As many of you know, I am a professional educator. I specifically teach English Language Arts in secondary education.
This August my workplace is initiating an endeavor known as One To One. The idea is that every student in our school will have a personal laptop. As a result, we were recently given access to an educational software program called Edmentum. We are encouraged to utilize it as much as we see fit in the coming school year.
However, this all came to pass at the end of last school year, so therefore we didn’t have much time to play with it. We had a brief, though incredibly informational, overview of the product with the understanding more training and support would arrive with the new school year.
I’ve been waiting for years to go One To One and want to incorporate the laptops in my classroom immediately, so I started playing around with Edmentum yesterday. I’d like to share my first experience with fellow educators (and anyone else who wants to read this).
First of all, I find the Plato Courseware, which is the specific educational software we’re using within Edmentum, extremely user-friendly and intuitive. I’ve been using blogging software for over ten years, and Plato Courseware operates much the same. It’s very intuitive and easy to navigate if you have a basic understanding of dragging and dropping. There are hundreds of pre-installed curricula from which to choose, and you can adapt it as much as you like.
And while Plato Courseware has several units available that I already teach, there are some materials not available. That’s where the fun started, and yes, I’m being serious.
I chose to employ the Custom Course Builder option and make my own unit centered around the graphic novel American Born Chinese. It took some playing around, but I quickly discovered how to add Word documents and Microsoft power points from my own hard drive. I also figured out how to add links from other websites.
Unfortunately, I hit a bit of a snag. I wanted to view the actual unit I worked on designing. I needed to see it as a student would. As it stood, I could only view it as a list of items. It seemed the only way to actually open the documents and sites involved publishing the unit. Edmentum had a help box appear that said once you publish, you can’t edit the original unit. This made me nervous, so I called them for help.
The customer service person was extremely courteous. He didn’t exactly know if I could view my items without publishing the customized course, so he asked someone for advice. They assured me I could go ahead and remove the unit if I didn’t like the way things looked. This bolstered my confidence because, though I wasn’t done with the unit, I wanted to see what I had thus far.
I published it, everything looked the way I hoped it would, but then I couldn’t figure out how to remove the unit.
I called them back and got someone else, and they were equally pleasant. I explained the situation to this person, and she said that while I couldn’t remove the unit, I could archive it. There were a few glitches in trying to do this, probably because it’s the middle of summer and I don’t have an active profile just yet, so she archived the unit for me. I was smart enough to copy everything I’d done previously, so I simply redesigned the custom course for American Born Chinese, which took all of five minutes.
I won’t pretend to completely understand Plato Courseware, nor should I expect to after only one day of playing with it. I realize, like with blogging software, it’s going to take trial and error. Fortunately, I think this sort of thing is fun, but only with software that is user-friendly and well-designed. So far, Plato Courseware is both user-friendly and well-designed and functions similarly to other software I’ve used.
Best of all? The customer service proved a nice experience that did not belittle me and remained patient and helpful the entire time. I called twice in the span of twenty minutes and got right through to someone on both occasions.
My first time using Edmentum proved positive. Between the software and the customer service, I have virtually no complaints. My only issue is that I seemingly had to publish my course to view it as a student would, but there’s probably some trick I haven’t learned yet to get around that problem.
In my opinion, Edmentum is exactly what I wanted before I even knew I wanted it. I believe it will help make One to One far more useful for students and teachers alike. And because it’s so user-friendly, I’ll still have time to focus on the most important aspect of education – building positive relationships with my students. I’ll keep you updated throughout the year as I work more with Edmentum.