Learning management systems are the latest craze taking over the educational landscape. Keeping things as simple for the students as possible as you begin to use more and more technology and online activities is imperative. You have a hard enough time teaching your students the content of the class. Why would you want to add obstacles along the way?
The internet is full of wonderful activities to enhance student learning (#pinterestforthewin), but it can also be difficult for both teachers and students to remember how to access specific content.
For example, I might have students in my room working on different online activities. When I first started, I used to print out a piece of paper with the URL address written on it, but this did not go well as students were constantly misspelling words or skipping a number in the URL which meant valuable instructional time was being wasted as I made my way around the room typing in the correct URL. I then started to send out emails to the students with the links, but then I had students “lose” and/or delete the emails. That is when I realized something absolutely paramount to successfully flipping the classroom.
You need a place to house what you are doing. Keep it as simple as possible for the students. You do not want them to have to remember a bunch of passwords and add unnecessary steps to what you are trying to accomplish. You need a system to manage the learning taking place in your classroom. Enter the Learning Management System (LMS).
“A learning management system (LMS) is a software application for the administration, documentation, tracking, reporting and delivery of educational courses or training programs.” – Ellis, Ryann K. (2009), ASTD Learning Circuits
What Exactly Does an LMS Do?
There are hundreds of LMS systems available. A good LMS will allow you to do at least the following:
- Give online assessments that can be graded automatically and easily format the data in a user-friendly way to analyze. This is a great feature as it eliminates human error in grading and is a substantial time saver.
- Ability to complete and submit assignments.
- House links to external sites like Youtube, BrainPOP, etc.
- Create Modules – I will devote a blog post specifically on how to create an effective module in the future.
Where Do I Start?
First, find out if your district is paying for an LMS.
Second, start small by figuring out what the is the one thing you could do on the LMS to better serve your students?
My Suggestions on How to Begin
A google doc to house links for questions of the day, youtube, links for screencasts, pdf copies of handouts and other materials you use can be a great start.
This can be done by sharing a single doc with the students and posting to your LMS. Even if your school does not have an LMS, you can still share the doc with your students at the beginning of the year and use it throughout the year. I recommend showing the kids how to create a folder in their email for your class and housing the doc there. Then each day the students would open up the doc to access your materials for the day. See the pictures below for help.
Check out this link if you want more information regarding lesson plans.
My district uses the LMS Canvas. I strongly recommend them as they are constantly adding features and becoming more user-friendly as time goes on. The impact Canvas has had on my teaching is nearly impossible to put into words. Canvas is dependable, has given me the ability to enhance the learning experience of my students while also helping make my dream of flipping the classroom a reality. Click HERE or the image below to learn more about what Canvas has to offer.
Tricks and Tips
Whatever you do keep it simple and easy for both students and families to understand. You do not need to make it look fancy. Just provide a practical way for your students to access the information and materials of your class.
Find the best way for you to house the magnificent activities your students are doing.