As technology becomes more prevalent in society today, especially in schools, the more we embrace its potential the more we move forward in helping students become engaged in their learning. Give students two assignments and tell them they only have to complete one; the first assignment is to write, with pencil and paper, a two page essay about their ideal summer vacation. Where would they go, what would they do, if money were not a barrier for this vacation? The second assignment is to write a blog post about the same thing and ask two other students questions about their expectations for their vacation; what do the expect to see, experience, do, etc.. on this vacation, and respond to everyone who asks them a question.
Now, which of the two assignments is going to accomplish the overall objective of getting students to think deeply and describe in great detail about this ideal vacation? Which assignment is going to engage their minds and get them writing more, the online or the pencil and paper assignment? One thing to remember is that the first assignment came with a length requirement and the second did not. If you were to give these two assignments I would bet you money, and a lot of it, that the average blog post would contain more writing and deep thinking than a pencil and paper assignment.
We should know that recent research tells us that students write more and better when they know their peers are going to read their writing. We also know that most students prefer to type their assignments instead of using a pencil to write them. A final thing we know is that students are very comfortable, almost too comfortable, putting things on the internet. So why not harness all of these things by having students blog their writings?
So why use an Learning Management System? Most LMS’s have a blog feature, or at least a discussion feature where you can have students write and comment. These features will get your students writing more, and with higher quality, than just writing in a journal they know no one other than their teacher will ever read. Students are also more comfortable discussing with other students through an online format, all of your class discussions with have more participation and greater thought if you are using a discussion format on your LMS. Often times your class discussions with get 1/3 of the students in class to raise their hands and offer something to the conversations, if you were to put that discussion into your LMS I guarantee your participation would be almost 100% every time. Imagine a class where you had 100% discussion participation almost 100% of the time, how much more would your students learn and experience? While we look at this don’t focus on the negative, yes students will sometimes post something inappropriate but don’t they often say inappropriate things in class? If it is logged in your LMS you have it to hold students accountable and use as a learning experience on proper conduct when using the internet.
Other great features an LMS provides are:
The ability to organize class material into lessons and units for students and parents. When we hand out papers they often get lost, if the material can be accessed online you won’t have students coming back to you asking for papers and saying they didn’t get it done because they lost it.
Many of your easy assignments, that are quick checks for understanding, can be graded directly by the LMS. This save hours of grading over the course of your school years. This also saves paper as well as cuts down on the use of pens and pencils that students often forget to bring to class. This in turn saves you the headache of providing these materials or having students go back to their lockers to get them.
You can also store your files and resources on your LMS. How many times have you found a great video online only to not be able to find it when you get back to school the next day? If you load it into the resources on your LMS this problem essentially goes away. You can also save most of your Microsoft office documents as files, helping your keep organized. Also, many LMS’s now offer google drive integration! Now you can have students use this powerful resource directly with your LMS!
While there are many other great reasons to use an LMS I believe I have highlighted the main ones. If you have any other reasons teachers should be using an LMS please comment!
Links to LMS’s, these are free ones that I have used and feel are helpful. Of course there are others out there as well as ones that cost money and offer many more amazing features. Poke around, I hope this is helpful.