FAMS Digital Learning Committee (DLC) was formed in December of 2012 with the goal of determining the needs of the middle school students in regards to digital and online learning, workplace and 21st century skills and online assessments. The DLC is made up of a cross section of teachers from the middle school and administrators. We started to meet as a group in January of 2013 and after much discussion came to the conclusion that the tool we needed to address all areas of concern was a Learning Management System or LMS.
An LMS is an online software package that provides a teacher with a way to create and deliver content, monitor student participation, and assess student performance. A natural extension of the LMS is 1:1 computing. If teachers deliver more content online and students are working online more often they will need access to computers on a regular basis. We developed specific criteria for the LMS:
- allow for collaborative writing
- give teachers the ability to edit student's work online
- provide an assessment module that with the ability to mirror any of the PARCC type questions
- the potential to replace other systems we currently have in order to improve workflow
We evaluated seven LMS’s and have chosen the one that best meets our needs.
The DLC met formally eight times over the past year. Committee members also worked within their team meetings to inform colleagues of our work and to gather information. The committee kept the full middle school faculty informed by presenting to them at three faculty meetings throughout the past year. All of the stakeholders, (staff, students and parents), were surveyed in order to gauge their position on this initiative. The response was in favor of moving to 1:1 computing. The committee then went on two site visits to schools that had already implemented a 1:1 in their middle school in order to learn from their experiences. We gleaned valuable information from their experiences, from how they managed the laptops to what were some of their 1:1 best practices. On 1/28/14 the Committee presented their work to the BOE.
The committee has determined that Macintosh will be the best solution for our students. Our expectations of our students far exceed the basic types of uses that simple devices provide. When we look at Bloom's Taxonomy chart, the base represents simple drill and practice. Our curriculum is striving for the pinnacle. These objectives include analyzing and creating, which are the expectations that we want to hold to our students. These objectives are embedded into the Common Core and the NJ State Standards. When we look at the types of devices available to help deliver our curriculum objectives, Apple is the clear leader.
Our work continues as we discuss, among other things, student responsibilities and rules and expectation of acceptable use. We are reaching out to neighboring districts that have already implemented 1:1 initiatives to help guide our work. We look forward to continuing to "provide the students in Franklin Lakes with a comprehensive, academically challenging, educational program that recognizes the individual needs of students and responds to the changing demands of our society". (BOE Mission Statement)
Digital Learning Inititive Survey Results: