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Considering Learning Management Systems and Policies

June 5, 2013

I found this week’s focus on evaluating learning management systems to be particularly timely. My institution is currently moving from Sakai to Canvas learning management system. Last week I attended some preliminary training sessions to familiarize myself with the new LMS. Therefore I welcome the opportunity to evaluate this new system with a rubric before I start using it with various courses as the liaison librarian.

The authors state that it is important to explore and understand resources, policies and support (Ko and Rossen, 2010). I chose to reflect on the policies and impact on LMS and online learning at my institution. We are still a very traditional, residential undergraduate college. While we have a learning management system which will soon change to Canvas, it is seen as a place for supplemental materials only. The formal policy at my institution is that online or blended (traditional and online) instruction may only be offered for our graduate courses or for our undergraduate summer courses. Undergraduate courses during the academic year must take place in traditional classroom settings. The LMS may be used to provide supplemental material. The policy states that the instructor “may not exchange traditional classroom-based instructional hours for online instructional hours.” (Messiah College, 2010, 8.38.1.3.4) Our Provost is concerned that we fully explore the philosophical implications of allowing online undergraduate courses in a traditional residential setting. I have sympathy for this conundrum. Online instruction is certainly convenient but on the other hand we strive to offer a very relational and physical educational experience that can’t be duplicated in an online setting for traditional undergraduate students.

Given this policy, my goal in this course is to explore ways to provide library services in online graduate courses and supplementary library assistance to traditional undergraduate courses. One feature I need to explore is whether library links will be automatically included in the LMS or need to be requested on a course by course basis which would prove difficult and time-consuming. Students often access library resources and assistance more readily if it is present in the LMS where they already are.

I enjoyed the assignment to compare and evaluate two online courses. I was fortunate that our online summer courses just started a little over a week ago. Two faculty gave me permission to access and review their online courses for which I was very appreciative. I adapted a rubric from Ternus (2007) and added evaluation criteria relevant for the library content. While one course provided librarian contact information, neither course linked to the library or highlighted relevant library resources. I will work with my specific courses in the Fall to ensure that they highlight relevant materials.

Ko, S., & Rossen, S. (2010). Teaching online: A practical guide (3rd ed.). Routledge.

Messiah College. (2010). COE Handbook. Grantham, PA. Retrieved from http://www.messiah.edu/academics/coe/documents/SECTION-8.pdf

Ternus, M., Palmer, K., & Faulk, D. (2007). Benchmarking quality in online teaching and learning: a rubric for course construction and evaluation. Journal of Effective Teaching, 7(2), 51–67.

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