For several months I've been observing my colleagues' use of Learning Management Systems. An LMS allows the teacher to manage their class's online learning activities in one centralized location.
· allows teachers to present new material that he/she wishes the students to acquire
· allows teachers to post assignments and track student progress
· allows students to follow each other's assignments
· facilitates collaboration among students
· facilitates online evaluation tools that serve not only to evaluate, but to further learning
In preparation for my upcoming 10-week online class with a group of pre-teens, I decided to organize my class on a Haiku Learning Management System and see whether the system lives up to the hype.
I taught a similar class last year and found it difficult to keep track of all of the audio-visual materials, online tools, documents and learning strategies that are needed to create a high quality online lesson.
I've created two of the ten lessons so far and, although I don't know yet whether it will be a more effective learning environment for the students, I can already see that the Haiku LMS will help me stay organized and on target.
There have been a few bumps on the learning curve, but basically, with one click you can create a new content block or a new page, sending you on your way to establishing your class Haiku. So non-techies, we can do this too.
Before beginning my lesson plans I did a little research and acquired some tips that have been helpful.
1. There's more than one way to skin a cat. When the technology seems overwhelming, consider alternate ways to solve a problem. Or just move on. I wasn't able to embed a video or post a photo on my Haiku page so I just added in the video link instead of the embed code -- we'll have to view the video on an alternate forum -- and cut and pasted my photos in the text box from a WORD document instead of inserting them as a computer file.
2. Look at your lesson from the standpoint of someone who knows less about technology than you do. I noticed that when I put different activities in different content blocks it was difficult to tell where one activity stopped and the second one began. I alternated text colors for each activity -- that simple change ensured a more comprehensible format.
3. Keep it simple, at least at first. There are numerous ways to prepare the Haiku layout. You can arrange your pages and content by date, topic, category, chapter - whatever works for you. You can create a page with sub pages for each unit you teach or organize your pages based on a general topic. You can also organize the information on any page and rearrange as you wish. Start simple and get more creative as time goes on, as you start to feel more comfortable with the system. Again, the idea is to make the system work for you. If you get frustrated and abandon the LMS, everyone loses.
4. Keep your class URL simple. The URL is created when you type in your class title. Keeping it simple will allow you and your students to easily find the URL if you ever need to do a search.
5. The Manage Class Button allows you to share your class, import content, quickly access the students' emails and more. Become familiar with the Manage Class tool and take advantage of everything that it offers you.
6. If you like to use Wikis, the Haiku LMS makes it easy to incorporate Wikis into the LMS. WikiProject Templates offer students an easy platform on which to work, create videos, audios, etc. The students can collaborate on their projects and see each other's WikiSites as they share the links on the Haiku. The "connect" tab in the upper lefthand corner takes you pages that offer you the opportunity to make announcements (the students will receive notifications of these announcements via their emails), discussions, polls and WikiProjects.
Sometimes the hardest stage in using online tools is taking the first step. I encourage you to take the Haiku plunge – you'll be glad that you did.