Visioning the Future of the LMS

Here is what I wanted to hear when I virtually attended the LMS panel at Sloan-C’s Emerging Technologies for Online Learning:

  1. Commercial LMSs will allow the disaggregation of the parts of their systems, so that faculty can mix, match, combine and remove any element easily.
  2. They will provide options of open or closed for any of these elements (so that, for example, student blogs can be open on the web but assignments closed).
  3. LMSs will standardize code (XML? HTML5?) to provide seamless import, export and integration among systems and outside of a system, for example to create a separate e-portfolio.
  4. LMSs will have the ability to integrate any app on the open web.
  5. They will be programmed properly to work on a wide variety of mobile devices and platforms.

What I heard instead:

  1. LMSs are enterprise systems, period.
  2. Their best use is for student tracking, content aggregation, outcomes assessment, and systemization.
  3. They are and should be used in order to provide accessibility, FERPA and other legal compliance for the institution.
  4. They should get better at tracking and using their own internal data.
  5. Faculty aren’t that innovative and so they need an LMS.
  6. Students get upset when the LMS is changed.
  7. Faculty shouldn’t use Web 2.0 apps to cobble together their own LMS because it’s too hard to support and doesn’t have the tracking, aggregation, outcomes assessment, legal protections, etc. (Nor do we have any of this for classroom teaching, but that seemed to not be recognized as a disconnect.)

Suffice it to say I was very disappointed. Didn’t sound very emergent to me.

Let’s try this:

  1. Envision a world where the LMS is a collection of detachable, useful, independent tools that can be open or closed.
  2. Envision instructors selecting on an opt-in basis which of these elements they would like to use.
  3. Envision students being exposed to many different tools, learning experiences, and web elements as appropriate to their various classes, which would increase the skills of sorting, aggregating and evaluating information they will need in their future careers.
  4. Envision choice and academic freedom as the two great values in distant education decision making.

I’m sure there’s more. Add your own.

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