This week, we had the opportunity to explore and review one of the LMS platforms that Alec and Katia introduced us to on Tuesday night.
Before I started exploring I first read through our readings for the week. I figured that I would gain a little more knowledge before heading off to explore a couple of the platforms and then review one of them. So, I dutifully clicked on both the Wikipedia page on the VLE and Chapter 6, A History of Ed Tech.
And then I read Audrey Watters‘ Beyond the LMS post. Everything I read completely spoke to me. I believe Katia has spoken before (in another class) about how big a fan of Audrey Watters she is and, while reading it, I was converted into a pretty big fan.
My three top “ah-ha” moments, or things that I completely agreed with were:
- LMS platforms are “old school.” While you can dress up the same old, same old (Lipstick on a pig is my favourite expression for this) it’s still an old method that hasn’t gotten better
- Something that Alec alluded to, as well:
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.
- LMS platforms are traditional. Audrey talks about the course online being very similar to the course that one would teach in person. Not a lot of change, or innovation.
So, with these thoughts in my mind, I went off to explore an LMS. Like Ashley, I too, received a phone call from Canvas a few days after registering for my account. This was really impressive to me, especially as they called during lunch and asked if I was busy with a class at the moment before asking me more questions.
(An aside – getting phone calls during the school day drives me crazy. I know what I should do is turn my phone to airplane mode – I use it to take photos of my students for my blog or for SeeSaw – but I inevitably forget)
Since I received the phone call, I decided Canvas would be the one that I would explore a little bit more.
My top three things that I liked about Canvas are:
- The “what to do” checklist. Checklists warm my heart and it’s always nice to have the option of taking the website’s walkthrough. The checklist itself was very straightforward and easy to follow.
- I LOVED the calendar. I’m all about organization and I loved the possibility of adding assignments and seeing what each class I taught had to do, on which date. Colour coding the classes is also awesome. Seriously, this might be my favourite thing. I use Planboard in my daily teaching life simply because it’s so lovely, organized and colour coordinated.
- The course email feature is handy-dandy. It would be nice to be able to respond to email about the course within the course platform itself, instead of bouncing around to different platforms and email sites.
However, after I spent a bit of time on Canvas, I came back to my top reason LMS platforms are not for me.
Kindergartens cannot use them.
I know that this is the third time that I’ve mentioned this, and maybe it’s starting to get annoying, but it’s frustrating to think of having to adapt something that is clearly not meant for children. (Maybe their parents? But French Immersion at home is that much more of a headache.)
When I mentioned the fact that I teach kindergarten to the lady on the phone from Canvas, she said “oh, well…” After thinking for a bit, she said, “If your school division bought Canvas, we can work to design something with buttons… maybe?”
This is a great (probably expensive) offer, but still a little unrealistic. I believe that I will have to turn my back on an LMS platform and instead, as Audrey Watters proposed use “the open web” and use some more kid-friendly software to make my kindergarten class a little more blended.
Thanks for reading my (super) late blog post!