We Are Better Together: How Lee's Summit used "Collaboration Cafes" to Get LMS Buy-In
Written in collaboration with Dr. Kevin Whaley, Director of Instructional Technology.
We are better together! These four simple words are a perfect way to describe “Chapter One” of the Lee’s Summit School District’s Schoology story as we wrap up the 2016-17 school year.
Prior to the 16-17 school year, another learning management system (LMS) was utilized only for our secondary students. That LMS was functional, but outdated and difficult to use. We knew it was time to look at other options, but finding the resources to do so was not a current district priority.
Learn the best practices of implementing Schoology (even at the elementary-level) at Lee's Summit School District's NEXT 2017 session.
When the idea was proposed to offer online summer learning classes for elementary students, the door was opened to immediately begin searching for an LMS that could span all grade levels in our district. It had to also align with our 1:1 Chromebook initiative that provides each of our 17,500 K-12 students with a Chromebook for use at home and school. Schoology immediately rose to the top of our list of LMS providers and, after testing with students and teachers, was adopted and implemented as an optional resource for teachers to use.
The idea of using a new LMS was exciting for many of our teachers. The Instructional Technology Department offered numerous training opportunities for staff in order to create buy-in and learn how Schoology could save them time in their classrooms. Within one school year, 580 teachers and 9,000 students were using Schoology on a regular basis—a 50% adoption rate.
Bringing it all Together
We continually hear positive feedback from Lee’s Summit teachers who have embraced the idea of creating a digital hub that could house all of their assignments, assessments, activities, gradebook, and much more. Students have indicated that they are looking forward to more teachers using Schoology so that their academic world will be easier to manage when everything is in one spot.
One of the keys to our first year success has been the Schoology Groups we created to allow teachers to post questions and share ideas and resources. We called these groups "Collaboration Cafes," and we created one for each elementary grade level. The Instructional Technology Specialists posted the cool things they saw going on in classrooms and encouraged teachers to post as well. Teachers quickly realized the value of learning together and what a time saver it was when everyone shared the resources they were creating with each other.
The Chapter One title, We Are Better Together, makes perfect sense for our year one experience with Schoology as our teachers discovered the powerful sharing ability of our Collaboration Cafes. What will our Chapter Two title be? We aren’t sure yet, but we are guessing it will be something like “The Sky's the Limit with Schoology.”
Learn from Our Story at NEXT 2017
At Schoology NEXT, we are looking forward to sharing Lee’s Summit’s first-year successes. Also, we will be focusing on an often overlooked area of LMS implementation: elementary grade level strategies (yes, even a kindergartner can do it!). Additionally, we will share how our Instructional Technology Department created powerful collaboration areas for our grade and subject level teams, which has put the power of PLC’s in teacher’s hands across the district.
We look forward to seeing you at NEXT!
About Jill Rice's and Dr. Kevin Whaley's Session
Schoology ... It's Elementary!
Schoology is for elementary students too! Schoology offers a variety of features that can be used to reach all K-6 elementary learners! Come hear how the Lee’s Summit School District introduced Schoology to it’s 18 elementary schools and supported teacher and student use. The behind the scenes work and keys to successful implementation will be shared along with real examples of what learning looks like inside K-6 Schoology Courses in Lee’s Summit.
In this session, attendees will:
- Discover the essential elements needed in order to establish teacher buy-in and overall Schoology implementation success.
- Learn strategies for utilizing Schoology with elementary students.
- Learn how to share resources within a Collaboration Cafe structure.