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Impact Story: Teaching Matters Brings Its Vision For Learning To Life

By February 3, 2021May 16th, 2022No Comments

For over 25 years, Teaching Matters has worked to close the opportunity gap of America’s education system for underserved and historically marginalized children. A shocking 19% of the children Teaching Matters serves are homeless or reside in temporary housing. 88% qualify for Free-Reduced Lunch. Additionally, 18% are English Language Learners and 23% receive special education. The young people they serve are 59% Latino, 31% black, and 5% Asian.

To fulfill its mission, the New York-based non-profit has dedicated its considerable experience and expertise to increasing teacher effectiveness – a critical factor in student outcomes. Across states and districts, schools and classrooms, Teaching Matters helps teachers and school leaders develop the skills they need to teach well, lead their peers, and drive school-wide improvement.

Delivering this kind of impact for our nation’s educators requires a clear and distinct vision for learning. One of the challenges faced by organizations like Teaching Matters, however, is that while their LMS can do a million things, it can’t do the handful of things that make their vision for learning unique. This is where Remote Learner is uniquely positioned to help. By leveraging both the flexibility of our open-source LMS platform and our talented team of designers and developers, Teaching Matters has realized a series of custom functionalities that bring their vision for learning to life. Here are three examples of custom functionalities in our ongoing collaboration with Teaching Matters.

Webinar Block

The Challenge

Teaching Matters utilizes a Totara™ Learn solution to deliver its courses. While Totara™ Learn offers a robust course catalog function, Teaching Matters wanted to utilize the same interface as a webinar management area where users can register for sessions or view archived sessions.

The Solution

Remote Learner built a set of block interfaces that can be configured to show a pre-filtered set of courses which the learner can then further refine. Then we further refined that block to leverage custom date fields in courses that were used to represent webinars such that the display changes based on whether the webinar is upcoming or has already passed.

Custom Filter

The Challenge

Teaching Matters trains educators with a host of different requirements and needs, so they needed to be able to differentiate the learning experience based on a defined set of conditions.

The Solution

Remote Learner created a custom filter that allows instructors to present information based on entries, such as a name, in a user profile. This filter can be added to any interface in the LMS. This same tool allows instructors to provide differentiated instructions to an assignment activity based on the user’s level or any accommodations needed. Beyond an individual user, the filter can be applied to groups as well. For example, Group A can receive one link and direction set while Group B receives another.

Course Format

The Challenge

Teaching Matters enlisted Remote Learner’s support in developing a new course design. During the initial design of the course, the need for learners to have direct access to each activity from any page in the course arose. The desired format was similar to that of the popular OneTopic course format, but it needed to display activities rather than topics.

The Solution

Remote Learner designed a custom block that can be added to a course page and appear throughout the course no matter what activity is being viewed. This block displays the names and links to a set of specified activities in the course. This worked so well that we began collaborating on ways the block could be extended: we made the menu items dynamically color-coded to signify completion status and, with a little extra configuration, this block can seamlessly blend into the course page, making it appear as if the menu is simply a native part of the LMS.

Over the last three years alone, Teaching Matters has supported over 3,800 teachers from over 400 schools representing over 176,000 students served. When put in that perspective, the impact that Teaching Matters is having on our country’s education system comes into focus. Remote Learner applauds the success and ongoing commitment of Teaching Matters, and is proud to play a part in maximizing their impact.

The examples cited are just some of our ongoing custom development projects with Teaching Matters and each is the result of our collaborative partnership and mutual dedication to using technology to improve lives through learning. So, the next time you think to yourself “I really wish my LMS could do…<fill in the blank>”, know that it’s okay to think big, and that we’re ready to talk to you about your ideas.

Existing clients are encouraged to reach out to your Remote Learner account manager, and if you aren’t a Remote Learner client, please reach out to us at