ETEC 674- Session 2

Focus Questions for Chapter 1 and 4 (Waterhouse, S. A. The power of eLearning) and CMS/LMS Investigation

1. Central to our investigation of eLearning Technologies and Methods is gaining an understanding of Learning Management Systems (LMS) sometimes also called Course Management System (CMS) software. Chapter 1 of our text discusses the functionality of typical LMS/CMS, identifying four major categories. What are those categories?

According to Waterhouse, the four major categories that describe the functionality of an LMS are:

Distribution of course information

Student-instructor and student-student communication

Student interaction with course resources

Online testing and grading

2. Use the Internet to find three different course management systems. Provide the name, a URL and a brief discussion of what you can find out about the similarities and differences between the three that you find.

  1. Blackboard- CSUSB

“On a mission to reimagine education.

We’re shaping the future of education with ideas that challenge conventional thinking. The world of education is changing.”

Founded in 1997, $208 million in estimated sales, available in 25 countries and in 25 languages

I have some experience with Blackboard from the instructor viewpoint from the couple of years that our school district adopted it, plus I have experience with Blackboard as a student from my time here at CSUSB. As an instructor, I found it to be unmanageable for me to use with my students. It required too much work to make it usable. As a student, I find it easy enough to use, but I still find the discussion board feature difficult to follow.

Blackboard Features 1

  1. Haiku- Riverside Unified School District

“Haiku Learning is a full suite of beautiful, cloud-based tools designed to get you up and running with digital learning in minutes.”

Founded in 2007, $650,000 in estimated sales, available only in the United States and only in English

My experience with Haiku is also as an instructor and as a student. My school district adopted Haiku after we stopped using Blackboard. I find that it is easy to use as an instructor, however, as a student, the many classes that I am automatically enrolled in by my district overwhelm me. This is especially difficult when I am trying to find a particular file and I have no idea what class it is supposed to be in. However, I do not blame that on Haiku because it is our district that has chosen to use Haiku as a way to disseminate important information to the teachers. I think part of the problem is that our district previously had a great website where they stored all important documents. It was easy to navigate and easy to find things because every file had one place. In Haiku, some files can be found in multiple classes, which makes finding them again an experience that involves a lot of guessing and a lot of clicking.

Haiku Welcome Page

  1. Canvas- USC Hybrid High School

“Canvas isn’t just a product. It’s a breath of fresh air. It’s an educational revolution. It’s a powerful new way to—pardon our optimism—change the world. It’s a rapidly growing company with an industry-pushing platform, hundreds of talented employees, and millions of passionate students and teachers. And, sure, there’s also a pretty incredible product in there, too.”

Founded in 2008, 15.8 million in estimated sales, available only in the United States and available in 8 different languages

A few months ago I attended a conference at USC and some students described their experiences with the Canvas LMS, so I decided to research it further. The students explained that all of their classes used Canvas and that all of their work was submitted through Canvas.

Comparison of Features

Blackboard, Haiku, and Canvas all have the basic features of an LMS that allow for the distribution of course information, student-instructor communication, and student-student communication, student interaction with the course resources, and the ability to test and grade online. They all offer course development features of self-paced courses, skills assessment, exam engine, and a course catalog. Blackboard and Haiku also include test building and testing, while only Blackboard offers test scoring. Blackboard also offers student tracking, goal setting, and a virtual classroom. Blackboard and Canvas both offer blended learning, multimedia, and skills tracking, while Haiku and Canvas both offer collaboration management and performance assessments. Haiku is the only one to offer eLearning. Canvas has a coursework grading feature and roster processing. The ability to test within an LMS is important, but the type of assessments that are available for the instructor are even more important because as an instructor I need to assess my students in a different ways that do not always involve multiple choice questions. I was surprised to see that Blackboard did not include a performance assessment feature like Haiku and Canvas did. Maybe it is due to the fact that Blackboard already is in the top three of the most used learning management systems and it does not need to work as hard to attract new customers.

Top LMS Software

3. If you were going to create an online class right now, what LMS/CMS software would you use? Explain what you know about your system’s functionality in each of the four areas identified by the book. (If you don’t have access to LMS/CMS software just use Blackboard for your discussion in this area.)

Haiku AssessHaiku ConnectHaiku ePortfolio

If I were going to create an online class right now, my best option would be to use Haiku since I already have access to it as an instructor.

Distribution of course information- I can add content to my course to distribute information to my students with announcements, text, files, web links, images, Flickr, embed from the Web, video, YouTube, Audio, Noteflight, MiniSites, and Google Drive. Students can listen to my lectures, watch a video of my lecture, and/or follow along with the text version of my lecture. They could also follow along with a slideshow that I shared with them through Google Drive.

Student-instructor and student-student communication- The students and the instructor can interact through discussions, through sharing files in Dropbox, email, polls, and Wikiprojects. Students can also create an online portfolio.

Student interaction with course resources- The instructor can also add activities to the course that include SCORM Activity, BrainPop, CK-12, Educreations, Gooru, and Gooru-local to watch videos, complete lessons, and to read text relevant to the class.

Online testing and grading- I can create an exam to test the knowledge of my students or I can create a practice assessment to provide feedback as students are learning. These assessments will be graded and added to the gradebook. I can add an assignment from Google Drive that can be submitted to me through Dropbox. That is one way I could give students a performance assessment instead of an objective test. Grades can be assigned through the gradebook and the teacher can choose to use a standards based or a traditional gradebook. The gradebook also gives stats about mastery, frequency, recency, and improvement.

4. Chapter 1 of our text identifies six steps for getting started with eLearning. Discuss each step and use each step as a springboard for discussing what you want to do with eLearning either now or in the future.

  1. Ask yourself why.

I would like to teach my students some subjects online. I think it would be easiest to teach science and social studies online.

  1. Make a commitment.

I need to make the leap and devote the time and energy to creating online courses for my students. This is important because some schools in my district are using personalized learning. Students could enroll in my courses are part of their personalized learning plan.

  1. Develop a new vision for your course and how you teach.

The easiest way to create my course would be in modules that fit our 12 week trimester system. However, students might feel more successful if I break the course into shorter periods. I think a six-week course would be doable for my sixth grade students.

  1. Determine the resources available to you.

I have Haiku, the Common Core State Standards, our adopted science and social studies materials, Interact materials, and other GATE resources available to me. I also have a subscription to BrainPop that could be useful. Time is the resource I am missing!

  1. Acquire new technology skills and develop new instructional methods.

I think I have enough technology skills to make this work, but I would need to do more research on the flipped classroom so that I can implement the best practices for flipped learning as I design my course.

6. Plan.

I think I would start planning by determining the objectives and the curriculum that I want to teach in the six week course.

5. Chapter 4 of our text discusses the functionality of specific LMS/CMS tools in terms of being for one-way communication, two-way communication or for organization. Explain the key differences between one-way and two-way communication.

The key difference between one-way and two-way communication are that in one-way communication, the instructor is sending or distributing information to students, while in two-way communication the information is sent to students and students respond to that information. An instructor may post an announcement on the LMS to notify students of an upcoming test or assignment, but they do not expect to receive a response to that announcement from students. However, if the instructor posts a question on the discussion board, it is expected that students respond to the question on the discussion board and that students will engage in a discussion with the instructor and other students. The purpose of one-way communication is strictly to give the information to students, while two-way communication requires students to participate by responding to the original “message” whether it is a question in a forum or a question on an online test that they must submit.

Examples of one-way communication- announcements, documents created with the LMS, files created using other software and then uploaded to the LMS, gradebooks, emails, calendars, and homepages

Examples of two-way communication- discussions, asynchronous forums, synchronous chats, whiteboards, online tests, and private storage space

6. Identify the primary tools your LMS/CMS provides for one-way communication. Briefly describe a method that would make use of the most important tool from your list.

The tools that Haiku provides for one way communication are: announcements, text, files, web links, images, Flickr, embed from the Web, video, YouTube, Audio, Noteflight, MiniSites, and Google Drive. I can also add SCORM Activity, BrainPop, CK-12, Educreations, Gooru, and Gooru-local to watch videos, complete lessons, and to read text relevant to the class.

I think the most important tool would be the ability to add audio and video to share lectures with my students. I could create a screencast of a lesson and upload it to our course page. Students would be able to watch it and take notes. The best part is that they could watch it again if necessary. They can’t do that when they are sitting in my classroom.

7. Identify the primary tools your LMS/CMS provides for two-way communication. Briefly describe a method that would make use of the most important tool from your list.

Two-way communication tools in Haiku include discussions, sharing files in Dropbox, email, polls, Wikiprojects, and individual student portfolios.

I think that the student portfolios would be a great way for students and instructors to interact as students decide what they want to include in their portfolios. The instructor would provide feedback as they help students figure out what to include.

8. Consider how a CMS/LMS supports the three types of interaction (Student-Content, Student-Instructor, Student-Student) that were discussed in the first session 1 presentation. Using the list of tools you created in items 5 and 6, identify the best or most important tool for each type of interaction, explain what you know about the strengths and weaknesses of each tool to support the type of interaction you identify for it.

Student-Content- The ability to use Google Drive to share documents with students is great because all of the students in our district have a Google email. A problem with this is that students submit assignments through Dropbox, not through Google Drive.

Student-Instructor- Polls are a great way to receive feedback from students on a variety of topics. They can be used as a check for understanding at the end of the lesson. They can also be used to include students in the decision making process as students help decide what novel to read next or which art project they would like to create. A weakness could be that students would not take the poll seriously and just choose any random answer or the answer their friend chose.

Student-Student- Wikiprojects allows students to work together on a project in small group or with the entire class. A strength would be that students can work together to create content. Another strength would be that students can view and comment on each other sites. The Wikiprojects give students the ability to create their own websites. The teacher can decide whether students can view or comment on other Wikiprojects. A possible weakness would be deciding what content students would create to include on their Wikiproject.



  1. Nicely done! One question on the student-instructor interaction. You mentioned using a poll. I’m interested to hear how you see this format shaping the interaction.

    1. Thank you Dr. Newberry. I would use a poll as a check for understanding with my students so that at the end of a lesson or session they could tell me how well they feel that they met the objectives. Using that feedback, I would be able to think about any revisions that would be beneficial to my students. I think I would create the poll with a Google Form so that I could add the “other” option to my Likert Scale and have students explain their rationale.

  2. Hi Griselda,
    I really enjoyed reading how you highlighted Haiku. I don’t think we ever had a district training when Haiku came into the picture. Seeing how overwhelming it is being enrolled in all of the district classes on Haiku, I have been discouraged to learn how to use it from the instructor side. But, seeing how you laid it all out in this post, I see all of the functions it has. I also like that software comparison website you used. It’s great that resources like that have been created for us to easily compare products before making a decision.

    1. Hi Margarita,
      There are probably courses we can take on how to create your own class on Haiku, but honestly, it is pretty intuitive, unlike Blackboard.

  3. Hi Griselda,
    Our posts are different even though we both focused on Haiku. I enjoyed reading your posts as you highlighted some information I did not focus on. This was interesting and I think it is due to the different ways we use it based on our students’ age. I am trying to get parents to refer to it more, but this is a challenge.
    I remember the Haiku GATE class we completed one summer. I recall that I enjoyed it when we started sharing ideas on what our instructional products looked like among our group at our school site and at others school sites too. This was like our discussion board in Blackboard here at CSUSB.

    1. Hi Guillermina,
      That GATE course we took was one of my first experiences with eLearning. Now that we have almost completed our program, I will have to talk to Kim about how well she set up her courses. I wonder if she took any classes on eLearning?

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