. itslearning has age differentiated interfaces for early learners and intermediate users. This was important to Reynoldsburg, which comprises six K-4 schools, four junior high schools and two high school campuses. Reynoldsburg chose the itslearning animal skin for its Grade 3-4 students and the early learner skin for its K-2 users.
“The teachers were really excited about the itslearning skins. Moodle was not adapted well to K-4. But with the itslearning skins, the teachers felt like they finally had something they could connect their teaching with,” Keith says.
itslearning in line with district directive
Reynoldsburg is aiming for 100 per cent itslearning user adoption. This follows a district directive intended to move more and more of the teaching and learning process online. According to the district superintendent, benefits of online learning include more communication with parents and preparing students for the future work world.
itslearning offers Reynoldsburg another benefit - more flexibility in the event of a school closure. In Ohio, schools have five so-called ‘snow days’ a year where schools close due to calamities such as snowstorms or power outages. itslearning provides Reynoldsburg with an additional three snow days. Teachers just have to make course materials available online so that students can access them remotely.
Though these benefits presented themselves over time, not all teachers welcomed itslearning at first, Keith says. “Some teachers didn’t like the idea of changing. But it wasn’t as bad to change as they thought it would be.”
Support gives teachers a voice
Now they are enjoying what the platform has to offer. Keith says they appreciate the support they receive from itslearning staff. Support staff quickly respond to their queries, and offer suggestions on how to best use itslearning. “The teachers feel like they have a voice,” Keith says.
They also appreciate the itslearning updates, which are carried out once every six months. “The updates show that itslearning keeps progressing, so it will never stagnate. It constantly gets better. That’s something our teachers really appreciate.”
Reynoldsburg has four years remaining on its contract with itslearning. “We’re enjoying itslearning. As of right now, I think it’s something we hopefully will continue with, because teachers really like it.”
Posted on Thu, November 29, 2012
by Øyvind Flatnes