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Imagine a smartphone without apps

Ananda Verheijen
February 6, 2020
Imagine a smartphone without apps.
You have a smart device that has core functionalities for communication. You’re able to call, message and browse. But you can’t personalise how you experience your phone..till you download your favourite apps. Apps for specific needs beyond your smartphone functionality scope.

Now think of your Learning Management System (LMS) as your smartphone. On its own, it adds substantial value for both teachers and students – teachers get to focus on building course content and align planned learning activities with learning outcomes, while students have all courses, grades, schedules, calendar events and activities in one place.

But using an LMS without plugins is like using a smartphone without apps.

Redesigning learning

Gone are the days when classrooms were a one-sided delivery of lectures. Innovative teachers constantly look for ways to adopt a more project and team-based approach in their courses to spark higher order thinking among students. This trend is also recognized by Educause and clearly reflected in vision documentation of most universities.

These innovative pedagogies demand a digital learning environment that can cope with the dynamic needs of teachers. Needs that often require specific technology for a wide range of learning activities too broad to be pursued by solely one LMS provider. Hence, we define a digital learning environment as ‘an integrated collection of digital applications to support teaching and learning’.

Just as the smartphone company focuses on the operating system (and leaves specialised needs to third party apps), LMS providers also primarily focus on providing the basic platform for organisation of learning. To maximise the utility from the LMS, Educause states it is imperative to move from a monolithic, all-in-one system to a modular ecosystem of applications.

Inevitably the LMS allows external providers, such as FeedbackFruits, to use their focus and domain knowledge to further enrich the core platform provided by them. The end result: a coherent ecosystem of learning applications for the dynamic needs of teachers across the spectrum.

Democratizing active learning

FeedbackFruits sees the opportunity to support teachers to effectively redesign their courses and include activities that cultivate higher-order thinking. Together with teachers and instructional designers, we co-create tools to accelerate the implementation of active learning designs.

Our current tools facilitate active learning themes like peer-feedback, discussions and interactivity at the majority of Dutch universities and others internationally.

By collaborating with educators to shape the development of these learning tools, we are able to innovate at a pace not possible to achieve for each individual partner on their own. And together we build newer functionalities and learning activities that inspire teachers to design more engaging and impactful curricula.

These tools integrate seamlessly into the existing LMS, thereby enabling active learning in classrooms at scale. Moreover, because all the tools in the suite are built the same way, learning how to use one allows teachers to understand the use cases and interface of others as well. And from there, you simply plug and play.

We believe education should be much more than just memorization of facts. It should cultivate an attitude that brings out the best in us. In democratizing active learning at scale, we equip more students with invaluable skills such as critical thinking and higher-order thinking that are crucial in our mission to improve the world through education.

FeedbackFruits Educators Initiative supports educators with lifelong free access to our pedagogical tools.
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