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DIY LMS: Start Your Own Online Course


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Welcome to the DIY LMS course home page! Class starts April 7!

I’m very excited to announce the beginning of registration for an innovative online course “DIY LMS: Start Your Own Online Course” that I’m offering for free to teachers, trainers, and educators interested in e-learning. Specifically, the course will cover a variety of LMS or Learning Management Systems.

DIY LMS is a 4-week MIC – we’re not a MOOC! In a new twist to free online courses, this will be a “Micro-Intensive Course” with limited enrolment and emphasis on collaboration and project-based learning. The course is 4 weeks and starts Monday April 7th, 2014.

We are at a crossroads today. Teaching demands proficiency with various technologies. Students expect cutting edge digital learning and they’re armed with mobile devices and looking for engaging interactive lessons, media, and e-learning tech. Using course content management tools can help facilitate meeting this demand, and simultaneously increase your efficiency.

This course does not require any expertise with LMS tools but an intermediate tech level and familiarity with websites, blogs, wikis or the like, would be an asset. This course will be held completely online but the approach we will take is that of the educator or trainer looking to provide a blended learning experience. You can of course, also apply this training to the creation of wholly online learning experiences.

The 4 LMS Systems Used in the Course

This course is unique – as a participant you will experience 4 different leading LMS systems from a learner’s perspective. You will be provided with insights into the admin and design side via screenshots and demonstration videos.

Here are the specific tools we will look at:

Week One – Moodle
Week Two – Chamilo
Week Three – Schoology
Week Four – CourseSites (by Blackboard)

Moodle is a kind of gold standard in terms of reach and notoriety. It’s used everywhere, and with good reason – it’s capable and free/open-source. Chamilo is an up and coming free, open-source alternative that may have a better user experience than Moodle and more features “out of the box.” These tools require setting up web hosting. This should not intimidate anyone – we will learn how you can approach them from a DIY perspective. Schoology is another newcomer with an enormous feature set, plus it has tools to incorporate novel aspects like social and gamification (badges, for example). CourseSites is a free offering from Blackboard. It is limited to 5 courses but many of the tools are the same as the full Blackboard Learn LMS.

For keeners: Instruction will allow those with time and curiosity the opportunity to also set up their own LMS to study in parallel.

We will pay attention to the potential for use of the LMS systems with mobile apps. Moodle and Schoology both have apps, for instance, offering room to explore how our users (students, trainees) would access our classes with smartphones or tablets.

Course Structure / Time Requirements / Final Project

Each week’s material will be posted on Sunday. Monday will offer chat or online meet-up (approx. 6pm EST for those that can make it). Assignments or quizzes will be completed within 7 days (by the following Sunday). The first Monday in the 4-week course is April 7th, 2014.

Each participant will be expected to read articles and blog posts, watch video clips and other media, and participate in online discussions. There will be quizzes designed to review each week’s content, and a final independent study project will be required within a week of the course end date. These projects can be research or practise-oriented and take the form of writing, presentation, demonstration video or any other format. You’ll be expected to offer feedback to your peers throughout the program, and at the conclusion of the course.

To Register / Apply:

Please complete the registration form ASAP. All fields are required. The URL should lead to a website or blog, not a LinkedIn or Facebook account (unless that page is completely public).

Optional (but welcome!): Email a resume/cv and a letter of interest, explaining who you are and why you’re interested. If you have a website, blog or other online or digital portfolio, please submit relevant URLs.


Please send resume/cv, cover letter and any questions to Mike Simpson via [email protected]

Course site (this page):


Thank you so much for your interest and registration for the course. I look forward to receiving your resumes and letters, and meeting you online on April 7th.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to get in touch (email above).

Mike Simpson

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About Mike Simpson

Mike has been teaching since 2002 and working with web design and media software since 1995. He works as an English teacher, a computer trainer, and a graphic designer. In recent years he has taught and trained in Toronto at agencies such as St. Stephen’s and COSTI, and schools such as George Brown College and CCLCS (EAP, LINC, CALL-TESL). He is an advocate for “DIY” approaches to using technology and believes anyone can “get tech.” He first experimented with Moodle in 2010 – running a course in DIY Graphic Design. Mike operates a technology training business that specializes in LMS and CMS systems, and Adobe Creative Suite graphics and media software. Learn more at