The Principal, Quigley Elementary School, School District #23, B.C
Selection of Learning Management System for Elementary School Reading Program
I would like to create a discursive and multimodal online learning environment for elementary education which could be used by itself or in a blended learning setting to teach Reading outcomes from the B.C IRP’s Language Arts curriculum at the grade four level.
A major goal of education is to encourage higher level thinking amongst learners. This entails the need for students to use technology even during the learning process, besides using it for examining content and creating products. Research shows that active learning through collaborative work and discourse promotes critical inquiry (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000). Web 2.0 tools and platforms which promote the process of sharing and comparing information, questioning and evaluating, reasoning and problem solving, can be conducive in promotion of critical thinking.
The manifesto established by the pedagogy of multiliteracies (1996) explicates the need for using technology in education and even NETS has established very comprehensive recommendations about technology use for teachers as well as students. Both stress the need of applying technologies as a communicating and collaborative tool.
Many teachers at our school are attempting to achieve these learning goals by using options available on the internet. While these approaches can be effective, many of these platforms are often not shaped with education in mind and need numerous adaptations. Learning Management systems (LMS) are created as educational packages which provide for many of the same tools, but in a safe and secure setup. There is a convergence of pedagogical and technological tools in the LMS which is not only conducive for collaborative learning and critical thinking, but also provide for the teachers to manage their content, interact with their student, and provide them formative feedback.
I propose to create the above mentioned Reading program by using the LMS tool of Moodle which stands for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment.
My choice of Moodle is based on sound theoretical recommendations. Anderson (2008) states that it is a challenge for teachers to create a mix of learning activities that are appropriate to student needs, teacher skills and style, and institutional technical capacity when creating online lessons. Lot depends on the choice of platform and its affordance. To ensure that my choice of Moodle is suitable, I have relied on the guidelines suggested by Bates and Poole (2003) in their SECTIONS framework, in collaboration with the principles of good practices recommended by Chickering and Gamson (1987).
Moodle allows for communication and feedback in several ways (Perkins & Pfaffman, 2006). Its ability to allow chats, wiki, possibility for synchronous and asynchronous discussions, and add various multi-medias enhances interactivity and cooperation amongst students. Such variety also accommodates for various teaching and learning styles, which is essential for good learning (Chickering and Gamson, 1987, McLoughlin, 1999, as cited by Bates & Poole, 2003). The same communicative platform also provides for formative assessment through teacher- student interaction, which is a core part of the learning process.
Moodle is not a new platform for me since I have explored it in the role of a teacher in my courses through the UBC MET program, and have also worked on the student interface at workshops organized within our school district. Regarding appropriateness of the platform for students, based on my experience I believe that the upper elementary students should be able to navigate and work independently while the primary students may need a guided approach. The ability to see and test the student interface makes it easy to create lessons keeping in mind the student’s abilities and need (Perkins & Pfaffman, 2006).
The lessons will be based on the reading programme based on the book Reading Power by Adrienne Gear, which has been adopted by all the teachers at our school as a premise for their reading program.
Cost and Support considerations:
While Moodle is an open source and involves minimal cost, it is hosted on our school district server. This eliminates all costs to our school and students and also ensures tech support through the IT department and the teacher network where teachers throughout the district collaborate and troubleshoot using the district emailing system.
Once approved, I’ll need to plan, create, and test the course. I should be able to have the course available for the students in about three to four months if I can dedicate 2-3 hours to this project every day. We will need to discuss if the time to work on this project could be allotted out of my regular teaching time or assigned as a summer project.
Anderson, T. (2008).Towards a Theory of Online Learning. In: T. Anderson & F. Elloumi (Eds.), Theory and Practice of Online Learning. Edmonton AB: Athabasca University. Accessed online 3 March 2009 http://www.aupress.ca/books/120146/ebook/02_Anderson_2008_Anderson-Online_Learning.pdf
Bates A. W. & Poole, G. (2003).A Framework for Selecting and Using Technology. In A.W. Bates & G. Poole, Effective Teaching with Technology in Higher Education (pp. 75-108). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. 4.
Chickering, A.W. & Gamson, Z.F. (1987). Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. American Association for Higher Education Bulletin, 39 (7), 3-7. Accessed online 11 Mar 2009 http://www.aahea.org/bulletins/articles/sevenprinciples1987.htm
Garrison, D., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.
National Educational Technology Standards for Teachers http://www.iste.org/Content/NavigationMenu/NETS/ForTeachers/2008Standards/NETS_for_Teachers_2008.htm
Perkins, M., Pfaffman, J. (2006). Using a Course Management System to Improve Classroom Communication. Science Teacher, 73(3), 33-37.
The New London Group (1996) “A Pedagogy of Multiliteracies: Designing Social Futures” Accessed January 15th, 2012 http://wwwstatic.kern.org/filer/blogWrite44ManilaWebsite/paul/articles/A_Pedagogy_of_Multiliteracies_Designing_Social_Futures.htm