by Nathan Loewen, Department of Religious Studies
This week, I learned about digital literacies.* My workshop leader was Jade Davis, the Manager of Digital Projects at Columbia University Library. Right at the beginning of the workshop, she stated why she loves the LMS. I have previously expressed skepticism about the LMS. Dr. Davis helped crystallize how my opinion of the LMS has begun to change. Here is why:
- Among all the digital platforms available, LMS providers are the ones most likely to have done the necessary legal work to merit their use. In other words, your institution’s legal team has most likely reviewed, if not negotiated, the terms of service and aligned the service with your institution’s policy on acceptable use.
- LMS providers have agreed to protect students data according to FERPA.
- You will never get in trouble for using your instution’s LMS. It is an officially-approved platform.
- Your students will be safe. Whatever happens on the LMS is subject to your institution’s policies. For example, actions and consequences from policies regarding harassment and academic misconduct may extend from whatever happens on the LMS.
- You can ask your institution’s support staff for help with it. You are not left to your own devices.
- Almost every LMS is really clunky. You have to be creative to make them work. This means you have more occasions to think about your pedagogy and goals.
- You can try new things and not break it. Most people never explore their LMS. What new things can you try? How might you game your system?
- What do your students see? You can find out. Most LMS systems have a “student view” that allows you to try out your own assignments in real time. Does your assignment actually work? An LMS can help you do that beta testing.
Are you surprised?
* The workshop was supported by Dr. Christine Taylor, the Vice-President and Associate Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at the University of Alabama.