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Saying Goodbye to my LMS

5 min read

Update

Progress is moving along, shout out to Alan Levine for sharing his setup for a connected courses which is what I am basing my setup on. I will be adding GitHub syndication as well since the courses I am teaching are programming. The blog is live, next I need to create some navigation and course materials to get the first week started.


What an Amazing Year

This calendar year has seen many changes in the focus of my professional life as an educator. I am spending much more time working with other teachers in a mentoring role and sharing my decades long experience in using educational technology. I'm not currently paid for that as part of my job but that is a different topic for another post.
Amazing Year Photo credit

My Style of Flipped Learning

I've been applying for five semesters now and two of those in a full-blown mastery model. Leading my students to take charge of their education while being the guide is great, I love implementing flipped learning with my students and feel that I'm now so comfortable in this that I have my own style of flipped learning.  This is good and normal; on any given Monday evening chat you will hear this said at least a dozen times: "there is no one way to apply flipped classroom, find your way".

I'm definitely not unique in this but the one difference I see in my emphasis with my students is the creation of a "always on" learning mode.  I joke with my students that they are not just students the week before (or the night before) exams but are students every single day of the semester.  They laugh, I sigh and continue to push the fact that they will continue learning for the rest of their lives (we hope).

Oh yeah, about that LMS

Okay Ken, what does this have to do with abandoning your LMS?  Well I've been using an LMS since Moodle was barely released, then I moved to internal systems at the Tecnológico de Monterrey with implementations of Lotus Notes/Learning Space, then WebTec and our "recent" move to BlackBoard. I often returned to my own Moodle installation because I liked having control of my data and my students tended to prefer it to our official systems.

In January I moved to Schoology for my undergraduate courses as well as for professional development courses I am leading for faculty. I really do love Schoology for various reasons, you can read my initial reactions here.  I found that Schoology gave my students a clearer place of where to communicate about the class and assignments. I have my students engaging in peer learning and they seem much more engaged with each other and me.  We also have a (closed) Facebook group; I decided to use Facebook with my students a year ago really in an effort to "go where my students are gathering", read about that over here.

But I still don't like the idea of having our thoughts, our ideas and discussions in a silo on Facebook, some LMS or even on my own Moodle.  I was considering moving to Google Classroom because of the new factor but decided it just doesn't give me what I'm looking for.

The Plan

So this next semester I plan to go distributed and put my students even more in control of their learning. Many others have written about these ideas.  Mark Sample wrote an excellent post about how he uses a collaborative blog for his classes. I definitely am taking ideas from him, in particular his grading rubric for student posts. Earlier this year Brian Bennett wrote about using RSS to pull data from various sources into a central class blog. That post had me considering a similar move in the summer but decided to stay with Schoology for another semester.

Personal Learning Network to the Rescue

What I don't like about having students use (their own) blogs for submitting assignments is that it creates a barrier (not really a large one but still enough) to getting students setup to post from their own blog.  Along to the rescue come Ben Werdmüller and Erin Richey with Known, the first startup that I heard about when they were interviewed on TWIG - This Week in Google #266. I created my account that day which was mostly to park my username since there are various others looking to grab the kenbauer user on other sites (great guys of course!) before I do.  Last month I saw the beauty of how Known can fit into my plans for getting my students even more in control of their education (and data). It is just so easy to use and the IndieWeb POSSE architecture is just the ticket.

There is an amazing amount of work out there related to this. I just found an amazing community of educators with related ideas and farther along the path than I am. Jim Groom and Brian Lamb were quick to answer my questions this week as were others. Go check out the Connected Courses project and Digital Storytelling 106 (DS106). These are amazing! I want to be like them when I grown up.

Stay tuned for more details, this is going to be "a big deal".

Comments and suggestions are welcome.