Brick and Mortar LMS, you say?

It has been a bit of a dream in my head, for quite some time actually, to make digital tools available to teachers so they have the power to blur, if not erase entirely, the line between their classroom instructional environment and their students’ home environment.moodle logo

Yes, this sounds like online schooling, but that’s not what I’m after here.  Most of our students will continue to go to traditional comprehensive schools for the near future.  Something about the draw of social connections, proms, labs, sports, and the like will keep most of them coming to school, and we will continue to hear criticisms like “school isn’t relevant,” or “I’m not learning the kind of stuff I need,” or “this is so boring, I can’t wait to get home.”

To me, this chasm between expectation and experience our students’ heads present an opportunity we as institutional educators are racing to miss.  In our singular attention to online learning at higher educational levels, and to meet the needs of students by offering diverse content online, we seem to be ignoring our brick and mortar teacher brethren and sistren by relegating digital learning media to the corners of instruction to special experiences.  We push for relevance in online experiences, but we haven’t quite wrapped our minds around the digital needs of the 95% of students remaining in classrooms.

All of our students are pushing back against the idea of “class.”  They don’t fit the paradigm anymore, and the energy we put into cramming them into one-size-fits-all learning experiences the harder they push.  There are visionaries out there, establishing entire schools around the idea of project-based, tech-mediated learning such as the New Tech Foundation, but where is this vision for everyone else?

There are teachers in our district ready to spring like mountain lions onto the fertile ground of a web-based learning management system in their classrooms.  Yes, the failure to go here is about money, but it’s also about vision.  Adults continue to wait for the kids to conform to our learning vision for them, and we continue to scratch our heads when presented with data on our failure; our dropout rates and achievement gap are just two extreme examples.  Other failures are more subtle, and we merely need to listen to the kids to get a clue about them.

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3 Responses to Brick and Mortar LMS, you say?

  1. Kenn Gorman says:

    Well said – my school is currently in the design phase of implementing a number of on line classes which I will be involved with (while still teaching a “typical” class). Since I will be involved now with both schools, I hope to be able to encourage the “regular’ teachers to continue to expect and use technology appropriately and effectively – and not to assume that everything technology will be done on line.

    Would you be surprised that a technology teacher does not have a smart board? That would be me…

    • Bill says:

      Such a thing wouldn’t surprise me at all, and not only for the obvious budgetary reasons. Interactive White Board technology is considered by some teachers a transitional one, a vehicle for teachers to gain a certain comfort with interactive teaching strategies as they consider the possibilities of students doing most of the interacting themselves. Thanks for the comment, Kenn… -B

  2. James says:

    Though a lot of students or online users are familiar to an LMS or elearning environment, not many are “engaged” in any way close to the time spent on sites such as Twitter or Facebook. New sites such as http://www.alphastudy.com are helping change that by allowing the students to teach others and create their own online pages to start the knowledge interaction and quiz sharing process.

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