A View from the Field: How to Implement a New Digital Learning Tool

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We’ve all seen the consequences of a digital learning platform implementation gone wrong.  It may be that teachers and students lack positive buy-in, or the platform generates great data that isn’t being used effectively to support students. 

At ASSISTments, we’ve learned there are several key factors that can influence successful implementation of a digital learning tool in schools and districts.  Understanding these factors can help maximize the tool’s impact among key school stakeholders including teachers, coaches and administrators. While there is a lot to consider and account for with new tech, this post will cover school culture around data, teacher formative assessment routines, curriculum usage,  and the process to onboard students.

1. Center your school’s culture around data

Schools that have a strong culture around data frequently and consistently discuss exemplars of student performance to drive shifts in instruction that provide needed supports to all students. By analyzing these exemplars and utilizing real-time student data accessible through a digital learning tool, educators can gain valuable insights into each student's strengths and areas for improvement. This empowers them to have targeted conversations about how to best support success for every student, tailoring their instructional approaches accordingly. 

With a dedicated space for discussing, planning, and strategizing around this data, schools can maximize the benefits of their data-driven culture. By establishing and nurturing this robust culture of data, teachers and instructional coaches are able to transform their roles into ones that are more efficient, effective, and tailored to meet the individual needs of their students. This creates a dynamic learning environment where students thrive and excel, as their teachers are equipped with the necessary tools and knowledge to provide personalized support and guidance. 

Pro-tip: Normalize discussions around data in various settings such as department or teacher PLC meetings, or even during classroom instruction, to get teachers and students comfortable with analyzing and drawing high-leverage conclusions from data.

2. Prioritize alignment of your curriculum with the digital learning platform

Implementation of a single curriculum can maximize the impact of data gathered from digital learning tools.  When teachers are grounded in common lessons, strategies and activities in a curriculum, it becomes easier for them to collaborate and determine potential interventions based on the student data they generate.  Using a common curriculum can ensure that admins and coaches have access to more robust data via the digital learning platform. Use our extensive content library of high-quality Open Educational Resource curricula and standards aligned problem sets to assess student understanding and mastery.

Pro-tip:  Prioritize digital learning tools that feature high quality curricular materials aligned to your chosen curriculum. Take into account which platforms also provide additional materials for teachers to support student learning.

3. Help teachers establish effective formative assessment routines

Creating a supportive and  consistent environment for  formative assessment is a fundamental objective when using digital learning platforms effectively. With the right digital learning tools in place, teachers can create a dynamic and engaging learning environment that promotes student success and fosters a love for learning. ASSISTments, for example, not only provides a predictable classroom environment in which students feel safe and have a sense of belonging, but it also allows teachers to overcome the challenges they face in terms of limited time and the need for manual grading and writing high-quality detailed feedback. Having a strong formative assessment routine, or ‘practice’, is key to building a culture of positive student perseverance in math, read more in this article about building solid formative routines.

Pro-Tip:  Encourage teachers to be transparent with students by sharing key data points and work exemplars during class time. This can help students understand how the supports they receive align to their performance and can engage students in conversations to increase understanding of the material. 

4. Consider how to onboard students successfully 

When preparing to adopt a digital platform, it’s best to include clear and transparent conversations with students about what the platform is for and how data will be used to support their learning. When students feel confident that the purpose is to show their teacher what’s next If the platform is being used for formative assessment, it’s important for students to understand that the purpose is to provide practice ad improvement opportunities, rather than penalizing them for mistakes.   Master Teacher, Barbara Delaney, shares her practice for teaching students how to use ASSISTments to inform their learning in this blog post.

Pro tip: Consider saving time for a demo and practice opportunities  for students to familiarize themselves with the platform and ask questions before introducing the platform. 

By carefully considering these essential factors, administrators, teacher leaders, and instructional coaches can confidently embrace and integrate a digital learning tool into their educational practices.. 

Click here to learn more about ASSISTments Advantage and how it couples support for teachers and coaches with immediate and actionable student data.

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