What’s the best way to judge the success of a learning platform implementation project? According to Global Business Development Manager Trond Skeie, the answer is usage. The best projects get more than 80% of staff and students using the learning platform regularly within a year of implementation, but how do they do it?
When talking about learning platform implementation projects, Trond Skeie likes to draw a comparison. “If you buy a car for someone who’s never used one before, they’re not likely to have much luck with it. You need to make sure they know how to use it – and that they have somewhere to go. It’s the same with a learning platform. You need to give the teacher training, and a good reason to use it.”
Trond Skeie has worked with hundreds of schools and Local Education Authorities (LAs) to help ensure they get their itslearning implementation project right, and he’s identified a number of key things that every project needs in order to succeed.
The principle behind strategic management is simple: use your learning platform strategically to increase user adoption. Trond gives an example. “I worked with one LA that cancelled the weekly teachers’ meeting, and set up a staff collaborative space in itslearning instead. Although this in effect forced the teachers to use itslearning, they were happy because the weekly meeting was seen as taking too much time.”
Training with a pedagogical focus
“There’s no point in showing a teacher how to use a learning platform if you don’t give them a reason to use it,” explains Trond. “So all the training needs to focus on a pedagogical need and link to the curriculum.”
As an example, Trond mentions a language teacher he once worked with. “It turned out that he had a large class and was struggling to assess each student’s speaking ability during class time. So I showed him how to set audio assignments using the in-built audio recorder. It was a revelation to him. His students were able to record their speaking exercises, and he could listen to them and give feedback after the lesson.”
Identifying the early adopters
Every organisation includes a few people who like to be ahead of the technological curve – and these people are important to any implementation project. The key is for the implementation manager to identify the teachers and admin staff most likely to adapt quickly and give them all the training and support they need.
“We often offer early adopters train-the-trainer courses,” says Trond. “They can offer more tailored training sessions to their department than trainers sent by the LA and they are more readily available to answer questions.”
Using guidelines with clear goals
Although many headteachers and LAs are reluctant to dictate how teachers should use the learning platform, Trond still feels that clear guidelines help increase adoption quickly – especially among less technically-minded teachers. But the key, Trond says, is giving clear goals that are linked to the curriculum.
“In Norway, Year 2 students must learn how to write a digital text, and the itslearning Early Learner interface with its simple text editing tools is perfect for the task. So including a guideline for Year 2 teachers that says all their students must complete a text in the About me section of itslearning not only gets them to use the system, but clearly shows them the benefits at the same time.”
And the students?
When asked about raising usage among students, Trond smiles. “The students are already very tech-savvy. They just need a username and password.”
Find out more about itslearning’s implementation services.
Posted on Tue, March 22, 2011
by Dan Elloway