As part of my development plan to engage and enhance student learning in the math and sciences, I would like to implement an online Learning Management System (LMS) to integrate with the subjects that I am teaching. The purpose of using an LMS is to achieve three primary goals. First, I would like to increase the frequency of on-topic course discussions, both student to student and student to teacher. Secondly, I plan on delivering lessons integrated with multimedia, and third, I will be incorporating some engaging Assessment for Learning techniques through the use of the LMS. This project will not only deliver strong pedagogy but it can be done with very modest requirements from the school district in terms of financial and employee resources.
I based my choice on using an LMS by applying the standards put forward by the International Society for Technology in Education (NETS for teachers, 2008). It is my intention to facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity while developing digital-age learning experiences and assessment, and the tools needed to achieve this are best delivered through an LMS. For example, discussion forums help foster dialogue and a healthy learning community, and are very important given how today’s students trend to online socializing (Boling & Beatty, 2010). Further enrichment in terms of collaboration and dialogue are managed through synchronous voice and text chat within the LMS, and this would be a significant benefit for SD36 because of the number of ESL students in the district (Chan, 1997), (Hampel & Hauck, 2004). In terms of assessment, as educators such as Black (2004) and the BC Ministry of Education (2006) push towards more Learning For Assessment, I plan to implement real-time formative assessment through the use of an Automated Response System (ARS) (Kay & Knaack, 2009). Finally, the content and communication tools in the LMS will empower the students to be more responsible for their learning: an LMS enhances the communication path between the student and teacher such that goals, assignments and assessments are transparent and always accessible (Perkins & Pfaffman, 2006).
A project such as this requires a well thought-out rationale for the choice of an LMS. One study has shown that approximately 24% of schools admit to obtaining the wrong LMS for their institution (Panettieri, 2007). With this in mind, I have applied Bates and Poole’s (2003) SECTIONS framework to ensure that the most appropriate LMS is chosen. The clear winner in this regard is the open-source solution named Moodle. Having installed and set up Moodle Servers in the past, I have first-hand experience with its capabilities and why it is the best choice. I’ve found Moodle to be very student centered and able to accomplish the goals outlined above. Moodle itself is easy to use: I was first exposed to Moodle through my PDP training at SFU as a student, and I never heard of people having difficulties using it. Using two personal demo installations of Moodle, I’ve already tested the primary functions I’m interested in using for teaching and I am confident in being able to deliver the required functionality. This testing includes integration with an ARS (Poll Everywhere), audio chat tools (Nanogong), and Moodle’s included real-time synchronous chat, student/teacher discussion boards, and lessons prepared with an integrated multimedia experience. I believe that Moodle represents a new and novel solution for students to use, while my experience with using Moodle has shown that it has a fast and flexible installation and configuration process.
From an organizational standpoint, other teachers in School District 36 have begun to use Moodle. Similarly, in the VSB there is a grassroots Moodle community growing (http://school.vsbeducation.ca/moodle/). I believe that as an organization, it is very likely that SD36 will see Moodle as a future choice for LMS. In fact, SD36 may wish to use my proposed implementation as a pilot project that they can monitor for future evaluations.
Issues of great interest to SD36 are the cost and resources required for implementation and deployment. One of the great aspects about Moodle is that the software is open-source and free. There are no costs in purchasing or licensing the LMS software itself. However, there are some costs associated with the infrastructure required to run Moodle, similar to any other LMS software. As well, there are some costs associated with supplementary software modules that I would like implement. These modules pertain to the student centered pedagogy mentioned above, and are not specific to Moodle (the same costs would be incurred with other LMS). All costs and resources are shown in the table below. Although Moodle is highly scalable for full organizational implementation, at this time it is recommended to install on a 3rd party webhosting service provider in order to reduce investment costs and resources. Today’s webhosting companies not only provide an enormous amount of webspace at a reasonable cost, they also typically provide fast 24 hour service and support. I have also included pricing in the case that the district wishes to bring Moodle in-house at a future date. Support for Moodle itself is entirely handled through an online volunteer community. Yearly costs for the webhosting option are $534, whereas it would be $4135 for in-house (plus a $11,100 initial investment).
Bates, A. W., & Poole, G. (2003). Effective teaching with technology in higher education: Foundations for success Jossey-Bass, An Imprint of Wiley.
Black, P., Harrison, C., Lee, C., Marshall, B., & Wiliam, D. (2004). Working inside the black box: Assessment for learning in the classroom. Phi Delta Kappan, 86(1), 8.
Boling, E. C., & Beatty, J. (2010). Cognitive apprenticeship in computer-mediated feedback: Creating a classroom environment to increase feedback and learning. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 43(1), 47-65.
British Columbia, Ministry of Education. (2006). Physics 11 and 12: Integrated resource package. Victoria B.C.: Ministry of Education.
Chan, M. (1997). No talking, please, just chatting: Collaborative writing with computers
Hampel, R., & Hauck, M. (2004). Towards an effective use of audio conferencing in distance language courses. Language Learning & Technology, 8(1), 66-82.
ISTE | NETS for teachers 2008 Retrieved 10/6/2010, 2010, from http://www.iste.org/standards/nets-for-teachers/nets-for-teachers-2008.aspx
Kay, R., & Knaack, L. (2009). Exploring the use of audience response systems in secondary school science classrooms. Journal of Science Education and Technology, 18(5), 382-392.
Panettieri, J. (2007, August). Addition by subtraction. University Business Magazine
Perkins, M., & Pfaffman, J. (2006). Using a course management system to improve classroom communication. Science Teacher, 73(7), 33-37.