Remote Learning: How To Make It Work
2020 has brought about a lot of uncertainty, especially for educators learning how to effectively implement remote learning. Learn how to make it work here.
The need for remote learning has soared since the coronavirus crisis first began. Many students, teachers, administrators and parents were thrust into the world of remote learning, in some cases with little preparation, as the world scrambled to stem the spread of the virus. Due to the pandemic, millions of students have had to continue their education online, with little prior remote learning experience to help them in this new online learning world.
With little time to prepare or adjust, the rollout of remote learning has been rushed and difficult for all parties involved. Despite the struggles, if remote learning is properly managed, resourced, and combined with traditional instructional best practices, it holds immense promise for students, teachers, administrators, parents, and society as a whole.
According to UNESCOhttps://en.unesco.org/news/290-million-students-out-school-due-covid-19-unesco-releases-first-global-numbers-and-mobilizes, 862 million students were out of school due to coronavirus. Closures and quarantines are expected to continue for some time, and remote learning can help ensure students do not miss out on their education, even when they cannot attend school in person. Much of remote learning must be accomplished through online learning, using digital tools that have been improving over the last decade.
In fact, although COVID-19 lockdowns gave the online approach to learning a greater sense of urgency, many school districts already had experience with the unique strengths of online instruction. According to a 2019 survey reported by Statistahttps://www.statista.com/statistics/1076292/share-k-12-students-us-who-use-digital-learning-tools-daily-level/#:~:text=According%20to%20a%202019%20survey,school%20to%20learn%20every%20day., 63 percent of high school students in America used digital learning tools at school in 2019, along with 64 percent of middle school students and 45 percent of elementary school students.
This guide assumes that remote learning through online instruction is a reality schools must embrace and outlines best practices for how to make it work.
Understanding The Benefits Of Online Learning
Although the benefits of online learning were overshadowed by the challenges of an unplanned worldwide rollout, it is important to understand the key benefits of this learning mode to allow educators to maximize its potential.
Students are the primary beneficiaries of well-implemented online learning, but the benefits extend to teachers, parents, and administrators as well. Here is a look at how different groups experience the benefits of online learning, and how these strengths can then be used to better implement more effective remote learning.
Benefits For Administrators
Online learning has the ability to present administrators with tremendous opportunities to prepare students for 21st century learning and the real world. In addition, online learning can take advantage of the advances in simulation and gaming technology to engage students like never before.
For example, researchers from Vanderbilt University studied the impact that short curriculum-aligned games can have in the classroom/research. The study included 13 teachers and 16 game developers who observed and analyzed 1,002 students playing 55 games, over a 3 week time period, as shown in Figure 1.1.
The study, which was published in the esteemed Journal of Learning Sciences, found that students who played games raised their test scores by half a letter grade on average in just three weeks, which is pretty impressive.
The study involved more than 1,000 students across seven states in a variety of urban, suburban and rural schools (Figure 1.2). It is no surprise that 74% of teachers use digital games as a regular part of their classroomhttps://joanganzcooneycenter.org/publication/level-up-learning-a-national-survey-on-teaching-with-digital-games. This medium translates perfectly into a remote environment, where engagement is even more important.
With the rise of online, fully-featured Learning Management Systems (LMS’s)https://elearningindustry.com/what-is-an-lms-learning-management-system-basic-functions-features, it has become easier to integrate such engaging content into remote, in person, or hybrid learning environments. Data is collected automatically, ensuring that administrators are seeing real-time completion of educational goals, rather than one set of grades at the end of a high stakes testing period. Moreover, most high quality remote learning tools now offer live support for teachers and parents (rather than having to go through the district’s IT department), smoothing the transition to online learning remotely.
Benefits For Teachers
Along with new challenges for teachers, remote learning using online tools comes with many new opportunities. One of the biggest problems teachers face is keeping students engaged and focused. Students who are not engaged in the material may struggle to absorb it and may even stray off task, distracting other students as well.
By implementing engaging online content (such as educational games, simulations, interactive videos, or responsive worksheets) combined with traditional instructional best practices, teachers are more likely to engage students with the educational content, increasing material comprehension as students exhibit energy, persistence, and satisfaction in their learning.
In the study conducted by Vanderbilt researchers, teachers who adopted a blended learning approach that divided their time between traditional instruction and game-based learning noted dramatic improvements in student engagement, as shown in Figure 1.3. They also reported increased focus, even among students who normally have trouble staying on task.
When learning occurs through online platforms, teachers can also benefit from the student learning data these platforms collect. Instead of waiting for the end of the month to see how students perform on the unit test, or grading stacks of worksheets to identify problem areas, teachers can often see real-time performance, student by student, automatically.
High quality tools such as IXLhttps://www.ixl.com or Legends of Learning will identify problem areas at the state standard level. For example, within minutes of assigning an online learning game or a virtual lab to the class, a teacher can see that a particular student may be struggling with the Common Core standard “4.MD.C.5.a: Measuring Angles in Reference to Circles”.
All this is accomplished as this student is having a great time playing through “Angle Kingdom”, a learning game on a popular game based learning platform. The teacher can focus on this topic, perhaps learning that this student’s trouble with angles in this standard really stems from his need to review fractions. This type of individualized or class level data is just not available with traditional instructional materials and assessments.
Online learning can also provide teachers with additional tools for classroom management. Students who stray off task can disrupt traditional classrooms and waste valuable learning time for the whole class. Online learning often comes with tools to track performance and behavior, and to motivate the class as a whole. Teachers have found that audio and video control, LMS assignments and tracking, digital breakout rooms, and more engaging content can add tools to their classroom management “tool belt”.
Additionally, online tools such as ClassDojohttps://www.classdojo.com and Classcrafthttps://www.classcraft.com can bring the class together as a team, encouraging productive teamwork. For example, Classcraft gamifies classroom management, allowing students who complete missions assigned by the teacher to earn power-ups for their own unique avatars and for the class as a whole.
Benefits For Parents
Parents can become more engaged partners in education during the COVID-19 crisis with the collaboration possibilities available with online learning software. Although some older online learning software ignored ease of use as they focused on features, the most recent offerings built for the web have placed a huge focus on ease of use, allowing parents to get their kids set up quickly. When these tools are integrated with an LMS they also allow for single sign-on and automatic rostering and gradebook for students, leaving out the guesswork for parents.
In today’s age, children are drawn to technology and many parents find that their children will willingly study and play educational games online, more so than with traditional methods.
Games allow parents and teachers to meet students “where they are” while at the same time acknowledging the student’s alternatives for time and attention. The bar to engagement in learning has been rising as students’ alternatives, like Fortnite and Youtube, become more and more engaging.
Many parents also appreciate the chance that online learning gives them to get more involved in their children’s education. A report of scientific studieshttps://www.dsea.org/content/parental-involvement-improves-student-achievement carried out by the National Committee for Citizens in Education showed that students perform better in school when their parents get involved in their education, and online learning makes it easier for them to participate in the process. They are able to see which topics their children are learning about and gain an overview of their performance.
Benefits For Students
In addition to the potential improvements in their grades, students often find a new appreciation for their studies when they see the material presented in fun and dynamic ways online. Teachers report that they appreciate digital resources that allow students to move through curriculum at their own pace. Students can go through the material they understand fairly quickly and spend more time going over subjects that are more challenging.
In a traditional classroom setting, some students end up getting left behind when teachers are forced to move on to other topics in the interest of meeting their district’s standards. Online learning that pinpoints issues quickly may mean getting extra help right away instead of having to wait for fixed review sessions.
For example, Dreambox Learninghttps://www.dreambox.com is a gamified math platform that allows students to follow their own learning paths based on their strengths and weaknesses. Students cannot progress to a concept like “Identify the angle measure, in degrees, given the fraction the ray of an angle turns” until they understand the concept of “fractions”, as shown in Figure 1.5.
In another example, Legends of Learning a game based learning platform, progresses students through the Math and Science curriculum standard by standard, with learning games being automatically offered to students who identify weaknesses in a particular standard. This data can then be seen by parents and teachers who can provide further instruction. Figure 1.6 shows the progression of learning multiples and factors while playing Awakening.
Download the Vanderbilt study to learn more about the benefits of online learning!
Learning Management Systems: The Hubs Enabling Online Learning
Online learning has evolved dramatically in recent years as technology continues to improve at a rapid pace. This evolution has been enabled by a piece of software called the Learning Management System, or LMS. The LMS is the home base for teachers, students, and administrators looking to teach and learn remotely or online.
Many districts now have a license to an LMS that allows teachers to post assignments, integrate different online learning tools, and connect the Student Information System that holds student data like grades and biographical information to activities students perform, like digital assignments. Just like the Windows operating system allows a PC user to run and combine different software programs, an LMS allows a teacher to run different educational programs on the same platform.
But, just like a Windows computer with no programs on it provides little value, an LMS without integrations to other online learning programs can also be of limited value. Therefore, an LMS must be easy to use, but powerful. It must be flexible enough to integrate with other programs while also providing the data teachers and administrators need during instruction.
Because of its importance in online learning, the choice of an LMS is one of the key choices a district has to make when shifting some or all learning online. It is also the core platform that students and teachers learn to interact with.
There are several leading learning management systems available as well, and they are market leaders in their ability to integrate with other programs. For example, Legends of Learning, a popular game-based learning platform is integrated with Canvashttps://www.instructure.com/canvas, Classlinkhttps://www.classlink.com, Schoologyhttps://www.schoology.com and Google Classroomhttps://classroom.google.com/u/0/h. This allows students on this math and science program to login with single sign-in, allows teachers to assign playlists of games through the LMS, and roster students automatically.
Types Of Content in Online Learning
Once an LMS is in place, teachers can choose different kinds of content to offer to students. Sometimes teachers can choose their own tools from the web and sometimes the school or district will provide licenses for students.
Digital content is broken down into two types of curriculum: Core Curriculum and Supplemental Curriculum. Core Curriculum is the textbook that all students must use to learn a topic area. Core Curriculum was traditionally a paper textbook, but more and more districts are shifting to digital textbooks. This has the benefit that digital textbooks can be kept up to date by the publisher on a real-time basis.
Historically, almost all textbooks in the US have been published by the same three companies: Pearsonhttps://www.pearson.com/us/prek-12.html, Houghton Mifflin Harcourthttps://www.hmhco.com and McGraw Hillhttps://www.mheducation.com/prek-12/home-guest.html. These companies publish high quality textbooks that align with state level curriculum standards and have a variety of resources available for all students at all levels. Unfortunately, since these companies have been in the business of selling paper textbooks, they have sometimes lagged behind in the remote learning and offering their products for remote learning.
As schools move to remote learning and have more digital resources at their disposal, many schools and districts have shifted to Core Curriculum created by newer, digital-first companies. For example (Figure 3.1), Stemscopeshttps://www.stemscopes.com offers a Core Science curriculum modeled on the “3D” model of teaching science that is built into the new Next Generation Science Standards. Agile Mindhttps://www.agilemind.com/programs/core-math offers an innovative digital approach to teaching math instead of the traditional textbook.
One of the biggest issues around traditional textbooks and even digital textbooks offered by the three major publishers is their cost. These textbooks are very expensive and usually come with multi-year contracts for the district or state. High quality free digital textbooks, created by non-profit institutions have become more accepted in recent years as districts shift funding to other priorities.
For example (Figure 3.2), CK-12https://www.ck12.org/student offers free, high quality digital textbooks and even lets the district customize their textbook by mixing and matching content. These “Flexbookshttps://www.ck12.org/fbbrowse/list/?Subject=All%20Subjects&Language=All%20Languages&Grade=All%20Grades” have the potential to provide districts the rigor they seek with the flexibility they need.
After the state or district chooses their “Core Curriculum”, the rest of their content is “Supplemental”, which means it can flexibly fall into the needs of the student, classroom, teacher, or school. For example, labs, field trips and worksheets all fall under the “Supplemental” curriculum label. Over the last few decades, the focus has shifted from a single dominant textbook to collecting a variety of experiences to teach content.
One popular digital content type that fits well with remote learning is video-based content. Often this takes the form of short videos that teach a particular subject or even a particular standard. Sometimes teachers can create playlists of videos or assign those videos to the class. Videos vary from low quality, freely available videos on Youtube to high quality videos produced at considerable cost by trained curriculum staff.
One high quality site for instructional videos, Great Mindshttps://greatminds.org, is offered for free by a non-profit organization. The videos are created with professional recording equipment by instructors who are very good in front of a camera and can be very dynamic when teaching difficult subjects. These videos also come with a platform for teachers to send the videos as assignments and integrate into their LMS.
The biggest issue with video-based content is that it can often be boring, especially when students watch videos on a regular basis. BrainPOPhttps://www.brainpop.com has tried to make their video content more engaging by creating animated videos using a lovable robot character, as shown in Figure 3.3. These animations can be a useful tool when interspersed with other content such as digital textbooks and games.
The biggest trend in engaging content that has emerged over the last few years has been Game Based Learning (GBL).
While GBL has been around since Oregon Trail and Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego (Figure 3.4), educational games have come a long way since covered wagons, dying of dysenteryhttps://www.aphlblog.org/the-diseases-of-the-oregon-trail and stealing K2https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carmen_Sandiego#List_of_stolen_items.
Rather than one shared computer in the library with games on a floppy disk or CD ROM, many classrooms today have broadband internet and laptops for each student, or classroom laptop carts, which allow students to play sophisticated games through a web browser.
Game based learning has grown significantly as the devices have gotten better, games have gotten better, and tools for teachers have gotten better. For example, more than one in ten students in the US have used Legends of Learning, a platform of standards-aligned web games. With over 2000 games on the platform, each covering just one single standard in K-8 math and science, teachers can create playlists of games and assessments to assign to their students. Games display ratings by students and teachers, and since each game is built by a different game studio around the world, offer a very wide variety of learning modes to support deep learning.
A different approach to GBL is taken by Dreambox Learning, a gamified math platform. In this platform, students progress through a series of gamified lessons and game-like experiences as they learn math. Dreambox has focused on promoting personalized learning, with each student charting their own learning path based on their own competencies. A class using Dreambox learning may all be playing through the math challenges, but each student is completing the challenges at their own pace. A struggling 5th grade math student might be learning 3rd grade content they never understood while an advanced 3rd grader may be progressing through 5th grade content.
A close cousin to game based learning is learning through simulations. Explore Learning’s Gizmoshttps://www.explorelearning.com math and science simulations (Figure 3.5) are a great way to explore the physical world digitally. In remote environments where lab materials are unavailable, or when some labs cannot be conducted in the classroom (learning about gravity on another planet), simulations are the next best thing, and may even be more engaging.
Another set of high quality interactive simulations are available through the non-profit PhEThttps://phet.colorado.edu, at the University of Colorado, Boulder. These can be accessed free of charge through the web or through platforms like Legends of Learning.
Digital Worksheets & Test Preparation
Testing is a fact of life in education, and with testing comes test prep. In the past, this test prep had been done through worksheets, “dittos”, and lots and lots of manual grading by teachers. Online learning has made practice and test prep much more dynamic, more effective, and easier on the teacher since grading is done automatically. Perhaps even more useful, the dashboards and data these digital worksheets provide allow teachers to focus their efforts on the areas where students are struggling, rather than provide the same lesson year after year to the whole class.
There is a large variety of test prep and digital worksheet solutions available. One of the most popular is IXL. IXL provides teachers with a very large set of high quality assessment items that cover thousands of “skills” that are aligned to state test standards. They cover the core tested subjects in K-12 and have been around for more than 20 years. While students may find test prep boring, the diagnostic information that is available is seen as highly valuable to administrators and teachers, who can see performance at the student, standard, and even skill level.
In general, test prep programs have three components. The first is a diagnostic, the second is ongoing assessments, and the third are instructional materials that should be applied when the student needs help. For example, iReadyhttps://www.curriculumassociates.com/products/i-ready offers “iReady Diagnostic” which is an in-depth diagnostic test all students take. This shows the issues that individual students have for the teacher. Then i-Ready “Online Instruction” provides targeted online instruction based on the diagnostic. Finally, “i-Ready Standards Mastery” provides ongoing assessments to test for learning along the course of the school year.
Teachers and administrators see these digital worksheet and assessment programs as an important part of instruction, and necessary for reviewing material. They often replace something more time consuming: paper worksheets graded by teachers. Unfortunately, the biggest issue with these programs is that they are not engaging and students may not demonstrate their true knowledge if they are not naturally motivated to complete assessments.
Increasing Engagement With Game-Based Learning
One of the biggest challenges (and biggest opportunities) online learning presents is the ability to continuously engage students while teaching. The Department of Education and Early Childhood Development (DEECD) states that there are three interrelated engagement componentshttps://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/gblcompendium/part-3-invitation/student-engagement-through-game-based-learning-promoting-the-inclusion-of-game-based-learning-in-a-56-classroom; emotional, behavioral and cognitive engagement. Stimulation of these three components leads to an increased willingness to learn among students and an overall boost in engagement during learning activities.
Not only does game-based learning increase engagement, but it has also been shown to improve information recall and retention rates and increase problem solving development skills among students. Game-based learning also grants teachers the ability to receive instant feedback on how well the student absorbed and retained the information presented.
The Pedagogy Of Game-Based Learning
The pedagogy of game-based learning is centered around the notion that games offer students an exciting and engaging way to learn course material. Maura Smale, a professor at the City University of New York states that certain features within games facilitate learning by:
- Giving students the ability to learn from their failures
- Encouraging interactivity by having students perform certain actions and tasks in order to receive feedback
- Driving students to learn more by requiring students to master the current material before being able to move on to another level
Countless studies have been conducted showing the benefits of using game-based learning as an effective way to increase engagement among students across a variety of learning styles. A study conducted in 2014https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/17439884.2014.919321, showed that video games helped users store and recall information by stimulating an increased level of dopamine.
Download GBL Whitepaper
The Power Of Gaming As A Learning Medium (7 F’s)
As game-based learning continues to grow in popularity, the power of gaming as a learning medium has grown exponentially. By using games in the classroom, students are able to learn in a more fun and interesting way compared to traditional methods of learning.
National education journalist and author of “The Game Believes in You: How Digital Play Can Make Our Kids Smarter” Greg Toppo writes of the power of gaming as a learning medium can be explained through the seven “F’s”; failure, feedback, fairness, flow, fantasy, freedom and fellowship.
Through failure, students are given the opportunity to attempt a game incorporating a subject which can be considered “hard”. Upon failure in the game, students are motivated to attempt the game again right away, identifying what mistakes were made and adjust accordingly.
When a student either fails or succeeds at the game, immediate feedback is given, leading to an increased understanding of the material and a willingness to master the subject. Feedback from games also provides teachers with the ability to identify weaknesses and improve the students areas of weakness.
Through game-based learning platforms, a certain “fairness” is created. The idea of fairness stems from a platform which is consistent, reliable and challenging, introducing a level of equality traditional learning models lack. According to Pew Research, over 90% of school-age kidshttps://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2018/09/17/5-facts-about-americans-and-video-games play video games on a regular basis and over 214 million Americans of all ageshttps://www.theesa.com/esa-research/2020-essential-facts-about-the-video-game-industry play video games. Video games are loved and played by kids of all genders, races, socioeconomics backgrounds, and geographies.
Within traditional learning models, students are more likely to lose interest in course materials when given tasks and assignments which follow the same structure. The “flow” of game-based learning gives students the opportunity to learn material from games that are consistently engaging and introduce new materials which build upon the previous materials presented.
Gaming, regardless of the intent of the game, provides those who play an opportunity to assume a new identity in a fantasy setting. Game-based learning utilizes the fantasy aspect of gaming, giving students the opportunity to assume the role of a different identity and ask the question, what if?
Many traditional learning models require instructors to follow rigid outlines and frameworks of teaching. The rigidity of these models leaves little room for flexibility for students who simply do not learn in the same way other students may learn. Game-based learning promotes self-directed learning, in which students are given the freedom to learn the material and solve problems at their own pace and with whatever resources work best for them.
Lastly, game-based learning encourages the notion of fellowship among students, giving them the opportunity to collaborate with their peers to solve problems. Students are able to use different strengths of team members to solve problems and then share and discuss their results with other groups of students.
Incorporating Game-Based Learning
For a successful implementation of game-based learning in the classroom, administrators and teachers need a seamless integration for the students to fully take advantage of the benefits available. Without a systematic and seamless integration, students may take a longer time to adapt and buy-in to a new style of learning.
Seamless and systematic integration can be achieved by following these 4 steps.
Deciding On The Intent Of The Games
Neither teachers nor students will benefit from game-based learning until the intended goal of the game has been established. Administrators and teachers must first ask themselves the following questions:
- What is hoped to be accomplished?
- How will game-based learning help achieve the established goals?
For example, some games are best for introducing and reinforcing concepts, while others are best used for assessing knowledge through a quiz format. Still other games are best as virtual simulations or labs. For example, Gizmos, a platform of virtual labs, focuses on authentic virtual lab experiences.
Another platform, Legends of Learning, marks standards aligned games as “Question Games”, “Instructional Games” and “Simulation games” to aid in this step.
Creating A Plan On How To Use The Games
After the intended use of the games have been identified, a plan on how the games will be used needs to be created. A plan should be created based on the games intent, whether that be for those who wish to use the games to introduce new topics to students, assist students who are finding it difficult to understand certain concepts, enhance the learning experience or by using the games for test preparation.
For example, in games offered by Brainpop, a learning video platform, students can play single games that are offered as rewards after learning has been completed through animated videos. Dreambox, a gamified math platform, allows students to earn time to play arcade-like games if the more rigorous learning is completed first.
Legends of Learning allows teachers to create playlists of assessments and learning games that are then assigned to classes or groups of students, with the learning occurring inside curriculum-aligned games (rather than using games merely as a reward).
Selecting The Right Games For The Class
Game selection is one of the most important steps when implementing game-based learning. Administrators and teachers need to choose games which stimulate the students mind, but are not so hard that students get frustrated and discourage them from trying. Game-based learning is meant to encourage interaction and engagement among students, therefore the games need to be straightforward as to not waste time repeatedly explaining rules or functionality.
Games may often be presented on a game platform, which shows information about each game and can be useful when teachers want to assign games without having to play all the way through. This information can include items like teacher reviews, students reviews, grade bands, game instructions, vocabulary words, discussion questions, and standards alignment. As teachers become more familiar with a platform, they tend to learn to trust the additional information available on the games, thus speeding up the game selection process.
Monitoring Class Performance
Once the instructional goal is set, games are chosen and loaded into an assignment, the class begins to play. At this stage, the power of game-based learning becomes clear. Classes tend to be fully engaged and start to generate actionable data for teachers and administrators. Fully featured platforms will report performance at a student and standard level to teachers and administrators, allowing educators to see learning gaps and opportunities.
A teacher may be able to watch which students are stuck in a game, or those struggling with a concept. They might also see class-level data that reveals gaps that must be addressed with an additional lecture, group assignment, or lab. Administrators can also see which standards are being missed in preparation for state-level exams, and use that information to create targeted professional development for teachers or targeted curriculum design.
Case Study Focus: Legends of Learning Online Educational Game Platform
An example of engaging content that meets the criteria covered in this guide can provide a useful case study. This criteria includes:
- Tight integration with all major LMS systems
- Curriculum and standard level content alignment
- Game based learning to allow for heightened engagement in online learning
- Tools for teachers, administrators, students and parents
- Reporting at the standard level to allow for personalized learning and intervention
As a platform that meets these criteria, Legends of Learning can serve as a case study. Legends of Learning is an educational games leader with a strong emphasis on making learning fun. They offer thousands of curriculum-aligned games in subjects such as science and math. By keeping a tight focus on students from kindergarten to eighth grade, they are able to thoroughly address the topics younger students need to learn in a highly targeted manner.
Games & Assessments Support A Wide Variety Of Learning Objectives
Their games and assessment items are made to support hundreds of different learning objectives, and they have all been tested by teachers and students to make sure they are engaging and effective. Best of all, they are extremely intuitive and easy to use, so even those with limited technological skills can jump in and start learning right away.
Increases Student Engagement
Teachers are constantly looking for dynamic activities to incorporate into their lesson plans, and the fun learning games offered by Legends of Learning are an incredible way to boost engagement.
92% of teachers who have tried their games say they want to continue to use them in their classes on account of their impact on student engagement and performance.
In fact, teachers of elementary and middle school can find a game to match every lesson. Students often have so much fun playing the games that they do not realize just how much they are reviewing content.
Boosts Students’ Confidence
Studies have also shown that games can significantly boost the confidence of students with special needs. Teachers have also reported that students who normally have trouble staying on task have become more focused thanks to the games.
“So excited that we are rolling out Legends of Learning today with students! They are loving it! We were all so engaged that we missed the school bell and my partner teacher had to ask when we were switching classes because we did not even hear the bell!” – Shannon Zwahr
Complete Lesson Plans With Every Game
The games come with thorough lesson plans that allow teachers to prepare and present material in an engaging way alongside the games.
Teachers are able to create custom playlists for individuals and groups within the class, along with questions they can ask and activities that are designed to get students involved in learning.
The plans also offer suggestions for possible extension activities for those who would like to take the topic further.
Easy For Administrators To Keep Track Of School & District Progress
For administrators at the school and district levels, they offer features that help boost student engagement while keeping the experience consistent across aligned curriculum.
District level features include:
Quick & Seamless Launch
Legends of Learning integrates with major LMS systems, allowing single-sign on and rostering. Students do not need to learn a new username and password and teachers do not need to learn a new way to assign content. Using the LMS everyone is already familiar with, teachers see their students instantly provisioned with accounts and seamless sign on. Live instant support through phone or chat is available during the entire school year, allowing technical issues to be resolved quickly and easily.
Support For Easy Curriculum Integration
Legends of Learning offers several district features that allow a district to incorporate Game-Based Learning in an easy and effective manner. District partners are given professional development for teachers and administrators showing common use cases and learning modes. This instruction is paired with a library of 5E lesson plans for each standard and grade level, allowing teachers to incorporate games immediately into their lessons. Administrators can also help with lesson creation or empower their internal teacher champions with playlist sharing across schools and districts.
Power Features For Teachers
All areas of the platform are open to district partners. In addition to the 2000 unique games available on the platform covering all of K-8 Math and Science, teachers within partner districts can assign unlimited numbers of assignments and make multi-standard assignments for review or enrichment.
Powerful Assessment & Data Reporting
Beyond game-based learning of the standards and curriculum, partner districts can also utilize game-based learning for assessing knowledge at different DOK levels in any standard or across standards. This student-level data at the standard, concept, and DOK level can then be visualized with detailed reports at the student, teacher, school, or district level, identifying opportunities and challenges to be addressed.
Gives Parents A Hands-On Approach
Parents are also enjoying the benefits of these games, whether they are supporting their child’s academic efforts on their own or letting them play playlists that have been assigned by their teachers. Parents can even set up their own accounts to keep tabs on their children’s progress. They can also view progress data to see how their children are making their way through material that is appropriate for their grade and curriculum.
Legends of Learning games have been shown to give students the ability to comprehend and cover the equivalent of 5.5 weeks of learning in a mere three weeks, as shown in Figure 5.4.
Aligns With National & State Learning Standards
Legends of Learning is designed to work with a school’s learning management system and SIS for a unified content experience, and students can also play these games at home on their own devices. Their games are aligned to support lesson plans with standards such as SOL, NGSS, FL Math, Common Core, GSE and TEKS.
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Their games and simulations are geared toward students in Kindergarten through 8th grade and cover more than hundreds of learning objectives across topics in life sciences, physical sciences, earth and space sciences and math. Choose between question-based and content mastery games to ensure thorough knowledge of the topic at hand.
To get a first hand look at the benefits of integrating the LoL platform with your LMS, sign up for a free account today!
Teachers, parents and students can sign up for a free Legends of Learning account today!
Meeting Students' Unique Needs
Many districts are providing students with the equipment they need to learn online, and some are taking steps to ensure internet access for everyone, such as turning school buses into Wi-Fi hotspots that can be parked near students’ homes.
Having the devices and connectivity needed to study online is only part of the equation; it is also important to consider whether students have the right support at home to guide them through technical problems and determine whether the tools that are being used will address their individual learning needs.
While remote learning offers new challenges for students with unique needs, online learning technology can also be a force for positive outcomes for these students. Not everyone is capable of sitting still for hours reading through a textbook, but over 90% of students play games on a regular basis. This is due to the highly engaging nature of games, and remote learning that harnesses the power of game based learning or gamified learning can “reach kids where they are”. Students stay on task and don’t need constant reminders to refocus.
Another benefit that can only be realized with online learning tools is the promise of personalized learning. With only one teacher in a classroom, it is impossible to create unique lesson plans for each student, but this is exactly what online learning software can do. Dreambox Learning creates unique learning paths for each student based on their needs, while students progress through the state standards at their own pace with Legends of Learning. The teacher no longer needs to teach to the median student. Now, the teacher’s time can be spent creating enrichment activities for high performers or targeted interventions for students who are struggling.
The research on digital tools like learning games has also shown that special education students respond especially well to engaging digital content.
For example students who received IEP’s scored more than one standard deviation higher than control students in a game based learning study. That’s the equivalent to hiring an expensive full time private tutor, with results seen on a platform that is often used for free by teachers and students. Figure 6.1 shows the average hourly costs for various types of tutors and tutoring services across the nation.
Students who experience obstacles in their day-to-day learning—whether cognitive challenges, language barriers, or difficulty focusing—find games to be more accessible than traditional pedagogy. Learning through play allows them to better retain important information through deeper engagement.
Recommended Standards For Online Education
Students should not have to miss out on a good education simply because they cannot attend classes in person. When embarking on an online education program, it is important to find options that meet quality guidelines to ensure that the content, design, assessment and management set students up for long-term success.
Although many of the most popular online education platforms undergo rigorous development and have proven results backing their promises, it is important to keep in mind that not all programs offer the same degree of quality and value. For example, non curated platforms like Lesson Planethttps://www.lessonplanet.com have many high quality resources, but it may take a lot of searching to find what you need.
In general, educators looking for resources should be focused on quality over quantity, coverage of all standards, and tight integration with these standards. While traditional print textbooks check those boxes, high quality online learning solutions can do a lot more.
Here is what traditional textbooks and print materials can provide:
High quality instructional materials
Coverage of all standards
Tight integration of instruction to standards
In addition to that, high quality online learning programs can also provide:
Diagnostic testing to uncover problem areas among individual students
Personalized learning paths crafted for individual students
Integration with all major LMS platforms
Tools for teachers to manage students and data
The pinnacle of online learning can then be found in programs that can accomplish all of the above items, but also add features such as:
Game based learning to engage students in their learning
Mastery learning through productive failure (i.e in games & simulations)
Engaging students’ natural motivation, drive, and agency
Empowering students to take control of their own learning
Students are not factory inputs or outputs and each has unique learning needs. Yet teachers also do not have the time or resources to create a personalized assignment for each and every student while also managing the class. Online resources, especially the best game based learning companies can bridge the gap between rigor, engagement and personalized learning.
Reach Out To A Professional Online Educational Game Company
If you would like to learn more about how online educational games can help your students, teachers or children reach their academic goals while having fun, get in touch with the professional educational game company Legends of Learning. Their games are designed to help students master even the most difficult topics in an enjoyable way.
FAQ #1: Is Legends of Learning A Core Curriculum?
No. Legends of Learning currently offers a supplementary curriculum for Common Core Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), Georgia Standards of Excellence (GSE), Florida Next Generation Sunshine State Standards (NGSSS), Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL), and Tennessee Academic Standards for Science (TASS).
FAQ #2: Can I Make Assessments On The Platform?
Teachers can offer assessment questions in each playlist the launch. Assessment data can be downloaded after a playlist is completed via the teacher dashboard. We also offer custom assessments for our paid licenses. Teachers have the ability to choose questions within DOK (depth of knowledge) levels. You can learn more about assessments here via our Application Help documentation.
FAQ #3: How Do I Share Progress With Students & Parents?
Besides exportable CSV files, you can print results to PDF to show progress to students and parents.
FAQ #4: How Do I Download The Data For My Gradebook?
You can export Legends of Learning data in CSV format via the teacher dashboard.
FAQ #5: Can I View My Students’ Progress By Standard? Class Or Grade?
Legends of Learning will offer comprehensive usage and performance analytics per standard, student, classroom, and school later. At the moment, teachers can view progress per student.
Their math and science games and activities are ideal for elementary and middle school students. They can form a part of classroom instruction or be enjoyed at home by students who want to enhance their learning independently.
Legends of Learning games and simulations are geared toward students in Kindergarten through 8th grade and cover more than hundreds of learning objectives across topics in life sciences, physical sciences, earth and space sciences and math. Choose between question-based and content mastery games to ensure thorough knowledge of the topic at hand.
Signing up is quick and easy. Students and other interested parties can create an account for free or sign up using an existing Google Account and start playing right away. School and district accounts come with additional tools and resources such as live online professional development, detailed reporting features, dedicated account management and much more!