In the third of our four-part series of articles on learning management systems, Sean Aiken Head of Basis Independent School in McLean and Dr Daniel Usera from Arkansas State University talk about e-learning platforms in their institutes.
Also read: – Learning Management Systems: Your Opinion – Part 1
– Learning Management Systems: Your Opinion – Part 2
Software simply cannot replace the dynamic, co-creative classroom interaction between teacher and student. Technology is one of many tools available to teachers to inspire students to take ownership over their learning. But there is no replacement for a genuine relationship – you will always remember your favorite teacher more fondly than your favorite computer.
At BASIS Independent, our approach to the use of technology in education is highly focused: we use technology to help us solve problems of scale, as the connective tissue that joins an international network of PreK-12 schools. Most learning platforms are designed to displace the teacher or compensate for weak pedagogical talent. Our platform by contrast is designed to give full control to trusted educators and their unique styles and goals to strengthen and enhance our services over time.
BASISedLink and Assessment our curricular management system, was created to address the challenging balance of accountability and autonomy in the classroom. It’s an example of expertly curated crowd sourcing for instructional design and quality control, to ensure that crucial decisions are made by master teachers and not top-down, centralized bureaucracies.
With BASISedLink and Assessment (BELA), our teachers capture, organize, and share their innovative lesson designs, topic sequencing, time allocation, best practices, and desired outcomes – all in real time. Each topic is linked to assessment tools of varying form, depth, and complexity, like simulations, or short answer, and yes even multiple choice. We want to expose students to diverse avenues in which they can demonstrate success and then let expert teachers determine the best course of action. This intersection of teacher agency and student performance produces useful data to inform the path they will walk together.
BASISedLink and Assessment’s planning and review features help teachers analyze what their kids have actually mastered, not just what they’ve completed. Students benefit from adaptable, authentic learning experiences that align to what’s actually happening in their classrooms. We expect teachers to diverge from a syllabus when the needs of their students call for it, and that flexibility is vital to their lifelong engagement.
The science and art of learning is extraordinarily complex. When we consider the course of technological progress, we should be cautious about those ‘advancements’ that further diminish the role of teaching as an actual profession. Rather than pitching technology against teachers, tools like BASISedLink and Assessment help energize and empower us to create richly-layered and highly interactive learning experiences for all our students.
Arkansas State University uses a very popular LMS. I think it definitely has advantages. It acts as a central hub where students can turn in all of their assignments in one place, and they can see their grade progress without having to send an e-mail. It makes keeping track of student assignments way easier.
The LMS has a ton of features like plagiarism detection, creating forums, and blog posting. With students being more computer-savvy these days, I think they enjoy the convenience of accessing course material and their grades at the click of a few buttons.
There are a few disadvantages, however. Some students (especially non-traditional) are not as computer literate, so they will often e-mail me asking how to do basic tasks. Every once in a while, a student will use the LMS malfunctioning as an excuse for turning in a late assignment (e.g. “the LMS wasn’t working” or “I tried turning it into the LMS but it kept getting an error.”) And at my university, the IT people often have to do “maintenance” on the LMS, which requires it to go down for periods of time. And if you don’t like reading off screens, grading assignments can be a strain on the eyes after a while (so I have to take breaks).
So that’s my experience.