Interview with Grace Magley, Director of Technology
What challenges were you trying to solve when you chose itslearning?
For about five years prior to itslearning, Millis was using another LMS (Moodle). We invested much time and energy trying to create Blended Learning environments for our teachers in the High School. We spent countless hours on Professional Development and coaching but were having trouble getting all teachers on board as the tool was just too difficult to get everyone to high levels with. The focus in our trainings at that time was on how to build the environment. With itslearning, training time was reduced significantly and the focus shifted from 'how to build' to 'what to build'. We have been so excited about this shift!
Why did you ultimately select itslearning?
There were many reasons we switched from Moodle to itslearning. First itslearning was a much more intuitive environment for teachers to work in. Training time would be reduced and there were so many built in features like the planner, plagiarism checking and ePortfolio that we wanted to utilize in our classrooms. The cost of the LMS was also very competitive and cost effective.
What impact has itslearning had in your district?
We have more teachers using itslearning at much higher levels to create effective Blended Learning Environments in Millis. We also are now able to move toward a more personalized model for students because of the tools that are available. Next year we will have most of our teachers in grades 3-12 on itslearning. That is very exciting!
How did you train your staff?
We have had a Blended Teaching and Learning Professional Development program that was created through the ACCEPT Education Collaborative called Project ABLE: Transforming K-12 through Blended Learning. This program was first developed in 2009 through a $250,000 grant from the Department of Education. Many of the Millis teachers have participated in Project ABLE over the past three years. In Millis we run our own variety of Blended Learning training that includes our version of the itslearning Quickstart training. This summer we will be teaching advanced tools & techniques for teaching and learning using the itslearning platform. As well as a 5-day beginner Blended Learning institute.
Is there anything else you would want other educators to know about your project/district?
Millis is a small K-12 public school district with a big vision! We feel that what we can do best is to personalize learning for all of our students. Our Personalized Learning Initiative uses innovation through technology: Blended Learning, Rich digital content, tools and resources and 1:1 with iPads as just a few of the vehicles helping us to personalize learning in our classrooms.
District Profile: Millis Public Schools, Millis, MA
About the District:
The Town of Millis is a suburban town in the Charles River Valley, 15 miles southwest of Boston. With a population of 7,700, Millis covers an area of 12 square miles. Millis Public School District has about 800 students and consists of 3 schools and a pre-school program.
The Millis Public Schools Community is firmly committed to developing students as independent lifelong learners and leaders who will contribute to a changing and complex society.