When school districts across the state examined how they could improve distance learning for students, families and teachers entering the 2020-21 school year, overcoming challenges related to Learning Management Systems (Canvas, Google Classroom, Seesaw, etc.) quickly rose to the top of the list.

“After the quick turnaround last March pivoting from in-person to distance learning, it was obvious there was a tremendous need for professional development surrounding Learning Management Systems (LMS) and how to teach remotely,” explained Mike Nerland, Assistant Superintendent, Teaching & Learning at ESD 112.

Enter a newly formed 18-member AESD workgroup, tasked over the summer with helping to solve that dilemma. Comprised of all nine of the state’s Educational Service Districts, the workgroup coordinated and facilitated a series of LMS professional development sessions for educators beginning last month.

With both synchronous (live) and asynchronous (on-demand) offerings, participants in the trainings are able to:

  • Gain an understanding of how to use their school’s LMS;
  • Gather ideas for how to develop, organize, and assign classes, materials, activities, assignments, and quizzes/assessments;
  • Plan how to use their LMS in classrooms;
  • Develop an understanding of LMS best practices during distance/remote and/or in- person learning; and
  • Preview parent/student communication reports and access.

As of September 1, more than 7,800 educators had participated in at least one of the statewide LMS trainings, with the Canvas and Google Classroom-focused sessions leading the way in attendance.

“To date, thousands of Washington teachers have been trained on distance learning and the beneficiaries will be those students who are experiencing a much more robust, engaging educational experience this fall,” said Nerland. “I cannot say enough about the core design team and the amount of time, hard work and effort they put into making these trainings meaningful and successful. ESD 112’s Kristina Wambold and Katherine Livick are two of the leaders on this small team who have been instrumental in the success of the AESD-LMS initiative.”

The AESD group plans to continue the LMS trainings throughout the school year, with the next set of sessions coming later this month.

Educators can register for an upcoming synchronous session at https://www.waesd.org/distance-learning-pd.