The problem with LMS’s

I’m not going to lie to you – I really like Edmodo. Hell I’ve made five versions of an Edmodo guide that has been viewed over 50,000 times and the latest version is more than fifty pages. You don’t do something like that unless you like something, are paid to do or old told to do it by a superior. I’m lucky, I fall into the first category. I know that Edmodo can help organize a class, improve communication between the teacher and her/his students and make life generally easier for the teacher. I know Edmodo does this and more and I know that other learning management systems (LMS) do too.

However, I read an article in Hack Education called Beyond the LMS by Audrey Watters. The article talks about a great deal of issues but one that stood out was why Audrey doesn’t think LMS are a good idea. Her example was Blackboard but this point here really stuck with me.

After all, at the end of each class, students would lose access to the materials — could lose, I suppose. there are some administrative controls to extend it. Anything they’d written in the forums, for example, any interactions they’d had through the messaging system: gone.

You see, she is right. After a class is over in Edmodo, I have three options:

  1. Delete the class forever – not a good idea.
  2. Keep the class open – Not the best idea either. Who knows what it could turn into.
  3. Archive the class – No one can post, delete or make any changes. The info is available but you have to scroll or search through it

I archived all my classes, but if you’ve ever used Edmodo and archived a class and then tried to find something – good luck. The search isn’t that great which means you need to scroll through everything, and it shows so much info at a time. I’ve had to do this and it is a time consuming pain in the ass. My students wouldn’t go through all that.

Sure, the info is there but not easily accessible which means no one is going to sift through that to find what they’re looking for unless it is a real emergency and even then maybe.

One thing I believe is that technology can bring unparalleled transparency to a school. It can let all teachers of a subject/grade level to consolidate all their materials in one place, collaborate on cornerstone assessments and thus make everything better horizontally aligned which is a problem I’ve seen at every school I worked at.

It can also allow teachers in different grades to see what is being taught above and below them and thus bring more vertical alignment within a school. Also a problem I’ve seen at every school I’ve worked in, but Edmodo and other systems aren’t great at that. Their focus is far smaller. Improve organization of a class, improve communication within the class and to help bring more transparency to the students in the class. I love that but now that I think about what Audrey wrote, I think of all the resources they lose out on after the year/semester is over.

This makes me think of good old Omar. Omar, uses WordPress blogs for his classes. At first I thought he was making more work for himself. He had to set up the blog, he had to manually add each student to the blog, he had to make sure they could access the blog through their account. He had to make sure that the categories and tags were all set up and more and more, but at the end of the day (or school year) that info is still there. It’s still available for his students. It’s a record of what they’ve accomplished, what they still need to improve upon and more. They can take that with them (or at least access it in the future).

I like that idea more. I like the idea of students being able to take their work with them from class, to class and year to year. I love Edmodo and will most likely use it again in the future, but I’ll also do something else. Maybe a blog or a website to help correspond with what the LMS is doing. I want to create something with my students that they can take with them. I don’t want my class to be a stand alone class – I want it to be transparent and to have longevity beyong the school year.

In the end, if every year is a blank slate what was the point of all the previous years?

Patrick Cauley
www.thetechjonsey.com

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About Patrick Cauley

I teach middle school technology and love to play around with tech and teach students and colleagues alike. You can read my blog at www.itbabble.com
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One Response to The problem with LMS’s

  1. I’ve been using Edmodo for years and am a big fan. If you’re students created a folder for your class in Google Drive…wouldn’t they then get to have a “portfolio” for their class. Wouldn’t then the class/projects live on?

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