Week 2 of Virtual Learning, and I have noticed one piece of advice I can give every school or district dealing with virtual learning. It’s also actually a piece of advice for every district in general. I think every district should adopt a Learning Management System, and that’s coming from a guy who did not like the design restrictions they put on me.
This all stems from my own kid’s district (I won’t name names.) It’s a Microsoft district, but instead of adopting Teams as their virtual platform, they decided to do some weird hybrid that looks like teams. I just don’t understand the thought process there. Microsoft, Google, Canvas, Schoology, and others are all optimized to handle the traffic that comes with every kid logging on (I know Canvas crashed, but’s rare.) This district site is not even close to being optimized for that, and guess what’s happening? It’s consistently crashing, and it’s really not fair to their teachers.
To make virtual learning work, schools have to have some way to organize assignments, add video calls, and communicate. That’s what an LMS is in a nut-shell (the video call part is still coming.) The whole key is to have that central place that students can go to if they don’t know what they need to do or need to get to work on something asynchronous. It’s a place that centers them, and that need has been there for a long time. It still amazes me that some districts haven’t adopted this on a wide scale. Teachers need time to get acclimated, trained, and it’s just easier to support if everyone is on the same page.
Now an LMS does cost. It might be part of the bigger package you already have (like Microsoft Teams or Google Classroom), or it might be something a bit more like Canvas or Schoology. At this point though, I think that cost may be one of the most justified in a school or district. It’s not just about virtual learning either.
That ability to put things down and pick things up easily gives you the ability to bring class anywhere and add almost anything to a class. If there isn’t an LMS, you depend on kid’s organization skills to make things work. You also end up in the copy room way too often if you want to personalize and differentiate for every student. It’s almost impossible to do that with paper, and that’s what every kid really deserves.
Yes, education is changing. It’s becoming more digital, but it’s also moving away from the one size all approach and moving to a better approach of personalization. An LMS can be that daily driver, but I hope all districts learn from the one my kids are in. Leave it to the Professionals! You will end up wasting more money on the one you are trying to create, it won’t handle the traffic you need, and it has fewer resources. Hopefully, this experience will let them learn.