Schrodinger’s LMS: the future is kinda almost here

In reply to Mike Goudzwaard: http://mgoudz.com/2016/02/26/the-lms-of-the-future-is-yours

Mike, who I had the absolute pleasure of meeting at the edX Global Forum in 2015, makes an interesting case about the issues facing the current iteration of LMSs and a suggestion for fixing it. He points to a future LMS that is clean, simple and heavily reliant on integration; where the “LMS” that an institution uses is focuses on collating learners into a learning group (i.e. a course), presenting a variety of learning activities (via LTI or API integration) and extracting all of that delicious grade and ‘engagement’ data out into an SIS.

What would this LMS look like? In my view, it would have three things:
1) a course roster with stellar SIS integration
2) a gradebook
3) a rock-star LTI and API

That’s it! Oh, except it would also be open source, students would control their own data, including publishing any of their work or evaluations to the block chain, and you could host it locally, distributed, or in the cloud. Never mind the pesky privacy laws (or lack thereof) in the country hosting your server, because the LMS is back on campus. Not connected to the internet? That’s okay too, because there is a killer app that syncs like a boss

Which, I’ll admit, sounds wonderfully clean and smooth, like a marble kitchen benchtop after you’ve cleaned all the remains of a delicious dinner and wiped away the crumbs until it shines and gleams, full of promise…

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A couple of thoughts came to mind as I read Mike’s post:

  1. Is it just me, or does this sound like a stripped down Moodle, i.e. could it be, maybe, almost, already here or within our grasp?
  2. Is there anyone in the LMS market now who could deliver this?
  3. Would this necessarily result in a better experience for learners, educators, IT staff? Where the educators I have in mind are those laggards who resist change and are uncomfortable with technology

Before I go too much further, let me point out that at this stage I have personally worked with (i.e. completed a course in, built in, delivered in, designed for) more than 5 LMSs – Blackboard Learn while at university and then later as a Solutions Engineer, Moodle (including the Moodlerooms delivery) while at NetSpot/Blackboard and then ICAC, and then MOOCs in Canvas, Open2Study (built on Moodle and Drupal) FutureLearn, Coursera and, now, edX.*

Some have more of this feature, some do that feature better, some structure the course in this way, some guide you to design a course in that way, some offer more flexibility as a designer v a learner, etc.

The similarities, though – presentation of learning content/activities, learner management (comms, enrolments, progress, etc), and learning management (lists of courses, gradebook) – definitely exist, if in overall functionality and not in the exact manner of workflow.

So, is there an existing potential “Future LMS”? Read More »

Learning that’s just-in-time to frustrate me

Last night some new strings arrived for my ukulele. I’ve only ever restrung a ukulele once (despite owning a zillion) so although I knew I was a complete n00b, I figured I ought to be able to work it out.

Last night someone in my house may have thrown a violent tantrum of frustration.

Don't tell me to be calm!!
That person may have been trying to change ukulele strings.

That person may have been me.

When faced with the task in which I am incredibly lacking in any knowledge or experience, i would turn either to someone knowledgeable nearby (in person or through PLN) or youtube. In this case, it was youtube. This was just a short manual activity, surely a video is going to be the best way to learn it. The situation, and my experience, made me think of the iterations of flipped classrooms and recorded lectures that I have experienced up until now – and why I’m still skeptical of the “down with lectures!” push that seems to be gaining traction.

In light of the recent conversations of the value of lectures (from many viewpoints), I wondered – what would have been the optimal way for me to learn this valuable, yet infrequently applied, knowledge?Read More »

On winging it…

Unless you’ve worked with me, you may not know this, but I am the self-proclaimed Queen of “Winging It”. It’s the curse of procrastinators everywhere that what must eventually be done is done under duress extreme time pressure. Sooner or later, if you’re a bad learner not unlike me, that means throwing caution to the wind and just doing it.

The years I have spent honing this craft have resulted in an innate belief that I can do almost anything with enough pressure and confidence.

This weekend I was a headline performer at the Mandorah Ukulele and Folk Festival.

A few days out from the performance, I get the run sheet that says I’m to be onstage for up to 70 minutes (including setup – which takes all of 3 mins- and breakdown – which takes even less). This would present no problem, if I wasn’t used to and expecting a 40-45 minute set. Those extra 15-20 minutes means 4-5 songs plus preamble and potentially rearranging the order to maintain or recreate the flow. At the same time, I need to plan for contingencies such as playing faster than usual and getting through my songs quicker than expected, or the timing on the day running over and having to cut songs out with the call of “15 minutes to go”. Read More »

My kind of scaffold – part 2

Part 2 of the series of posts wherein I share the process I’ve used to try build a “different” scaffold for compliance-based courses.

Building wall of mismatching windows. By Edgaras Maselskis, via Unsplash. CC0
In a previous post, I spoke about how I used a combination of butchered action-mapping and Bloom’s taxonomy to create course objectives with actionable verbs and that provided more direct mapping to activities. Here, I want to share the course design and activity design approach, and why I think this goes beyond what many (especially in corporate/compliance training) believe constitutes ‘eLearning’ – the “Next” button.

One of the common pitfalls of a Learning Management System (Moodle, Blackboard Learn, Canvas) is that they don’t necessarily support the creation of learning ‘content’ that is typically expected in corporate environments. Instead, the majority of them support discrete activities that are collated together to form a learning experience rather than a coherent and simple flow*. Another common downfall arising out of using LMS’s is that, despite the built-in activities common in LMS’s, all too often they’re used to house individual resources (pdf files, URLs, word documents, videos) and then an in-built quiz to assess the learning. Having worked on both the vendor and the user sides of the LMS/edtech world, I would purport that the root of this both in the technology and the typical user – but that’s a conversation for another day.Read More »

My kind of scaffold – part 1

In the series of posts that follows, I want to share the process I’ve used to try build a “different”* scaffold for compliance-based courses.

Building facade, stairs and windows, shot from the bottom looking up.

After I wrote the post about my stuttering start to designing this course, I realised I had fallen in to an all-too-common trap of focusing on the activities first. Indeed, I was halfway committed to what type of content I would need to build, had made sweeping decision about what design approached use when I hadn’t yet confirmed what the purpose of the course was. Trying to explain my ideas and clarify the objectives sparked heated conversations in my team about what eLearning was and wasn’t and no clear agreement on learning outcomes.

I needed to take a step back, and focus on the bigger picture – what do we want our learners to achieve and how will we know that they’ve done it? What is the purpose for this course in the first place? From there, I was confident that we could reach an understanding on what the course would look like.Read More »

A new path to wander

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? It’s not that I haven’t thought of you often, of what I would say or things you might enjoy. It’s just, well, time and my own inability to organise myself…

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You might notice a difference in the types of things I post from here on out in comparison to previous posts. And that’s because, well, here’s my official news: I left Blackboard in March. Although I tweeted about it a few times, there are some who still didn’t know. I wasn’t there as long as some people, certainly not as newsworthy as others, but the positive comments on twitter when I shared my news were rather soothing to my frail ego.Read More »

An open ramble on the openness of “open”

Embed from Getty Images

I’ll admit. I’ve never understood the hype about MOOCs (MOOC = Massive Open Online Course).

Maybe I’ve worked too close to edtech to see it as a “revolutioniser” of education for the masses. I’ve had online components of my F2F courses at university and did a wholly-online course as well. I’ve tried out a few MOOCs from Coursera, Open2Study, UNEOpen to see what the fuss was all about and mostly left with a resounding “meh”. I’ve watched article after article be posted in sites like Inside Higher Ed about the MOOC wave and various iterations thereof and left more confused and less inspired each time.

Many people far more eloquent, accredited and intelligent than I have harped on about what a MOOC is, what it should be, what it’s not, what it’s going to change in education and how much money will be spent on this trend.

Me? I noticed this today: “Top #MOOC provider edX no longer free for all” which got me thinking about the “open” in a MOOC. Is it referring to free or freely available? Open entry, i.e. no prerequisites/all entry level, or openly (publicly) advertised? Openly shared as a resource or leveraging openly shared resources?Read More »

Badges – ringeth the eportfolio death knell?

Last night, Steve Wheeler pondered “Do open badges signal the death of the e-portfolio? #learningpoollive“. The sentiment of that conversation is that, yes, Steve and others believe they do.

I disagree.

The key reason I don’t believe that badges signal the death of the eportfolio is the purpose for their respective initial creation, ongoing development and real-life application.Read More »

how come for why?

Every day I see tens, hundreds of links of interesting articles, usually on twitter. Some I retweet, others I just favourite. Very few I actually get time to properly read and analyse.

I feel like I’m consuming information, but only superficially. I feel like I can regurgitate what others think, quote, reflect, but there’s no space for my opinion. There’s no time for me to formulate my own thoughts or process my own questions.

I want to give myself a platform to process all the interesting tidbits I come across on the Internet, give myself a reason to go deeper, give myself permission to search and wander, give myself a way to ask questions and wonder.

So, I decided to blog.Read More »