This week in my CEP813 class we have been exploring Content Management Systems (or Learning Management Systems). The discussion began with looking at the different types of courses that utilize these systems ranging from online only to Blended Learning. One of the more interesting things was the idea that there is a tremendous amount of space that fits under the banner Blended Learning. As my professors informed me, the Michigan Virtual University created this graphic:
The first (of two) major assignments this week though is to compare three CMSs, so I chose Coursesites (by Blackboard), Haiku, and Canvas. I am admittedly biased, but I tried to be fair. Here is the chart that I used to evaluate the three. The last four criteria were added by me. The first two of these were informed by my Rubric 4.0. One of the hallmarks of that Rubric is that students should have opportunities to get feedback that they can use to learn and alter their assignment. The next is a desire for students to be able to peer review each others’ assignments to provide additional formative feedback.
The other two criteria that I added come from my work setting. As a North Carolina school, we are for better or worse required to use PowerSchool, so a CMS that seamlessly interacts with PowerSchool is a huge plus. Finally, as the Tech Director, any CMS that I advocate for needs to be as simple and intuitive to use as possible for our teachers.
With these criteria and the ones suggested by my professor, I spent a few hours checking out the CMSs. If I didn’t have access to Canvas, I probably would advocate for Haiku. Fortunately for me and my school, we do have Canvas.
Canvas allows teachers to determine where they want to be in the Blended Learning chart above. If they want to flip their classroom, the teacher can create Modules that have the necessary assignments and videos set in a sequence that limits the students ability to move on until they meet teacher defined criteria. They can also used this for any unit regardless of if they flip their classroom.
If they would rather dip their toes in, the Discussion Boards are incredibly easy to use for the teachers and students, so much so it is the on ramp that I use to get teachers excited about using the program.
Canvas not only shares grades with PowerSchool it uses PowerSchool to create and then daily update the classes that have been created in PowerSchool. Do you have a student that was moved from one section to another? No problem, Canvas moves the student for you.
With all of that said, the best part of Canvas in my mind anyway is that it is simply easy to use. It doesn’t over complicate things, and it has a community that constantly churns out videos that teachers can use to learn how to do a variety of things.
Overall, Canvas wins the battle for my particular setting.