One LMS for All or Digital Spaces for All

What is surely frustrating for those around me, I’m still on this kick about learning management systems because a. my position warrants me wrestling with it and b. I rather enjoy my struggles with this complicated organizational topic. While I believed in the vision of a multidimensional learning space four years ago that had an LMS (Moodle) as a core space, I’ve continued to watch this vision shift dramatically.

With this shift, I’m continuing to ask these key questions:

  1. Is there still a need for a “traditional” Learning Management System?
  2. Is there a need to standardize on one LMS for all teachers opting to have a digital space?
  3. Is Moodle (or whatever tool) still a “viable” LMS in a multidimensional learning space vision?
  4. What is most valuable to learning and learners?

Arguments for an LMS and Standardization

I continued to engage with and read the thoughts of many great minds surrounding this topic and the thoughts often lean towards “yes” for the first two, mix results for the third, and challenges to the fourth. Diving into the first two deeper, there are a number of key arguments:

  • it is designed for resources, links, assignments, and embeds. It is a jumping off point. “Don’t overthink it”!
  • it is better for students to have one central area for all of their courses
  • it is easier for parents to quickly grab a snapshot of their student’s courses
  • it is centralized for teacher to collaborate and share
  • it is simpler for teachers to enter into using a digital space

What else am I missing?

Seeing Both Sides

I understand the value from both sides, but I keep asking myself “what is best for learning?”. This obviously reaches back into what do we mean by learning for which I point to cSHED (content, Skills, Habits of Mind, Experiences, and Dispositions). I also continue asking myself the question of what do we lose and what do we gain from one standardized LMS.[pullquote4 quotes=”true” align=”right” cite=”Lou Pugliese” citeLink=”http://www.moodlerooms.com/resources/e-library”]A post-LMS world does not suggest that the LMS is obsolete but, rather, that the practice of evaluating learning outcomes through a traditional LMS as the sole means for knowledge acquisition is obsolete[/pullquote4]

Where do I land? Well, I don’t think educators need to place much energy into an LMS as we know them today. It is one of those “don’t overthink it” concepts. I prefer teachers focusing their energy on students and themselves utilizing spaces that connect and engage learners in creation.

I do, however, think a digital course space is important. This means it is important to ask whether one standardized LMS is an easier entry point for all teachers than a “choose your own adventure”. Without question, this is a difficult question because your lens will determine your response. Also, I’m wondering if there are alternatives to reflect upon as possibly better and ones in which it is worth investing time (not saying the Pearson, Google partnership is one but worth looking into, don’t you think?).

When I was in the classroom, I would have embraced “choose your own adventure” but many of my colleagues would have struggled with that approach. Twelve years later, I’m afraid this probably still holds true.

All things considered, my position falls closest to this:

  1. Create and support one LMS course learning space for teachers
  2. Create and support one interactive space for learners
  3. Expect teachers to outgrow the LMS and seek enhanced learning spaces — perhaps even wanting to live solely in the interactive space.
  4. Encourage those teachers to evolve and support their evolution by assisting them with their decisions
  5. Establish a repository of links (think if this was the name of teachers by department) to simplify life for students and parents
  6. Complete a bi-annual evaluation asking the questions in the beginning

This isn’t perfect. There are many criticisms one could attach to this approach. I encourage you to leave those thoughts in the comment section. After all, this is my opinion and it is the voices of  students, teachers, parents, and others that matter.

Discussion on Twitter

Take a look at the discussion below to see some additional thoughts, and please forgive the randomness of the thinking above as this was more of a brain dump than an argument.

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