Category Archives: LMS

Treaty Education ready to launch in 5,4,3,2,1!!!!

Photo Credit: jurvetson Flickr via Compfight cc

Wow, hard to believe that my course prototype is ready to launch.  It is even crazier to think that the semester has flown by so quickly, when it’s over I will have another 2 classes under my belt.  I decided that I wanted to finish up Grad School before I returned to teaching in August from my maternity leave.  I will also attempt a spring and then a summer course and tada, I will be finee, I will level up with my Masters Degree. On a side note I can’t believe my baby is six months old, where have the days gone.

Photo Credit: codehobbits

Aimee, Justine, Rochelle and I decided that we wanted to focus our course prototype on Treaty Relationships. This subject can sometimes become difficult for teachers to implement in their classrooms. I personally think that now is the time for reconciliation because there is so much ignorance and mis-education when it comes to First Nations and Treaties. Also, working in a school that is home to 97% First Nation students is reason enough to explore First Nation culture.

Photo Credit: *Ken Lane* Flickr via Compfight cc

I am looking forward to exploring another groups course prototype in just a few short days.  It will be very helpful to receive some constructive criticism about our prototype, this will help us improve.  I am not worried about being evaluated by my colleges as we are the guinea pigs for this EC&I 834 course, this is the first time that it was offered by Alec  and Katia.

I have definitely learned a lot in terms of how to get a LMS up and running. I had never worked with Google Classroom before and found it very simple to use.  I was even more shocked that I could have been using it for awhile with my Division but was never given any training on it or was it even mentioned as an option. My school uses Google Docs and Google Forms quite often but again I was unaware of Classroom.  However, my step daughter spoke about using it in her high school. Perhaps, I should have just Googled it and I would have figured it out for myself a year ago.  I mentioned in a previous blog about how I was using Google Docs with my students and it was becoming redundant in terms of creating Docs and having them share assignments with me, and basically my email inbox busting from student work. After this course I am very comfortable working with Google Classroom and feel that I will continue to create courses with it.

Photo Credit: derekbruff Flickr via Compfight cc

After we decided to use Google Classroom as our LMS, it was just a matter of how and what I wanted to do with my module.  I had a few ideas in terms of lessons and just like my life I tend to overthink it and make it very complicated. My module grew to be something more than one lesson, maybe one lesson with four parts.  It just seemed to flow so nicely together, I could not stop. I decided to make a few Screen-casts to familiarize students with Adobe Spark, Google Docs, Google Draw and Story Jumper, as for original content I used a Voice Over PowerPoint. I had never used some of the content creation tools myself so doing screen-casts allowed me to gain more experience in it. After I got the hang of all the new stuff that I was dabbling in, it wasn’t all that terrifying. In fact, I was even excited to use Screencastify, and show off my new learning to my step daughter, she wasn’t as excited as I was.

I think that my group did an amazing job tackling Treaty Education. It will be awesome to find out what other think about it too.  If you are interested in taking a peak at our Grade 3 Treaty Education Prototype in Google Classroom send me an email at Chalyn_s@hotmail.com and I  will provide you the classroom code.

 


Blended Music LMS = Significant Difference

When asked to choose any topic of interest this week, I immediately revisited the idea of Myth of No Significant Difference. Not shockingly, these thoughts surfaced around the same time as my feelings of overwhelmedness about the amount of work that I am going to have to do shortly to finish my blended Music 9 course prototype. It had me thinking about what the benefits of blended learning really are.

So, at the suggestion of Kara, I decided to see what others have done to create Music LMSs, and learn from their experiences, rather than assuming that I am the first to have tried it. I’m definitely not the first. And I found out that music teachers and institutions around the world are doing amazing things with blended LMSs in music, but one pair of music educators has a website that sucked me in for a couple of hours and lifted me out inspired and armed with a few new tools.

freebern

Freebern Music has designed a LMS for music courses at Burr and Burton Academy in Vermont to accommodate lower enrollment and still offer multiple courses. They say,

“We were  teaching students HOW to learn, leaving the WHAT to the digital tools we created. As a result, we found that content knowledge and retention was improving.”

They also built courses that addressed various outcomes around students’ interests WITH those students. In future years, other students used the courses and expanded on them as well.

One of the main concerns that they had after moving all of their music classes to blended environments was that some students still desired to be spoon-fed, and they needed to spend more time helping students develop skills to work autonomously. (Dre and Logan also discussed the importance of scaffolding in their blogs and with me this week.) Unlike in a traditional face-to-face classroom, the Freeberns couldn’t ignore this skill building. Without it, students could not be successful. They came up with three areas of focus: “These three components, a desire for autonomy, the instinctive need for mastery and a purpose for study,  motivate our students to learn in this type of educational structure; a structure that will help them become lifelong learners.” And as we all know, this is the ultimate goal. It’s a key component of Saskatchewan Curricula.

By FotoshopTofs Via Pixaby

Not all of their courses are open, but some course resources are open as well as links to music technology apps and resources. I had so much fun looking through them. It was clear that these educators have done a lot of work already to make this LMS and it was much more useful to spend time looking through their courses, tools, and statements rather than trying to figure it all out myself. One of the tools is sampulator.com. It’s a fun intuitive tool that allows people to create simple beats using pre-programmed sounds. I made one, and I think that I’m going to use this tool as the activity for my Music 9 module.

sampulator

I emailed the developers, Neil and Julie Freebern a note of thanks for sharing their concept, challenges and model and requested temporary access to the modules to see how they have laid them out. Hopefully, they will get back to me! Once again, the results of building a professional learning network have gone beyond my expectations.

The whole website appears to be mind-blowingly professional and comprehensive. Seeing this, has really inspired me. As a teacher who has to promote an elective class in a school with a declining population, I can see how LMS could provide administration with the flexibility needed to give students many opportunities to take music classes.

And that is a SIGNIFICANT difference. 


Music 9 is going to rock!

In my blog post last week, I asked readers to help me decide which platform to use for my music class prototype course by voting on a poll. I only had two responses. One was in favour of Canvas; one was for Schoology. Then, in our Zoom meeting on Tuesday night, I had a chance to see Alec walk through some different LMS platforms. After playing around with a few of them, I have decided to use Canvas as the platform for my Music 9 course prototype.

(***Tip: This post is long. If you want to skim through for the main ideas, just look for the bolded words.***)

Rationale:

iphone-music-pic
Via pixabay

I have chosen a blended learning approach using Canvas as a platform because I think the learning will be more student centred. Audrey Watters reminds us that “we like the idea that new technologies mean new practices, new affordances. But that’s not always or necessarily how technology works.” Watters also cautions teachers not to allow LMSes to take the student out of the centre of the learning experience. In this case, I really believe that the format could change the way students learn if I keep in mind ways to facilitate students’ individual needs and goals. Personal learning is more likely with a blended approach, and using Canvas as platform is especially exciting for a few reasons:

  • Blended learning increases engagement and teacher-individual student face-to-face time
    • Student choice. Music is particularly engaging when students can learn an instrument that they are passionate about, so that is what I encourage students to do. The online instructional materials available give students this freedom to choose any instrument.
    • Instruments or practice spaces are not always available to students in a period, especially if the class is large. With a blended learning approach, there is more flexibility for what students are able to do.
    • Teachers can give more valuable instruction to individuals during face-to-face class time. With a large number of instruments available to learn, it is impossible for teachers to provide students with instruction about all of them on a regular basis. If teachers can upload self-made or open instructional materials about different instruments for students to look at on their own time, students can come to class with questions and get feedback on what they have practiced.
    • Students need lessons with a teacher, but with the number of students in a class, it is hard to see each student each day. With video posts of progress on blogs, it increases the opportunities for students and teachers to interact and provide feedback.
  • Canvas’s organization options and compatibility with Google. Awesome.
    • Modules – unlike Google Classroom, I can create modules within a course for various instruments to personalize student learning.
    • Intuitive to use, which means I won’t give up on using it
    • I already use Google Apps, and it will be easy to upload my spreading existing materials to Canvas
    • I can use content developed by other Canvas users
    • Students can upload videos of themselves practicing and engage in discussions on Canvas, without needing to create blogs. This is a valuable time-saver in the Music 9 class, which is offered as part of a rotation within FineArts 9.
feel-the-music
By EuropeMusic99 via Wikimedia Commons

Target Student Population and Demographics: The target audience of this course will be grade 9 students; however, the beauty of this platform is that Music 10, 20, or 30 students who have never taken a music course before, could follow the Music 9 blended course initially to learn some basics before moving on to their grade appropriate level. (Eventually, I hope to develop courses at all levels.)

Course Format: This course will be guided by principles of blended learning with both asynchronous and synchronous components. Face-to-face interaction is a necessary component of music, but it can be enhanced tremendously with online components.

  • Online & Asynchronous:
    • instructional videos
    • theory assignments
    • share videos of progress through blogs that students and teachers, as well as community members can comment on
  • Online & Synchronous:
    • discussions on Canvas
    • guest speakers in Skype
    • live streamed concerts
  • Face-to-Face & Independent:
    • practicing  instrument at school or at home
    • recording using the recording studio at school
  • Face-to-Face & Collaborative:
    • playing with others
    • one-on-one or group lessons with the teacher present
    • performances with live audience

Course Toolset:

  • Online
  • School
    • instruments
    • sound reinforcement (mics, mic and instrument cables, mixer, amps, speakers, monitors)
    • paper copies of music (can be easier to read)
    • recording studio and GarageBand, Adobe ???
    • hand-written theory assignments

Do you know of any great tools or apps that music students should use in this course?

Course Content and Learning Objectives: 

For the first module, we will address the following outcomes from the Saskatchewan Arts Education 9 Curriculum:
  • Use voice, instruments, and technologies to express musical ideas.
  • Combine the elements of music and principles of composition to express unified musical ideas.
  • Compose and perform sound compositions to express perspectives and raise awareness about a topic of concern to youth.
  • Respond to professional dance, drama, music, and visual art works through individual or collaborative inquiry and the creation of own arts expressions.

Assessment Strategies:

  • Formative: blogs with videos, feedback in lessons, theory worksheets
  • Summative: performance, composition

Concerns/Challenges:

  • Online
    • low bandwidth
    • poor connectivity to wireless networks
    • student access to devices when working from home, and occasionally at school
    • time it will take to familiarize students with Canvas when Fine Arts 9 rotations are short
    • user friendliness of Canvas on mobile devices (I need to look into this; it might not be a concern.)
    • some students may be able to afford upgraded/superior apps, while others cannot, which could be discouraging
  • School
    • lack of space for students to practice with few distractions from other students
    • availability of instruments for students to use (esp. drums and pianos/keyboards).
    • addressing all students’ personal learning goals

What kind of challenges might you anticipate that I haven’t thought of yet?

 

 

 


I’m not artist, but I could sure use this Canvas

After spending some time exploring different LMS this week, our group has decided to go with Canvas. Both Nancy and I have extensive use with Edmodo and after exploring Google Classroom last week we realized that it’s very similar so we didn’t want to go with that option. Andrew suggested we explore Canvas a little further and after some exploration, we decided to go that route. If you have never used Canvas, Andrew created a video demonstrating how to navigate the dashboard in order to set up you class. I’ve included that video below and you can read more about his thoughts on Canvas on his latest post.

When I started exploring Canvas I found that it was pretty user-friendly. I appreciated the classroom set-up checklist that was included when you start a class.  This takes you through setting up a class step by step. I found it to be really helpful and easy to follow. However, there were a lot of features that weren’t discussed in the guide that I missed out on the first time I explored Canvas. After reading Kyle’s blog it was brought to my attention that outcomes can be attached to the assignments or lessons you are adding to the class. I didn’t know that it was an option prior to reading his blog. After reading that I decided to look into the outcomes option to see how it works. Unfortunately, the outcomes that are already uploaded are American based so I would have to enter my outcomes on my own (which isn’t a big surprise, but would be nice to have the outcomes already loaded to select from).

This brief product video also taught me a few things, one of which is the ability to connect apps with the classroom you have created. I use Khan Academy to teach coding to my students in some of my technology courses so being able to connect that content to this platform is great. It eliminates the need for students to go to multiple sites in order to take part in the class which makes things a little more user-friendly for the students (and myself).

Canvas has a Commons area in which you can share courses as well as use courses that have been developed by other people. It is basically a digital library create by the users on Canvas. The courses seem to be built around standards and themes from the United States, but that is probably because those are the majority of the people sharing their work. It would be nice to see some more courses being added from people in Canada, more specifically Saskatchewan. Hopefully after this class we have a few courses that can be shared on Canvas. Another thing I noticed about the Commons area is that a lot of the courses are partially finished having only a few assignments or modules. The Commons area provides access to courses, modules, assignments, documents, quizzes and a variety of other resources.

Screenshot of the Commons Area

Screenshot of the Commons Area

I should also mention that I was shocked (in a good way) to receive a phone call on Friday at work from Matt at Canvas. He was simply calling to check in and see how my initial experience was and wanted to help answer any questions I may have had. He was able to answer the one question I did have at that time which was whether or not the student and teacher dashboards looked the same. He told me they look almost identical minus some menus that the teacher has to edit the course that the students don’t have. The reason they have it set up this way is so that there is little confusion going from one to the other. It makes it easier for teachers to help students if they need help navigating their course. I really like that it looks the same for teachers as it does for students. I was impressed that they took the time out of their day to call me and make sure everything was going well so far. I feel confident that if I have any questions help is only a call or a click away.

After reading Kyle, Logan and Liz’s blogs this week it is clear that I still have a lot to learn with Canvas. I’m looking forward to using this with my group to develop our course. I think it will be a great LMS for our project.


LMS or VLE? Don’t matter to me! Canvas? Let’s see.

aladdin-shopkeep

If you guessed: “Aladdin”, you are right. Aladdin Shopkeeper picture via Pinterest

Come on down, stop on by, and today we’ll decide, an LMS to tryyyyyyyy!

Guess the reference and forever have the song stuck in your head for this blog post.

Decisions, decisions

In determining which learning management system (LMS) or virtual learning environment (VLE) to try out, I immediately tried to establish my criteria for determining which LMS best fits my ideologies. The LMS should:

  1. Be free, support open content and allow for my course to become publicly available. Reflecting on the creation of MOOCs and open content in the short history of educational technology helped remind me of this.
  2. Allow for easy posting/sharing of videos, images, notes, and updates.
  3. Have a user-friendly interface for students that remains available to them at the conclusion of the course (kind of a continuance on my first point. Audrey Watters, hackeducation, addressed the problem that, in some courses,  “students would lose access at the end of class“, so I want it to be a priority that the content, discussions, and sharing would always be available.
  4. Bonus: does it have any cool additional features/apps that set it apart from others?

Upon doing some additional (beyond-class) research and observing the list of mediums presented in class, I decided to go with Canvas. It’s important to note, however, that I have a hard time segregating one LMS from another as most share the same basic functionality (assignments, discussion, assessment, etc.), ultimately the content and learning within the course is our focus. The LMS is the wrapping, not the present. Whether we are talking assignment submission and distribution of modules, these concepts should be included, so it’s not really a knock on other LMS when it is the foundation of their design.


Exploring Canvas (Instructure)canvas-by-instructure

To begin, I got lost finding out where to actually go to get a class started. The fortunate side of this, was that I ended up exploring more of the depth of Canvas as a whole.

It offers MOOCs!

That being said, the amount of MOOCs are quite limited… I was hoping to find one on music, but came up with online one clear-cut music one: Open Mic Songwriting, and many of you know, I can already write a song.

Arc was another function that allowed for the sharing of videos within the course, keeping track of who had watched the video, how long, and allowed them to comment and discuss (a feature that could likely be completed if you simply embedded a YouTube video as well).

Bridge was another function that is apparently “stops yawning” and is “engaging” but I got lost in several paragraphs of marketing/promotion that I couldn’t track down what it actually was.

I can make my courses public! One of my requirements is apparently confirmed and I would be able to publish my course upon completion or when I felt it was ready. Additionally, as I poked around with assessment and assignments, I can import and export marks and data as needed into the system which may even lead to easy transfer of using formative assessment sites like Socrative and Kahoot (which export excel files), all I would need to do is convert the file to a .csv and fiddle with some student-name/assignment name work!

canvas public domain.png

Screenshot

The website appears to be very user-friendly and includes many of the requirements I would typically have for assignments, group work, and due dates that I would attempt to achieve in a regular class. Uploading of assignments, tracking of attendance, quiz-delivery all seem readily accessible and usable for an educator, with support and tips abundant throughout the course development process.

Final Grades
Open-Source and Availability of Content  4.5/5
I removed some marks due to the fact that it tries to create almost a dependence on its own apps like Bridge and Arc. It does have easy overlap with Creative Commons which lends itself to better and easier open sourcing of content.

Functionality 4.5/5
Has all basic functions I would have expected to see in an LMS.

User-Friendly 4/5
There were initial hiccups in the start-up that slowed me down, but I imagine after working with the students briefly the classroom would function easily.

Additional Features 3/5
There doesn’t appear to be anything too mind-bending or revolutionary for Canvas in comparison what I’ve seen from other learning management systems. Arc and Bridge appear to tell you how great they are, but my understanding of them seem pretty straight-forward and achievable through other avenues.

Closing Thoughts
If I were to use a specific learning management system, and not the hybrid I have in mind for my project, I would actively consider using Canvas. It combines a lot of the ideologies I referenced above in a satisfactory manner and I felt very comfortable using it once I got started!

What learning management systems do you suggest?
Note: After my ECI834 classmates provide some reviews I’ll be sure to update this blog with their reviews of other LMS, so you can compare between each!

Was my evaluation of Canvas on the mark?

Share in the comments!

– Logan Petlak