Ok, I confess, I am *slightly* side-stepping the blog prompt, but in fairness, the readings this week worked to have me question the direction we were running with this project!
The Learning Management System. The LMS. Or in the UK, the VLE. The Virtual Learning Environment.
Even though the latter sounds much less foreboding and controlling than the former, I confess: it makes no difference. I am not a fan. –Audrey Waters
I was somewhat relieved to discover that classmates Logan and Stephanie were also questioning the role of LMS because of the Waters post, as well as their own experiences with classes that utilized LMSes.
As someone who has taken MOOCs, online classes through LMS, and online classes without an LMS, I reflected about this passage from Audrey. I came to realize…as a student, I do not enjoy courses run through LMS. For me, courses run on LMS at times felt contrived, limiting, and inauthentic. Word limitations, forced amount of responses, it can came across as dutiful and a work load to be ‘checked off’.
How education worked offline translated into how courses would work online. What a course looked like. How a course, and the knowledge that was generated and shared therein, began and ended in conjunction with the academic calendar. How 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. –Audrey Waters
After reading this portion of what Audrey had to say, it had me considering…is this why I dislike learning through LMSes? Do young learners feel this way when faced with an LMS space? Lastly, if we use an LMS does that mean we our limiting ourselves to ‘Substitution’ level tasks?
So, where does that leave my group on this prototype project? Well, our ‘starting point’ is considering our learners (Grade 2 students). As much as I dislike LMS as a motivated, adult learner, and even though I prefer learning in an Open Ed format, I tend to think it is more successful with motivated learners who can maneuver the internet (and alternative facts) independently.
There is something to be said for Gradual release of responsibility in this instance, and I don’t know that I can immediately and confidently unleash grade 2s into the vast world wide web. Nicole and I have perhaps found a ‘loop-hole’ and would like to try and work with what we are calling a pseudo-LMS system, Weebly (if you are interested, you can find out more on Nicole’s thoughts about the program here).
After consultation with our PLN last week, we spent time playing with a few platforms and discovered Weebly is user-friendly (read: easy to set up and organize), has an option to add student accounts (which would allow for a blog/page option) AND does not require student users (in the teachers accounts) to be 13 or over in their terms and conditions. This service also gives us the ability to have students accounts public or private, it will allow us to embed items from 3rd party sites, additionally, if you are comfortable with the themes available, this can be done for free!
Have you used Weebly before? What grade(s) have you tried it with? Any tips/tricks you can share?