For over a decade, College Board has been promoting the ideal of educational equity by encouraging schools to remove barriers to enrollment in Advanced Placement courses. Postsecondary educational opportunities will become more accessible to a wider variety of students as exposure to academically-rigorous content increases. However, removing barriers to enrollment is only the first step. What are students who may be under-prepared for the rigorous academic content to do if that content is inaccessible? The onus is now on educators to make rigorous content accessible. By thoughtfully curating material on a learning management system, educators can increase opportunity through access: anytime, anywhere.
College and Career Readiness is heralded across the board educational policy right now. President Barack Obama is quoted saying “A generation ago we led all nations in college completion, but today, 10 countries have passed us. It’s not that these students are smarter than ours. It is that these countries are being smarter about how to educate their students. And the countries that out-educate us today will be the countries that out-compete us in the future.” (U.S. Dept of Education). It is time for a paradigm shift in our classrooms and, in order to meet the needs of students in this information age, we must allow them access to anytime, anywhere learning. One way to address the needs of a variety of students enrolled in any learning population is to employ a learning management system (LMS) which allows students access to a variety of resources to aid in the acquisition of course content material. “Typically a learning management system provides an instructor with a way to create and deliver content, monitor student participation and assess student performance.” (Govender).
Background and Need
Using an LMS may allow teachers to effectively address the need for differentiated instruction, self-paced learning, and may aid in learning to mastery. More specifically, it may aid students who are streaming into Advanced Placement classes due to an increased push from College Board to broaden the spectrum of students enrolled in Advanced Placement. An LMS may also allow teachers to adjust their roles from “sages on the stage” to facilitators of learning: a new push in college and career readiness. Our one-hundred-year-old educational model of moving students through a learning model based on that of a factory system is in dire need of a shift toward a new paradigm (Robinson). A paradigm allowing students to use all available resources to access material necessary for their learning at individualized pacing.
Research into .....
Research focused on the need to increase access to Advanced Placement course content (requisite and pre-requisite) through the thoughtful use of digital tools housed in a learning management system. There is no sure-fire recipe for success in college. However, via academic preparedness, our students will surely have the best chance of success. Academic preparedness can be gained through enrollment in and success within rigorous college-preparatory course work. With this in mind, College Board has pushed for the admission barriers to be removed from Advanced Placement (AP) enrollment. This sounds great: get a more diverse student representation in AP courses, which will, in turn, further post-secondary academic success. But, what are we really doing by following this plan? It is not simply enrollment in courses that will lead to success. Instead, it is success within these courses that will light the way.
This is where Anytime, Anywhere Learning comes in. As educators, we can’t just unlock the doors to AP. We have to unlock the curriculum as well. Students need resources that will help them remain competitive with the traditionally-defined AP student. We need to differentiate instruction in AP courses, giving students multiple avenues to access the academic content.
Throwing the door to AP wide open may just backfire if it is not done thoughtfully. As a teacher of two different AP courses, I believe we need some measure that students are AP-ready. That measure does not necessarily need to be GPA or test score; it could be determination. However, determination can only go so far, if a student does not have the resources available to allow them to delve into requisite and prerequisite skills at their own pace. There is the angel on my shoulder that says “let them try” but she is competing with the devil on the other shoulder that says “remember, you are being judged by your students’ scores”. I can remedy these competing demands by making expectations clear and resources available anytime, anywhere for my students to access. Therefore, if they have the desire and determination, they can make it work.
How can we ensure equity through access to rigorous curriculum? It is not just about opening the door to AP, we have to open the door and build curriculum and course structure that allows students access to the material. If students need to refer to visuals, self-test, discuss, or watch videos in order to create meaning of the text and curriculum, we need to organize and curate the best resources for them to do so. This is where the effective use of a learning management system (LMS) comes in.
This project will highlight the effective use of an LMS. Though it may have started with a way to unlock the door to Advanced Placement, it will end with endless array of possibilities for using an LMS to allow student access to learning anytime and anywhere.