Participate: Ideal Digital Learning Community Quest

posted May 13, 2016, 11:40 AM by Emily Kroutil   [ updated May 19, 2016, 7:57 AM ]
I've put a lot of thought into this because my husband is a computer programmer and he's always asking me what I'd like in my ideal educational site.  One day, once he has a ton of free time, he's going to build me the perfect LMS/DLC (look at all those educational acronyms!)

The ideal DLC would be one that, above-all, has EXCELLENT content.  The core of a learning community is LEARNING, so really great, fact-based learning resources are a MUST.  I'm thinking Khan Academy meets TED meets Snopes Fact-Checker meets BBC/National Geographic.  The resources shouldn't be just lectures, but videos, and infographics, and photos, and anything else that helps explain the concept.  For my AP Environmental class, I had a variety of resources online for them: videos, PowerPoints, texts with annotations, infographics, etc.  I personally think that having a wide-variety of materials available to the students helps involve all learners.

This is one of my favorite online interactives:

This site should also be easy-to-navigate.  Nothing annoys me more than going on a site and it having an absolutely terrible user experience (Wal-Mart website?  Best Buy?  Really?!?  That's the best you can do??).  I'm a fan of Haiku's user experience.  Edmodo, not so much.  Haiku knows what it is (an LMS) and doesn't try to be something else (Facebook).  I appreciate that.  

The user interface for teachers should be intuitive and make a teacher's job easier, not harder.  I like how Khan Academy awards badges for completion. It makes it easy as a teacher to track their progress by tracking the badges they've earned.  But these badges should award automatically.  We shouldn't have to go in and manually award the students their badges.  Haiku has this option and I've never used it because it's too time-consuming to award everyone badges individually.  Like I need another thing to take up my time!?!?  I also like Haiku's interface.

This one is harder to control on the back-end, but if the members of the DLC are respectful and have a true willingness to learn.  This creates an atmosphere of trust and makes it a more positive place to learn and interact online.

These last two are a little more teacher-y, but important to me, none-the-less:

This ideal DLC would have quizzes for the content and would allow students to review questions they've missed and retake the quiz with different, randomized questions.  Webassign does a really good job with this.  Haiku isn't quite there yet - you have to write your own questions and therefore don't have a huge bank to pull from and it doesn't randomize the questions (give the student 10 of the 15 possible questions).  

I would also like it to sync with whatever grade program I'm using.  That way I could import grades from the quizzes directly into the grade software, and vice versa.  

Making this a reality would require a few things: really good programmers, really good UX/UI folks, knowledgeable and engaging teachers to curate the content, partnerships with textbook manufacturers and gradebook software, and lots of money to pay all these people.