With blended and online learning becoming an increasingly popular teaching model for the classroom, more and more teachers are turning to a learning management system (LMS) to help facilitate learning outside of the classroom. Many of these services allow you to access their features on an iPad through a website, but apps are often created for a more user friendly tablet experience. So, here is a roundup to some of the more popular options for teachers using iPads.
1. Canvas: Infrastructure’s learning management system is designed to be used by all devices. It has an HTML5 website that works very well on the iPad, but if you ever need to add a file, or have a student submit a file as an assignment, you are going to want to turn to the Canvas iOS apps for help.
Canvas has two iPad apps. The first, Canvas for iOS, is designed for quickly checking your course content, looking at the latest announcements, and for uploading files to your Canvas class. The latter is achieved via the Open in another app option that is now commonly found in most of your favorite apps. Canvas has a useful guide for uploading files to the iPad, and you can view that here.
The second Canvas app is the Speed Grader app. With this app you can browse through student submissions, make video, audio and text comments to students, and grade using a point scale or via a rubric that you have previously set up.
Canvas is free for individual teachers to use with a class, but if you want students to have access to multiple courses with the same login and be part of a whole school LMS initiative, then you should really look at the paid version of Canvas that comes with more management features and helps unify the teacher and student accounts under one domain.
2. Edmodo: The ever popular Edmodo recently got a makeover to improve the user interface and make it easier to navigate. In the previous version, the Edmodo app looked almost identical to the Edmodo website. Now, the Edmodo app has a more distinct look. It is recognizable and built along the same theme as the website version, but it is not nearly as similar as before. New features are listed here.
Edmodo is not quite as full featured as something like Canvas, but its simplicity and ease of use is hard to ignore. I usually tell teachers it is kind of like a private Facebook, but that may be doing it a disservice, because although it looks similar, it really does a lot more. Notes, polls, quizzes, alerts and assignments can all be created inside Edmodo. Students and teachers can send apps to the Edmodo app and add them to their Library for assignment creation or submission, and this is done in much the same way that that you do in Canvas.
If teachers do find fault with Edmodo, then it is usually the organizational side that frustrates them. It is harder to structure an entire online class with modules, assignments, etc. and keep all of it in one place with some kind of hierarchy. It just doesn’t function that way.
There is also no way to create or take a quiz on the iPad app right now, however, you can if you go to Edmodo through Safari or another iPad web browser.
However, in the interests of fairness, Edmodo will tell you quite openly that they do not regard themselves as an LMS. Whether you think that is semantics or not is up to you. At the end of the day it really comes down to what you want to do with your class in an online environment. If Edmodo meets these needs, all the better.
3. Schoology: The last LMS for iPads that I want to mention is Schoology. With the schools that I work with, Schoology is not as popular as Canvas and Edmodo, but don’t let that put you off, because there are plenty of school districts that are very happy with the Schoology platform.
Schoology is comparable with Canvas in many ways, and offers the same “try before you buy” pricing model. It is free for teachers to create a class for their students, but if you want the benefits of having everything under one umbrella, you will want to look at their Enterprise package.
The Schoology iPad app is a free download, and lets you access many of the features you would expect. Assignments can be created by teachers and submitted by students. Teachers can manage their classroom, create assessments, and grade student assignments with custom rubrics that are later viewed by students.
Schoology is a very structured and organized LMS, much in the same way as Canvas is. Assignments, online discussions, a gradebook and even attendance can be take on the iPad app. Push notifications also alert students to the latest updates that you post to your class. There is also a calendar so that students and teachers can keep track of assignments and future events.
So are you using an LMS in an iPad classroom? If so, which one would you recommend, and why?