“Technology is just a tool. In terms of getting the kids working together and motivating them, the teacher is most important.” —Bill Gates

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Online Safety Chat


Hi!

We just concluded an amazing #ADEchat (Apple Distinguished Educator) on Twitter. So many amazing educators participated and offered a tremendous amount of resources. I have created a Storify of the complete conversation so you can take a look at it and "beg, borrow, or steal" any ideas, recommendations or resources you like.

Tune in every Tuesday at 8:00pm CST for a new #ADEchat. Topics are always relevant and interesting.

Cheers!

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Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Exploring New LMSs


Greetings all!

This school year we have been revising the tools used at our school. One very important tool is our Learning Management System (LMS). We currently have a large number of LMSs being used. Three of them are used more consistently: SchoolWorld (N-2), Edmodo (3-5), and EDU2.0 (6-12). The task to find one sole LMS that would accommodate to the needs of N-12 began around October.

After thorough research performed by the LMS task force, four LMSs were up for testing: SchoologyHaiku LearningCanvas, and NEO. Four groups of volunteering teachers were formed, one each to pilot each different LMS. Once the phase 1 deadline was met, we all met to discuss any feedback regarding each of the LMSs we had tested. After casting our votes, the choices were narrowed down to two. We are now beginning the second phase of the piloting program, testing the finalists: Schoology and Haiku Learning.

I have been fortunate to be personally involved with these two LMSs as the pilot group leader. It has not been as easy task. The pilot teachers already have a full plate, and on top of that they graciously accepted to modify their lessons and pilot at least two full unit plans through the LMS, not to mention learn a whole new tool.

I'm sad to leave Edmodo behind. I started using this LMS in my own Technology classes and later encouraged the school to adopt it for grades 3-5. I realize that the change is needed to better serve the whole school community and am happy to move on.

One of the pilot teachers I'm working with is Emily, a second grade teacher. They have been using SchoolWorld as a communication tool to convey important information and events to parents and students. She started testing Schoology. The students had not interacted with an LMS before. This was their first time. I have to say, Emily was at a point in which she wanted to quit from the program due to several difficulties she was encountering. 

I can imagine the frustration. First of all, the students were logging in to a different web address, thus making the log in a long and difficult process. Second, she could not find a way to accomplish a very specific activity she had in mind. She was covering the poetry unit and wanted the students to video record themselves reading a poem and then be able to provide comments to each other.

I visited her classroom during the time of the activity and helped out. Magic happened! Everything worked out as planned! Emily was so happy to see how the students were engaged and interacting with each other. This took the class to a whole new level of collaboration that previously was not possible! Here are some pictures that show what happened that day.


 



I am very happy that Emily got a breakthrough and is now eagerly working with her students on phase 2, now with Haiku Learning. I'll report the final results in a later post.

Cheers!