There's a new mini series hitting your local public television station on September 25th about America's "overworked achievement culture;" schools across the country banning homework; and there's protest from parents nationwide about the amount of time their kids are spending on homework (and how much their backpacks weigh). So it's impossible to ignore that the U.S. education system is and has been taking some serious heat in the past years from the government, parents, and students alike.
And as schools take an all-or-nothing approach to the homework debate, we think that there has to be a middle ground — where the question isn't about the quantity of homework, but rather the quality of learning.
Enter the Learning Management System (LMS).
While technology can get a bad reputation for steering students away from their studies — whether it's video games or social media — it can also be the one thing that saves it, and here's why.
Transparency With Parents
Between 1996 and 2006, the number of dual income families increased by 31% in the U.S., and in nearly 60% of U.S. families today, you'll find both parents employed. Since the new norm is both parents working, you can bet that their schedules get a little hectic — especially if their children's sports schedules are thrown into the mix. An LMS makes it easy for them to keep track of what's happening at school.
With an LMS, parents have access to academic and athletic calendars, homework assignments, and grades when it's most convenient for them (and on any device, thanks to responsive design). That way, they can check up on what their child has for homework that night (or week) and help them organize their time to avoid an overload. Digital gradebooks and report cards also make it easy for parents to track their child's progress in a class.
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Collaboration Among Teachers
Open up any student's backpack and you'll find practice problems for math, 25 pages of reading for literature, current event research for history, and some thought-provoking open answer questions for science — all for homework and all due the next day. So needless to say, there isn't just one teacher filling up a student's afternoon. While on some nights students are bound to have more homework than others (like during mid-terms, per se), some parents complain their child has 6 hours of homework every night, leaving no time for family or fun.
If parents at your school are arguing that their kids are on double duty for schoolwork, it may be time for some transparency among teachers, too. With an LMS workload calendar and planner, teachers have the ability to view the assignments their students have in other classes.
So if it looks like there's already a lot on their students' plates that week, they may hold off on an assignment to ensure that a student is truly learning the material in each class, rather than rushing through it just to finish.
Simplicity and Organization For Students
Homework has always been thought of as not only for a way for students to practice what they've learned in class, but to develop time management skills to prepare them for higher education and beyond.
The tools an LMS provides, such as mobile access, calendars, DropBox, and online resources, establishes a learning environment that makes it easy to build upon what they've already learned in class, organize assignments for every class, and keep an eye on grades. And since this is a generation of digital natives, using a mobile device to check to see what they have or homework or to submit an assignment comes naturally — making them feel more motivated to engage out of the classroom.
More Efficient Learning and Teaching
We're not trying to cut corners when it comes to learning. Rather, an LMS has the power to simplify classroom tasks. Online gradebooks, report cards, attendance, and quizzes give teachers more time to focus on what's important in class, meaning students won't need to spend as much time on homework outside of class.
Beyond the classroom, online resources, discussion boards and blogs bring learning to life in a safe and controlled environment that fosters collaboration among students and teachers.
Private social networking and messaging also gives students and parents direct access to teachers to ask questions or get help, meaning they'll spend less time struggling and more time solving.
Does your school use an LMS? We want to know how it's helped your community beat the homework blues. Share your story with us to be featured in an upcoming blog.