To LMS or not to LMS…

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!

Is LMS just an updated term for “the man”? via Pixabay

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?


11 thoughts on “To LMS or not to LMS…

  1. I use weebly with my grade 1 students. It is very easy to set up and use. It is easy for my students to use as well. I have incorporated pictures and links right in my website. The students can see what website to go to through the picture and then click the link below and it takes them where they need to go. They can also easily navigate their way around weebly. I love using it!

  2. Wow. You’re absolutely right. LMS courses can seem like a checklist, rather than authentic
    I haven’t used/explored Weebly at all, but you’ve convinced me to look at it. I mean, if a grade 2 can do it, I’m (pretty?) sure a grade 12 can maybe handle it. Maybe.

  3. Great post Amy! You are so right in that LMS can seen inauthentic and just a way to ‘get things done’. Audrey’s post really had me thinking about LMS and how I have been using one – and I don’t think I have changed my material enough for it to be a real change in education. I am humbled by the fact that I was one of those teachers – using tech to, really, do all the same things I would do in a face-to-face classroom. I need to reflect upon my own teaching and skills to really interpret how to use an LMS properly in my classroom.

    I have also used Weebly – it was my blog of choice prior to starting these EC&I classes a year ago. I really liked it – super easy to use, very straightforward, and easy to modify and edit. I had my students blogging on Weebly as well. They were in grades 6-8, so older than your target group, but they found it very easy to use and soon were actually more knowledgeable than I am about it. It is a great choice for LMS for younger students, I believe.

  4. This is a very interesting way of looking at LMS’. Figuring out how to make a learning experience authentic can certainly be a challenge. In my opinion you hit the nail on the head when you spoke about MOOC’s as it connected well with the BLOG I wrote.

  5. Great post Amy. I too agree with your statement that a LMS can seem inauthentic and is basically a means to an end. I have taught both in the classroom where I believe I offer an authentic and personal learning environment. I have also taught classes via a LMS. As the instructor, I myself feel distant/disconnected and inauthentic in my courses I offer when I teach via a LMS, Students have commented to me that the courses they have taken through a course I instruct via a LMS are prescriptive and fail to foster individualism and excitement about learning.

  6. I have used Weebly before with grade 9 students. They found it to be really user-friendly and I would have to agree. I appreciated how easy it is to set up a website using Weebly and like that it is really clean looking as well. This sounds like it would be a more appropriate option for you doing elementary than an LMS system. Our group is going to try work with Canvas although I agree that it can seem like a checklist.

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