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Developing a Custom Online Learning Platform for Your School

Read Time: 4 minutes

With schools moving online due to COVID-19, teachers and students alike are adapting to online distance learning. While parents are adjusting to facilitating the education of their child, homeschoolers agree that this isn’t an authentic home education experience. Instead, this new “isolation schooling” is bringing new challenges for school districts and students across the nation. 

Canvas and Blackboard have long been leaders as learning management systems (LMS) for higher education. However, what other online learning platforms are available to K-12 students? Many schools utilize Google Classroom throughout the school year, while others are now turning to platforms like Khan Academy and Microsoft Teams for supplemental instruction and video capabilities.

As online course platforms race to accommodate the influx of students and faculty using their services, school administrators may want to consider the benefits of a custom learning management system for their student body. Let’s talk about a few ways that a custom e-Learning platform could benefit your school.

Tailor the Educational Experience of Your Students

Many students don’t do well with online learning, particularly those who are already disadvantaged. However, with school closings and cancelations through the end of the academic year, there aren’t many alternatives. A successful online platform should connect teachers and students and offer students interactivity and the ability to ask questions and reach out for help. Students may struggle with reduced levels of accountability and require assistance to keep focused and stay on track. For best results, here are some useful features to include in your online course platform:

  • An integrated messaging platform where teachers can send out announcements and connect with their students. The platform could also connect to a school email account so that any notifications or long-form communication can also be accessed through their inbox.
  • Assignment workflows are a great way to keep on top of tasks and maintain a consistent schedule. The accountability of easy-to-access due dates and assignment requirements is key. Additionally, an interactive and printable calendar view would give them the choice to have a physical copy of their upcoming assignments.
  • Access to online resources such as lessons, textbooks, additional readings, supplementary materials and educational games are a given. Your school can consolidate the resources available to students into a single, easy to navigate platform.
  • Online gradebooks offer students the ability to view grades, track missing assignments and look ahead to upcoming assignments.

While there are existing online platforms, tools and resources available to educational institutions, a custom education platform touts the benefits of adapting to your student body. By identifying the needs and requirements of the school, the platform could be personalized and adjusted for maximum success.

Online Learning Platform Capabilities to Support Teacher Success

One benefit of the impact of the coronavirus on education is that appreciation for teachers has greatly increased. Their hard work is often underappreciated, so a custom online learning platform should support the role of teachers as much as possible and help to optimize their tasks.

  • Lesson Plan Templates – Online module templates could help teachers build their lessons through the platform. Sharing capabilities would allow teachers to collaborate on lesson plans and increase student success.
  • Teachers should have access to their own workflow functionality, with the potential to oversee their students’ boards. Instead of tracking down handouts and worksheets, teachers could have their resources online, ready to go when they need to use them or print them out.
  • Video conferencing abilities – Some teachers are opting to continue “face-to-face” classes by hosting online lectures. Whether this involves pre-recorded video lessons or live-stream lectures, video capabilities are a must.
  • An online gradebook would allow teachers to grade and provide feedback for assignments submitted through the online platform. The gradebook could be connected to individual assignments and group the assignment instructions, grading criteria and student submission all in one place. Additionally, existing platforms are available to check for plagiarism and submission authenticity. It is a good practice to examine current resources and determine what unique features should be integrated with your platform.

Integrate Functionalities for Faculty and School Administration 

While most academic online platforms are focused on assignments and resources, a custom-built education platform does not need to be limited to merely students and teachers. In fact, a separate portion of the platform could be dedicated to meeting the needs of other faculty and those that work in school administration. Here are a few example functionalities for faculty and administration support:

  • Faculty calendar and meeting scheduler
  • School-wide calendar of events
  • Tool to schedule announcements and email blasts
  • Data storage integration to organize student attendance and registration information
  • The ability to keep track of students with learning disabilities and special needs in order to provide necessary resources.

By hosting your platform in the cloud, you could also integrate a data governance platform to store your school’s data in a secure data lake with access to analytics and data visualization tools. Schools could greatly benefit from student success analysis that goes beyond standardized testing scores. The ability to monitor and analyze data according to individual success measures is something that schools often lack across the board. No two schools are exactly alike, so the ability to look at multiple relevant factors and their interactions could revolutionize education.

Keep the Parents Involved with a Learning Management System

A custom family / parent portal would allow caregivers to monitor the progress of their student(s) and help them stay on track. Teachers could provide parents with a general topic syllabus, follow up about homework assignments and notify them of upcoming school plans. 

While parent/teacher communication is important, access to resources online could help field questions without requiring teachers or faculty to respond to each inquiry. Here are a few considerations for the custom software platform:

  • Parent announcements from teachers, faculty, school administration and the PTO keep parents informed and up-to-date. Reap the benefits of streamlined school-wide communication.
  • Parent-sign ups for school activities, fundraising drives, classroom birthday celebrations and more can be hosted within the platform. 
  • Additional resources can also be made available for parents to help their students if they get stuck with homework or lessons.

As current online distance learning platforms become overrun — with classes across the country moving online — schools could benefit greatly from the creation of a custom e-Learning platform. Enjoy the ability to control the creation of the platform and custom-tailor the capabilities to meet the needs of your student body.

If you are interested in developing an online education portal, the team at 7T is ready to help. We specialize in custom software development, mobile app development and data governance. Additionally, many online learning platforms are hosted in the cloud. Our team offers cloud and system integration services to help businesses and organizations increase productivity, become more efficient and scale their operations. To expand your educational online resources, reach out to our development team today.

Reach out to our team today!

Lacey Williams-McGhee

Lacey Williams-McGhee

Lacey Williams is a marketing professional and Harvard graduate student living in the great state of Texas. When she's not working at 7T's headquarters, she can be found on the next flight to the Bahamas, hanging out with her husband and fluffy golden retriever, or studying! Lacey earned a B.A. in journalism from Baylor University. Sic 'em!


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