Integrating LMS and Digital Content: Moving Beyond Digitized Curriculum

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As the print-to-digital transition of instructional materials gains speed, schools need an organizing platform for their digital resources. The Learning Management System (LMS) serves that purpose and is gaining attention as a result.

LMS’s allow for teacher-student interaction and may include tools to manage assessment, deliver instructional resources, report results, suggest instructional strategies, facilitate collaboration, and communicate with parents. The degree to which an LMS manages resources, assesses student knowledge, prescribes instructional strategies based on assessed progress, and provides reports on student learning varies considerably depending on the system.*

Headed to a New Direction

The shift away from textbooks and growing use of online content has pushed K-12 schools and districts to develop strategies to support teachers in selecting, aggregating, and delivering relevant content to students. However, LMS’s do not yet have the capabilities to synthesize content in a meaningful, searchable way.

The existing wealth and anticipated growth of free digital content and open educational resources (OER) propose a new challenge for the LMS landscape. LMS’s must be able to integrate a wide variety of digital content from various publishers and authors. While portability standards, like Common Cartridge, enable an LMS to import course content, few contain the features or functions of personalized search for content.

LMS shortcomings arise from the larger shift in the way students learn and access information in today’s classroom. LMS vendors need to strengthen blended learning models by providing interoperable access to content as schools move past merely digitizing text resources.

To support blended learning, a future LMS should be equipped with the following capabilities:

  • Link content to formative assessment results to enable educators and students to receive personalized attention
  • Integrate existing course information with digital resources to provide all learners flexibility in using different resources
  • Bring content together into a unified, simplified search–even if the resources live outside of the LMS
  • Remain standard-aligned to district curriculum

What changes would you like to see to strengthen the effectiveness of your LMS?

*EdNet State of the K12 Market 2014 Report

Expanding the Use of Lexile Text Measures in our Digital Learning Content Collection

Lexile-Logo Lexile® Framework for Reading, developed by MetaMetrics®

We are pleased to to announce that the number of Lexile measures offered for titles in our digital content collection has increased dramatically. Now, over 150,000 resources within Knovation’s digital content collection will feature Lexile measures, making it even easier for teachers to effectively personalize instruction.

“With the expanded use of Lexile measures, Knovation can now provide teachers with the information they need to better personalize their daily instruction and tailor digital content to the unique reading skills and level of every student”, said Alan Whisman, M.Ed., Director of Content and Curriculum Services for Knovation.

The Lexile Framework is a scientific approach for measuring reading ability and the text complexity of reading materials. Lexile measures are assigned using a linguistic algorithm and help teachers, librarians and parents find books, articles and other resources that challenge the individual’s reading ability while still maintaining interest and supporting learning.

Learn more.



What Have We Done for You Lately? – Spring and Summer’15

Trusted, relevant resources continuously added to the Knovation’ s collection

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Knovation’s collection of digital resources is continuously updated and maintained to deliver the best teacher-selected, standards-aligned learning content! This issue of What Have We Done for You Lately? provides a sample of the great resources added to our collection over the spring and summer.

We do the work, so you don’t have to!

Before being added to our collection, each of the new resources listed was evaluated by our curriculum experts for relevancy, standards alignment and safety, so you can trust it is ready to be incorporated into teaching and learning via netTrekker or icurio.

Happy teaching 🙂

Knovation Newsletter – October 2015

Not All Problems Should Be Avoided In The Classroom: Incorporating Problem Based Learning (PBL)

Problem Based Learning (PBL) is an exciting instructional strategy to activate student engagement and student-driven inquiry. To model this strategy, simply provide your students with a real-world problem or challenge and step back. By not providing the solution, the student’s learning becomes empowered within the constructivism classroom model. After incorporating the PBL model, expect measureable outcomes such as:

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  • Examine and test prior knowledge
  • Discover and create objectives
  • Develop collaboration skills
  • Improved communications skills
  • State and defend positions with evidence and sound argument
  • Become more flexible in processing information and meeting objectives
  • Developed or refine research and technology skills


Knovation’s educator-vetted digital resources, accessible through netTrekker or icurio, can ease the stress of creating a relevant PBL lesson. Nestled within our 360,000 item library, a teacher can easily find digital resources on how to implement PBL, PBL lesson rubrics, and student-led research materials.

  • To start the research on Problem Based learning, we suggest using the instructional guide developed by the National Academy Foundation and Pearson.
  • To review how a school-wide approach PBL setting can act as a catalyst for deeper learning, we suggest this case-study that focuses on the Philadelphia Approach School-Wide Implementation of Project-Based Learning.
  • Creating the first PBL assignment is very rewarding. We suggest you using this checklist to make sure the lesson include all of the necessary components.
  • Assessment is very important factor in a PBL setting. Implement or revise these PBL rubrics to guide mastery.

Knovation Newsletter: Back to School – Using OER to Reach All Students


Returning to a new school year is an exciting time for teachers. The new academic year is a fresh start for many educators and this includes both the joy of being back in the classroom and the new challenges to master. One of the challenges is finding the way through a new curriculum to support instruction and, in many cases, a digital learning focus in technology-rich classrooms. This can be an overwhelming task, but with access to the Knovation collection of educator-curated digital resources—via netTrekker or icurio—this challenge becomes a creative adventure.

Knovation’s Open Education Resources (OER) collection provide teachers with many unique learning opportunities that foster differentiation with a variety of resources on a particular topic, giving students choices and appealing to a wide range of learning styles.

One of these opportunities is the easy access to primary and secondary sources, which gives students a better understanding of historical perspectives and promotes literacy within the social studies subject area.

“My students could easily research primary and secondary sources to develop their claim and find supporting evidence when writing an argumentative paper on the justification of child labor. They found excellent resources such as Child Labor in America: 1908 – 1912: Investigative Photos of Lewis Hine , The Victorian Web: Child Labor, and International Labor Office: Child Labor (Video). I know that the OER collection from Knovation will provide quality, credible, and relevant resources every time! This way, my students will spend less time searching for good resources and will spend more time analyzing the information to develop arguments for their paper. “

8th Grade Social studies teacher


Major Advantages and Challenges of the OER Movement

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Digital content has never been so accessible. The burgeoning Open Educational Resources (OER) movement reflects wider trends in the K-12 space–rapid shifts to blended learning and personalized instruction.

As we approach another school year, some teachers will navigate the world of OER for the first time while others who have some experience, will begin seriously integrating it as an integral part of their daily instruction.. And for good reason: The benefits of OER are almost as endless as the number of resources themselves. Yet, implementing OER isn’t without challenges. For the uninitiated, we thought it would be beneficial to offer a refresher on the key advantages and challenges of OER.


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  • Access – In many ways, OER functions as an equalizer in the classroom, effectively removing barriers to access instructional material. Regardless of subject or grade level, teachers with limited budgets now have unprecedented access to current, engaging resources. And in the end, all teachers benefit from an influx of high-quality instructional resources they can access and share with others.
  • Cost – Textbooks are expensive. With OER, schools can now access instructional resources without the cost of print books. Through Creative Commons and other forms of alternative licensing, OER are meant to be freely shared, mixed, and rated – akin to the traditional modes of teacher-to-teacher collaboration that ultimately strengthen instruction.
  • Timeliness – Textbooks have figurative expiration dates. With frequently changing needs and accuracy of information, those expiration dates can come without warning and at any time. Since OER are delivered digitally, instructional materials can be easily updated and altered to remain accurate and relevant.
  • Engagement – With so many resources at their disposal, it’s never been easier for teachers to personalize instruction. In addition, OER can meet all modalities of student learning by offering content in different formats.
  • Flexibility – OER are as diverse as they are engaging, which means they can be leveraged to compile an entire unit or simply fill in curricular gaps along the way. Educators can use them to start from scratch or supplement existing classroom materials. With the right resources and creative inclinations, OER present truly endless possibilities.


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  • Availability – There is a wealth of resources already developed and ready to use, but OER currently skew heavily toward middle and high school classrooms. As OER expand, it’s important that resources are available to teachers at all grade levels.
  • Quality – As with anything on the internet, it’s essential to assess the validity of different OER. Not all materials are responsibly vetted and aligned to standards. Access to resources is important, but access to the right resources is far more important.
  • Time – Without a vetted, curated library of OER, it can take hours to research and locate high-quality materials for just a single lesson plan. Add a little extra time to align each resource to standards… Access to an organized, tagged collection of OER can save a lot of time – and even more headaches.
  • Organization – To save teachers time and ensure effective instruction, it’s imperative that resources are able to be organized in a way that clearly denotes which skills, subjects and standards they cover. It’s equally important to have the resources organized in a way that matches each district’s curriculum maps and pacing guides.
  • Maintenance – Standards are always changing, which means teaching materials have no choice but to keep up. Even if you identify and use OER one year, they may not be alive, current or reliable the next. It takes time and dedication to keep all OER relevant and up to date.

Acknowledging the challenges that are inherent to OER is the first step to leveraging a wealth of resources that can truly make a difference in teaching and learning!

If you’re interested in learning how our solutions can help address the challenges above, visit here. And if you have any challenges or successes to add to the OER conversation, let us know in the comments below!

Going 1:1, and Beyond

icurio Customer in Mississippi Uses Blended Learning to Create Personalized Learning for Every Student

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We had the pleasure to facilitate an interview with the Superintendent of Corinth School District in Mississippi, Lee Chlidress, by Scholastic Administrator.

Lee shared the steps adopted by Corinth to launch their “eMerge: Learning for the Future” initiative, to coincide with rolling out a 1:1 initiative. Personalized, blended learning is at the heart of eMerge, though the strategic plan also involves a strong literacy component, early learning collaboration, and additional curriculum enhancements. The district’s ultimate goal is to create an engaging learning system that empowers students to both exceed academic standards in the short term and thrive in a global society in the long term.

eMerge was the byproduct of a yearlong process of planning and discussion among administrators, teachers, students, and parents, and the comprehensive plan was unveiled in January of 2015.

With the groundwork in place, Corinth focused on finding the best digital content and instructional tools for their students, prioritizing content that aligns with state and Common Core standards, offers personalized, real-time feedback through data, and is vetted by educators. After reviewing numerous digital content solutions, the district selected icurio because it packages all of Corinth’s priorities into a single, easy-to-use platform and crafts meaningful curricula. The high level of professional learning services provided by Knovation to guide teachers through the implementation of blended learning was also an important factor in the decision.

We are thrilled to partner with Corinth in the implementation of its successful 1:1 program, ensuring every student in the district will have his/her learning needs met!

Read the full Scholastic Administrator article.

Knovation and NWEA: Closing the Assessment-Instruction Loop


Knovation is thrilled to announce our partnership with the Northwest Evaluation Association™ (NWEA™), a global not-for-profit educational services organization known for its flagship interim assessment, Measures of Academic Progress® (MAP®).

For years, users have requested NWEA for the ability to get more frequent information on student progress and to access a more granular picture of the skills that need support in order to meet the expectations of rigorous college- and career-readiness standards.

NWEA has responded to this request by creating Skills Navigator — an online classroom assessment system that quickly and accurately measures student skills in math, reading, and English language usage. Skills Navigator is designed to give a “power boost” to teaching, helping teachers:

  • Identify the skills students are ready to learn
  • Collect evidence of skill learning
  • Monitor student progress toward mastery

And, as if access to all this information wasn’t enough, Skills Navigator helps teachers answer the “what now?” question that usually comes up after teachers identify skills that need more work for certain students. That’s where Knovation comes in, closing the assessment-instruction loop.

Skills Navigator connects students with targeted, rigorous online learning opportunities powered by Knovation’s dynamic collection of over 360,000 high-quality, standards-aligned Open Educational Resources (OER), curated using a 127-point certification process. The Knovation-Skills Navigator integration enables teachers to immediately and seamlessly assign differentiated learning resources to help every student grow and progress.

We are honored to be NWEA’s partner in a solution that has the potential to help teachers close achievement gaps, use data to guide instruction, and support kids with diverse needs.

Read NWEA’s blog post on Skills Navigator and the partnership with Knovation.


Technology-enabled Personalized Learning Summit Report


Personalized learning is a comprehensive educational approach that puts students at the center and engages students when, where, and how to best meet their unique needs and interests. Summit participants recognize the central human element of teaching and learning and view technology as a teaching force multiplier and a learning accelerator that can enable more efficient and effective use of learning time.

Last year, over 100 education leaders attended the Technology-Enabled Personalized Learning (TEPL) Summit hosted by the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University in collaboration with Digital Promise, the Software & Information Industry Association (SIIA), and the Michigan Association of Intermediate School Administrators (MAISA). This convening was unique in that the leaders included similar representation from industry, associations and nonprofits, and university and K-12 educators. Together, they compared experiences, discussed common challenges and barriers, explored case studies, and identified potential solutions and models that all must be addressed collectively to scale the implementation of personalized learning through technology.

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Steve Nordmark – Knovation CAO

Their suggestions are now available in a final report titled Technology-Enabled Personalized Learning Summit: Findings and Recommendations to Accelerate Implementation (PDF), co-authored by Knovation’s Chief Academic Officer, Steve Nordmark.

It is an honor to have Knovation involved in such an impressive piece of work.

Read full press release. 

April Market Showers Bring UDL Flowers

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One of the panel presentations and discussions at the May 2015 Software & Information Industry Association’s (SIIA) Education Industry Summit, focused on Universal Design for Learning (UDL). During the panel, some recent, noteworthy mentions of UDL in the marketplace were shared. Like UDL “market showers” released in April 2015, they caused May to become the perfect time to share the beauty of their blooms, brightening the opportunities for all learners.

The First Shower

An article by Kim Greene titled “The Growing Case for UDL”, featured in the Spring 2015 edition of Scholastic Administrator. What I particularly liked about this article was how it mentioned the benefits of UDL on addressing the needs of all learners within the K-12 learning community, not just special education. It prominently featured an implementation at Susan B. Anthony Middle School in Revere, MA–Adam Deleidi, the Assistant Principal at the school said, “There’s a misconception that this is a technology or special education initiative. It’s not either.” In fact, the article shares that in the past two years since starting their UDL implementation in the 2012-13 school year, “special education and discipline referrals are down by 50 percent” and “out-of-school suspensions have plummeted by 70 percent….”

The implementation at Deleidi’s school is a perfect example of how relying on UDL as a foundation for your approach to learning results benefits throughout the school for all learners.

The Second Shower

An article reviewing the benefits of UDL in the higher education setting titled “7 Things You Should Know About Universal Design for Learning”, posted on Educause. Similar to the Scholastic Administrator article, it emphasized the ROI that schools realize through UDL implementation. In particular, the article mentioned how the “University of North Carolina System … incorporated UDL into its College STAR initiative.” More specifically, as part of its STAR initiative, at “East Carolina University, … a STAR program for students with identified learning disabilities resulted in a 90% retention rate, higher than the retention of the university as a whole.”

Thus, through high-quality design implementation, UDL helped East Carolina University realize a meaningful ROI by retaining more students.

The Third Shower

A whitepaper titled, “Ed Tech Developer’s Guide: A primer for software developers, startups, and entrepreneurs” published by the United States Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology. Within the section titled, “Opportunity 8: Making Learning Accessible to All Students,” UDL is prominently featured because the UDL “guidelines encourage instructional practices and educational content that embrace the widest possible diversity of learners.” Borrowing from the broader context of Universal Design (“designing products and spaces so that they can be used by the widest range of people possible”), what the Ed Tech Developer’s Guide argues is that when you leverage UDL, “not only do you facilitate school district compliance with civil rights laws, but your apps will become much more beneficial to your users as well, even those who may not have specific learning disabilities.”

So, an intentional focus on UDL during product design and implementation benefits all learners.

The Fourth Shower

A section of the draft legislation on the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) titled “PART G—INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY EXPANDS CHILDREN’S HORIZONS (I-TECH)” mentioned UDL. The proposed legislation recognizes the significant benefits of the UDL guidelines, calling for funding and coordination of implementation support for programs consistent with the UDL principles. It specifically calls for State Education Agencies to be able to use funds to provide “technical assistance to local educational agencies to … use technology, consistent with the principles of universal design for learning, to support the learning needs of all students….”

Again, the key aspect to this proposed legislation is that it recognizes the power in the UDL framework to “expand the horizons” of all learners.