Toward the unbounded classroom

October 25, 2012
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By Prof. Martin Laba
School of Communication
LMS Consultation Team

In our ongoing pursuit of new and expansive approaches to teaching and learning, we must meet our students at least part way on their own cultural ground—a ground of intense involvement with digital communication technologies.

There is lively debate among educators on the need to reform how the university generates and shares knowledge with students through its teaching and learning principles and practices.

Central to these discussions is a call to anticipate the substance and pace of social change—from local community initiatives to global digital economies—through our teaching and learning strategies, programs and priorities.

Our educational practices and resources must at once address student needs and aspirations, the quality and depth of their university experiences, and the preparatory foundations the institution provides.

The classroom itself is under renovation to embrace a more borderless geography. SFU has begun to emphasize emerging pedagogical approaches such as experiential and communitybased learning, and has articulated a strategic vision that focuses on comprehensive student engagement as a crucial dimension of teaching and learning.

The achievement of this vision, and the sustained development of new pedagogical approaches require an educational technology environment that resonates with students, that is relevant to their advancement, and that enhances their university experience.

And the linchpin of that environment—a key to creating dynamic teaching and learning that quite literally pushes out the classroom borders—is an effective learning management system (LMS), or more accurately, a learning and management system.

The very concept of a LMS has shifted decisively from a resource for providing content and a range of managerial/administrative/transactional functions, to a rich and malleable source for academic involvement and participation.

This shift motivated the choice of Canvas, the university’s recently adopted open-source LMS that emphasizes among other qualities, flexibility, intuitiveness, integration with emerging technologies including mobile devices, and a platform that invites and enables student and instructor engagement.

It is a platform that enables and facilitates student and instructor engagement and participation.

An effective LMS such as Canvas represents infinitely more than a technology. It is a vital constituent in our broader project of creating a more participatory, collaborative and kinetic environment of teaching and learning.

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