Learning Management Systems…why should we use them?
In my undergraduate and graduate degree programs, I was able to complete many courses in an online environment. These courses were great for me, because I was able to manage my time well, and complete assignments and activities virtually at my own pace. Like many others, I juggled a full time teaching career and family with my graduate studies, making online learning appealing and appropriate for me.
As I began searching for ways to incorporate a blended learning environment into my classroom environment, which consists of 30 student desks and a teacher computer on my desk, I thought back to my favorite aspects of my online learning experience…
- Submitting assignments and projects online
- No printing! No ink!
- No papers to lose!
- Save a tree! 🙂
- “Forum” or “Discussion Board” posts about readings
- In an online environment, students and teachers obviously have no face-to-face interaction in which to discuss questions or comments about assigned readings
- In order to hold students accountable for their assigned readings, teachers post a broad question relating to the reading and establish procedures for posting (length of response, appropriate responses, etc)
- Many teachers also require students to comment on their classmate’s posts to simulate classroom interaction and to encourage students to dive deeper into the content.
- Students can work collaboratively on assignments and discussions without being in the same room
With these three indicators in mind, I began the search for the right Learning Management System (LMS) for me and my students.
I researched Blackboard (which was used in my graduate programs), Moodle (used by surrounding school districts), and edmodo (which caught my interest because it so closely resembles Facebook).
Finally, I decided to begin using edmodo.
LMS technology was barely used at the time (3 years ago) in my building, so it took a while for my students to realize that this technology would be used (and used often) in my classroom.
Fast forward to today…I currently teach dual credit College American History and American Political Systems, as well as a “regular” Government class. I use edmodo in all of these classes, and students have responded extremely well.
How do I use edmodo?
In my dual credit classes, students access course related information through edmodo that contain everything from their course syllabus, to youtube videos, to assignments, quizzes and exams. Students frequently “actively analyze” a primary source, watch a video, or listen to a lecture, and then respond to a broad question on edmodo (similar to #2 listed above). The students are provided with my expectations for their discussion board posts (what we call our edmodo posts) at the beginning of the unit…these instructions include how many sentences I expect in their response, as well as reminders about using academic language and not using profanity, slang, or derogatory language. After their original post, students must comment on at least one other students’ post, adhering to the same requirements as their original post.
Students also collaborate with one another using edmodo. Through edmodo, teachers can create groups, place students in those groups, and assign readings or other activities to students in those groups. I like to use these small groups in a form of a jigsaw activity, in which each group is responsible for a certain task (reading about a specific landmark case, analyzing a specific section of the Federalist Papers, etc) and reporting back to the class. I find the cooperative learning environment, coupled with the amazing educational technology that is edmodo, enhance my students’ learning exponentially. Educators know that sometimes, the way we explain information just doesn’t sink in with students. Allowing students to work together on a task, allows them to gain a deeper and more complete knowledge of the content, which is great!
The paperless learning environment that teachers can create by using a LMS is extremely beneficial to everyone. Students do not have to worry about losing a specific assignment, teachers do not have to carry around stacks of paper to grade, and school districts can trim down their printing budget!
Allowing students to take quizzes and tests on edmodo is helpful as well. When assigning multiple choice tests, teachers simply type the question and the responses, choose the correct response, and voila! The students submit the assessment and receive their grade…IMMEDIATELY! The time teachers spend grading assignments and drastically reduced! Hooray!
And….many of our students today will learn in a blended, if not totally online, environment in their educational future. Why not expose them to this learning environment now?
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