Delaware City Schools announced Monday it had found two new learning platforms for the DCS Online Academy.
In the run up to the start of the school year, the district had planned to use Acellus and had given staff operating the Delaware City Schools Online Academy training on how to use the platform to plan lessons. However, just before the start of school, the district announced it had terminated it’s partnership with Acellus after receiving reports that lessons contained “racially and culturally insensitive material.”
Assistant Superintendent Craig Heath said the change in plans was challenging for staff, but he praised their ability to adapt.
“When we decided to move away from the Acellus platform, it left a hole in the plans our teachers had created,” Heath said. “Teachers had to fill those gaps with the other digital tools we have available for students in the different grade levels and content areas. Those supplemental tools align with standards and support student learning, but they are not as robust and dynamic as the foundational tools we will now have in place for our students. Our online academy teachers did an incredible job of adjusting their teaching at the last minute and developed engaging lessons that eased the transition for their students into this brand new format.”
Since then, the district has been searching for a new platform and announced Monday it was going forward with Accelerate Learning for K-5 students and Edmentum Courseware for students in grades 6-12. Accelerate Learning will also be used for high school students in AP classes.
Heath said Wednesday the platforms were found by a committee of 28 online teachers who heard presentations from a variety of learning platforms.
“We had teachers generate questions and complete rubrics specific to each platform,” he said. “We focused on the range of content available in each platform, the accessibility features provided, and the ease of technology integration with Canvas so we could maintain continuity with where our online academy students go to access their courses on a daily basis. Our elementary teachers on the committee identified Accelerate Learning as the best system to use with our students in grades K-5 based on the videos, graphics, and support tools embedded in the platform. Our secondary teachers on the committee selected Edmentum Courseware based on the content alignment with our middle school and high school courses and the ease of use for our students.”
Superintendent Heidi Kegley said at the Monday meeting that teachers will get professional development time in the coming weeks to get familiar with the platforms, and Heath added Wednesday the professional development will be in different modules that will allow staff to dig into the platforms and identify resources they can use in their classwork.
Heath said the professional development will offered in both video and blended learning formats so “we will have flexibility with our teachers in preparing to implement the new platforms.”
“These platforms will provide our teachers and students with a foundational digital tool to deliver content and supplement the synchronous lessons and meetings teachers are already having with students,” he added. “This will be an added resource that will allow students to extend their understanding and demonstrate their learning by completing assignments, activities, and modules within the content standards. Families should see a consistent tool being utilized for much of the independent work students will be asked to do in the online academy.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.