Jumping the LMS wall

I was relieved to find someone else creating course work and activities outside of an institution’s learning management system (LMS).  Jon Mott and David Wiley (2010 ?) in their article, Open for Learning: The CMS and the Open Learning Network,  make the argument that current LMS designs hinder student-created learning and instead cater to, and are used for, administrative efficiency – not learning effectiveness. Studies show that LMS are least used for learner-centred activities such as virtual classrooms and discussion boards. They also are time restricted, thus disconnecting the student from their learning community and created content when the course ends.

From my point of view, I find the LMS lacking in the tools and spaces necessary to implement my type of instructional design, outlined here.  In my design approach, I tend to create student-led learning sprinkled with active, constructivist, collaborative, self-assessing, and experiential learning. A big order that requires me to use new web tools to help students find, analyze, and interpret information, manage data, communicate with others in various ways, work collaboratively, create meaningful presentations, and self-publish.

Mott and Wiley go on to propose an open learning network (OLN) design that lies somewhere between a LMS and a personal learning environment (PLE) – see their diagram below. They describe it as a move “toward a more open, flexible, modular, and interoperable learning infrastructure.” Also, they determine some information is still required to be private and inaccessible such as student information, assessments, etc., but beyond that instructors and students should openly engage with and share wikis, blogs etc. to the extent the applications are mashed-up with the existing LMS/OLN.

Diagram by Mott and Wiley (2010)

I don’t have the privilege at the moment to mash-up/import useful external applications with current LMS as the leading brands are limited in that way. However, the village drums are indicating this may change in time. The LMS developers should make this shift as more and more educators use outside tools. It would be more advantageous to have all resources, activities, communications, etc. located in one area or portal. And this portal should remain accessible to students during their education and afterwards. If we are teaching them content and providing them learning experiences that is presumably transferable to the workplace, then we must allow them access to these invaluable resources over their lifetime. Create a big learning circle.

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