Having clear goals in place from the beginning can help in
choosing the right program to help meet those goals. Be sure to plan time for
goal setting and monitoring throughout the year, and your program will be on
track to success.
Focus on the primary intended outcome of an online learning
program. What must be accomplished for this implementation to be deemed
successful? Your S.M.A.R.T. goal does not need to encompass all possible uses.
There are likely to be other fringe benefits from using online learning tools,
but keep your program anchored with a specific goal.
Online tools can provide a wealth of data to track student
achievement, progress, and engagement, in addition to data you may already have
from other sources. Select measures that can be tracked over time. Be aware of
the timing of data. Some metrics are only calculated on a limited schedule
(e.g. annually, quarterly). If these measures are to be used with this goal,
you may also need to identify data sources that can provide interim benchmarks.
Ensure buy-in from the team that will be working toward the
goal. This may be a departure from the “A” in other S.M.A.R.T. models, but it
is particularly important when many students and teachers will use a resource.
Educators are likely to have a variety of plans for how they hope to use online
learning in the classroom, and creativity should be encouraged. However, it’s
having a clear, shared goal to work towards that is important. Be sure that the
perspectives of a variety of stakeholders are present when setting goals for
and selecting any online learning tool.
While a goal should always be challenging, an unrealistic
goal can undermine a successful implementation. Set a goal that aligns with the
potential of the unique inputs in your setting. An online learning program may
tout fantastic results from other implementations, but these should not
necessarily serves as benchmarks for your situation. What is realistic for your
educators, for your students, for your environment? The right goal will
realistically challenge your circumstances.
Set a definitive date when the goal will be accomplished. Keep in mind that there is a learning curve for both educators and students when implementing a new online learning tool. Scheduled checkpoints can serves as opportunities to review progress towards a goal and make adjustments if necessary. Choose specific dates, add them to a calendar and remain steadfast in reviewing progress.
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