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Learner Autonomy and the LMS

Recently, I shared my internal conflict, "domain of one's own" versus "LMS as a personal learning environment." Creating and cultivating one's digital garden is the self-actualization of digital fluency. The LMS can positively support skill development and digital ascension. These two concepts do not have to be mutually exclusive. Credit Aaron Davis for extending this conversation with this question shared in the blog comments.


"To what degree can an LMS, such as Schoology, support student autonomy and personal learning?"

Stephen Downes is considered one of the prominent thought-change leaders in the area of personal, socially networked learning. He identifies the following essential activities for developing and sustaining an effective personal learning environment (PLE):
  • Curating
  • Content creating
  • Connecting and interacting
  • Sharing and reflecting
Coincidentally, "Schoology as Personal Learning Environment" was my presentation topic at Schoology NEXT-2016. My driving question was, if Schoology is utilized as a personal learning place, then students will be more engaged in learning. Participants analyzed their internet usage based on David White's "visitors and residents" research and mapping exercise. We discussed resident web behaviors and the benefits of interacting in a digital, social learning place. We then mapped student usage of Schoology and compared this map with the original. The group concluded if the LMS is perceived and utilized more as a place than a tool, students would experience greater relevancy and increased engagement.

Our next step identified the Schoology features that best support autonomous, personal learning based on Downes's recommendations.



In addition to the learning places created by these features, each can be enhanced with embedded media; graphics, audio, and video. The open API (application program interface), permits the integration of third-party apps like G-suite and Office 365. These integrations increase interaction, creativity, and personalization while keeping learners close to the designated online meeting place, the digital hub.

Whether it's a blog, website, or wiki, building a PLE from scratch supports the 4 C's of 21st-century learning (communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking) in exemplary fashion. Planning, creation, reflection and revision require time and perseverance. Many of the traditional school practices, such as schedule, calendar, and evaluation don't seem conducive to this longitudinal type of personal learning. Schoology, while not being a completely blank slate, provides places for creativity and connection. It fits the parameters of our existing school structures. An LMS can provide learning places for digital literacy, digital fluency, and networked contribution, adding transparency and autonomy with emerging competencies. 

Are you using an LMS at your school? If so, how are you using it to support autonomy and personal learning?



Comments

Aaron Davis said…
I must be honest Robert, I have never properly explored Schoology. My school ventured into Edmodo. I am wondering then where you see the limits being? The edge of the page? http://edte.ch/blog/2015/02/02/finding-the-edges-of-your-page/

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