Opinion: The Future of the LMS

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According to Campus Technology’s Gary Brown the future of the LMS can be summarized in 4 points (link to the article):

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  1. The most important issue facing the LMS is its relevance to the kinds of initiative-based and authentic learning that it will be used to support.
  2. For the LMS to be useful in the new world of PLEs and e-portfolios, it will have to be so seamlessly integrated into the World Wide Web that it will be difficult to recognize.
  3. Facebook has taught us that learning is fundamentally and irrepressibly social in nature.
  4. Educators must evolve, not as sages or guides, but as agents responsible for educational strategy, activity, and assessment design. Those who prevail will become mediators for learners brave enough to face today’s many pressing and all-too-authentic challenges. from http://campustechnology.com/Articles/2011/06/29/LMSs-Must-Tear-Down-This-Wall.aspx?Page=1

Do you agree?

My personal thoughts on the matter is that relevance of the LMS has more to do with the person creating the content/building the course than the actual LMS itself. A simple well-designed web page can do more in terms of relevance to authentic learning than the latest LMS with all the bells and whistles that doesn’t address the learning tasks/objectives at hand.  Well trained teachers and great content is key (learning management systems are secondary).

Seamless integration into the web is less important I think moving forward, the real challenge is using the LMS appropriately within the context of the web-at-large. While learning is inherently social, privacy while learning (within a group, or a class within the larger school) still makes a case for the “walled garden”.  Safety online for learners is first and foremost goal #1.  We can/won’t all just blog to our hearts delight for grades publicly.  Students need opportunities to hone their voice to increasingly larger audiences, but only after they’ve established comfort in doing so.

For the 4th point, I think it’s the most salient of the 4 proposed in the Campus Technology post.  What students need isn’t changing, but our methods for providing students the opportunity to learn are adapting to more efficient and more student-directed solutions. Understanding our (those working in/around/supporting education) evolving role in student learning and within the spectrum of “education” (from pre-school to jobs).  For the best educational opportunities via LMS, understand your tools and their limitations.

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