This is the first blog in a series where we will explore excellence in online curriculum for secondary education and what to consider when partnering with an online learning provider.
Personalized learning comes in many different forms but the foundation for success is the same: selecting a high-quality, rigorous curriculum that accelerates and deepens student understanding. But not all digital curriculum is the same and not all will enable teachers to design a variety of rich learning experiences that meet the individual needs of every student.
Evaluating digital curricula options is critical when ensuring that the personalized learning goals of the district are being supported. A recent survey by OverDrive and the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD) found that 80 percent of schools and districts use some form of digital content in the classroom. With a majority of districts implementing online curriculum, it’s important to thoughtfully evaluate each program to determine the quality of what students are using every day.
In a survey of educators conducted by MDR, an education-industry research firm, the most important factors to consider are consistent high quality; highly engaging and motivating; accessible to all students and provides measurable results. Yet selecting the right online curriculum partner can still be daunting because of the many factors that ultimately impact the quality of a curriculum. To help navigate these questions, we’ve compiled a list of the most important elements to consider when selecting an online learning partner for secondary education. Future blogs will delve into each of these in greater detail.
1) High Quality, Rigorous Curriculum. Not all digital curriculum providers are created equal and not all providers will design rich learning experiences that meet the individual learning needs of each student. It’s important to consider whether an online curriculum provider deepens student understanding and builds curriculum to state and national standards.
2) Student Engagement and Motivation. Even if a curriculum provider does prove to be rigorous, it still must offer content that keeps students engaged and motivated. Responding to the needs of struggling students with immediately available, embedded scaffolds and supports is one way an effective curriculum can help struggling students learn a skill or concept to help them master grade-level coursework.
3) Professional Services and Support. A high-quality digital curriculum provider will offer support teams that partner with you every step of the way throughout the implementation process while also tying implementation plans to a district’s unique goals and objectives. Extensive professional development for teachers and administrators as well as ongoing technical support should be available 24/7.
4) Efficacy, Outcomes and Results. Digital curriculum providers should demonstrate proven results, including third-party efficacy studies that indicate student learning and increased achievement. Providing guidance to your district to successfully meet its goals for student achievement, such as increased graduation rate and test scores should also be a part of any implementation. Educators should also be able to easily access reports showing student usage, progress, and achievement against national and state standards.
Achieving the Promise of Online Learning
Personalized learning has the potential to accelerate and deepen learning for all students. This instructional approach guides students toward knowledge and mastery on their own learning paths. For the promise of personalized learning to be realized, the following combination is needed: a rigorous online curriculum, technology that enables access for all students, an implementation plan that provides professional learning and support for educators, and ongoing evaluation against program goals. Learn more about how we can provide your student with the opportunity to thrive in our latest white paper. In our next blog, we will examine what constitutes a high quality, rigorous curriculum.
Read the next post on 3 Ways to Evaluate the Quality and Rigor of Online Learning for Secondary Education.