Thing 12: Social Learning & Learning Management Systems

***I just realized that I never released this post from its draft post status so, whoopsie daisy, it’s going up after I already posted Thing 13***

I had mixed feelings on this week’s topic. While I feel have knowledge of many of these Learning Management Systems (not to mention accounts with several of them), I have limited experience actually using any kind of Learning Management System. At my last school, I help one of theEnglish teachers set up an Edmodo account and showed her how to use it. She used it in place of Facebook for a Hamlet lesson where students were suppose to post as and interact with others in their assigned characters. I also showed her the Hamlet “app” in the Edmodo store. So, while I’ve helped others make use of these systems in their classes, I’ve never found a use for them in my library lessons. I wasn’t sure if this week would change my mind or not….

I took a quick spin through my old Edmodo account to remind myself what features it had and then popped over to Schoology to set up an account and explore the waters. Overall, both options seemed nearly identical to me in terms of their offerings. They both had features I was intrigued/impressed with like linking up to Google Docs (I LOVE my Google Docs), creating and awarding badges and, availabity of apps for my smartphone and iPad. Overall, I found Edmodo easier to maneuver and find what I was looking for but, I’m not sure if that is because Edmodo is really better than Schoology or I’m just more familiar with it.

As much as the concept of a flipped classroom appeals and intrigues me, after exploring both options for this week, I still have some of the same concerns I did before about using a Learning Management System in my library curriculum. My main concern is equal access to these systems. My elementary school students don’t have study halls where they can access these systems and work on the assignments. Most of their classrooms only have a handful of computers and when they use them, it’s for classwork for their teacher. Some of my students still don’t have access to computers and/or internet at the homes and while high school students can get themselves to a friend’s house or the public library, elementary age kids are  dependent on parents and guardians to get them to places where they could access the Learning Management System. Obviously, using these systems in the library during our class time is an easy way to guarantee all my students have access but, if we’re all together in the same room, it seems silly to me to sit at computers and interact through one of these systems rather than face to face.

However, I did found an extracurricular use for these systems I can see myself trying in the near future: summer reading clubs! I also liked the reading challenge idea and probably combine it with the summer reading clubs somehow. Since something like a summer reading club is completely voluntary, I feel less stress  to ensure all students have equal access. And, if students did want to participate that didn’t have internet access at home, I feel like it might be easier for them to find other sources for their internet needs since they are only working on a few assignments for one “class” and not juggling all their other school responsibilities and activities at the same time. Plus, I don’t live near my school so I could fully engage and interact with the participants without having to truck the almost 2 hour roundtrip for book club meetings at the library!

So, while this week didn’t completely change my mind about the usefulness of Learning Management Systems in my library curriculum, it did inspire a use for them in the “off season” and would still count as another successful cool tool exploration in my book.

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