I'd like to share this article focused on how to plan for the implementation of a new collaborative learning solution at your k-12 school. I'd love to hear feedback and your tips on collaborative learning solutions for k-12.
With hundreds of tools and platforms, K-12 school systems can be overwhelmed by the options as they begin their search for the best eLearning solutions.
Here are 5 key considerations to weigh as you move forward with any decision.
1. Understand what you have in place now and define the limits.
Depending on the expert you talk with, eLearning can have a distinct meaning for different people.
How sophisticated is your current technology? Is it available throughout the system or just parts of it? How has it evolved over time? How is it used, embraced and measured? Where do mobile devices fit into the picture?
2. Gain clarity on the primary terminology – like CSCL, LMS, and LCMS.
In many respects, it makes sense to describe the industry in terms of computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL). Over time, interactive technologies have evolved, including the frequent use of streaming video, whiteboards and wikis that provide an array of real-time interaction with a few or many people. Today, CSCL references advances in interactive technology options and closely resembles traditional classroom learning.
A learning management system (LMS) is different from a learning content management system (LCMS). It’s confusing because a LMS can include some features in a LCMS.
In a general sense, a LCMS allows school systems to refer to a central place or database to create, store, reuse, manage and distribute vast amounts of digital content that administrators provide in diverse learning formats. A LMS, on the other hand, typically is structured to organize online courses, including creating the right environment for teachers and students. A LMS offers the ability to track classroom activities as well as register learners and schedule classes.
Both a LMS and LCMS support the broader purpose and advantages of CSCL.
3. Clearly define the objectives.
Are you looking to become more efficient? Do you want to make learning more accessible? Are you planning to lower the cost of education? Do you want to avoid redundancies? Do you want to do a better job of managing K-12 content producers?
4. Respect your selection protocols.
It makes sense to follow the systems that you already have in place to implement a new CSCL solution, such as a LCMS. Get the perspectives of key stakeholders. Make sure you’re going out of your way to involve parents and students. But you don’t want to slow down the selection process so much that you never make headway. Depending on your K-12 system, it’s not a question of whether a CSCL solution will add value. You need the one that’s best suited to your needs.
5. Pick a vendor with the most experience and the right technology.
Experience can be deceiving. Some companies, for example, specialize in collaborative learning products like a LCMS. Other businesses have added that expertise over time. In other words, it may not be their core competency. But even the most experienced companies involved in CSCL should be able to show how their solutions have evolved over time.
Above all, make sure the solution you buy matches compliance standards and has the right features, including XML-based options (e.g. content tagging and the ability to separate content from presentations), built-in authoring, and synchronous (live classroom) as well as asynchronous collaboration.
How will your K-12 system face the future of CSCL and all that it offers, including how it works with blended learning? Keep an eye out for solutions that are robust and still agile enough to meet your immediate needs and accommodate new learning technologies that will always emerge.
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