Navigate 3.1.4 LMS Reporting

report cardThe grade reporting options for Blackboard CourseSites seem to be very limited.  The options include creating reports based on selected users/hidden users and finally,  you can select what user information to include in reports like First Name, Last Name, Username, Student ID, and Last Access.  There are not many levels available based on this view.  However, with this information online instructors can see how students are performing academically in the class as well as identify students who are inactive and might need a phone call.

There are course reports which give information on course activity (user activity with in the course) which would be valuable for the online instructor to see how much time the student is really spending on the material for insights into achievement.

Navigate 3.1.3 Tools within the LMS

CsLogoThe tools available within the Blackboard CourseSites LMS include the following:


The tools that I believe  would be most valuable in the online classroom include the following because they help aid in communication between parents, students and teachers:

The tools that I believe have the  least value include blogs, journals, and tasks.  While these tools are nice they are not as important to effective online instruction.

Navigate 3.1.2 Creation and Investigation into Courses

how to homeschool

I decided to choose Blackboard’s CourseSites LMS.  The first step to creating the course was the sign-up.  You had to select an institution with which you are affiliated before you could even begin.

I then choose the Create a New Course package and entered my course name, course id and course description.  I choose to create a course on the topic on How to Homeschool.   Next, you were given a choice to instructor enroll or permit self-enrollment.  I did instructor however, I may be emailed.  Finally I was given my website link .

I entered the course and then I was asked to choose a course structure (I chose eCollegial) and then it asks me to choose a theme (I chose composition).

Finally it was time to build my course so I went to content and started adding material.

It was important, almost mandatory to follow those steps in the beginning.  However, when it came to adding things like content, etc. you had more flexibility.  The system was quite easy to use and I enjoyed it.

Navigate 3.1.1 LMS Tool Categories

tools2The most relevant features offered in an LMS which relate directly to effective online instruction include:

  • Teacher Information Tools which include the Bulletin Board and Course News which is important for keeping students informed on what is going on in the classroom.
  • Communication Tools such as email, IM and discussion boards which help to foster community and collaboration between students and teachers.
  • Course Assessment Tools such as rubrics, dropboxes, quizzes and tests which help students to demonstrate their learning.
  • Grade/Gradebook Tools which enable students, teachers and parents to see how students are progressing in the course and if remediation is necessary.

Without these four key tools effective online instruction would not be able to exist.

Navigate 4.1.1 Trend Impact



I believe the trend that will make the most impact on digital learning in the K12 environment over the next five years will be the implementation of gamification.  Gamification is the application of game elements in nongaming situations, often to motivate or influence behavior.

According to EDUCAUSE “gamification has the potential to help build connections among members of the academic community, drawing in shy students, supporting collaboration, and engendering interest in course content that students might not have otherwise explored”.

Knewton further breaksdown the potential of gamification in The Gamification of Eduction.   It highlights the fact that while 1.2 million students fail to graduate, 28 million people play FarmVille and over 5 million play an average of 45 hours a week in games.

Gamification works because there is progression (one can see success in small steps), there is investment (sense of pride), and finally the cascading information theory (unlock information continuously).

If this can be implemented into the classroom in addition to discussion posts, I believe that students will become more engaged when otherwise they might not be which would encourage motivation in the online environment.

Navigate 3.2.1 Tools for Deciding on an LMS

Don McIntosh, Ph.D. has created a very comprehensive list of all the LMS/CMS vendors associated with a specific learners such as coorporate and educational based.  In this post I will see to use Dr. McIntosh’s list to categorize what I believe to be the top vendors in K12, Higher Education, or Business and make a selection for what is the optimal LMS for each organization.

The follow are snapshots from McIntosh’s paper entitled Learning Management Vendors, Feb. 2015

LMS and CMS List


To determine the optimal LMS for an organization there are several factors to take into consideration such as:  the goals of the LMS for your organization; the needs of all the stakeholders;  determining whether or not to use open source or vendor; getting information from the vendor which includes pricing.

I have actually gone through this process for a smaller organization and I have had a fair amount experience using a variety of LMS/CMS such as ProProfs, Canvas, Angel, Blackboard, eCollege (Pearson Learning Studio) and Desire2Learn (Brightspace).

For a K12 or Higher Education school I would recommend the eCollege learning platform (which is now Pearson LearningStudio).  In my experience it flows very nicely from content to discussion to quiz or test which makes it very user friendly for students and teachers.

For a Business there are more flexible options depending on how robust of a system one desires.  ProProfs seems to be the most cost effective for that option.

Navigate 2.1.4 Lecture Capture


Lesson Capture allows teachers to capture their lessons using hardware such as webcams and microphones as well as software such as Cisco Lecture Vision, Snag It or Camtasia to name a few.   The lessons are then edited and made available for students to view asynchronously.

Lesson Captures in the online classroom might function as the primary way in which a student moves through the course since it is asynchronous it allows students to access it 24/7.

The integration of Lecture Capture in the traditional classroom would modify teaching methods in that it allows teachers to utilize the flipped classroom method in which students would be able to watch the lesson at home, preview it and then come to class and work on classwork/homework with the assistance of the teacher.  It would also help students to have 24/7 access to helpful videos.




Navigate 2.1.3 Commercial versus Open Virtual Classrooms

open sourceAn open source application is a “free” application that is based on code.  The codes are shared and anyone who understands coding can take it an implement it within their platform.  An example of an open source application for synchronous sessions include BigBlueButton.  Open source application would take precedence over a commercial product for any organization that has no desire to continuously buy new licenses.  According to CIO Staff  most of Alexa’s Top 20 Global Web sites use open source applications.

The main problem with open source applications is that it does require knowledge of coding.  So while it is “free” you have to know how to use it and might have to hire an IT specialist to set it up which takes time.  Commercial software on the other hand is instantly available for use and relatively inexpensive to maintain on a month to month basis.  Commercial software for synchronous sessions offers features such as mobile apps which make it very flexible for students as well as teachers.

The choice it yours, open source or commercial….  Here is what Bart Simpson has to say.



Navigate 2.1.2 Recorded Session

Weekly chat session Final Exam Review
To View Go To:


I have been recording synchronous sessions for about five years now so the task was easy.  I think the challenges I have had in the past when teaching is actually REMEMBERING to press the record button when you start teaching.  Some of the other challenges of synchronous sessions is getting students to actually show up.  I have started to offer incentives like point as well as playing songs that students request to hear in the beginning (as long as they were appropriate for the classroom).

Here is a link to one of my recordings in which I am reviewing important Final Exam information:

I believe that synchronous learning is one of the most powerful tools in online learning especially in Mathematics.  While watching the recordings are nice, there is nothing more powerful than the student being able to get real time help from teachers.


Navigate 2.1.1 Delivery Methods and the Synchronous Vendor Market

Adobebb collaborate Big Blue Button2 cisco Webex googleplus_logo gotomeeting wiziq logo

There are several synchronous session delivery tools available on the market.

Examples of tools that offer free 30 day trials include Adobe Connect, Blackboard Collaborate, and GoToMeeting.

The free tools include Cisco WebEx (for 3 users), Google+ Hangouts and BigBlueButton.

Adobe Connect, Cisco WebEx and GoToMeeting are the ones that not only work with the computer but also have mobile apps so students can access the session on the go.

I am personally using Adobe Connect while teaching at Georgia Virtual School.  In the past I have used Blackboard Collaborate when I taught at Georgia Cyber Academy, conducted meetings using GoToMeeting as well as Cisco WebEx as well as tutoring using a different tool WizIQ (which also contains some CMS features)

Which one do I like the best?  I really couldn’t tell you.  They all have different components that I like.  They all rely on internet connection so the complaints that I might have would mainly be attribute to internet connection issues which might not always be the fault of the application.

The mobility of Adobe Connect, Cisco WebEx and GoToMeeting makes them a cut above the rest as well as Adobe Connect’s features which enable you to edit the recordings.