Students need to be able to access assignments and grades. They need to be able to monitor their progress and locate resources to help them advance. They need information to come to them, something to simplify their responsibilities--not add to them.
Unfortunately, I don't think there's a single platform out there at this time that provides all of these services unless you pay through the nose. And so my learning management system of choice this semester will be more like a system of systems.
Google Classroom (Coming Soon!)
Although it doesn’t allow me to add the Google accounts students actually use (only school accounts--or App-enabled accounts?), it is still sort of a one-stop log-in. I've stayed with Schoology the past two years primarily because the rest of my school used it, so I knew students would log in regularly and actually see what I posted for them, from assignments to announcements to grades. I know they will be logging into Google daily for school, so they will at least get the email updates. Google Classroom will cover the assignments for sure, with a tight Drive sync that allows you to create templates and access and comment on student work with a few clicks.
- This is a new platform, and there is no app with handy push notifications (yet)
- The announcements and assignments appear in a single timeline with no folders for sorting
- And there is no gradebook. Oh, it'll log scores for each assignment, but there's no class spreadsheet, no calculating mechanism.
Learning Management Needs Met: accessing assignments and grades (2/5)
Because Google Classroom does not allow you to weight grades (a la district policy) or show a student averages, monitoring progress is still relatively lacking with this product. What's more, the number of teenagers who intentionally open their email by choice in this day and age is dwindling daily. Thus ForAllRubrics is especially awesome for two reasons: badges and SMS. It's true that this system doesn't have a handy gradebook for averaging or weight tinkering, but what it does have is an even better way to monitor progress, one focused on proficiency rather than numbers. I can make a full-blown rubric, a simple checklist, or a "Basic Badge" that allows me to add criteria and simply award it when they're met! AND I can see a display by class of all badges each student has earned! And you know what ForALLRubrics does NEXT? It TEXTS students when they earn a badge/reach proficiency! What's more, I can set up one-time notifications to go out through and/or text messages to the whole class!
- There's nowhere to store or share files or links--other than rubrics/checklists.
- Still no gradebook to run the official numbers.
Learning Management Needs Met: monitor progress and simplify responsibilities (2/5)
So basically all I need now is a place to collect everything, to store resources and possibly assignments. After a fast and furious session on interactive notebooks at my district's annual Teaching and Learning Conference, I finally decided to take the plunge. I think interactive notebooks in themselves will be a valuable tool for Spanish I at least, and the fact that I now have a widget that allows me to snap a picture of each day's page and upload it to the class's online notebook automatically! Not only that, but I can clip webpages and videos for absent students and parents to have everything they want to know (or don't) in a few clicks
- No grading or reporting of any sort--just straightforward stuff gathering.
Learning Management Needs Met: collect and share resources (1/5)