I’ve concluded, as so many others have, that the Learning Management System at my school does more harm than good to student learning. Not that the LMS is useless: I like the centralized grading, quizzing, and file system- all nicely FERPA compliant. But that’s it. For everything else, I want to use the public web, if possible.
So, imitating much smarter people, I’m putting my course on the open web. I don’t have the time to teach myself how to create static pages using jekyll and github, so I’m just going to run two installations of a wordpress on my own server. I’m toying with just linking to github pages for all the assignments and readings, gathering than posting them as HTML in wordpress, but that feels like I’m asking a bit much of my students, to learn to navigate two new interfaces.
One of my frustrations is that I have few to no resources at my school to help me work through these issues. IT and our instructional technologist are great, but with skills very different than what I’m working on right now. Plenty of historians around the country teach on the open web, and many post their syllabi and assignments to github for others to use. I met some of these amazing folks at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute , but their new colleagues, not the kind you can ding with newbie questions on workflow.
Curiously, for all the tech getting-up-to-speed I’ve been doing, the mindlessness of it has allowed me to reconsider more teacherly aspects of my courses, such as assignment design and how to promote historical thinking in a scaffolded way. I want my assignments to ask more open-ended questions that inspire curiosity, rather than settle for mastery of a timeline.
If you think this post is wandering, I did warn you in the title. . .