Learning Management Solutions (LMSes – or Virtual Learning Environments, VLEs, if you’re in the commonwealth) are a category of software that serve a variety of functions at schools, from simplifying content distribution and assignment collection to flipping classroom workflows to delivering instruction completely online. The International schools I’ve been at have broadly agreed that teachers should use some kind of LMS. They diverge in two key areas, though:
1. Whether the LMS should be centrally mandated managed by the school or whether teachers should feel free to pick and choose the platform they use
2. If the LMS is centrally managed, which system it should be
Centrally managed LMSes offer enough advantages over individually-managed ones that schools should provide them if financially able (pricing is in the range of 8-10USD per student annually for most commercial products). This runs counter to what some ed tech leaders recommend; they see such implementations as “walled gardens” having “limited control and customizability.1” Continue reading Which LMS? Choosing between Canvas, Haiku, Edmodo, et al.→
I used to read a lot about new gadgets – smartphones, in particular. I’d pore over the latest announcement from Mobile World Congress and compare side-by-side photos of the next generation of the current device. After careful research I’d select the best device out there.
And then I’d look out the window and realize I’d spent hours of a beautiful day in front of a screen for a device that did pretty much what my old one did.
The danger of choice is that having too much of it confuses and complicates the decision-making process. It applies to shopping for smartphones as much as it does wading through ed tech software and hardware. Every week my RSS feeds me yet more articles about “10 Apps to Use for X” or “iPad vs. Chromebook: which one wins for students?” They tempt me, and my teachers, to get lost in a forest of comparisons that, ultimately, bring very little marginal benefit to student learning. Using HaikuDeck over PowerPoint will not result in a measurable boost to student learning as measured against the standards in any of the classes offered at our school (although teaching principles of effective presentations would). Teachers have other, more important decisions to make to maximize their instructional effectiveness.
I wish I’d had standards-based learning training when I started my FIRST teaching job – I would have been a more effective planner and assessor. Now that I work for a school that does SBG at the secondary level I can see how the approach leads to units more closely aligned with learning outcomes and facilitates feedback that is much more descriptive, relevant, and practicable than what I gave as a new teacher. But I also see where the criterion referenced philosophy standards-based grading is still working within the context of the norm referenced framework of college applications – and I’m coming to believe that these can be reconciled if you’re willing to accept the reality of the latter.