“Institutions will always try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.”
In the future…It’s tempting, at least for the people benefitting from the old complexity, to imagine that if things used to be complex, and they’re going to be complex, then everything can just stay complex in the meantime. That’s not how it works, however.
When I recently examined Canvas/Instructure, Sakai–other free open source course management systems–and OpenClass, I had hoped that these systems would simplify what needs to be done in Moodle and provide all the functionality provided by feature-rich sets. Alas, it wasn’t to be. In spite of my hunting for a feature-rich set of tools that found a home in greater simplicity, there was none. Then, it occurred to me that the problem isn’t with the tools but the questions those tools are “answers” to.
Are we asking the right questions in Texas public schools? Should we be building or advocating course management systems that preserve the problems they are a solution to, or is there another way ahead?
- Facilitating a virtual classroom environment with a wealth of activities that can be graded.
- Tracking of online activities in an electronic gradebook that allows exporting of data in a wide variety of formats (excel, libreoffice, csv) to ensure compatibility.
- Easy addition of tools like blogs and wikis within the context of activities, or
- Easy embedding of discussion forums (a variety of choices here, too)
- Easy embedding and hosting of media in a variety of formats
- Single sign-on through LDAP authentication, as well as a variety of other authentication approaches.
- Create online learning communities that are closed and don’t have to be run through an external hosting provider.
the use of terms like “Learning Management System” and “Virtual Learning Environment” are misleading. The correct term should be “Course Management System.” These programs should really only be used for administrative purposes – class roles, grades, content repository (all classes need some content – even though it should be kept to a minimum), etc. Also, tools need to be provided for student safety when sensitive topics are discussed. Some topics should be discussed in a closed corner rather than out on the world wide web in some cases.
To say a program manages learning or is a learning environment will give the impression that it is a closed place where learning is imprisoned. It doesn’t have to be that way. Use the LMS program as an adminstrative hub for your class – and then insert a link to something else and get the students out there learning. (Read EduGeek Journal – The Death of the LMS)
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