Tuesday, April 23, 2024

School district rolls out Cd’A eSchool

Staff Writer | August 19, 2020 1:00 AM

Deadline to register is Monday; Lakeland, Post Falls also offer online options

The deadline for students to register for Coeur d'Alene School District's new Coeur d'Alene eSchool is 8 a.m. Monday.

This completely online option appeals to families with top priorities of scheduling and learning conditions as well as student/family health concerns. It will fully operate five days a week for the entire school year, regardless of how other schools in the district shift depending on COVID-19.

Leading this new scholastic venture are Coeur d'Alene eSchool Principal Bryan Kelly and Principal Assistant Becky Miller. Kelly has been an assistant principal at Lake City High for three years, as well as principal at the Kootenai County Juvenile Detention Center for two years. He has extensive administrative and secondary experience, a background in remote learning and knowledge of high school credits and graduation requirements, as well as a strong conviction about building community and relationships.

Miller has worked as an instructional coach in the district and also holds a long list of credentials. She has elementary and secondary experience and has taught special education for five years. Her last professional years as an instructional coach and facilitator working alongside teachers and leaders in every school in the district have given her in-depth experience in adult learning, leadership coaching and skilled facilitation.

Kelly and Miller are spending long days interviewing teachers from the district who will fill the staff that will work with at least 800 students in eSchool's pilot year. Kelly said they're both looking forward to providing this different learning option for students in the community.

"eSchool is going to be something that is innovative, project-based, really something students can take advantage of," Kelly said Tuesday. "Becky and I are both excited about the people we’ve been interviewing."

The program eSchool will use is Schoology, a social networking service and virtual learning environment that allows students from kindergarten through 12th grade to create, manage and share academic content.

"It's very user-friendly," Kelly said. "It looks like Facebook almost. You can navigate it by clicking on tabs."

Schoology is compatible with Skyward, the school management software already used by the district.

"It’s a great tool to use with a lot of different apps, and also is compatible with Google, so that is something that is really important for our students and parents and teachers, as well," Kelly said of Schoology.

Schoology is a product of PowerSchool, a company that helps schools and districts manage instruction, learning, grading, attendance, assessment, analytics, state reporting, special education, student registration, talent, finance and human resources. It's a leading provider of K-12 education application technology, supporting more than 45 million students in more than 80 countries.

Much of the feedback from Coeur d'Alene families regarding remote learning during spring school closures lamented the use of too many apps and tools and a lack of streamlined work.

"One thing we heard pretty clearly from parents and staff in the spring was that we needed a more robust online classroom," said Seth Deniston, director of technology for the Coeur d'Alene School District.

He said through the summer, a committee has been investigating different learning management systems and Schoology is what came out of these discussions.

The program was approved by the school board Aug. 3 and will be used for the eSchool as well as across the district for hybrid and remote learning for students enrolled in traditional school.

"I know people are wondering what we’ve been up to this summer, and this is a big part of what we've been working on, is getting tools like this in place to make it a more seamlesss classroom experience, regardless of what mode of instruction we’re in,” Deniston said.

Teachers will have extensive training and professional development with the new program.

"The teachers are the ones that are really going to be pushing this out for the students and making sure they understand how to navigate Schoology, what the purpose of each function is, how to access the communication," Kelly said. "The teachers will be fluent in that aspect."

Deniston said a parent portal will be rolled out in the first couple of weeks of school for parents to also acquaint with the program.

"It's a familiar platform," he said. "I think it will be familiar and intuitive to people."

"We don’t expect everyone to be completely versed in it on day one," district spokesman Scott Maben said. "The first week, we may be covering some of the basic functions and every week everyone will get more comfortable and more familiar with it.

"The students will pick it up," he added. "They’ll be teaching their parents all about Schoology."

Those who enroll in Coeur d'Alene eSchool are asked to commit for the entire school year. However, dates for students to transfer in or out will happen quarterly.

Visit www.cdaschools.org for FAQs and information about Coeur d'Alene eSchool.

In the Post Falls School District, students have until midnight Monday to enroll in the Post Falls School District online learning program. Applications received after the 24th will be put on a waiting list. Visit www.pfsd.com for details.

The Lakeland School District is offering the Lakeland Online Academy for students who wish to go completely online. As of Tuesday, about 250 students had registered and no deadline for registration had been set.

"The Lakeland Online Academy is our own program using our Lakeland teachers," Lakeland Assistant Superintendent Lisa Sexton said. "We learned so much last spring with regard to what worked and didn't work for students. We are excited about what we have designed."

Visit www.sd272.org/schools/online-academy for information about the Lakeland Online Academy.