Moodle has been selected as the primary learning management system (LMS) for Middlebury College. Other LMS platforms considered were Sakai and Blackboard. The Curricular Technology (CT) team researched these three LMS platforms extensively and organized a pilot program that involved over 20 faculty and more than 300 students.
Surveys of pilot participants indicated that more faculty and students who completed the survey considered Moodle the most useful and easy to use of the LMS platforms piloted. The CT team used an template developed by the Longsight Group (see: Longsight > LMS Selection Criteria) to do its own evaluation and came to similar conclusions.
Moodle has been in use at Middlebury since 2007, primarily for online assessment. Beginning in the Fall of 2011, Moodle will be fully integrated into the new Course Hub platform which will become the definitive starting point for all new online course resources.
The CT team has organized a number of LMS training sessions for pilot participants, as well as any faculty or staff interested in learning more about the learning management systems (LMS) we are currently evaluating. Here are details:
2 – 3:30 pm, Thursday, January 13, Library 105 – Alex Chapin
2 – 3:30 pm, Friday, January 14, Library 105 – Alex Chapin
10 – 11:30 am, Tuesday, Jan 18th, Library 105 – Shel Sax
2 – 3:30 pm, Thursday, Jan 20th, Library 105 – Shel Sax
WordPress is another viable platform for course sites that will be included in the Course Hub.
2 – 3:30 pm, Monday, January 17, Library 105 – Alex Chapin
1 – 2:30 pm, Weds, January 19, Library 105 – Alex Chapin
The Curricular Technology team has been researching learning management systems (LMS) for use at Middlebury, using findings from its focus group sessions, surveys and technology usage analysis collected over the last year to determine what features would be most useful in an LMS. The team also researched which LMS platforms other institutions were using, focusing on those institutions most similar to Middlebury.
From the above research, the team has found 3 LMS that are viable candidates for use at Middlebury and would now like to make these available to faculty to pilot over the winter and spring semesters. The LMS platforms being considered are:
For more information about these pilots and how to participate, come to an LMS Pilot Information Session, here are dates/times:
- 3 – 4 pm, Monday, Dec 6th, Library 105
- 3 – 4 pm, Tuesday, Dec 7th, Library 105
LMS platforms are designed to help use the web for both teaching and learning, with tools for grading, assignments, online discussion and so on. Below are descriptions of some of these tools.
Assignment Submission Module
Our focus groups and surveys revealed issues with many of the tools and techniques currently used for collecting and grading assignments. Most LMS platforms have “modules” for assignment submission that greatly simplify this process, allowing faculty to create assignments with due dates that students can easily access and upload completed assignments to. These modules are configured to allow students to see that their assignment has been successfully submitted and to allow faculty to see all submitted assignments and be able to grade and give feedback on these from within the LMS itself.
LMS platforms allow faculty to “grade” many of the activities students do within the LMS including assignments and discussion posts. Typically this grading functionality can be applied to specific assignments, discussion topics and quizzes and the LMS provides tools for aggregating all graded items into a single view that can be used as the basis for evaluating student performance. Most LMS can be configured to show students only their own grades (and not those of their peers) to help them keep track of how well they are doing in a given course.
Middlebury has long provided various tools for online discussion including Segue, WordPress and MediaWiki. LMS platforms also have tools for online discussion with options to grading individual discussion posts by students. While this sort of functionality is not something that our surveys and focus groups indicated a strong need for, having it available to use may result in new teaching practices.
Most LMS include calendars that can be used for scheduling class events, assignments and exams.
Blog, Wikis and more
LMS platforms also include popular tools such as those for blogging, wikis and podcasts, similar to what has been available via Segue, WordPress and MediaWiki.