Learning Management Systems used in the Local School

Once, I read a story:

“Intelligent Architect Story:

Urban Legend?”

“When I was in college a professor told us a story about an architect (Developer) who would build all of his buildings, but put down no sidewalks. He would just plant grass. Six months later he would come back and put sidewalks down where all the paths were worn. In this way, he assured that the walks would be where the people were mostly [sic] likely to walk. The point of the story was that we should observe how people do whatever it is we are trying to model in software and then build it to work that way, thus creating ‘user friendly’ software” (Khadaji, 2005).

This past week we were able to delve into an overview of Learning Management Systems (LMS) and explore several, highlighted as the top fifty, as well as other LMS (Barrish, 2015). I use WordPress (n.d.) which is built on open-source software, so I was immediately drawn to Moodle LMS (n.d.) which is also open-source software.

“Open-source software (OSS) is computer software with its source code made available with a license in which the copyright holder provides the rights to study, change, and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose. Open-source software may be developed in a collaborative public manner” (Wikipedia Community, n.d.).

Moodle was created before cloud computing was popular, so it is a harder to set up than the current cloud-based systems, but should not be a problem for the tech specialist of the district. Because of this layer of complexity, I did not set up a Moodle account for myself. However, Moodle LMS is full featured and used by many schools and universities.

John Haire, the principal of Potlatch Elementary School graciously made time to meet with me and discuss educational software that the district uses. The district is served by one technical specialist and so there is coordination between the two buildings (Potlatch Elementary School and Potlatch Jr./Sr. High School).

Potlatch Elementary School uses Edmodo (n.d.), Class Dojo (n.d.), and Google Apps for Education (Google, n.d.). Additionally the Jr./Sr. High School uses SARA app (Dass, 2016) to keep parents aware of team scheduling programs and changes; and a program called FamilyLink by SchoolMaster (Tyler Technologies, 2015) whereby parents can subscribe to school announcements.

Comparison Chart of Several Programs:

MOODLE EDMODO CLASS DOJO GOOGLE APPS 4 ED.
Who Uses Schools, Universities, Non profit K-12 K-12 anyone
Target Customer Size 1000+
free trial students/teachers free free
Starting Price one price/user n/a
Free Trial yes always free always free
DEPLOYMENT
>Cloud, SaaS, Web yes yes yes yes
>installed Windows yes
>installed Mac yes yes
>Mobile – iOS yes yes yes
>Mobile – Android yes yes
FEATURES
>Academic/Education yes yes yes
>AICC/SCORM Compliant yes
>Asynchronous Learning yes yes
>Blended Learning yes yes
>Build In Course Authoring yes yes yes
>Certification Management yes
>Classroom Management yes yes yes yes
>Data Analysis yes yes
>CC standards integrated
>Gamification yes yes
>Gradebook yes yes yes
>K-12 yes
>Live Video Conferencing yes Google Hangout
>Mobile Learning yes yes
>Integrates with other systems yes yes
>Skills Tracking yes
>Social Learning yes yes yes yes
>Student Portal yes yes yes
>Synchronous Learning yes yes
>Testing/ Assessments yes Google Forms
>Tin Can API yes
>Progress Badges yes
SUPPORT
>24/7 (Live Rep) yes yes
>Business Hours yes
>Online yes yes yes
TRAINING
>In Person yes yes  yes
>Live Online yes yes
>Webinars yes yes
>Documentation yes yes yes yes
>Student Orientation yes

Click HERE for printable PDF chart.

Discussion

Class Dojo is used mainly for monitoring and enhancing classroom behavior, and as such is not an LMS, but rather an app created for a particular purpose. However, the other three (Moodle, Edmodo, Google Apps for Education) are true Learning Management Systems and have various strengths. Google Apps for Education can become Google Classroom with a school account. Google Classroom is a free LMS but may have drawbacks regarding student privacy (Kamenetz, 2015). Edmodo does well for how we use it, and though it may seem limited compared to the others, some of the features that are missing are not critical to our deployment.

Moodle seems the most secure as it can be installed on a district server. It is very configurable as well, but this may require coding and maintenance after installation that could be overly time consuming for a district with just one tech specialist. Furthermore, its target audience is 1000+ which is too large for our purposes.

The district seems to be doing well with what it has been given regarding budget and student security. Like paths intelligently created in the Architect Story, teachers, administrators, and students are discovering what works for us regarding educational technology. Teachers are serving our students with innovative techniques. They teach digital natives to exercise Digital Citizenship. Teachers are enjoying technical applications for the classroom as they leverage higher order learning facilitated by the readily available information found on the web.

[Disclaimer: This information was researched with time constraints imposed by an assignment deadline. If you find that I have left out important information, please LEAVE A REPLY below so that it can be corrected.]


References

Barrish, J. (2015, June 3). Best LMS (Learning Management System) software: 2015 reviews of the most popular systems. Retrieved from Capterra: http://www.capterra.com/learning-management-system-software/#infographic

Barrish, J., & Capterra. (2015, June 3). Moodle vs. Edmodo: Best LMS (Learning Management System) software. Retrieved from Capterra: http://www.capterra.com/learning-management-system-software/#infographic

ClassDojo. (n.d.). ClassDojo: Happier students, happier classrooms! Retrieved from ClassDojo: https://www.classdojo.com/

Dass, R. (2016). SARA. Retrieved from iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/sara/id903509669?mt=8

Edmodo. (n.d.). Welcome to Edmodo: The safest and easiest way for educators to connect and collaborate with students, parents, and each other. Retrieved from Edmodo: https://www.edmodo.com/

Google. (n.d.). Google for Education. Retrieved from Google: https://www.google.com/edu/

Kamenetz, A. (2015, December 8). Google hit with a student privacy complaint. Retrieved from NPRed: http://www.npr.org/sections/ed/2015/12/08/458460509/google-hit-with-a-student-privacy-complaint

Khadaji [screen name]. (2005, May 25). Intelligent architect story: Urban legend? Retrieved from Straight Dope Message Board: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/archive/index.php/t-318296.html

Mattina, K. (2014, October 8). Google Classroom vs Edmodo. Retrieved from The Tech Lady: http://thetechlady-km.blogspot.com/2014/10/google-classroom-vs-edmodo.html

Moodle. (n.d.). Moodle; Community driven, globally supported. Retrieved from Moodle: https://moodle.org/

Tyler Technologies. (2015, January). Schoolmaster FamilyLink; Family Web Portal. Retrieved from Schoolmaster: http://www.schoolmaster.com/pdfs/FamilyLink.pdf

Wikipedia Community. (n.d.). Open-Source Software. Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open-source_software

WordPress. (n.d.). WordPress. Retrieved from WordPress.org: https://wordpress.org/

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