Beyond the LMS

21 December 2016

As I think about my teaching for next year, what kind of relationship do I want with my students. The fact that I even ask such a question suggests that I do want some kind of relationship, rather than a more “at arms’ length” association.

So, within our institutional framework, how do I foster a good relationship. For many, the primary point of contact with students—outside of the classroom—is through Canvas (the University’s LMS … learning management system). I have been thinking how to organise my course within Canvas to support/build a relationship with students, but, alas Canvas as we currently use it doesn’t seem to be up to the job.

The more I think about it, the less I think I need Canvas as my point of contact with students. If I want a relationship with students, something dialogue based, then the use of something centralised, like Canvas, seems like a mis-fit. What I need is something that better supports a dialogue. Something like …

Email, twitter, etc. Something that is inherently two-way in nature.

What would this look like? Well it would be more event driven. I imagine something based around the following four events (in no particular order):

  1. Student enrols in the course
  2. Student un-enrols in the course
  3. Student is allocated grades/marks for an assignment
  4. Student completes the course.

For each of these events I could generate the appropriate email:

  1. Enrolment – pack of information about the course, any needed content, calendar (ICS) information, etc.
  2. Un-enrolment – thanks and a request for ‘diagnostic’ information as to why they unenrolled.
  3. Grade allocation: Details of the grade, personalised feedback on the assessment, details of their standing in the class as a result of the assessment (e.g., a summary of their grades), some guidance for their overall improvement, etc.
  4. Completion: Final grades, ranking within class, course evaluation etc.

I think that would work. What do you think?