Customizing Your LMS

as an Infrastructure for Online Teaching and Learning

In this section, we will examine steps you might consider taking to customize your LMS shell in ways that facilitate teaching and learning. Whether you use Blackboard, Canvas, or your own website, you should not accept the default settings when setting up your course.  Just as you would not want someone to tell you how to teach your course face-to-face, so you should not accept a generic version of your course as the model for teaching.

Lisa Lane, in her 2009 article Insidious Pedagogy, noted that there is a built-in pedagogy to the default settings of most LMS’s.  Rather than accepting buttons or links for types rather than purposes, she suggested crafting your LMS to match your teaching approach.

In one of my recent classes, I took this approach in setting up my menu and activity layout:

I set up menu links for ANNOUNCEMENTS, SYLLABUS, WEEKLY LESSONS, and DISCUSSIONS as you see here, and included a link called START HERE to orient students to my course.  Since I also use Twitter in this particular class, I included a link to the TWITTER FEED.  The Weekly Lessons included a course map that showed the flow of the course, and each module is laid out in the P-I-E format of Preparation, Interactions, and Evaluation.

Customizing your LMS signals your instructional intent and provides students with a consistent format week to week.