Gary Gill and McKay Walker founded ‘Standards Planner’ to help teachers transition their teaching material to digital resources, as well as providing district administrators reporting tools and features to help aid the teaching process. Standards Planner focuses on simplicity of design to help non-tech savvy teachers learn the system quickly, and advanced customization of features and settings on both individual and district accounts. Teacher collaboration, lesson plan and unit building, district vetting, pacing charts, teacher schedule and calendaring, all state and national standards, Google drive/calendar integration and resource app add-ons are some of the features included in the software.
“The hardware side of our company (MicroK12) has been in the education industry for over 30 years selling projectors, computer, laptops, smart boards, and other tech devices to school districts in the Pacific NW. Throughout these years we have had face to face relationships with many influential leaders in the industry and have heard the pains of every technology and curriculum director” Walker says.
Standards Planner is a separate division of developers and sales staff dedicated to teacher and district curriculum improvement. Their Senior Developer Mike Rew, previously employed as Technical lead at Pearson Digital Learning and Technical lead for all identity management at Apollo Group, Inc got on board to help them out.
Standards Planner has partnerships with education professions around the nation, and holds an annual education conference in Washington State where they invite industry leaders to present keynotes and breakout sessions. It was here that they noticed administrators and teachers showing interest in new learning management systems and the movement from printed to digital textbooks. This proved to be a key motive in kick starting the idea.
With the emerging trend of open education resources (OER) and the pain of implementing new national standards such as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), MIcroK12 saw an opportunity to build a web application to manage both and help aid teachers and school administrators in implementation and organization.
“The largest challenge we faced was getting a system up and running that would perform across browsers and operating systems. We went from outsourcing and consultant work, to hiring a staff of developers to rebuild the system and focus on speed performance and data security” He says.
Free resources come from a variety of locations, and teachers either bundle links together in a google doc, or download individual videos and worksheets which takes a lot of time. Standards Planner allows teachers to search through CK12, Khan Academy, and resources their districts has uploaded (aligned to national and state standards) and drags and drop them onto the teaching calendar or lesson plans.
Districts are struggling with implementing new national standards such as the common core standards, and are facing new teacher/principal evaluation systems to prove student improvement. Our web application allows districts to align resources to standards and plot them on pacing charts which are delivered to teacher calendars. These guidelines help teachers learn the standards in addition to receiving resources to use in preparing their students for upcoming benchmarks.
Their competitor for now is Planbookedu.com, which offers limited features, a calendar system and basic lesson plan creation. They do have national and state standards, but no library of resources aligned.
Chalk.com / Planboardapp.com are also competitors which offer a variety of features, does not have a library of resources, but allows teacher account linking for districts.
“We are in a niche market between smaller learning content management systems (LCMS) such as the competitors above, and the larger learning management systems (LMS) such as Blackboard and Canvas. We offer advanced features included in LMS, but at an affordable rate compared to other LCMS.” Walker explains.
Standards Planner will be making major enhancements in 2015. They are currently working with Canon to bring real-time document scanning directly into the software. They are also working with OER content companies such as EngageNY, Curriki, CK12, Khan Academy, and others to bring a full library of standard aligned free resources to aid in teacher improvement. Peer collaboration will be greatly enhanced over the coming year to allow real-time communication between peers and administrators, in addition to teacher/parent tools.
Standards Planner has currently set focus in the United States and Canada and will be expanding internationally with added standards and curriculum guidelines.
Walker said “Standards Planner will remain a free product through the end of the 2014-15 school year with all features enabled to increase exposure and growth for the product. It has been beta tested and used by several school districts leading up to this point. And in summer of 2015 we will offer a premium version with advanced features and more storage to accommodate individual teacher accounts as well as district accounts. Single teacher accounts will be priced differently than building/district multiple user accounts which will be quoted based on a variety of factors”.
For more, visit: http://www.standardsplanner.com/