(photo by Digital Teaching Platforms)

In “Digital Teaching Platforms in the Spectrum of Educational Technologies” by John Richards and Joseph Walters (in Digital Teaching Platforms: Customizing Classroom Learning for Each Student edited by Chris Dede and John Richards) there is an excellent discussion of different types of Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Digital Teaching Platforms (DTP).  I have one quibble with it though.  

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(photo by Digital Teaching Platforms)
I have started reading Digital Teaching Platforms: Customizing Classroom Learning for Each Student, edited by Chris Dede and John Richard.  The editors are both teachers I had at HGSE so I am eager to read the book.

In chapter one they attempt to distinguish Digital Teaching Platform (DTP) from Course Platform Learning Management System (LMS) and Course Delivery LMS.

Moodle is a Course Platform LMS.  

As defined by Chapter 1: "Course Platform Learning Management Systems provide software for creating and refining course content, for designing and administering assessment, and for communication and collaboration"  "These systems do not provide the content of the curriculum."  "The content is entered by district or by the teacher." or "purchased from third-party vendors".

Khan Academy is pretty much a Course Delivery LMS:

"Course Delivery Learning Management Systems provide both the content of the course and the platform for instruction." "The system assigns work to the students, creates and assigns tests, and reviews the results."  "These systems do not allow the district or the teachers to add their own content."  

So if we combine a Course Delivery LMS and a Course Platform LMS (Say for example, Moodle + a clone of Khan Academy) do we have a Digital Teaching Platform (DTP)?  Almost but not quite; the key difference between these LMS systems and a DTP is that "The Course Delivery LMS, like the Course Platform LMS is designed to operate without a teacher present."  All DTPs are designed to be used in a classroom.

The Khan Academy code base includes some real time analytics for coaches/teachers.  The class points per minute is currently the main "real time" report for teachers, but other analytics can be used to see what the class is doing.  Khan Academy is doing a number of pilots using their system in schools and I know that the Khan Academy developers are working on the coach reporting tools.  It will be interesting to see them create more real time features for teachers designed to be used during class.

One of the promises of DTPs is that they don’t just stick to the simple to teach and assess but also support the teacher in using a one-to-one laptop classroom in higher order thinking and collaborative problem solving.  My vision for how I’d like to use Moodle and the Khan Academy clone to support this is discussed in my blog post on Looking for a Partner: Creating easy-for-the-teacher hands on math lessons.  I hope to learn more of Dede’s and Richard’s vision as I read further.

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(photo by James Schiel)
I recently  went to SCRUM Master Training.  Scrum is a project management methodology frequently used in software development.  As loyal followers of my blog know, I’ve also been reading Elmore's Instructional Rounds, so during this training I thought about what parallels there might be between facilitating school improvement and facilitating improved software development.  

I was particularly struck by the slide with this picture.  It talks of Scrum being a process that provides for Transparency about what is going on in the project, with a set of rituals for Inspection to have people actually look at that information, then a process of Adaptation to make adjustments to what they are doing.

I thought this was a good framework for the concerns I raised in the blog post:  How could use of Moodle integrated with a Khan Academy clone affect teachers’ knowledge and skills?  

Moodle+Khan has great promise for "Transparency" as it generates and makes visible data on what the student is doing.  The challenge is creating a system that promotes Inspection and Adaptation within the classroom context.   A good UI will promote "Inspection", good in that it supports teachers actually looking at the data every day or for every class. Once they are inspecting the data, the next challenge is should and how can teachers change their daily teaching based on detailed up to the second assessment data on each student?

I don't think these are challenges that many educational technologies have mastered.  I'm looking forward to working with the teachers using our systems to come up with answers this year.

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