Elkin City Schools teachers, administrators can now vet digital resources

By Wendy Byerly Wood - wbyerly-wood@elkintribune.com

How do teachers know that programs they are using to educate students are successful? How do they track data to ensure they are employing and funding the best and most efficient software available for the students?

This is what a new tool being used by Elkin City Schools will help with, said Dr. Myra Cox, superintendent, and Cynthia Altemueller, chief academic officer, of LearnPlatform.

“What LearnPlatform is, is an edtech management system,” explained Altemueller.

The program allows teachers and administrators to vet their digital resources to see how well they are working, how successful they are, if they are getting the results they desire for the price they are paying and how the tools stack up against other available programs being used at school systems also contracting with LearnPlatform, she said.

LearnPlatform was so impressed with how quickly and efficiently Elkin City Schools came on board with the process and implemented it, that it used the local school system in a case study to market its product across the nation, Cox said.

The superintendent first learned of LearnPlatform during a conference about a year ago. “I thought how interesting it is, because Cynthia is right, classroom teachers are always searching for new resources, and they should, but then we have a myriad of resources being used, some of which we know about and some of which we don’t. Then, like Cynthia said, those that we don’t know about that we don’t purchase for them, they come up and say, ‘I’ve been using this for the past year and I love it. Can the district buy it?’”

The issue with that is, once the free trial is up, no one else in the school system knows the program’s effectiveness, Cox said, and it puts Altemueller and Chief Technology Officer Britt Shaw in a position of whether they should purchase the program or not.

The program allows teachers to enter the resources they are using and rate it, or are interested in using, and then the school administrators and teachers can follow the data, research it and vet it for future use.

“We are looking for a correlation between our digital resources used as supplemental sources in the classroom and how that’s impacting students. It helps us monitor, number one, our financial resources, are we spending our money on the best products,” said Cox. “Number two, it will help us determine whether or not teachers are using the products that we have purchased with fidelity, because if so, there should be a correlation between the amount of usage the kids are using the products we are purchasing with supplemental support and test scores.”

She said, “It is a real management tool so we can ensure our teachers are using the best digital resources, because as you know, they are a dime a dozen.”

“The flip side of that is, if we’ve purchased a product several years ago and we really thought we had the great sales pitch and we bought it, now we can look at the program and compare it to our data,” Altemueller said. “If we’re spending money on something and we’re not getting out of it what we should, why are we spending money on that?”

She said the program “is impact focused.”

In the case study for LearnPlatform, Altemueller said, “LearnPlatform is not another program to raise test scores, rather it is a management system that will allow us to organize, streamline and analyze the validity of all tech tools being used.”

Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.

By Wendy Byerly Wood