When Students Take the Reins: How Lancaster Bible College Transformed Learning

Contributed By

Matt Essert

Contributing Writer

When Students Take the Reins: How Lancaster Bible College Transformed Learning

Posted in Community | January 19, 2017

When Lancaster Bible College assigned William Illingworth to upgrade the institution’s technology tools and learning management system (LMS), he searched for a platform that could go beyond the baseline functions offered by the school’s previous LMS.

“We presented content to students with the old LMS and then we graded that content,” William says. That was about all the old LMS was good for. William is the Systems Administrator & Instructional Technologist for the college in Lancaster, PA and a Schoology NEXT Administrator of the Year for 2016.

William’s team was drawn to Schoology’s intuitive design and capacity to create an online community. He quickly made a pledge to fully utilize those aspects of the LMS.

Those two factors have been the driving force behind Lancaster Bible College’s commitment to improvement.

William has seen his organization’s environment become multi-faceted and cultivate “a dynamic learning experience for our students.”

Whether it’s weekly welcome videos updates, configuring and utilizing outcomes mastery reporting, or interactive content explorations in discussions (mixed with a collaborative dash of Google Docs and YouTube videos), William can see students becoming deeply engaged with a new, supportive online community.

With the help of guided training, professors have encouraged students to embrace Schoology as their go-to resource for almost any campus need. And as students continue to utilize the LMS more, the professors are in turn being pushed to develop their own skills and discover new ways to improve their curriculums and teaching abilities, which improves the overall learning ecosystem as a whole.

“As our institution grows and as our extracurricular activities develop, our students are using groups to engage one another in an academic community that blows us away,” William says.

Lancaster Bible College students are using the LMS to track their personal journey with attendance, badges, grades, and mastery features. William says this helps everyone “not only to display their success, but to also encourage it!"

"Our students consistently state during exit interviews (before graduation)," continues William, "that the professors they had that used the platform for attendance, scheduling, and grading were some of the best classes they had 'and why don't the rest of my professors use it?'"

That's a good question, because when students are able to use the platform, they and their professors have access to important information, including performance on learning objectives.

The Student Mastery View (sans students) of a real course at Lancaster Bible College

This ability for students and their professors to understand the learning objectives they need to work on at a glance has been a "great success" in numerous courses, says William.

Students Began Pushing the Boundaries of Their Learning

William has equipped groups of students with the tools needed to develop mentorship programs where they analyze and discuss politics, social issues, and theology in entirely new ways. By seamlessly integrating their own learnings and resources with those of modern scholars, William has seen students develop educated opinions on critical issues in ways previously unseen on campus.

Other students are using their new LMS to organize breakout study groups—for example on Old Testament studies, Chemistry, or US History. William notes that “students are leading the charge to coordinate their study methods in and through Schoology.”

Lancaster Bible College is still on its way to full adoption across all its sites and locations. But William has already seen their original goal of elevating the learning experience come to life.

Students are collaborating and constantly finding new way to learn, and that’s just in the U.S. Lancaster has also expanded abroad with a master's degree program in Uganda, where budding pastors now have access to graduate level education via the same LMS.

William is pleased that all of this has come together to transform the learning experience in a fundamental way across the college’s entire campus. The potential for achievement from every student has been elevated in numerous ways.

“We’ve risen to a new level, but we still have our sights set on something higher yet! As the Schoology admin at LBC, I am thrilled to be a part of not only the vision casting, but also the bricklaying,” William says. “With Schoology as a foundation, we will achieve even greater things.”

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