I have an graduate certificate in instructional design and have been around a great deal of Learning Management Systems (LMS) systems. I’ve seen good deployments, and I’ve seen poor deployments. But never have I seen the cluster f*$% that our county is working with during this COVID 19 crisis. The LMS (Canvas) had been online long before Covid, but hadn’t been widely used until the the crisis started. I’m sure the county was panicking when they were forced to use it, or at least that’s what this mess resembles. Some teachers use the calendar function, some don’t. Some use modules , some don’t. Some use tasks, some don’t. The end result is that this dad praying for death every time he has to interact with the system – and I work with these damn things for a living! My daughter has the fun of watching be click a thousand different areas to try to find out where her assignments are at. And then when she’s complete, we have to hunt down a one answer quiz asking if the task was complete so that she can get credit.
It baffles me, as an LMS guy, that this was even allowed. I get that this was rushed, but the end product is the most unintuitive mesh of links one can possible think of. The landing page has links to 3rd party apps that children as expected to use without any guidance. The home room landing pages lack any consistency in design for easy navigation. The process for completing assignments differs between courses. The calendar is only used to indicate live meetings but the coursework deadlines can only be discovered either though the assignments or modules on the respective course. And this county is filthy rich! Like, one of the most wealthy counties in the nation , rich! They likely could have spent money on a few consultants to get this right, but they didn’t.
I think this quarantine situation is likely going to lead to a new era in distance learning, but first all the educators out there are going to have to get a crash course in learning how to use this tech. Everyone got-by when e-learning was the novelty model for online colleges. Now, every school is going to be forced to assess their own ability to support remote learners. Each student can be a potential e-learner if the next Corona comes around. And with this canary in the coalmine situation, I would expect then next renditions of our county’s LMS to follow one basic premise: KEEP IT SIMPLE!