My new district (still feels new since I've been in the position for about seven months) is actively planning the adoption and formal implementation of a Learning Management System. While it has made Moodle available for sometime, I am told the entire district only has a single teacher using it. In various schools we have pockets of wow with teachers using tools such as Edmodo, Schoology, and GoogleClassroom without a real plan or district-level support in place.
But as we start seriously considering how we will be using the funds from our recently passed $2.5M per annum technology operating levy, the identification of and training in a district-wide LMS becomes urgent. This, I believe, will be our foot in the door for changing instructional practices in the classroom for the benefit of all students.
A formal process for evaluation and selection has begun. Training dates have been set up. Our social studies department will be our pilot in placing curriculum, standards, and outcomes in the system (with help of the Minnesota Partnership for Collaborative Curriculum). The superintendent added this project to his list of exciting developments in his most recent newsletter. It's feeling like this will really happen.
The district instructional technology coordinator has been giving short presentations answering the question "What is an LMS?" It's a pretty good question. As I think about how Moodle or Schoology or It'sLearning or any of the other popular systems can be used, I always come back to Puentedura's SAMR model.
Graphic ource: Retrieved from RubenR. Puentedura's blogat www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/archives/000080.html
Like any technology, the LMS can be used for a variety of purposes, at varying levels of sophistication. For example:
Substitution: The LMS is used as a substitute for a textbook, curriculum guide, and assignment sheet.
Augmentation: The LMS is used to organize content materials from a variety of sources in a variety of formats.
Modification: The LMS contributes to the "flipped classroom" model of instruction, allowing class time to be used for discussion, problem-solving and other activities.
Redefinition: The LMS facilitates truly differentiated instruction by providing self-leveling assessments and activities and resources for a variety of reading abilities and learning styles.
The question I always ask when introducing a new technology or tool is "At what level do we start?"
Start at too low a set of expectations, some teachers may never progress beyond the Substitution and Augmentation work. Start too high and the change is so radical that some teachers will simply reject the plan.
The pundits who often don't actually work in schools with real teachers advocate for the most disruptive approach possible. I suppose there are some situations in which that has worked, but I can't identify any locally. The old "you can't jump the chasm in two leaps" too often results in educators just retreating from the chasm as fast as possible.
I've always believed we should build a bridge across the chasm, linking new practices to old; providing great PD and support; and articulating a clear road map and timeline for reaching the far side of the gulf of the reinvented classroom.
This will be exciting and careful work.