What's best for teachers? a content provider, a platform builder or both?

Published: May 20, 2015

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
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Find out more about the product in question, you can view our School Jotter here.