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Blended Learning : Learning Management Systems – 2 of 3

14 May

Blending EducationIn the previous post, I reflected on various attributes of blended learning. In this and the next post I will focus on tools that can help K-12 teachers organize their classroom content and implement a blended learning model.

About Learning Management Systems

There are many different names for the organizational systems that teachers can use to structure their course content: classroom management systems, learning management systems, and virtual learning environments. Each of these systems does basically the same thing: organize classroom content and learning through the use of online learning objects, discussion forums, and even interactive assessments.

Learning Management Systems, or LMSs, are essential tools for blended learning.

Some LMSs emphasize the organization of content, and others prioritize social networking functions, even going so far as to mimic the look and feel of Facebook. There are also sites that do one thing well, focusing on grading systems, or tracking progress and assessing students based on standards.

Implementation Models of LMS in K-12 Schools

There are several ways that teachers and schools can implement Learning Management systems. Some schools mandate which platform teachers must use to ensure consistency, while other schools give teachers freer reign. Here are some of the most common ways these systems are implemented:

  1. Teacher creates her own system for her class to address specific classroom needs
  2. Group of teachers create a shared system for their division or department
  3. School or district provides consolidated system for ease of use & consistency of student experience
  4. Teachers or administrators facilitate students’ independent progress on an online course taken for school credit.

Evaluation of Classroom and Learning Management Systems

In order to best evaluate learning management systems, I have developed a criteria based on the most common and expected functions of LMSes. I used the Joomla LMS Learning Management System Comparison as a basis for this evaluation. The evaluation includes a weighted column so that teachers can track important software functions. This evaluation is a work in progress, and I hope to revisit this document in future months.


https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AvGiOvWvIk7xdHV3VlVJU2tOQWdmdU1wXy1kSWp1Z2c#gid=0

Examples of LMS

Below are just a few of the Learning Management Systems currently available for K-12 schools. These systems range from all-in-one content management resources to systems specializing on a specific function.

District or All-School Managed Solutions

These LMSes require district, or school-wide adoption.

Blackboard This industry-standard company offers a variety of solutions for multiple educational markets. Ideal for district-based solutions, or schools willing to invest heavily in a learning management solution
Moodle This open-source learning platform is the major competitor to Blackboard. Ideal for district-based solutions, or schools looking to implement a consolidated system.
Canvas K-12 This LMS company offers a variety of services to a variety of markets, including K-12. “Canvas K-12 is a single, integrated system that bundles attendance, assessments, grading, state standards tracking, messaging, learning analytics, and more.”
Desire 2 Learn This LMS company offers a variety of services to a variety of markets, including K-12. Ideal for districts or schools looking for specific services.
Haiku LMS This LMS, specifically designed for K12 institutions is another competitor to Blackboard and Moodle.
Project Foundry This LMS is designed specifically to facilitate project-based learning, allowing teachers to monitor progress on student work. Ideal for schools or districts hoping to implement a consistent experience.
Sakai Sakai is a community based “Collaboration and Learning Environment” that provides a core set of functions. Additional modules, such as an eportfolio solution can be installed. The software can be accessed through a hosting services, or managed on in-house servers.

Systems with Varied-Management Options

These LMSes allow for different levels of implementations. Schools or districts may implement these tools to provide a standard system for all teachers and students. Teachers could also use these tools individually to create their own course management system, independent of their school.

Brain Honey This LMS allows teachers to create their own free course. The site offers paid solutions for “a variety of learning settings”.
Edmodo Edmodo is a social-based LMS, allowing for discussions, collaborations and online grading. While Edmodo is designed for teachers to create and manage their own courses, Edmodo can also be configured by districts and schools for central management.
Schoolology Schoolology is a social-based LMS with a variety of features. Teachers can create and manage their own courses with Schoolology, although schools and districts can also implement Schoolology to ensure a consistent experience.

Teacher-Managed Solutions

These LMSes allow teachers to create their own customized courses, independent of a district or school-based solution. Many of these systems are new to the market, or in beta form.

Collaborize Classroom With Collaborize Classroom, teachers can create an online LMS with a strong mobile presence, emphasizing social networks.
Diipo Diipo is in beta, and allows teachers to create an LMS for their particular course, implementing an interface based on social networking sites.
Lore (Formerly Course Kit) While seeming to focus on the higher ed market, this startup allows teachers to create and manage their own courses.

Other Solutions

While the above listed LMS tools have a variety of options, the below systems incorporate some, but not all, functions of an LMS. Many of these systems would be best used in conjunction with another LMS.

School Loop Offering a variety of services, School Loop focuses on achievement management systems, to enhance student learning. They also provide a gradebook system.
Jupiter Grades This online grading system helps teachers keep track and share assessment information with students and families online.
Active Grade This standards-based grading system is designed to help teachers collect effective feedback and manage their classrooms.
Class Dojo This real-time behavior management system advertises a boost to classroom engagement.
Mastery Connect With this system “teachers can effectively assess core standards, monitor student performance, and report student mastery to parents and administrators.”

What’s Coming Next?

Learning Management Systems have been growing and changing since the advent and mass adoption of social networks. In the upcoming years, many educators expect that much will change in this industry. Many of the new LMS companies focus on higher education, with subsequent roll-outs for K-12 and other markets. With more and more competition from various publishers and start-ups, some of the K-12 web sites listed on this blog post may not be around for long.

Bibliography

Bates, Tony. “e-learning outlook for 2012: will it be a rough ride?”
http://www.tonybates.ca/2012/01/02/e-learning-outlook-for-2012-will-it-be-a-rough-ride/

Joomla LMS Learning Management System Comparison
http://www.joomlalms.com/compare/

Watters, Audrey. “Why Every Education Company Needs an API”
http://www.hackeducation.com/2012/04/13/education-api/

Blended Learning – Combining Online Technology with Classroom Instruction : 1 of 3

21 Mar

Blending EducationIn this series of posts I will focus on ways teachers can implement a blended learning model in their classroom. Each post will delve into related types of resources, with recommendations for implementation and samples of use.

What is Blended Learning?

Blended learning addresses the way most students learn now: through a combination of online tools and tried-and-tested in-class instruction. A blended educational model stands in contrast to models where learning is conducted solely online (through virtual schools and online courses), and models that  introduces no online component (and they do exist).

According to Tina Barseghian, writing for KQED Mind/Shift,

Simply stated, blended learning is combining computers with traditional teaching. Knowing that today’s learners are wired at all times, teachers are directing students’ natural online proclivity towards schoolwork. It’s referred to as different things — reverse teaching, flip teaching, backwards classroom, or reverse instruction. But it all means the same thing: students conduct research, watch videos, participate in collaborative online discussions, and so on at home and at school — both in K-12 schools and in colleges and universities.

Blended learning is a purposefully vague descriptor. Instead of indicating a specific ratio of online to in-person instruction, focusing on a “blend” emphasizes the sporadic nature of the model. It can look different from school to school.

'Why?' photo (c) 2012, Bart Everson - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Why Blend?

Even though most teachers already incorporate a blended model into their instruction (whether they know it or not), it is important to analyze how online resources and web apps are being used. Focusing on the reasons for teaching with a blended model may lead to greater success implementing these online tools.

We can’t afford not to

In many ways, the question teachers should ask is: “how can you not blend?” As Ken Key argues in his forward to 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn,

Twenty-first century skills are the ticket to moving up the economic ladder. Without 21st century skills, people are relegated to low-wage, low-skill jobs. Proficiency in 21st century skills is the new civil right for our times (xvii).

If we want our students to succeed, we need to prepare them for the needs of our digital marketplace. Our curricula must address key twenty-first century skills, including an enhanced focus on information, media and technology literacy. (For more details, visit the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.)

Our lives are already blended

'Texting' photo (c) 2009, Jeffrey Kontur - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Our students already live their lives in a combination of digital and real spaces. Mobile phones are getting so inexpensive and essential that the Pew Research Center estimates that as of 2010:

Some 75% of 12-17 year-olds now own cell phones.

Many parents and students have an expectation of constant contact through mobile devices, and this expectation may clash with school policies about phone use.

Online learning can be ideal for differentiation

More and more schools are looking to incorporate models that focus on student-driven learning. When engaging one-on-one with a virtual instructor, students dictate the pace of their instruction. Many teachers have been able to successfully incorporate online instructional tools such as the Khan Academy and Learnzillion to enhance remediation and basic skills.

Many other teachers are incorporating a flipped classroom model to assign recorded lectures as homework, allowing students more classroom time to work on their skills with enhanced teacher supervision.

Blended learning can potentially save costs by providing unique solutions

Teachers may be able to save costs on materials by using open online resources and learning management systems to create alternatives to textbooks. More and more tools, such as the iBooks Author app, are making it easier for teachers and students to create their own textbook materials from scratch.

Online tools can enhance parent involvement and student buy-in

More and more parents are beginning to expect access to their students’ learning materials online. A consistent school-wide use of online tools such as learning management systems and portals could encourage parents to take a more active role in their students’ education.

These same tools may also motivate students to engage deeper with their learning. Tapping into our students’ love of technology may be an ideal way to enhance the learning process, and drive our students to greater success.

'Toolbox Lock' photo (c) 2010, Dottie Mae - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Types of Tools

In future posts I will cover various tools that could be useful to enhance a blended instructional model. These posts will cover:

1 – Tools for Classroom Management:

  • Classroom/learning management systems
  • Grading systems
  • Project management systems

2 – Tools for Research & Supplemental Education:

  • Study tools
  • Personal learning networks
  • Content curation sites
  • Digital Portfolios

Sources

Three Trends That Define the Future of Teaching and Learning
Barseghian, Tina.
KQED: Mind/Shift. February 5, 2011.

Teens, Cell Phones and Texting: Text Messaging Becomes Centerpiece Communication
Amanda Lenhart
Pew Research Center Publications: Pew Internet & American Life Project. April 20, 2010.

Blended Learning: Combining Face-to-Face and Online Education
Wolpert-Gawron, Heather.
Edutopia. April 28, 2011.

A Silicon Valley School That Doesn’t Compute
Richtel, Matt.
New York Times. October 22, 2011.

Flipping/Blending/Disrupting the Classroom with Online Video

23 Jan Blending Education

Blending Education

With advances in video-capture technology and the introduction of more affordable mobile devices, many teachers are changing the nature of their instruction using online videos.  Some are even “flipping” the classroom, assigning lectures for homework, and reserving in-class time for what were traditionally homework assignments.

What is Flipping?

Flipping the classroom is an “‘inverted’ teaching structure in which instructional content is delivered outside class, and engagement with the content … is done in class” (Ojalvo and Doyne).

Flipping instruction is part of a larger movement to blend or disrupt the classroom, using online technologies to take learning out of brick-and-mortar buildings and into students’ everyday lives.

Flipping your classroom is so much more than providing your students with access to online video tutorials.  The concept is much more embedded in providing students differentiated experiences, extending beyond the classrooms more effectively. It allows teachers to much more easily engage their students in small group and or one on one (Meech).

The Khan Academy Model

Khan Academy WebsiteWhile Salman Khan was not the first to consider flipping the classroom, he is the most famous due to his disruptive Khan Academy website, famously championed by Bill Gates, and featured in a TED talk.

On this website, Khan has created targeted instructional videos on a variety of instructional topics. In addition to providing videos, the site also includes practice and review questions.  Teachers can create accounts to keep track of student progress on the site.

However, even the Khan Academy realizes the importance of the brick-and-mortar school in their vision for the future.  As “blended learning” becomes “the latest buzzword — that is, a blend of offline and computer-mediated/online instruction — Khan Academy is now eyeing building its own school” (Watters, 2011).

Critiques of the Khan Academy and Flipping in General

However, even proponents of flipping argue that it’s not for everyone. Critics of online learning and the Khan Academy in particular argue that the one-size-fit-all model may be inappropriate for certain facets of instruction. By focusing primarily on technology, many proponents of online instruction de-emphasize the traditional role of the teacher:

However, “teachers don’t scale,” said Khan. You can’t simply replicate teachers the way you can print textbooks, so the trick, according to Khan is to make sure those “good ones” can have their instruction broadcast as widely as possible (Watters, 2010.)

Are screen-captured lectures guilty of enforcing old pedagogies?

Also, using video to teach reinforces an old pedagogy of education that many progressive teachers believe we should move away from (Noschese). Instead of focusing on the same old drill-and-kill form of education, these teachers argue that we should be incorporating more experiences for hands-on-learning. (It should be noted that proponents of true flipping the classroom argue that by making video lectures the homework for a class, it frees up in-class time for other models of learning. (Roshan).)

Teachers who choose to create their own videos quickly learn that filming, editing and publishing lectures can be quite complicated. In addition, after creating videos to be viewed as homework, teachers still have to prepare lessons to fill all the class time now available to them. In some ways, flipping the classroom could theoretically double the teacher’s work load, and some teachers may not have enough time at their disposal.

Another important factor to consider is the digital divide. Many teachers cannot assume that computer or Internet access are available from home. In order to truly flip your class, students should ideally have consistent Internet access from home. While mobile devices are becoming cheaper, not all students have the capability to stream video easily over these devices (Nielsen).

What Teachers can do in their classroom

  • Embed or link to videos on content management systems.
  • Create an account, and assign students videos and assessments using Khan Academy.
  • Consider creating your own learning objects by creating screencast videos easily.
  • Flip your own professional development (Truss).

Tools to easily create Screencasts

These are just a few of the tools that teachers can use to create flipped lectures. Instead of developing elaborate videos using external video cameras and tripods, consider using your computer’s built-in webcam, or a screen-capturing software.

Bozeman Biology – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qySegNxtiNg

Screen-capture Software:

  • Screenflow $99 – This software, the favorite of many bloggers and podcasters, allows you to “record the contents of your entire monitor while also capturing your video camera, microphone and your computer audio.”
  • Jing free (limited)/$14.95 per year – TechSmith, the makers of Camtasia, created this lightweight, easy-to-use screen capture software with both free and paid accounts.
  • Screenr free (limited)/variety of paid options- This web-based video recording system allows you to make webcasts without downloading any software.
  • iShowU $29.95 – This Mac-only screen-casting allows you to easily record your screen, as well as your video camera and microphone.
  • Camtasia $99 – One of the first screen-capturing tools, TechSmith’s Camtasia offers versions for both Mac and PC and is ideally suited for your screen-capturing and editing needs.
  • ScreenChomp (for iPads) – This app by TechSmith allows you to turn your iPad into a screen-capturing tool.

Other Editing Software:

Many of the screen-capturing softwares listed above also include editing features. These resources allow you additional editing tools
  • Skitch – This Mac and Android app allows you to easily annotate images and other still-pictures for learning.
  • WeVideo – This cloud-based video editor allows you to collaboratively edit videos online.

Host your Resources Online:

Share your screencasts and other learning resources with your students using these tools

  • Present.Me free(limited) / various paid accounts (for PowerPoints and Video) – If you don’t want to deal with screen-capturing software, consider uploading a PowerPoint to Present.Me, and then film yourself going through the presentation. Present.Me displays your video next to your PowerPoint so students can follow along.
  • Slideshare (for PowerPoints) – Don’t have time for videos? Share your lessons as PowerPoints using this resource. Consider using Slideshare’s Zipcast feature to schedule an online meeting.
  • Vimeo (for Video) – Create a Vimeo account to house your screenshots. With Vimeo you can privatize videos so that they can only be accessed with a password.

Best Practices: Resources for Flipping the Classroom:

Related Trends:

Bring your Own Tech, Mobile Devices, 1-to-1

Sources Cited:

Other Articles For Further Research:

For more resources on Flipping the Classroom, check out my Diigo account:
http://www.diigo.com/user/chipchase/flipped_classroom

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