Reflections on LMS and non-LMS
How can Learning Management Systems (LMS and/or Non-LMS) help me develop courses where students learn in the best way for them (teacher-structured/personalized), while providing me with the tools I require for efficient and efficacious presentation, moderation, support, and assessment (for, as, and of learning)?
The evidence that I have chosen to show my learning in OLTD 504 is composed of two different assignments. My first piece is the unit teaching “Introduction to Photography” that I created in Moodle. My second one is my list of non-LMS tools that I assemble together. These two assignments demonstrate how Learning Management Systems (LMS and/or Non-LMS) help me develop courses where students learn in the best way for them (teacher-structured/personalized) while providing me with the tools I require for efficient and efficacious presentation, moderation, support, and assessment (for, as, and of learning).
As an online teacher, I have used two different LMS, such as Blackboard and D2L. I find that the purpose of an LMS is for presenting and organizing course content, delivering the material to enrolled students, managing submitted assignments, providing easy access to marking and holding the students’ grades. It almost seems more like an organizational tool than a tool to enhance learning. However, I believe that the way the course material is delivered in the LMS and the creation of a sense of belonging to a community within the course are what make learning engaging and meaningful. Some might think that an LMS does not provide much flexibility to offer choices for students to demonstrate their learning but with some creativity like having a few different sections of the same course with different options of assignments, it is possible to challenge the students through what interests them. A LMS is a tool and I believe that it is how the tool is used that determines if it beneficial for the student’s learning or not. When I began creating a French Immersion (FI) program online, I was told that it would not possible to engage students orally in an online setting. However, I have proven that it is possible. Over the years, I have created different types of oral assignments including a forum to promote a sense of classroom community in the LMS and I have noticed that as students move along in their courses, they begin to take ownership of the oral French and are more motivated to speak it.
Another reason why I prefer using an LMS is that it helps with organization. As a teacher who has many online classes and with several students in each of them, using a LMS keeps me sane. Everything is held in one place. I cannot imagine having to go to different sites to assess my students’ learning. Ideally, there would be an LMS that would allow embedding of different non-LMS tools which would make learning even more engaging. One drawback that I have against using an LMS is that the course content is contained within the LMS and every time, the LMS is changed, an enormous amount of valuable teaching time is lost to move the course content and to adjust the delivery of the material to still make it engaging and motivating for the students.
After going from Blackboard to D2L two years ago, my school is now contemplating a move to Moodle so I thought that I would experiment with this LMS to see if it was worth the time and energy. In Moodle, I created a unit on a “Introduction to Photography” with the course material provided by the instructor, Avi Luxemburg. Compared to the previous LMS’s that I have used, Moodle offers a variety of activities that I was not accustomed to such as the lesson, the survey, and a workshop for peer-assessment. As a teacher, I found that the settings offered more flexibility on where the students could go depending on if they had mastered the content of an activity or not. This option provides a way to individualize the progress of the student within the course. This experience of using Moodle allowed me to see how I could make my own courses even more engaging as long as my school would also get the extension for the oral recording to be embedded in the LMS.
As I have noted, I like using LMS so when I was faced to create a list of non-LMS tools that would fulfill the same tasks, I was skeptical. However, I decided to give myself a challenge. Besides working in an online school in a district that uses GAFE, I am also involved in another school district that has a policy of using educational online tools that are compliant with FIPPA. So, I decided to create two different lists that would provide tools to fulfill the functions of file and content sharing, building community, providing opportunities for collaboration and communication, assessing and reporting as well as a place for an e-Portfolio and gradebook.
Now, that I have search a variety of tools either FIPPA compliant or not, it has given me ideas on how I could use some of them to enhance the learning of my students. I am looking forward to the time when an LMS will allow other tools to be embedded within them which will eliminate the limitations that some teachers experience. This should heighten the students’ engagement and motivation in their online course by providing them different experiences while acquiring skills and knowledge.
Reflections on Screencasting
· Be familiar with common terms, definitions and elements related to Learning Management Systems (LMS) and non-LMS environments.
· Demonstrate basic competency with design and implementation within a variety of LMS and non-LMS environments and tools
The evidence that I have chosen for demonstrating my proficiency in regards to the learning outcomes mentioned above are my screencasts explaining how to build a lesson in Moodle. Compared to the spontaneous screencast that I created in OLTD 503 (to introduce myself and different parts of my French Immersion courses), the screencasts for OLTD 504 required to familiarize myself as how to properly use the Screencast-o-Matic tool, a thorough understanding of how to build a lesson in Moodle and more preparation.
Although, I had used the Screencast-o-Matic tool before to create videos for my courses in D2L, I realized that the first step was to learn how to create a lesson in Moodle. I have used other LMS’s before but it was my first trial at Moodle. Because Moodle is quite intuitive and since there are so many tutorial videos available online, I assumed that I would be able to create my screencast very quickly. However, it was easier said than done. Since I was not using my own course content to build my lesson, I initially had to become familiar with the course material. I also had to keep in mind how I was going to use the content to create an entire unit that would include a homepage, a quiz, my lesson, an online discussion, an assignment, a gradebook, and a calendar, all in Moodle. It took me a while to decide which part of the content would be used for which activity in my unit but I managed to figure it out. When all the designing was complete, I thought that I was finally ready to record my screencast. Once again, I hit a roadblock. There were far too many details to remember, I had to write a script for my recording so that I did not forget any important steps of the setting and building of the lesson in Moodle. There was so much information to share that It would be best to create shorter videos instead of one very long video. When the scripts for each of the videos were prepared, I thought that I would be ready to begin recording; however, I encountered another roadblock. I realized that reading out loud in English was taking me out of my comfort zone. I was so nervous to have people listening to me read that it distracted me from all the other aspects of recording the screencast such as framing my screen properly and opening new windows at the right time. Over time and with practice, I gained confidence in reading abilities and I felt almost as comfortable as when I did my spontaneous video. There are still some technical aspects of screencasting that I need to learn about, but I know that the outcome of future screencasts will get better with practice just like my reading did.
I really enjoyed doing this assignment as it provided me the opportunity to work in Moodle for the first time. From my experience using Blackboard and D2L at my school, I found that Moodle was quite easy to use. It seems like most of the common LMS’s used in education allow teachers to present information, build assessments and discussion boards and to store grades. However, Moodle also appears to have other activities available such as a survey that can be used for receiving feedback from the students on the course, a glossary, and a workshop which can be used for peer-assessment. I like that the teacher can scaffold and guide the student’s learning instead of letting the student go from one assignment to the other. I also enjoyed working on course content that I was not familiar with. As usual, every time that a teacher uses another teacher’s material, he needs to adapt it to what suits him. I was thinking of how I would adapt this course to use it in my French Immersion program. I would have to have the option of recording within Moodle which would allow me to set up the forum to be done orally. Furthermore, every time a student would submit pictures for practical assignments in photography, I would require the student to explain orally the background story of the picture.
The recording of my screencasts to teach how to create a lesson in Moodle was a valuable experience as it provided me some practical experience with a new to me LMS and help develop some skills that I will be able to use in the future. I definitely feel more comfortable recording myself teach something in English.