If the pandemic taught us one thing, it's that robust-and-engaging options for learning outside of brick-and-mortar buildings will become an integral part of our educational framework, complementing face-to-face learning and preparing students for our technology-driven world.
It was in that spirit that the Iowa Department of Education established Iowa e-Learning Central, a voluntary online exchange for Iowa educators, students and families that:
- Houses high-quality courses and units,
- Supports content creation and collaboration,
- Expands statewide access to courses and units across all grade levels, and
- Facilitates online course sharing between schools.
Courses and units in Iowa e-Learning Central are designed to be led and facilitated by educators locally. Schools can download the content they need to design interactive and collaborative in-person or online courses for use in their classrooms. Using Iowa e-Learning Central is entirely optional. Content is available free of charge to all Iowa school districts and nonpublic schools.
So who developed the content that is available in Iowa e-Learning Central? Iowa-licensed educators with content-area expertise! To create this content, they receive training in online instruction and ongoing feedback from both content reviewers and instructional designers until the course meets the requirements of a high-quality course.
One of the expert content developers is Tessa Yackle, who teaches high school English at the Clarion-Goldfield-Dows Community School District. She developed first and second semester English courses for 12th grade, as well as second semester English for seventh graders. We asked her about her work in developing the content.
1) Why did you choose to develop content for Iowa e-Learning Central?
I am familiar with writing courses, as I have written, developed, and edited courses for both Iowa Central Community College and Buena Vista University. Writing content and implementing curriculum in the online setting is a passion.
2) In creating content, describe the process that was used to ensure that it was high quality, rigorous and standards-aligned.
In the English realm we used an OER (lesson plans and resources created by another organization). These lessons, strategies and content are connected to academic standards. Using those plans as a guide, we adapted and modified those to meet the needs of hybrid learning, strategies and activities were adapted for the ease and use of students and teachers, with information to assist families in guiding students who may be learning from home.
3) As a classroom teacher, how do you think this would be helpful for other educators? How about for a new teacher, a veteran teacher, a teacher creating a new course?
These courses will be beneficial for brand new teachers, substitute teachers, and more. Users can implement the entire course, some elements from the course, a single lesson, a single unit, a single module, and can really make it their own, to meet the needs of their current students. New teachers can use it for their first year(s) to ensure academic standards are being met, to use formative and summative assessments, and more! Veteran teachers can use the courses in their entirety or chunk it to meet the needs of their students. Any manner in which the courses are used will be to the benefit of the student and the teacher. Teachers can use the courses to continue to hone the craft of pedagogy.
4) Why would you recommend educators, administrators and curriculum directors to check out Iowa e-Learning Central?
All of these courses are written using research-based and best practices in teaching, reaching, and meeting the needs of students. These courses will take out the guesswork of what to teach, when to teach it, or if texts/strategies align with the academic standards.