My previous post reviewed some basic tools most Learning Management Systems offer, and once teachers know these tools, the next step is to build a course shell, or template, to be reused each semester or to share with other teachers. The template can be an exact mirror of an active class, or it can contain just the content, leaving the course teacher to customize the gradebook and classes. Teachers building class templates should follow a few simple steps to make this process as easy as possible.
The first step is to assess the kinds of content the LMS supports (Figure 1). There is no need to carefully organize and upload content the software can’t support. Since my last post focused on Haiku Learning, I’ll use it as an example. Haiku Learning offers many tools for sharing content with students: text, files, weblinks, images, Flickr, embedded material from websites, video files, audio files, YouTube, Noteflight, and mini-sites based on Flash, Java, and HTML. Knowing the type of content to gather will make the upload process easier. The teacher should also make sure the files are saved and converted properly. For example, if the LMS only supports .gif and .jpg files, convert .bmps and .pngs into one of those format.
The next step is to collect and upload the resources. Haiku Learning allows Common Cartridge imports from Blackboard and Angel, and Moodle Archive imports, so if a teacher has content there, he/she can upload that zipped file. I attempted to use the zipped file from TOOL, but it did not upload correctly (Figure 2). Since I do not know which LMS Georgia Virtual Learning used to create and save the content, I was unable to use the help Haiku offered. Instead, I saved the files from the first page of the Digital Citizenship unit, and I was able to upload them individually. Below is a screen shot of what I managed to put together using only the example Georgia Virtual Learning provided, and creating this took no time at all:
Once I had the content how I wanted it displayed the way I wanted and the pages were in order, I was ready to save the class as a template (Figure 4). Since templates help teachers reuse and share created classes, it is important to tag and label courses clearly so that teachers can select the best template for their individual courses. Unfortunately, Haiku Learning does not allow a teacher to assign state standards or Common Core standards to content or courses; the only option for teachers is to assign a course code and a short summary:
What one can do in Haiku Learning, however, is label assessments for a grade level and subject area and add specific tags (Figure 6). A school could create a uniform system of tags that matched common standards to help facilitate sharing among teachers.
Another option is for teachers to share the course directly (Figure 7).
Using Haiku Learning to create a template was easy. The only difficult part of the process was finding the best content to include, as is appropriate. When teachers spend more time fixing technology and less time creating and planning content, the technology isn’t working. Haiku Learning works.