Iowa e-Learning Central: A bevy of courses by Iowa teachers for Iowa teachers
As the upcoming school year draws near, educators teaching in middle schools and high schools across Iowa now have at their fingertips a full complement of high-quality online courses they can use in the classroom. And courses for elementary educators are not far behind.
The courses are a part of Iowa e-Learning Central, an online exchange for Iowa educators, students and families that supports their collective efforts to engage in high-quality online learning. Iowa e-Learning Central offers educators, districts and families a new playing field in the delivery of education.
Iowa e-Learning Central addresses two statewide needs critical in ensuring success for students, educators and families. The first is the need for accessible, evidence-based supports and resources for students to be successful in their studies (in-person or online), as well as for educators and families to support their students. The second need is access to high-quality content, regardless of a student’s location in the state.
“These courses are going to offer a more equitable education for Iowa’s students,” said Tina Wahlert, a consultant for the Iowa Department of Education. “It’s ensuring every student in the state has access to high-quality, standards-aligned coursework.”
For educators who teach middle and high school, they have access to the full range of coursework, including mathematics, science, social studies, English language arts, and financial literacy. At the high school level, there is also a computer science course.
Over the summer, more than 300 educators and technology support staff from across Iowa convened in Des Moines for training to develop new course content focusing on elementary units. The work concentrated on English language arts, foundation reading skills, science and social studies. The coursework will be available later this year and early into next year.
Department Consultant Christi Donald said teachers love what Iowa e-Learning Central has to offer.
“Iowa e-Learning Central offers access to high-quality instructional materials that are aligned to Iowa standards and are at no cost to the district,” she said. “The resources are flexible and can be used in person or online. And all of the resources have been developed by Iowa educators.
“The classes are still teacher-led. It is not 100 percent student self-guided work. Instruction still comes from an Iowa teacher.”
School districts can feel confident that a full scope and sequence – ensuring all Iowa standards are met – is available in the online coursework.
Down the road, Iowa e-Learning Central will encourage districts to collaborate.
“Course Exchange will be ready in the fall to facilitate sharing of extra spaces available in online courses so schools can offer those open seats to students in other schools or find seats needed for their students,” Wahlert said.