Category Archives: LMS

Week 4: Benoit’s Case Study: To Blackboard or to Moodle, that is the question!

In this week’s readings, we were asked to read a brief case study that detailed the situation of Professor Benoit.  It seems that Benoit is a very popular professor and his department head wishes that he spread his “awesomeness” to the onl-ine format, so that more students can take advantage of his expertise.

Benoit’s dilemma: which LMS system should he choose to adopt?  His options are

1. Blackboard Connect  and 2. Moodle.

Only knowing a few details about Benoit, it makes this a somewhat difficult choice for me to make.  As he has a only a limited amount of experience with utilizing technology for the running of his course, my recommendation would be to go with Blackboard.


Blackboard would be a safer choice since, in this scenario, this is what the IT department is currently supporting.  Should issues arise– and they will, he willhave IT’s support and he will not have a problem soliciting the support from othercolleagues that are currently using it.   Although Moodle offers more freedom to develop his LMS without restraints, it is likely that he doesn’t even know what the restraints are at this point.

I liken it to learning how to drive a car, where Blackboard is an automatic andMoodle is the standard.   Why not get your “feet wet” with a LMS that is well supported, thereby reducing the number of issues to worry about whilst one is a “rookie”.   Then, as one progresses in their experience, and becomes moreknowledgeable with LMSs in general, take on a more versatile LMS that allows for more freedoms.

To respond to the question posed regarding how Benoit should organize his traditional, face-to-face course to an on-line model, I would suspect that he would be covering the same ideas in the same amount of time, therefore, he should simply follow the same organizational time line. What he would need to consider are the best discussion questions that have come out of his successful, traditional, classwork. Obviously, he wouldn’t be delivering content himself, so careful selection of relevant readings would need to compensate for his lack of “face time teaching.”

Without question, the learning curve is steep when adopting a new teaching methodology. Because of this, he should be prepared to have a considerable amount of time learning efficiencies and tricks of the trade. If his IT takes a long time to assist with issues, I would suggest that he make an appointment with someone for an afternoon, to get his “ball rolling”, then utilize his peers for the small things that will arise after that. Perhaps, the department head could request that IT make a series of short instructional videos that step people through typical trouble shooting scenarios, as well.

What I know form my own experience in this scenario, is that the first run-through is never perfect.  With determination and student feedback, however, the second time through is heaps better!

Leave a Comment

Filed under ETEC 565, General thoughts, LMS

Collaboration: The good, the bad & the ugly.


© Copyright Peter Ward and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.

“When I die I want my group members to lower me into the grave so that they can let me down one last time.” ~Someecards

When I first heard this quotation, I thought it was the funniest thing ever. Funny, because at the time, it was true. I was in a particularly difficult situation with a group and I felt that I was unequipped to handle the challenges.

This was unquestionably NOT the case for my Platform Evaluation!

Here is the thing… When a group works well together, is respectful of each others opinions, has members that equally do not want to let the “group down”, incorporates humour, and brings a level of professionalism to the table, EVERYTHING IS LIKE RAINBOWS AND UNICORNS.  It’s the best.  It is like going to Cloud Cuckoo Land. (Lego Movie reference for those of you who may not have seen this most excellent movie.)

But when one or more of these attributes are missing from a group’s dynamic, I find that an incredible amount of thinking time is wasted on wishing that the project would be over and/or wanting to stab myself in the eye with a pencil.

For this group project, I came late to the table.  I erroneously gave our organiser my g-mail address with an “” extension.  Brilliant, I know. Days went by where my group mates hashed out the initial stages of our project without my input.  Thankfully, one mate realized that the e-mails had been “undelivered” and I was brought into the planning.

I was “THAT” person.  I very much loathe being “THAT” person.  I do everything in my power to never ever by “THAT” person.  So when it does happen, I go to “THAT” place.  “THAT” place is the place that some of us people-pleasers go when they think that other people think negatively about them.  I know.  At the age of 43, I should adopt more of a “Honey-Badger attitude” (you HAVE to Google that one, if you do not know what I am talking about.  Your welcome.).  But alas, we are who we are, so I immediately thought that my entire group thought that I was a big loser who was in an educational technology Masters program, yet could not freakin even share her own email address properly.

So what do people-pleasers do in this situation?  They make up for it and then some.  Why?  Because we have not only do our part but we have to make up for the perceived part that we perceived we didn’t do.

I truly hope I accomplished my mission.

But this is where my group really came through.  Not once did they make me feel like I had to “make-up” for anything.  It was all in my head.  I admit to being a bit in Cuckoo Land on this one.

Funny story, though.  My group mates don’t even this one (don’t tell them, OK?)

I had to bring my bit of the project to the Google Doc two days after everyone else due to my semester turnaround week at work.  When I visit our Google Doc (the most excellent way to collaborate, on-line, in my opinion), I read the introduction that had us portrayed as a group of Grade 8 Middle School teachers from Vancouver.  I thought to myself, “Great. I’m not part of the group.”  I let it go.  I thought, OK– I can pretend that I live in Vancouver and teach Middle School.” After all, I needed to be a team player.  But then, after awhile, it started to bug me.  My name was on this and I didn’t want to misrepresent myself!  So I said something on the chat function of the Google Doc.  After some back and forth, my group mate piped up and said, “Neither am I!  I live in Thunder Bay and teach Math 10!”  For some reason, I didn’t realize that the whole idea of this project was to write from one institution’s voice.  We had a good laugh.

If I could change one thing about this particular experience, it would have been to have prioritized having a couple of Google Hangouts. I missed not having actual conversations with people and flushing things like not knowing that our scenario was fictitious.  Completing this degree on-line is great for so many reasons, but I truly yearn for face-to-face experiences, as well.   I think that as we venture into more on-line learning, that as educational technologists, we need to keep at least a smidgen of actual conversation into our practices. A screen just doesn’t cut it, 100% of the time– in my world anyway!


Filed under advice, collaboration, ETEC 565, General thoughts, LMS, obstacles

Week 3: The Alleged Demise of LMS and the BCED Plan

As I read this week’s offerings, I couldn’t help but make parallelisms to BC’s new educational philosophy, entitled “The BCEd Plan“– for those of you not from my neck of the woods.

If you spend time with “The Plan”, you will notice that it is a virtual carbon copy of of Kasper Spiro’s 2014 article, “5 eLearning Trends Leading to the End of the Learning Management System.” Catch phrases such as “Personalized Learning” and “BYOD Environments” are huge components to BC’s new educational conquest. The two documents are so similar in their points that it makes me wonder if Spiro was a contributor to the BCED Plan! (on a side note, Spiro’s website is somewhat of an advertisement for his cloud-based LMS software. It is in his best interest to convince folks to abandon ship on the old LMS guard!)

My only experience with a LMS has been as a student with my Masters. It seems to me that each professor has it set up slightly differently and therefore, they can tailor it to their own preference. Assessment is more or less the same in that we submit our work for personalised grading and feedback. I am fully engaged as a student, as for the most part, the readings are thought provoking, as are my fellow classmates’ postings. Through group work, I often participate in on-line, synchronous chats. It has been a very pleasant learning environment, overall!

I question, however, the effectiveness of a similar system with a younger, less motivated crowd. Motivated students will learn in practically any learning environment– they are the cacti of learners! They may prefer heaps of sun, but they can still survive with minimal water in a shady bathroom as well.

Motivated Learner cactus

It’s the classic “reluctant learner” that I suspect would not fare as well, in certain LMS scenarios. The ones who come to class without having read the readings or watched the watchings. Or the learners who can’t actually stay focused on their studies when the course is on a screen. The lure of social media is way too tempting for most young brains to stay away from. I had multiple students beg me to let them sign out a text book this semester because using the on-line text was too distracting.

But here is the thing… Screens aren’t going away. Learning is evolving. Do we not attempt to evolve our teaching practices in order to avoid inappropriate use of social media? (It reminds me of when my school “banned” Facebook so many years ago. Guess what? It didn’t work.) Abstinence rarely is the answer. Producing engaging on-line learning opportunities has got to be the goal.

I also don’t believe in allowing corporations to dictate how and what I teach, therefore, whatever the LMS is going to be, allowing educators to tailor it to their needs, is critical. If the educators can’t personalize the system, then how can the students personalize their learning?

Leave a Comment

Filed under ETEC 565, General thoughts, LMS, obstacles