Last school year, I started researching various Learning Management Systems to see which one might be best for our school to use. After playing with a bunch, I narrowed down my top two favorites: Haiku LMS and Canvas. If you’re interested in taking a look at my original blog posts, they can be found:
Fast forward to this school year. My school decided to use Haiku for many of the reasons I outlined in the Part 2 post, above. The plan was to have a small cohort of teachers use Haiku this school year and then roll it out to the entire faculty next school year. Keep in mind that my school is grades 3-12. After the first month, students that I talked to were very happy with the transition to Haiku and were wishing that all of their teachers were using it. They loved only having to log into one place to get all of their assignments versus having to go to each teacher’s webpage (prior to Haiku, we used “teacher pages”, where teachers would post a calendar and any relevant worksheets). Another one of their favorite features was the calendar on their main portal page, which showed them upcoming due dates for all of their classes (whose teachers were using Haiku) immediately upon logging in. In addition to students being happy, the cohort of teachers using Haiku were having an easy time with the transition. Other teachers were asking if they could also start using Haiku. With the extensive video tutorials and FAQs that Haiku provides, moving the interested teachers to Haiku was not an issue, from what I saw.* So, our school decided that we would have ALL teachers move to Haiku after winter break. Since January, all teachers and students are using Haiku – grades 3-12. Some teachers are using the bare minimum – the calendar to post due dates and posting assignment sheets; but most teachers are really exploring all the possibilities. Regarding some of my favorite things, off the top of my head:
- It’s easy and clear!
- The idea of adding “content blocks” to create your page layout
- Include features such as adding: text, web links, documents, embed code, images, audio, calendar, upcoming activities, announcements, assessment, discussion, poll, wiki project
- You can drag and drop these blocks to customize your design
- Ease of linking to another page in your class – no creating hyperlinks required! Easy drop-down menu to link between pages within a course and between courses.
- Ease of sharing content (page, class, content block) with another teacher
- Beyond just sharing content with other teachers at your school, you can also share with any teacher using Haiku. For instance, my mom’s school uses Haiku and since she is using my video content to flip her class this year, I will upload a chapter of videos to my Haiku page and share the page with my mom. Once it is on her class page, she can customize it as she sees fit. Our pages aren’t linked in any way, so what she does is not effecting my page in any way. Similarly, any changes I make after sharing it with her are not reflected on her page.
- Practice Assessments
- Immediate feedback
- Teacher can control if students are allowed to retry a question multiple times
- Teacher can controls # of attempts and how these affect grading: (e.g. attempt 1 is weighted 100%, attempt 2 is weighted 67%, attempt 3 is weighted 33%)
- Ability to randomize questions and/or answer choices
Some things I would like to see improved:
- Calendar – I spend a lot of time in the calendar. I like to do a lot of my planning here and tend to get my calendar up a month in advance (especially in my AP Calculus class). Right now, the calendar does not allow me to drag-and-drop. In order to change a date, I have to click on the event, wait for the edit box to come up, and then change the date. The good news is that I’ve heard that Haiku is going to be allowing Google Districts to use a Google Calendar instead of the Haiku Calendar. If this all links together well, I think it could be awesome!
- Gradebook – can’t view grade statistics (e.g. class average on quiz). This is a major drawback for me and I find myself entering grades in two different places way too often.
- App for the iPad/iPhone – I have a class set of iPads and though I can use the Safari browser with Haiku, it’s not fully supported at the moment. However, they have released the Haiku Mobile beta and are actively developing it. They plan to roll out the full-featured mobile app for students by fall.
I know I’m missing a ton, but hopefully that is helpful to those of you exploring Haiku LMS for your school! Overall, I’m really, really happy and the transition has been much smoother than anticipated!
*Note: all opinions above are my own. I am NOT the tech director of our school (I am a math teacher and work on some tech initiatives at my school, as well as being the technology convener for the math department). The above are just my observations and experiences.