Anew course management system (CMS) for secondary schools — powered by Questia, the world’s largest online academic library — has become a key part of the ambitious academic and staff-training programs at St. Lucie West Centennial High School in Port St. Lucie (FL), according to Principal Caterina Trimm.
“We’ve had the [Beta] version of the Questia Classroom for almost a year,” says Trimm, “and have discovered an exciting range of applications as we’ve gone along, including the ability to design lesson plans, interact with online students who have 24/7 access to resource materials that can be viewed simultaneously by multiple users, and — this is probably the most surprising component — outstanding and fl exible staff-development tools.
“It’s the most exciting new product for high schools in many, many years,” she adds.
“St. Lucie West Centennial High School recently was reorganized into four small learning communities or ‘States’ within our one large school,” says Trimm. “Each community has a Governor (Assistant Principal), Lt. Governors (Dept. Heads), student legislators, business partners, parent volunteers and advisory councils. Our goal is to personalize each child’s educational experience, helping every student to reach individual academic and career goals. The smaller learning communities model combines rigorous academics, high technology career preparation skills, and democracy. We have totally restructured our learning environment and the interactive Questia Classroom program supports this mission.”
The Questia Classroom is the fi rst course management system (CMS) to be attached to a vast scholarly collection of fulltext copyrighted and public domain material. Currently offered at no charge to schools purchasing Questia’s online library, the Questia Classroom enables teachers to efficiently interact with students online and engage students in a 21st century learning environment. The service allows teachers to create courses, generate and maintain data for each section of a course, add or delete students to and from classes, attach reading resources to assignments, including full-text books and articles, and post assignments accompanied by reading materials from Questia’s library or elsewhere, in a safe, secure environment. Students using Classroom can access assignments, read assignments, read faculty comments attached to the assignment, or attach students’ own resources to the assignment.
The CMS is based on Questia, the world’s largest online academic library with a growing collection of more than 50,000 books and nearly one million journal, magazine, and newspaper articles focused in the English Language Arts and Social Studies disciplines. The online library provides 24/7 access to its collection of copyrighted and public domain books (other similar programs typically only offer books in the public domain, or only provide excerpts from copyrighted material) and journal, magazine and newspaper articles. Users can instantly search 20 million pages by keyword, phrase, topic, author, or title and, thanks to sophisticated and cross-platform Web browser technology, the system allows an unlimited number of students to access, read and take notes on the same title simultaneously.
The CMS component is a natural extension of the online library. “The modern classroom thrives on interaction and collaboration among students, teachers, and technology,” says Troy Williams, president and CEO of Questia. “The Questia Classroom not only provides anytime, anywhere access to an academically-vetted collection of research materials, it also delivers a forum that encourages student-teacher interaction and provides an invigorating learning experience.”
But it’s not just for student-teacher interaction, Trimm notes. “As an administrator, I have access to online staff-development materials — which are included in the cost of the service — that I place on my online ‘bookshelf’ so instructors can have 24/7 access to them,” she says. “Teachers will access the materials at their convenience and when we meet for discussion, we’re all on the same page.
“It’s an effective management tool that allows teachers to be creative while helping them stay organized in a busy setting. And, since the Internet is today’s preferred research method for students, the Questia Classroom keeps them excited about reading and studying while giving them a forum to be resourceful in a managed environment. I’m convinced that the Questia Classroom will improve our overall academic performance and better prepare our students for the real world.”
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