What is a school? Is it a building? Or the activities that take place there? Or the community of teachers and learners?
Of course, a school is all of these, and more.
Today’s schools are much more than collections of classrooms. Teaching and learning will always be the heart of the school. But for most students today, school is also a social community, a place to develop new interests and hobbies, and a ladder to their adult lives. In addition to academic curricula, schools provide guidance and career counseling, recreational facilities, and a safe place to be while parents are at work. For many students, school lunch programs and health services play an important role in their physical wellbeing. Sports teams, students clubs and elective courses keep students engaged, motivated and connected to the school. All of these elements are important to the success of the school.
Increasingly, a lot of these activities are taking place online:
- Students go online to check tonight’s homework, upload completed assignments, access learning resources, and find out what time they need to be at soccer practice.
- Parents go online to see if today is a snow day, download enrollment forms for their kindergartener, see if their 7th grader has any past due assignments, and check the time for the school play.
- Teachers go online to create and share lessons, connect with students and each other, and participate in professional learning opportunities.
In today’s digital world, people are more likely to check a website than make a phone call. We’ve all been trained to expect instant answers at our fingertips, from wherever we happen to be.
That’s why schools need an online environment that brings together all of their classes, activities and services in one place. That’s what we call the connected K-12 campus: a safe, organized, attractive online space that supports all aspects of school life.
What does the connected campus look like? We believe it has several important elements.
- It’s inclusive. Everyone is able to participate and find what they need according to their role: students, parents, teachers, administrators, staff and the wider community.
- It’s comprehensive. All activities in the school are represented, including classes, athletics, extracurricular activities, parent groups, departments, professional learning communities, school services, administration and HR. Third-party applications are linked in, too, so no one has juggle multiple applications and logins to find what they need.
- It’s organized. Information is attractively presented and easy to navigate. Resources (both public and private) are easy to locate.
- It’s safe. Students and their information have to be protected. A K-12 system needs to be designed with underage students in mind.
- It’s easy. It has to be easy to maintain and appropriate for a wide range of technology skill sets. That means keeping things simple and avoiding bells and whistles that add complexity without adding value.
When the online environment is well designed, it results in reduced work for teachers and administrators, increased engagement for students, improved interaction from parents, and improved support from the community. That’s the power of the connected campus. It’s your school—online.