What’s in a Learning Management System?

To me, learning about how to develop an online/blended course is an essential skill for educators these days.  However, as an Elementary specialist, how does this fit?    How do we merge the need to present authentic technology learning tasks to our students, while overcoming and bypassing the road blocks that exist?

When signing up for this course, I knew it was out of my comfort zone.  I mean not MY comfort zone – 70% of my Master’s classes have been done in an online or blended format. Then I read the following:

This suggests that fully online courses are more suitable for more experienced students with a strong motivation to take such courses because of the impact they have on their quality of life. In general, online students need more self-discipline in studying and a greater motivation to study to succeed. Tony Bates chapter (Teaching in a Digital Age)

This had me thinking: As an adult, the online format is easier for me to balance my life,  and it also works for me because I’m a motivated learner – does the same hold true for our ‘youngest’ learners?

Additionally, I have to say, taking an online course and creating an online course are NOT the same thing.  So this task, in my K-8 realm is goes beyond of my current skill set and my personal comfort zone (it’s all new to me)!

planning-online-course
Via Glulla Forsythe on Flickr (CC by-NC-SA 2.0)

Thankfully, this is where the wonderful and capable Nicole Reeve comes in!  She has got ideas, and is keeping me focused (I’ve been known to ‘see a squirrel or two’ when it comes to planning – in my defense I work with upwards of 400 kids and staff members in a day… I digress).

Nicole and I have decided to work together on this project and we are going to try focusing our module ‘where we are’.  That led us to Grade 2 Science: Liquids and Solids .  We are currently considering this a blended learning experience.  I am happier about this project now that we have an idea guiding us.

Liquids and solids was an ideal place to start in my mind because we are able to execute experiments within this unit.  In my opinion, this can allow for a balance of online/technology experiences as well as hands on experiences that our students can share using some (potentially) new technology skills.  Working to essentially ‘get our feet wet’ through blended learning in Grade 2.

Additionally, Nicole and I have begun researching Learning Management Systems.  There are many things to consider when teaching online such as: does it offer public and private settings?  What are the costs associated with the LMS and is it feasible to purchase one?  How will the assessment occur within the LMS?  Additionally in choosing an LMS we need to consider if it is a platform a grade 2 student can access independently.  After searching some LMS programs that geared toward K-12 learning, we have a few names, but haven’t chosen a ‘winner’.  What are some user friendly Learning Management systems you have tried?

That’s it for my tangible progress this week, now Nicole and I have got platforms to explore, and a lot of things to consider before we are able to move forward!

One more piece from the readings this week that  had me thinking this week, and I just wanted to finish up on this note as something that I’ve been considering alongside blended learning:

Personal learning is like shopping at a grocery store. You need to assemble the ingredients yourself and create your own meals. It’s harder, but it’s a lot cheaper, and you can have an endless variety of meals. Sure, you might not get the best meals possible, but you control the experience, and you control the outcome.

Ultimately, if people are to become effective learners, they need to be able to learn on their own. They need to be able to find the resources they need, assemble their own curriculum, and forge their own learning path. They will not be able to rely on education providers, because their needs are too many and too varied. Stephen Downes post

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25 thoughts on “What’s in a Learning Management System?

  1. Great post Amy. I’ve only ever taught in High School so I’m interested to see how it works in an elementary setting. I found the Learning Management Systems very interesting. This relates to my current predicament as I try to decide the best way to organize my ideas for my students. Good luck!

    1. Hi Kyle – thanks for having a read! I’m finding sifting through the LMS platforms to be an arduous task. I mean I realize there’s not a ‘perfect’ platform out there but even comparing all of them to determine which will best meet your (students) needs is daunting! Look forward to hearing which LMS you settle on.

  2. Hi Amy, I know you were asking about Edmodo on Twitter, or Google+ and I thought I’d give a comment about that. I have used it and still do use it although not as much. I mostly use it to post reminders of homework, update handouts for students who were absent and have in the past used it for students to submit work. I wasn’t a fan of students submitting work online because it took me a while to get to in terms of marking simply because it wasn’t sitting on my desk “staring” at me on a daily basis. It was almost as if it got lost in the mix of things. I enjoyed it for uploading links or videos that might work as additional help for students so they could access the video at any time.

    I used this mostly when I did my flip class in high school math the year prior to my last mat leave. I would upload the “homework videos” for my students to watch the night before class. The next day we would review the video and go over areas that I knew students would struggle with from the video and then students would have the rest of the class to work on an assignment with me present so they could ask questions. I actually loved the format, I think most students enjoyed it but it did have it’s issues. If students didn’t watch the video outside of school I made them watch it in school during class. If they did that they had limited time to work on the assignment with me in class. Most students only made this mistake once or twice and then they realized they were wasting their own time.

    The Edmodo platform is user friendly and reminds me a lot of Facebook in terms of the layout. Looking forward to seeing what you decide in terms of an LMS.

    1. Wow Ashley! Thank you so much for the valuable feedback. I appreciate the in depth review you have taken the time to provide – especially the point about avoiding marking because the information is not ‘staring back’ at you! That does make a lot of sense, and I can imagine that may be trickier in a high-school setting.

      For where we are at this point in the planning phase, I definitely think it would be an asset to have the ability to have students submit work (videos/audio clips/etc).

      This definitely gives us some things to consider before we finally make a decision.

      Thanks again!

  3. Great post Amy. I’ll be interested to see how you use blended learning in a grade 2 classroom as my experience is with high school students. I am wondering how you made that slide show of your tweets? What a great idea and use of your professional learning community. I didn’t even consider that. I forgot all about tweeting and everything technology after EC&I 831! Thanks for reminding me 🙂

    1. Thanks Jannae! I am still feeling unsure about how to best approach this with young students, but Nicole is such a wealth of knowledge I know she will provide some great support as we continue to work through this!

      Twitter also was a huge help already (I kind of feel star struck that Kathy Cassidy responded to my tweets and provided such great feedback!)

      As for the slide show, it was done using storify. WordPress didn’t like me trying to embed the story, so I tweeted the story, then went to the tweet and embedded it – it did a slide show all on its own (truth be told).

  4. Great Post Amy. I too look forward to seeing your project as I have always taught middle years. Your project has a lot of potential with possible activities and formative assessment tools. Good luck!

  5. I looked at Schoology. I will have to check out Emodo as well. We are going 7/8 and even at that level it’s in my thought about how they will successfully navigate in order to get to the content. Yours are really little, which, I’m sure like most things is the best place to start and I’m sure they will manage just fine given the opportunity. I’ll be following along to see how you decide to go with your LMS, and what suggestions you get for ideas!

  6. The LMS you will be using is definitely the number one step in the development in an online course, so I think you and Nicole are on the right track. It will be interesting to see a course developed for grade 2 – I think they fit the criteria for motivated learners. You incorporated the readings from this week very well into your blog post, and they reflected very well your progress thus far. Thanks for sharing your ideas! I am looking forward to seeing your project come to fruition!

    1. Thanks Liz- this week’s readings really had me thinking about this in a different way (like I went from being overwhelmed and unsure where to go, to feeling like it’s possible)!

  7. I really liked your comment about how motivated, experienced learners have a better experience with online learning. While thinking about how to develop modules for younger students (my group is doing a grade 3 course) it is tough to a) consider how well a blended/online format will complement their learning and b) choose an appropriate LMS. I’m looking forward to seeing how many of us figure this out together!

    1. I am really excited to hear that another group is tackling the primary world of learning. I do think you are right in that there are many things to consider, as with all course development but especially in the primary world when there are so many basic skills and piece of knowledge to be obtained. Looking forward to hearing out your project unfolds as well!

    2. Aimee – so glad to hear there is another group jumping into the younger grades! Which subject are you considering for your project? Excited to see what your group develops!

  8. Hi Amy,
    We had a short discussion around LMS in our group meeting this weekend. I have used Edmodo (3/4 years ago) and now exclusively Google Classroom. Both are good and have their ups and downs. I like that you are putting this much research into which LMS will work best for your structure. I appreciated the storify that you have put together, if for some reason our decision to use Google Classroom flops we will be looking to your storify/blog for some ideas!

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