The University of Kansas’ Accessible Teaching, Learning, and Assessment Systems (ATLAS) is part of the Achievement and Assessment Institute based in Lawrence, Kansas. ATLAS partners with state departments of education to provide large-scale assessments in English Language Arts, mathematics, science, and social studies to evaluate student learning and meet federal and state requirements for education. ATLAS also supports teachers and administrators in the design and implementation of aligned, high-quality instruction for all students.
ATLAS reached out to Dashe because they needed to systematically review the status of the field with regard to online learning, compare their current approaches to educator virtual learning, and respond to an increased need for virtual training and professional development. As a center within the University of Kansas, ATLAS has a unique set of needs—they are both a research organization and a large-scale assessment center. This means they have many clients with diverse needs to whom they must be responsive. Given this, ATLAS was looking for a partner who knew the industry well and had worked with other universities and K-12 educational programs. Dashe’s mission and focus on the end-user experience were a great match for ATLAS, and our previous experience with Michigan State University, The University of Minnesota, and numerous special education projects made us a great fit.
When approaching this project, Dashe found opportunities to streamline ATLAS’ overall training process, as opposed to piece by piece enhancements. Using our design expertise and previous experience working with higher education institutions, we fashioned key exemplars for the University of Kansas to use as blueprints for new curriculum components. This holistic approach saved precious time and money and provided ATLAS the research-based guidelines they needed for future decisions about where resources would be allocated.
How It Helped
ATLAS has already begun to implement some of the recommendations from Dashe to provide more focused and engaging online learning experiences for teachers. This was particularly helpful during the COVID-19 pandemic when most learning shifted from face-to-face to virtual.
Future-focused work continues at ATLAS, and feedback within the organization has been overwhelmingly positive, especially related to the process of working with Dashe. Sarah Koebley, ATLAS’s Associate Director of Professional Learning, said “Dashe is dependable and flexible. They are able to work with our needs every step of the way, both internally and externally, and consistently exceed our expectations.” ATLAS’s online learning approach has been analyzed and situated as a space of ongoing learning, professional growth, and inspiration. Dashe’s delivery of versatile training assets suited to learner needs, operations capacity, and budget restrictions showcases a learning solution built to client needs.