As people start getting older, learning becomes more difficult. Some people argue this is because we already know too much, while others believe that the brain is like a muscle and if we don’t work it out it gets weaker. Whatever the reason is, there are some learning strategies that can help you learn faster, no matter what age you are.
Make your learning much easier by following these tips:
Learning platforms (or virtual learning environments) help learners improve the speed of their learning too by providing immediate feedback after each training session. Check out Totara LMS to learn more.
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
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.
In this post, Kathy Walter, Educator and CEO at Nsoma, reveals her thoughts on Learning Platforms and their contribution to student learning.
Learning Management Systems (LMSs) are used in a number of schools to deliver online learning content in a structured way. As opposed to gather random search content from search engines, learning management systems do just that – they manage learning based on the subject, teacher and curricula being taught. Like all technology, they work only as well as the people or person loading them with content. Most technology solutions for learning do not come with content and those that do need to have that content licensed separately. Learning Management Systems are great for delivering content to students for a number of reasons.
1. Different paces, steering together: because you can control what content students see, but students do not necessarily know where other students are in their learning path. So, for instance, one student may be far ahead in a lesson and another may be far behind, but unless the lesson plans for them working together on a topic, each student proceeds at their own pace.
2. Anytime, Anywhere: LMS allows students to log in at school or at home. So if they are sick or miss an assignment, want to review for the day ahead or want to go back and review a concept they did not understand, it’s all possible.
3. Flexible Delivery: Most LMS render on a computer or laptop, but also on mobile phones and tablets. So it does not matter what device a student has, they can learn from anything.
4. Special Needs Handled: When students require additional mechanics like braille readers, color blind screen adaptors, text readout, etc, many LMSs link with other technology tools to help all learners.
As with any technology, there are also drawbacks:
1. Training: LMSs are more prevalent these days, but many schools and teachers still have not learned to use them. And schools may change their LMSs as contracts expire and new bids have to be issued. It takes a long time to train staff and students to use them when it’s not something they are familiar with.
2. Let me in! LMSs require logins and when they are not sync’d with other login systems and a student forgets a password, it takes valuable learning time to get them up and running
3. Technology changes: LMS companies deliver a lot of technology changes each year, but not all LMSs have the same functionality. Some can vary widely. And some functionality works more intuitively than others. This can be frustrating for users when they expect to do something quickly and wind up with more work – for instance, teachers trying to load in lessons and assessments. People usually adapt well, but when a new round of changes comes out, companies still have a habit of not always understanding classroom and school processes, and it can lead to user frustration. Too much user frustration, particularly by teachers means some will stop using a system all together.
Bottom line: every school should have an LMS. The types and cost vary widely, but technology runs our world. Not introducing our school kids to technology in all aspects puts them at a severe disadvantage. It’s worth the time and effort to deliver at least part of their education via online content.
Kathy Walter, CEO at Nsoma, is responsible for conceiving and delivering innovative solutions that support the instructional and educational agendas of school districts and edTech companies. She recently served as the Executive Director, Product Strategy & Innovation at the NYC Department of Education and prior to that as Director, Product Development at a start-up online learning solution. Kathy has a BA in Applied Math from Union College, an MBA From NYU’s Stern School of Business, and a Graduate Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). She’s currently completing her JD at Fordham Law School in Education and IP law. Kathy has been an ESL Educator at Northeastern University and Cambridge Learning Center; an ESL curriculum consultant with the YearUp program in Boston; and a program developer for several teaching projects in Uganda.
We’ve asked education experts about learning management systems in their organisations, how they benefit their students and if they see any disadvantages or problems in using them. As the replies we received were numerous, we’ll be posting a four-part series of articles, where education experts give their opinion on learning management systems. This is the first part of that series.
Learning Management Systems are fantastic tools for the instructor as well as the students. For the professor it provides a repository for all the learning materials to be used for the course, a systematic approach to the course development, and learning tools to make multimedia presentations, such as podcasts, videos exams and quizzes.
The classroom is a new entity where the majority of learning comes from the students preparation for the physical classroom experience. The LMS provides the delivery of those tools that can be used outside of the classroom in preparation. It allows the professor to curate the material and provide his/her perspective on the subject/material. This is especially helpful for remote learning, hybrid and full online learning environments.
For the student it’s fantastic. They have a clear path to the material and a dynamic learning environment using many of the mediums which are part of their everyday experience. Listening to podcasts and viewing videos can be done on their smartphones while traveling or even in a coffee shop.
The multimedia nature of the tools and resources accommodates the many different types of learners and provides an opportunity to even have some fun with tools such as Quizlet to take quizzes, research tools and other materials.
Learning is no longer confined to the classroom; Harvard Professor, Eric Mazur and his concept of Peer Instruction and the flipped classroom support this idea for course management software. It has helped re-engineer the instructor’s role from “sage on stage” (not my words!) to “guide on the side”. The LMS helps the professor “curate” the material for the student to help guide them through the subject. In the curation the student gets to understand the professor’s perspective as well.
A notable disadvantage is that the student has to be technically savvy, have reliable internet access and a computer, iPad, or phone. Without those tools they cannot do the work. So in lower-income areas or schools, these tools may not be readily available to all students and will put them at a disadvantage in regards to other students.
For older students, especially those who are returning to school via online programs, learning the LMS toolset can be a barrier in and of itself. Especially if they are exclusively online and may need in-person help to learn the systems. Professors need to set clear office hours to help students over some of those barriers and to provide alternatives for students who don’t have reliable access to computers and the internet. This can be done with more flexible deadlines and options to hand in homework the old-fashioned way, via paper.
The benefit to the student is tremendous; it is 24 hours a day access to the classroom requirements; especially for those students who work to pay for their education – it allows them to work on their reading and assignments, before or after work. Because learning is a very collaborative environment, the LMS has incredible collaboration tools that don’t require students to be in the same room together. A classroom in Dubai can work on a project with a classroom in US using tools like video conferencing etc. These tools are game changers and continue to change the role of the professor and the way classrooms are designed. Donna Lubrano is an adjunct faculty with a Master’s degree in International Business from Boston University. She has experience in a broad range of commercial endeavors including, health and fitness, international education, event and conference planning, healthcare, and corporate training. She has worked with students from around the globe, in Leadership and Entrepreneurship. She is a frequent contributor to on-line articles, is a business mentor to small businesses and start-ups. She is currently working on an international virtual student exchange program that would allow students who cannot travel abroad to work on business projects with students from international classrooms.
Our resident Totara expert Ben Wagner explains how using the LMS in schools can help improve your staff’s training and CPD.
For those that haven’t heard of it, Totara (pronounced “To-Tra”) is a workplace-focused LMS used by organisations around the world for compliance training and continual professional development (CPD). It’s based on another open source LMS, with additional extensions on top to add the feature set required in a modern workplace environment. The idea behind the system is to reduce barriers to training and ensure that learning can take place at any time, anywhere, ensuring that staff can keep on top of their training. Continue reading →
This week it is Staff Blog week here at Webanywhere, so each day we will be sharing with you a new blog post from one of our employees. Today it’s Helen Bound discussing the best possible VLE for teachers.
One of the often repeated gripes from teachers about their expected e-learning involvement is lack of time to produce content. ‘We’re too busy marking, and writing reports, and planning, and teaching and…” and so it goes on. These are all valid points but until senior leaders recognise the importance of a learning platform for their teachers and students alike there will never be sufficient time put aside to allow staff to author their content and start providing 21st century learning experiences.
Having worked in this industry for 10 years and recognising the value of e-learning with this generation I feel that some school leaders are very short-sighted in their ability to provide flexible working arrangements for their staff and understand that lesson planning does not revolve around a large A3 piece of paper and coloured pens anymore or a word document. E-planning and resource creation can all be done online. Straight to the learning platform, no middle-man, thus saving time…and paper.
Sharing this ideology with teachers can do two things, inspire them to produce the most wonderful teaching resources and share with colleagues and make it their preferred mode of teaching or turn teachers away because they don’t have the IT confidence and prefer their tried-and tested method. Chalk and talk!
Having spent time with schools talking about their VLE’s and time management it occurred to me there was an opportunity to create a School Jotter Essentials product for schools. Strip out all the resources they don’t need initially, produce ready set-up courses with all the labels in place and just train schools on the basics like assignments, forums, questionnaires, quizzes and let them progress from that point.
An open-source LMS can be daunting at first sight to any non-technical person and if we can strip out the non-essential blocks and make it more user-friendly, we may have more people willing to give it a try.
In my mind I almost see a School Jotter cross-over where a dashboard of School Jotter apps are presented to you when you login, labelled Assignments, Forums, Quizzes and you are lead to a slightly easier interface to set these activities up. Matching the simplicity of Jotter with the features of an open-source LMS…who knows. That whole bite-size approach to learning could be replicated here with a simpler interface. Anyway that’s for the future…
So if we build it they will come…how much can we put in place reasonably that will take all the hard, complicated graft out of setting courses up, to just allow educators to add their content in…do we accept it’s an enormous cultural shift in Education at the moment to expect every organisation to be successfully running an e-learning platform or will it come in time and we could just help it a little on it’s way. Providing an entire platform with all content added will never work, educators need ownership of their teaching material, some feel their role is being eroded anyway with the advent of IT and e-learning, so there has to be an optimum level they’d be happy to use. VLE titles from publishers are horrendously expensive, and you are tied into that investment. However bite-size resources would be most welcome if they add the teaching functionality to a course that would be more effective than a PDF worksheet. Any sort of self-marking assessment would be most welcome too as it fulfills that element of teaching.
So having read this back, have I just described a Jotter on steroids…could we develop a Jotter product to rival open-source LMS…the simplicity of Jotter apps with the rigour and flexibility of an LMS. Joodle or Motter…you choose. Helen Bound
Related Webanywhere reading
Find out more about the product in question, you can view our School Jotter here.
Webanywhere offers an end-to-end LMS service.
Now, we’ve taken our services one step further, and developed our own range of plug-ins – which we call our Apps – to help make your VLE more engaging, useful and easier to use.
These exclusive apps are only available from Webanywhere, and all of them are already being used by leading independent establishment St Alban’s School. We’ve given an overview of each one below – but to find out more, simply get in touch and book a demo here: https://www.webanywhere.co.uk/contact Team Organiser
Create and organise teams for sports events. When you select students to be a part of these teams, they’ll automatically get a confirmation message to say they’ve been chosen, along with event details. Stock Management
Keep track of equipment lent out to students, and make sure everything gets returned! Group Communicator
Send group emails or SMS messages to parents, students or other members of staff. Sanctions Management
Manage and keep track of detention sessions and sanctions given to students. Output As
Print data from other modules into PDF format. Forward Planner
Create a school diary for printing – and send key dates and events direct to your school website, all in one simple process. Academic Reporting
See information about every student – from grades to notes from other teachers Helpdesk
Log calls and see their status – and view the information on multiple devices. Timetables
See a full display of lesson plans for students and staff. Clicking on a session within the timetable will take the student to the course that they have to do. Absence Overview
Get an at-a-glance report of who has attended classes – and who hasn’t! Scores Viewer
Display house or team scores on the homepage as a graph. Resource Booking
Book any resource (for example, rooms or cars) for any length of time. This module also integrates directly with PASS. Teacher Cover Management
Input a lesson plan for a cover teacher to pick up – before they even arrive at school. Can also be used for normal lesson planning. Messenger
Get notifications when messages are received via other plug-ins/apps. A number appears on the menu bar to denote a new message; clicking it will take you to where the message is. Training Requests & Courses
Manage staff training. Maintain training budgets, nominate staff members for training and keep track of where repeat training is needed. Staff can also request new courses.
Webanywhere customers that are LMS users may be interested to read that the core functionality of the world’s most popular open source LMS is built around five principles that have guided development since the earliest days. These beliefs can be clearly seen in the design (the forums, glossary, wiki, etc) which all provide ample opportunities for students to create materials in a safe/secure online environment which can instantly be seen and reviewed by peers.
The five principles are:
Students can be teachers and teachers can be students. Everyone can be a learner.
We learn well by creating and expressing for others.
We learn a lot by watching others.
Understanding others transforms us.
We learn well when the learning environment is flexible and adaptable to suit our needs.
A recent survey by the British Educational Suppliers Association (BESA) has revealed that just 2% of primary school teachers believed that investing in new libraries was more important than investing in ICT for the classroom. This would seem to suggest that, as schools see their funding squeeze, many feel under pressure to spend what they have on new technology rather than traditional learning materials.
Ray Barker, director, BESA commented: “Due to the increase in the provision and use of interactive whiteboards, pupil computers and supporting digital content, the importance of traditional library facilities is of concern, especially where banks of computers have been provided in the space that may have previously held storage for books. The growing use of eBooks and of the internet for research, is putting pressure on schools to justify expenditure on traditional books.”
Barker added: “We are now naturally experiencing a reduction in estimated ICT allocations from school budgets. However, despite schools being faced with many financial pressures, the survey indicates schools are managing the cuts sensibly and with optimism.”
At Webanywhere we’re helping schools to stretch their ICT budgets by developing digital learning platforms that use open source technologies and creating innovative product pricing ‘bundles’ that lower the unit cost of provision.
Highest rated education app on the App store by parents 4.7 stars out of 5. Organise a free demo now!