Tagged With: LMS
It used to be, every class I taught started with students scrambling for notepaper and sharpening their pencils. Everyone took notes and used those to study for exams. If students wanted to share notes, they had to find a copy machine.
Many schools still do this, but there’s a better way: Digital notetaking. Students can use whatever computing device they have — including a smartphone — to record notes that can then be filed, shared, multimedia’d, and collaborated on. There are many options (Notability and Google Keep come to mind), but the most versatile, all-encompassing app I’ve seen is Microsoft’s OneNote. If you think you know OneNote but haven’t looked at the most current edition, take another look. You’ll be surprised at the changes.
Part of the free Office 365 for Education (and the fee-based Microsoft Office 365), OneNote opens quickly and allows students to take notes with a keyboard, stylus, or finger. Notes can be text, images, drawings, pictures, audio recordings, videos, PDFs, even captured webpages. OneNote can even tape lectures and then search the recording for keywords. If students get a handout or worksheet, they can add it to a note page by snapping its picture with the free add-on Office Lens, saving it as both an image and text.
–this post was sponsored by itslearning, but the opinions are my own.
When I started teaching, homework always involved paper–a worksheet, a poster, a written essay, or something else like that. The problems associated with that approach were endless, including that students couldn’t find the assignment, lost their notes, wrote the assignment down wrong, left their notebook where they weren’t so couldn’t do it, the dog ate it. Even if they did it on a computer, I remember numerous before-school visits from students to use my printer because theirs was broken, out of ink–add your own dilemma to this list. Most of these reasons were true and I did feel for the students, but the end result was always the same: The student didn’t get the benefit of what s/he would have learned from the homework.
It didn’t stop there. Because students couldn’t access school-based materials at home (for reasons like no internet or no digital device), I had to assign homework that could be completed without school resources, by themselves. Group projects were nice, but getting everyone in the same library or house meant parents driving, schedules re-arranged, and time that could have been spent on learning was spent on making arrangements.
It seemed my biggest challenge–as well as my students–was managing workflow.
Thanks to Learning Management Systems, that’s changed.
Beneylu is a K-8 online learning platform that puts critical classroom applications, resources, activities, and games in a secure online universe that is accessible to parents, teachers, and students. The goal is to make learning not only smoothly-delivered but adaptable and intriguing for everything. The brightly-colored friendly Beneylu platform provides a web-based classroom with intuitive learning resources and student-friendly apps. Most important: It’s private, open only to students and invited adults.
What is Beneylu School?
If you haven’t heard of Beneylu before, you will. Though fairly new to the United States, over 27,000 classes in 34 countries use Beneylu to organize learning activities. That’s over 1 billion clicks a year! Classrooms are personalized to student needs with apps teachers download and install via a lightning-fast, secure connection. Here are the most common selections:
Moodle is an open source free cloud-based learning platform used by over 96 million people to create over 11 million courses. These can be a simple activity or a fully-featured course. The platform offers a plethora of tools to customize courses as pretty much whatever teachers need, including:
- Upload video, audio, and links
- Engage students in a discussion forum or a survey
- Create, conduct and grade quizzes
- Assign, collect, review and grade assignments
The problem with Moodle and what stops many educators from using it has nothing to do with its flexible and scalable platform. It’s just not intuitive enough. Australia-based VerveEd’s goal is to fix that. Using an experiential, self-paced environment, VerveEd walks teachers through all the steps needed to create and use the Moodle platform in a clear, organized fashion and then provides nine hands-on ‘challenges’ that users complete to assess their knowledge in a real-world (albeit sandbox) Moodle environment. Challenges include topics such as:
An LMS — Learning Management System — is a digital tool that tracks a wide variety of student-teacher interactions such as homework, grading, sharing of resources, parent communication, assessments, and more. It allows teachers to create, distribute and track class materials anywhere, on any device. That means it’s accessible from school or home, with any platform (including Macs, PCs, Chromebooks, and tablets). The term ‘LMS’ is often conflated with ‘SMS’ (student management system) and ‘CMS’ (course management system) because their purposes and tools are so similar. In this article, we’ll treat all as LMSs.
Teachers like LMSs because they keep all class content in one secure place, easily managed and viewed in the time constraints of most teacher’s busy days. Critical to a successful LMS is that it’s easy to learn, intuitive to use, dependable, contributes to the learning experience (rather than just another digital tool that must be juggled before learning happens), and it saves time.
Here are three of the most popular LMSs among educators I know:
Whether you teach science or PE, there are hundreds of apps to help you do it better. The response to this tidal wave of information has been confusion. As each teacher downloads their favorites, students spend as much time learning the app as applying it academically.
There’s a move afoot to pick five that are cross-curricular, train faculty, and then use them throughout the school year. This is the way it used to be when MS Office ruled the computer and everyone understood it. If this is your school, here are three apps to start the school year:
When looking for an app to curate classroom reading, consider these requirements:
- works well with your current LMS
- includes a wide variety of reading formats
- displays books quickly, allowing you to open multiple books, add annotations, and take notes
- displays class textbooks
Lots of apps do the first three; none the last. Why? Many class texts use formats that only display on the publisher website. What became apparent as I researched was that GoodReader was one of several considered Best in Class because of its broad-based ability to read, manage, organize, access, and annotate a wide variety of file formats. Where it has long been considered a leader in reading and annotating PDFs, new releases accommodate almost any type of file including .docx, mp3, jpeg, ppt, xlx, audio, and videos. With its tabbed interface, users can open multiple documents and click through them as needed.
CanaryFlow is a classroom workflow platform that makes it easy for K-12 teachers to create lessons, add and grade assignments, upload resources, comment on student work or class activities, and schedule events. Class set-up is intuitive, with guided instructions as needed. Users (students and teachers) can access materials and submit work using the camera, Google Drive, or Dropbox. All account activity is quickly synced across all devices.
Features for teachers include:
- ability to collect, grade, distribute and collect assignments and materials
- a list of students who have not submitted assignments–including percentages
- ability to send a message to one person or a class
- ability to access and import over 53 different file types (such as MS Office, Google Docs, images, PDFs, and more) from the digital device’s camera, Google Drive, Dropbox and other cloud locations
- ability to sign in with an existing Google Classroom account and get access to one or more of your Google drives.
- basic lesson planning with new assignments, resources, and assessments that can be curated either on the class calendar and/or as current/future activities
- ability to move lessons forward for use the next year
Here’s how you start:
Teacher creates an account on CanaryFlow, then sets up her/his class including assignments, due dates, homework, lessons, and more. Students sign on to iPads, desktops, Chromebooks, or laptops with a Link code provided by the teacher which gets them with the right teacher, the right class.
I’ve taught Preschool-8th grade for thirty years. Throughout, one factor stood out as the most reliable barometer of student achievement: Parent involvement. It didn’t mean parents as tutors, homework helpers, or classroom volunteers–although it could be those. It meant parents showing they cared about their child’s success.
Today’s education model is catching up with the fundamental part parents play in student achievement. In Massachusetts, for example, family and community engagement is one of four standards within its teacher-evaluation rubric.
If you’re looking for a way to involve parents more granularly in your classroom, try these three ideas:
I’ve been on the hunt for a good–scratch that: excellent–Learning Management System for several months. There are a lot of options out there, but none had enough of the characteristics that most teachers I know look for with an LMS, namely:
- delivers content to students in a variety of formats
- tracks student progress on assigned activities
- assesses student learning (both formative and summative)
- provides for teacher-student and student-student communication
- intuitive to use for both teachers and students, to encourage daily access. It should be non-intimidating, non-threatening, even non-geeky, so stakeholders feel as comfortable as they would in a physical classroom
- works across all platforms–iPads, web, Chromebooks
- plays well with a wide variety of apps, such as Khan Academy
- easily monitors student progress, work, and learning
- includes reminders of activities
- communicates important announcements to students
- allows for co-teaching in a classroom (an arrangement that is growing in popularity)
- encourages parent involvement in the education journey
I know–sounds impossible. Then, an email from Otus showed up in my stream. It caught my attention because the conversation was straightforward, plain-speaking, and hit my high points. So I agreed to review it.
update–This site has been retired
Knowmia offered me a free coupon code for Knowmia Pro. I didn’t know much about this app though the buzz had me curious. I spent two minutes looking at the website to see if I was interested. A couple of features made me decide to give it a try:
- video recording on IPads
- a knowledge base of teacher videos
- ability to annotate a website
In fact, I have lamented on several occasions that I couldn’t share a how-to on an IPad app because my recorder/editor didn’t work on IPads. This appeared to be a solution.
The download was quick, set up easy. I was clicking away on the program within minutes. A few details I liked as I reviewed the program: