Thanks again to Terry Heick for the opportunity! Originally published in TeachThought on February 10, 2016
Putting All Your Teaching In One Place With An LMS
by Rachelle Dene Poth
If you are starting to integrate technology into your classroom, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with so many options available.
The number of choices available for each area of integration are tremendous. The best advice I can give is to start with one thing at a time. Find an area that could use some enhancement, and work on it for a while. Learn about it, reflect on it, figure out if it truly is of benefit to your students and your classroom. The key words being you and your. It has to be something that will benefit your environment and your students.
Once you feel comfortable with what you have been using and your students are comfortable as well, then it is time to start thinking about something else that could help to improve the opportunities and learning in your classroom. There are many options, and I will share with you what my next step was, but it may not be the exact thing that you need. As a suggestion, perhaps the next step is to find a way to create more organization for your class materials.
How can your students access extra copies of their papers or review the requirements for a project that’s due the next day? Is there a way you have to share some web tools or review activities with them that is easily located? If not, this would be another great step. If this sounds like something that would be helpful, then what you might consider an LMS (Learning Management System).
Making The Choice
For myself, searching for a way to do all of these things was another way to solve the “disconnect” I felt was happening initially. So after doing some research, I came across Edmodo and decided to try it out for a while. Although I found and still use Edmodo, I will also say that there are many wonderful learning management systems available and depending on where and what you teach, Edmodo may or may not be the best choice for you.
But I believe that each classroom should have a common site. A place where teachers and students can access course materials, communicate and collaborate on assignments. A place where students can interact with their classmates and more importantly, receive help when needed.
For my classroom Edmodo is a great choice. I have spent time using and learning about several other LMS and I can tell you about them, because I think it is important to know the options. I have continued to use Edmodo because my students stay with me throughout their Spanish studies, and it makes sense to keep them in the system, so they can see their growth, so I can track their progress and have access to the materials which then become a part of their digital portfolio.
Maybe an LMS is not what you want but instead you choose to create a website, for example through edublogs, Google, Weebly, Wix or even use Wikispaces as a way to post resources and links. No matter what you choose you can’t go wrong. Centralizing your materials for your class and your students is a great idea and both you and them will benefit from it.
What were the effects?
Going back for a moment to my initial word of “disconnect,” perhaps it is clearer now how these two tools really help to solve that problem. Individually either one would work in my favor to promote the communication and collaboration with the students and to make class materials and resources available.
However, the combination of them builds even more into what I can offer because the students can be assessed, they can have their voice expressed in many ways using Edmodo or Celly. Then, each year we can track their progress through tools like Edmodo. It took some time to learn how each of these could be used, but it was well worth it and I am still learning. And more importantly, the students are benefiting tremendously.
So again I ask you, what would help you the most? If you were asked to name one more thing that you could change, determine what that is, investigate and try something new. Take that first step, work with it and then continue to add more. Again, you may find that your choice is not the best but give it some time before making a final decision. There is always a risk involved, but as educators we are role models for our students.
Being a role model means taking a risk, confronting any roadblocks, and setting new goals after reflecting. All of these lead us to learning and growth and isn’t that what we want for our students?