Friday, October 9, 2015

My LMS world
These days we often hear talking about LMS, but not necessarily everybody knows what this anachronism means or what it represents.  LMS stands for Learning Management System, which in other words is a software that allows the creation and management of an online based course content, students data and work management. In other words is the online classroom in its broad meaning, including curriculum, communication, and students' activities of a given class.
 Sometimes it is called "virtual classroom", "e-learning environment", or "online course", and it can be used either for formal instruction or for training in either completely online deliver or as online component of a blended learning environment. Schools of all grades, especially post-secondary education, use LMS for delivering online courses to students and for educators' professional development. Industries as well are using more and more LMS for providing training to their staff, especially when they have personal on multiple locations.

I have been an online teacher at KPBSD since 2009 and over the years I used various LMS for my online courses. The first LMS I have used was ANGEL. This LMS was already in use by my school district, and honestly I did not now anything about LMS at that time, so I was not in the position of being able to appreciate or not all its potentials.
The second year as online teachers my district migrated the online courses to Moodle, and we used this LMS for five years until this summer we switched to Canvas.
The initial move to Moodle was supported by the idea of using an open source software, which technically was supposed to be financially advantageous for the district. The problem that raised over the years was the need of full time support for the management of the software and the technical development needed for customizing Moodle to our needs.
We also came upon some challenges connected to the use of some of Moodle's features, such as the questionable functionality of some audio and video recording/playing, negative feedback from students about its navigability, and difficulty in integrating external services in a smoothly integrated fashion, such as YouTube, Quizlet, Dropbox, etc.
Moodle has also some great features though, such as the ability to store the "note for grader" which is a general feedback for essay questions in which a teacher can store an answer not visible to students, but useful for the person who is grading students work as reference of what the correct answer should be like.

At this time I have been working with Canvas only for a couple of months, so I am still pretty new to it for being able to provide a reliable review of this LMS. For what I have heard form students, it seems that they like it better than Moodle and they find it much more user friendly. What I and all my colleagues of the Distance Learning Department have noticed in the short time we have been using Canvas, was the exponential increase int he students interaction with their instructors using the messaging/emailing feature build in Canvas.
One feature that I am particularly fond of, considering that I teach world languages, is the easy to use video and/or audio feedback I can leave to any type of work submitted by my students.

Overall though I will be able to provide a more comprehensive and reliable critical review of this LSM by the end of this school year.

On other LMS that I have been using form the student prospective is Blackboard. This LMS is used by the University of Alaska system, and taking my classes with UAF via distance delivery I have been using it for few years now. From the user prospective, it is definitely not as user-friendly as Moodle or Canvas can be, but I do not have the insight of the teacher/course-builder prospective. I would actually appreciate if someone would fill me in with their knowledge and experience about this LSM.
This is all I have to share about LSM, I hope this post has been informative and if you have any questions, suggestions, comments about any of the LSMs mentioned here, please drop a note. :)


  1. I agree with your statement regarding blackboard, also as an end-user. It was a challenge to navigate and use correctly. It seemed in my experiences that sometimes the challenge was likely experienced on the instructor end as well, as I experienced a couple of fiascos that would seem unavoidable. I'm intrigued by Canvas and what that LMS offers. At LKSD we are currently all-in on Moodle but it is always good to learn and be willing/able to adapt.

  2. Emanuela,
    I really appreciate that you highlighted that an LMS is used for communication. So often as we use an LMS, we don't think about how it is a powerful tool for communication. Communication is such an essential part of online and distance teaching and learning and is required to be implemented at a higher degree than the traditional brick and mortar experience.

  3. Communication is an important use of the LMS. I agree that having a location to post videos, and classroom essentials is what students and teacher alike love. When used well, the LMS aids: the teacher, student, parents, and administrators. It is truly one stop shopping for the learner.

  4. This year my district (KPBSD) has adopted Canvas as district-wide LMS, while I am appreciating the 24/7 customer service offered by their corporation as part of the district 5 years contract, I found it very frustrating the laborious process you need to go through for having your voice heard about ideas of improvement. Indeed you have to go through a pretty tedious process in which you submit your idea to a users forum, your ideas is first screened by someone at Canvas and is anything similar was already submitted int he past, even if it was not implemented, they ask you to get in touch with the original submitter and re-propose the ideas together.
    When Canvas accept your idea proposal, it is posted in a forum and users have a certain amount of time for voting it. You need to receive 100 votes for having your proposal to pass this phase and moving on to actual consideration of the engineering's team. They will decide if it is something that can be done or not.
    Honestly those 100 votes cut off a lot of very good an helpful ideas because it is not so easy to put together all these supportive votes in the window of time given to you.

    So, this is my rant for the day :)
    On the other hand though there are some features that I do really like.