When I wanted to feel really smart this week, I would tell people I had to decide which LMS I was going to use for my blended/online course prototype. When they said, “Wow! I don’t even know what language you’re speaking. That’s way over my head,” I nodded my head in acknowledgement of how smart I was indeed. Moments later, when they asked, “What exactly does that mean?”, my head hung in shame as the words to describe LMSs or even course prototypes evaded me.
Okay – so in reality this conversation only happened with my husband and I did feel smart for a moment, but he is clever enough to know: 1) I didn’t really know what I was talking about and 2) panic ensues within me when I am trying to learn something new and do a good job of it (so he made no comment).
This whole blended/online course creation dealio is very new to me. To be honest, the LMS portion of this assignment seems to be the biggest hurdle for me as I’m not sure what everything should look like or what I would like to do.
When I read Sarah’s blog this week, not only has she decided upon using Canvas as her platform, but she has her entire outline basically planned (insert inner panic here)!! For a moment, I felt very overwhelmed, but then I realized how helpful it was to see someone else’s thoughts flushed out on paper. As someone who appreciates visual examples, it was very helpful to me. You should check it out!
Logan mentioned in his blog that the LMS is the wrapping, not the present. So clever, Logan! It is not the be all and end all. It’s merely a tool, so perhaps I’m overthinking it. Katherine, Logan, and Sarah all chose platforms or LMSs that intermingle with their beliefs about teaching and needs as a teacher, which shifted my thinking. I need to think about my own philosophies of teaching and how I believe kids learn and factor that in to the “wrapping paper” that I choose to use for this course.
Audrey Waters discusses how some LMSs simply replicate the old school traditional classroom and states that
each course is a separate entity — one instructor and a roster — hermetically sealed in a walled off online space, much like a walled off classroom
This is the opposite construction of what I value as I teacher. I believe learning is richer when learners interact, share ideas and create together. It strikes me as odd when a more advanced system (technology) can enter the world and perpetuate old school realities. That seems like an oxymoron to me.
So, here is what I’m looking for in a platform:
- allows collaboration and interaction; can be student driven
- allows accountability
- is organized and has a layout that makes sense
- easy to use for both teacher/student
- allows various forms of content (videos, google docs if possible, apps)
I just started using Google Classroom in the fall and I really love it. I am still new to the whole idea, but I love so many things about it. In fact, Jayme Lee showed a poll indicating that Google Classroom was by far the favourite LMS out of those presented.
In Google Classroom, I like that:
- I can share documents for students to view, edit or make their own
- I can embed google forms or any of the GAFE to use
- students can collaborate in real time on documents
- students can hand in completed work to the classroom
- grading can be done and reported back to the student online
- I can look at a student’s progress whether or not it has been turned in (allows me to collaborate with them or look at where they are at in the process – or even mark what has been completed)
- I can share videos
- students can ask questions of me or each other
- I’m already using it so it’s familiar
What I’m not sure about:
- I don’t love the layout in that I can’t click on a module and go to a separate page. It’s a scrolling screen (unless I don’t know everything – entirely possible). I’m not sure I love this aspect. Can I create a layout that is easy to navigate for different modules?
- can I integrate various formative assessment apps?
Lindy’s school division does not use GAFE so we weren’t really considering using Google Classroom until accounts were set up for us by the lovely Alec and Katia. At this point, we are still considering using this.
The other platform we are considering is Canvas.
When we experimented with Canvas in class, I liked:
- the layout – it seems to be able to set up separate modules easily and seemed easy to navigate for the teacher. It separates the course into different sections and you navigate from a home page.
- can be used by multiple users
- allows google docs to be uploaded
- able to use multiple apps with it
- Logan discusses some of the advantages of Canvas in an in depth way in his blog so you can read further here about that here
- doesn’t seem as user friendly for students as google classroom
- can’t see what students are doing as easily; less accountability
- Lindy mentioned she got a ton of email from them upon signing up.
- It is new to me and I would have to learn a new program
Lindy and I will meet to discuss which one of these platforms best suits our needs and the needs of the students for whom this course will be designed. Prior to that, if any of you have any suggestions one way or the other, please let me know! Perhaps I’ve misjudged one of the platforms. I welcome your thoughts and input.