Choosing the right online learning platform for your particular needs is a critical to adopting a blended learning model that will work for you long-term. Before getting into pedagogy and application, I want to review just a few of the many online learning platforms available to teachers. I choose to focus on these 5 in particular because they support online discussions, which are a central component to the blended learning model I discuss in this book.

"blended learning" Collaborize Classroom

Identifying your needs is important to finding the right tool. Here is a list of questions to consider:

  • What will the primary purpose of my learning platform be? Support discussions? Post assignments? Foster group work outside of class?
  • Do I plan to incorporate multimedia into my site? If so, what kinds of media?
  • Do I want my site to be an academic site or will I allow students to use it informally as well to have conversations about topics that are not related to school?
  • Do I already have a web space on my school site that administration wants me to use to post homework? If not, do I want a learning platform where I can post assignments?
  • Do I want to give online quizzes and tests via my site?
  • Does my school require an online grade book? If so, has the district provided a free grade book? Am I required to use that one or do I have the freedom to choose one on my own?
  • What are the biggest hurdles to student access to technology at my school?
  • Is there a district filter, which might limit my ability to use particular learning platforms?
  • How much am I willing to pay to use a learning platform?

Once you have answered these questions and brainstormed additional questions you may have generated, you are ready to “window shop” for the right learning platform.  Several online learning platforms allow you to take a test drive with their product if they are not already free for teachers. I highly suggest trying your top choices out before making a final decision. Ease of usability is hard to judge before you have actually experimented with a learning platform. The small nuances of color, language, and design make a big impact on you when you are working with a tool daily, so you want to make sure it is just right for you…

Five of top learning platforms designed for education discussed in this chapter…

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