The software you use to manage learning is designed for everyone,
not you.

The challenges faced by innovative schools are real and often made harder by the legacy of traditional systems.

Being truly learner-centered can make learning head off into all kinds of unexpected directions. If learning is not messy, it’s likely not authentic and learner-centered. But how can we manage the mess in a way we don’t lose all accountability?

Nobody argues that to be truly engaged, students need to be empowered, active participants in their learning. Yet a prescriptive curriculum with fixed length and content is the norm.

Traditional LMSs have very limiting ideas baked in as core concepts. They assume all learning is confined to courses with a single teacher, single subject area, single credit with learners following an identical, predetermined path. Not always obvious at the start, attempting anything multidisciplinary, multimodal, agile or competency-aligned requires exhausting contortions and work arounds.

Many gradebook-like systems do a good job of posting assignments tied to due dates. However, the modern effective educator is managing more than just assignments, including projects, collaborative seminars, and whole student assessment.

Rolling up countless hours of diverse learning experience to a single number or letter grade is simply ridiculous. We need a better way to tell the true story of a learner’s journey that includes growth, evidence of learning, and feedback.

Good solutions and supporting culture need to go hand-in-hand. Without an enabling culture, the best learning management will not improve learning outcomes. On the other hand, a system that runs counter to the culture can be stifling to growth and agility.

With great intentions, talented teams in Innovative learning models often ‘spreadsheet ninja’ a solution after finding traditional systems don’t meet their needs. In the short-term, this is awesome as it clarifies their model without the friction of traditional systems, and adds some ease in reporting. However, as organizations grow, staff changes, and needs evolve, these spreadsheets become hard to maintain, limiting in their purpose and get in the way of their original goal.

Being agile means recognizing not everything needs to be 16 week chunks or else. The ability to break down content, courses, and units into smaller units opens up the possibility of those being remixed and reused for student personalization. It empowers students through better feedback loops and encourages more relevant scaffolding while increasing learner agency.

Is a curriculum with prescriptive content and timing effective or based in the reality of the learners? Better if learning flows and adapts to learner interests, abilities and overall engagement but this is hard to manage (without the right tools).

There’s a rather large chasm that needs to be jumped to move from credits/GPAs to competency-based education. To combat this, we try to layer on competency-based initiatives. Credit-based inertia causes competencies to be treated as an after-thought.

There is no “average learner”. All learners have different starting points, interests, abilities and potential. Yet the measures of achievement in school do not encompass these vast differences. As hard as it is, we need systems that are accountable yet acknowledge and support the inherent “jaggedness” of our learners.

If any of these problems challenge you, there is a better way.