The Future of Learning Management Systems – Development, Innovation and Change

I’m attending the ICDE World Conference on Online Learning 2017 in Toronto, Canada and blogging the sessions I’m attending.

Phil Hill presenting. His slides are online here:

 

Phil commenting on the hype of MOOCs, the hype of higher ed going away entirely, the lack of business models for educational technology start ups. He recommends healthy skepticism on new trends such as adaptive learning.

Phil suggests that ed tech people have been children happily playing in the corner, but now the children are loose in the house. Funny metaphor – interesting how twice this morning I’ve heard that ed tech people just talk to each other (playing in the corner).

Online Students Survey by LearningHouse – good to understand student views of online learning.

Students want their own pace, but also instantaneous feedback. – PPIC, Successful Online Courses in California’s Community Colleges report

A problem-based learning method used in Habitable Worlds, a science course for non-science majors by Arizona State University – an example of the new direction of online learning that we need to consider. Focused on the big concepts, not the details. It’s multidisciplinary too – physics, sociology, etc. Students said, it was the best course I’ve ever taken. This course was built on Piazza – a wiki based discussion space.

Phil’s question – how can the LMS support this kind of course. This course was not in an LMS, because the standard LMS could not support what they wanted to do.

Some areas to consider: competency-based, gamification, adaptative, personalized learning. These are areas where people are trying to innovate in LMSes.

Having an LMS is like having a minivan – you’re not proud of it, but you have it. You buy it because you need it – it solves a particular job. A metaphor goes a long way to explaining a point!

A course management system is a better description – how do you take a course and how do you manage it? Learners are a list of people inside the course. They aren’t really “learning” management systems. The LMS isn’t really thinking about the learner outside the course or across the courses.

Phil has a slide with both LMSes and free consumer tools (i.e. blogger, wordpress, ning, pinterest, etc.). Interesting that we have both – faculty want these in the LMS or we expect the LMS to be easy to use like the cool tools. 

Some info on LMSes: Moodle has the largest installed base; Canvas is currently the fastest growing and the dominant for new implementation. Interesting comments that the competency based attempts aren’t very successful, not enough market. 

Cloud hosting or externally hosting is a huge new trend. A big issue – LMS going down on exam week or the first week of school. That is partly what’s driving the move to the cloud – to be able to scale up resources as needed. Security concerns also drive hosting decisions.

In North America, it appears that open source LMSes – Moodle and Sakai – installed base peaked about 2013, and is going down. Also that open source for open source’s sake is no longer such an issue.

Phil talks about the tension – what should be in the LMS vs. “cool tools” but then should those be inside the LMS? Initiatlly LMSes were a walled garden: forum, assignments, announcements, syllabus, etc. Nothing in or out. Over time though, there are consumer tools faculty and students want to use – blogging, social networking as two examples. Initial reaction by the LMSes was to give you a terrible version of it inside the garden. Lots of laughs from the audience. Feature bloat. Too many tools crowded in that were poor imitations of the outside. The new trend is LTI integration – we don’t have to have all activity. The LMS provides the basics, and hooks in other tools via LTI to connect to other items.

Now we think, the LMS is central; but it should enable me to use third party tools, but without being too confusing for students or too many logins!

Other tools coming to integrate are XAPI and Caliper – so in the future – we should have interoperability standards where we toss out the imitation tools from the LMS, and integrate easily with third party applications. Most competency based systems though are sticking with the walled garden idea.

Phil thinks that Canvas is pushing the competition – to reduce feature bloat and get a cleaner design.

Corporate learning is doing better with integrating tools; in the education market the integration of tools is more basic and somewhat clunky. The education market could learn from corporate learning.

Re mobile: The LMSes are moving their slowly. Offline access and responsive design for mobile are two major areas they are working on. It’s just slow.

Re learning and data analytics – the movement is more towards – we want the data, but we aren’t as interested in your graphs and learning analytics. Given our work in Intelliboard, I see this. What the data means depends on course and institution policies – and it’s better for the institution to be building up the meaning around the data.

Great session to get an update on what’s happening with LMSes. The evidence seems clear that LMSes are not dead nor dying.

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