Thursday, June 3, 2010

Learning Impact 2010 and the New LMS

Moodlerooms Board Member, Lou Pugliese, wanted to provide some commentary after participating on a panel at the IMS GLC's recent Learning Impact 2010 Conference:

A few weeks ago, I participated in a panel discussion entitled, "From Course Management to Digital Support for Learning Platforms," at the IMS Global Learning Consortium's yearly conference, Learning Impact.

Panel moderator, Rob Abel, IMS GLC's Chief Executive, prepared the panelists with a series of questions to contemplate in advance of the session. The responses to these questions, in my opinion, illuminate the current state of online learning and supporting learning management systems and an impending forecast how the industry is evolving.

For the next few weeks, I'll be sharing a few observations on the past and future of the LMS, which were stimulated by Abel’s questions.

Online Learning continues to be an immature market: in the approximate 400 year history of higher education, online learning has been one of the fastest-adopted technologies (save perhaps the cell phone and fax machine. Although the traditional LMS may have a 95% adoption rate, its short-life span presumes a number of ways to evolve towards different kinds of learning networks and environments. Casey Green, Campus Computing Project Director, posits that the “campus LMS market is a mature market with immature products.”

To his point, the early LMS was designed with relatively little research base and, as such, defaulted to a didactic, teacher-centric focus…not student-centric participatory tool. Additionally, learning management is still burdened by the fact that it is an administrative and utilitarian-based creation, lacking significant instructional and cognitive design.

It’s clear that “New LMS” will need to rely on a more cogent research base. In 1998, Martin Dougiamas (the author of Moodle) explored a vision of social constructivism in online teaching with his notion that,

“The social world of a learner includes the people that directly affect that person, including teachers, friends, students, administrators, and participants in all forms of activity. This takes into account the social nature of both the local processes in collaborative learning and in the discussion of wider social collaboration in a given subject, such as science.” (A Journey into Constructivism Martin Dougiamas - November, 1998)

His release of Moodle in August 2002, is one of the best examples of designing global educational software with deep collaboration from instructors, and with over 32 million educator adoptions, I think the marketplace is beginning to vote in favor of this approach.

So what will this look like? At this juncture, no one really knows for sure but in speaking with academicians around the country, it’s clear to me that New LMS will need to be designed from the demand side of the supply and demand equation, not vice versa. Designing to the “consumer” will clearly place greater emphasis on student experience and LMS as a student-centered application that gives students greater control over content and learning.

How will we know all of this will have an impact? Movement toward a competency based LMS design for the online teaching and learning I believe will be accretive to the type of gains in online education we’re seeking.

Stay tuned over the next few weeks as more thoughts begin to unfold.

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