More on LMSs

I’m prompted by Stephen’s response to my last post on Learning Management Systems to expand my thinking….

Stephen suggests a better starting point is to develop a process for needs analysis in relation to this kind of technology? I couldn’t agree more – which is what I was trying to move towards in the last post. The point is, it’s not much use comparing the features of different LMSs if we don’t understand how and why we want to use them.

The group I’ve been working with have come to this point – and are now designing a questionnaire for schools and teachers that is intended to act as a catalyst for self-reflection about the teaching that takes place in their schools, and how the use of an online environment might assist.

By using a series of prompts and questions that encourage teachers to describe their current pedagogical approach, it is easier then to consider the sorts of online activities and approaches that might be useful.

By avoiding the notion of an LMS (implying an “off the shelf”, “one-size-fits-all”, “out-of-the-box” solution) and introducing the notion of an online learning environment, we can begin to thing much more flexibly about what the suite of tools and applicaitons we want to use might be.

Inevitably we will end up being faced with considering one of the existing LMS products as a starting point – chosen perhaps because of the range of tools and applications it already contains, or perhaps because of the ease with which other applications/tools/components can be integrated into it.

The keyword is interoperability – and I’d back a choice that focuses on an open-architecture LMS any day. Empowering schools and teachers to consider the choices available to them from a position of pedagogical understanding has to be the way to go.

Seems I’m not the only one contemplating these issues at the moment – see George Seimen’s latest blog entry on course management.

2 thoughts on “More on LMSs

  1. Hi Derek

    I’ve been doing a lot of work around the range of systems and tools that could potentially make up the suite needed here in NSW. I too have got my concerns about the current batch of LMS and how they are used (a mass consumption model of education). I consider them one of a numer of systems that could be chosen by the teachers (and maybe by the learners in future) if it is appropriate, but should not be imposed as the only option.

    I’m not sure that you will get what you need from questioning teachers and schools, unless all you are after are replications of classroom practice by electronic methods (and the assumption that this is good practice). There is a balacing act needed between what serves the teacher now, what could be possible if we think outside the classroom paradigm (hate that word), and what the system can sustain.

    So much change management involved that many decision makers may take the path of least resistance – unfortunately this may be a LMS.

  2. >Inevitably we will end up being faced with
    >considering one of the existing LMS products as
    >a starting point

    I don’t think you should see this as inevitable, there are two other equally viable inevitabilities (and probably more):

    1. Using agile development techniques and open source development platforms/philosophies, creating new systems is not the ‘major’ and ‘expensive’ exercise it used to be, and bending/stretching an existing system could be just as time consuming/expensive and can tend to blinker the vision.

    2. There are alternatives outside the LMS sphere that may have a better basic tool set to start working with. To limit the search/review to systems labeled LMS would be to overlook all the interesting developments happening in the social networking/knowledge management/community of practice type systems, etc.

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