Organizations are funny. By their very nature, they live by words such as standardize, centralize, organize, manage, and control.
And this is at the heart of why organizations no doubt still believe in a learning management system in the traditional sense.
Moodle, the most popular LMS, defines the core of what it does this way:
“The heart of Moodle is courses that contain activities and resources. There are about 20 different types of activities available (forums, glossaries, wikis, assignments, quizzes, choices (polls), scorm players, databases etc) and each can be customised quite a lot. The main power of this activity-based model comes in combining the activities into sequences and groups, which can help you guide participants through learning paths. Thus, each activity can build on the outcomes of previous ones.There are a number of other tools that make it easier to build communities of learners, including blogs, messaging, participant lists etc, as well as useful tools like grading, reports, integration with other systems and so on.”
And most LMS have these types of approaches and characteristics:
- centralized administration and setup of system including courses
- content centralization and delivery mechanisms
- user analytics and progress tracking
- organizational groupings
- online assessment and reporting
- standardized user experience
- diverse selection of learning blocks: discussion forums, blogs, polls, chats, announcements, and 3rd Party add-ons
- diverse selection of additional organizational tools: calendars, folders, groups, etc
In other words, a belief in One Managed System that has Learning functionality.
Why Not Just Use Google Apps?
So here is the thing…
In comparing learning objects, Google Apps is much stronger than anything offered in a packaged LMS. The tools in Google simply blow the tools in an LMS out of the water. This isn’t just my experience or bias – sit down with teachers and compare. They quickly ask, “why do we even need an LMS?” and this is the question.
As I’ve said before, the full suite of Google Apps including Google+ makes an LMS like Moodle one dimensional at a best.
And that one dimension takes us back to the key word: management.
Google Apps is a digital space for all where control and management is shared and shifted to everyone. This scares people because they think…
- lack of structure
- setup issues
- lack of standardized uniformity
- lack of streamlined cleanliness
- loss of tracking
And let’s be honest, it all comes down to loss of control and the loss of that standardized package given to teachers. With Google, it is giving the learner and teacher an open suite that they build and structure as needed. It is malleable. It is fluid. It is non-linear. In other words, it is learning at its finest.
Google Apps isn’t your mom-and-pop LMS. It is a learning suite of highly interactive suite of tools that empower learners and teachers to connect, customize, and progress. It is what I’d hope we’d want for a learning community.