In regards to opinions towards learning management systems, professors tend to fall into three general categories- those who are not interested, those who are interested but do not have time to learn more, and those who are interested and have seeked out information on their own. Because each of these groups have different backgrounds and opinions about learning management systems, it does not make sense to put them together into the same training. In order to organize training for these professors and cater towards their opinions, it is important to understand what causes these opinions.
Professors Not Interested in Learning Management Systems
Instructors who are more traditional in the way of teaching are reluctant to learn about learning management systems because they are intimidated. These instructors have generally been teaching for a number of years without having to implement learning management systems into their curriculum. Alaina T.’s article, “Why are some Educators Reluctant to Technology in the Classroom”, summarizes the concerns of these types of instructors saying they “usually think that technology can’t do a good job, they have security issues, they’re worried that students can easily cheat, that automatic systems calculate grades inaccurately, and more. Basically, they don’t want to be replaced with a learning platform and they’re afraid of losing control over their teaching methods.” While it is good to work off of a tried and true method, it is also important to update classes as time changes and including technology is one of these changes that must be made for ease of teaching and student success.
Professors Interested in Learning Management Systems with Limited Time
Ryan Grainger and Denise Tolhurst discuss the tendencies of these two types of instructors in their article “Organisational Factors Affecting Teachers’ Use and Perception of Information and Communication Technology”. Grainger and Tolhurst’s study reports that when the administration offered workshops, they were only offered after hours or offsite and “numbers soon ‘dwindled’ – not out of lack of interest, but because of the fact that staff were simply too busy … few staff members were interested because of the impact on their schedules”. Therefore, these instructors that already understood the importance of adapting with the times and using learning management systems and were interested in improving their skills were unable to because the administration assumed that they would be able to drop whatever they had planned after work hours to attend an optional training. By providing workshops at undesirable times, the administration prevents teachers who are interested but busy from coming and effectively discourages teachers on the fence from attending.
Professors who have Seeked Out Information on Their Own
Those who were interested in learning more and did have time did so according to Grainger and Tolhurst. Like most people when they are curious about something, instructors who want to learn more about the features of learning management systems do a quick Google search and then tend to have a solid understanding of the basics. These instructors then seek out training through their employer and end up in a workshop or training. This seems like a great solution, however since the workshops are available to employees of all experience levels, it is difficult to cater to each instructors needs. Those who were relatively new to their learning management system reported that training was “too ‘high-level’, compared to the ‘step-by-step’ training needed”. Meanwhile, instructors who had more background in using learning management systems responded negatively to the workshops as well. One anonymous attendee reported “There was too little presented, with not enough time. It just wasn’t appropriate to my level. I’m more experienced than other teachers, but I’m in training with novices, so I end up just playing around”. Because both the beginner and researched instructors felt they gained little from attending the workshops, they are unlikely to recommend them to their colleagues and therefore even fewer instructors will be exposed to adequate training in using learning management systems.
How to Provide Adequate Learning Management System Training
The administration should survey faculty on their understanding of Canvas to make sure that they are comfortable using it. Those who do not feel they understand all of the features that Canvas has to offer should be offered to do a Canvas workshop outlined in the following paragraphs. Additionally, part of the end of the term professor review should include a section on if the way professors format their Canvas page was helpful to students or if there is something they could change. The professors would then be able to take these comments into consideration for the next term.
Those professors that do not report being able to use Canvas proficiently should be grouped together by level of understanding and learning goals into a few sections of Canvas training. If possible, the university could reach out to a Canvas representative to see if they are willing to teach a couple of workshops. Otherwise, maybe a few professors who feel they have a thorough understanding of Canvas would be willing to help. While this may be an expense to the university, it would help teachers be more competent in online education which would help the students in the long run.
New-hired professors should be required to participate in a paid training to ensure that before they implement their curriculum into Canvas they understand all of the features it has to offer. For example, a number of my professors do not use the calendar feature and some of those that do do not have accurate due dates on it which causes confusion when I am planning my schedule. By making sure that each teacher is on the same page of what to do, each student will have more consistency in their scheduling which will allow for better student success.