Will learning management systems go away?

Siemens & Tittenberger (2009) pointed out that technology is not neutral. Rather it comes with assumptions and ideologies. For instance, using LMSs gives teachers greater control over the information. The knowledge is more centralized and is closed by default (i.e., students need to get permission to participate). Conversely, using blogs and wikis not only decentralizes control and the information source but also promotes open access to knowledge and user-generated content. These web 2.0 tools are also more conducive for continuous learning. A blog, unlike a Moodle course, exists beyond the duration of the course.

The future of DE will likely be dominated by the use of Web 2.0 tools, but whether LMSs (like Moodle and Blackboard) or some forms of them may survive seems more of a question of debate. Recent research by Bates (2012) suggests that LMSs will stay because they provide teachers and students a clear learning framework, offer the institute a centralized platform that can be integrated with the administrative system and can be used for data collection, tracking and documentation. Moreover, adopting constantly changing Web 2.0 tools requires tech skills that the students and faculty may not have; thus, LMSs are more sustainable.

Currently, my way of teaching corresponds largely with Bates view. Though I use Web 2.0 tools extensively and I don’t like the closed nature of the Moodle platform, I still find the LMS indispensible for delivering quizzes, receiving assignments, and assigning grades. What’s more, when other teachers in the system use the same platform, it’s easier for the learners as well.

However, I think that LMSs in the future will need to change substantially to accommodate open source content and larger learning networks. Also, the teacher’s control over the information source will be diminished given that the networks composed of experts, novices and computer algorithms are perhaps more efficient filters of information than a single teacher. Perhaps, the learning management system will simply be an empty, open platform, which has an amalgamation of interoperable tools, i.e., Google calendar, grade books, learning analytic software, online quizzing and grading tools, YouTube lessons, WordPress blogs, Smart phone Apps. The teacher or the educational institute will place certain privacy control on some of the tools (i.e., Grade books) while leaving a lot of the content open, free, recyclable and reusable. The LMSs then will only slightly resemble what we have today.

In terms of pedagogies, keeping with the theme that technology is not neutral, given the increased use of decentralized social platforms, learning theories, such as constructivism (according to which learners form knowledge through social negotiation) or connectivism (which emphasizes on learners’ abilities to learn through recognizing and identifying distributed knowledge networks) will come to dominate.  Teachers will become experts and facilitators in certain domains, modeling and assisting learners in participating in learning networks and evaluating their performance using various metrics for the purpose of credentialing.

References

Contact North. (2012) Is there a future of learning management system. Retrieved from:http://www.contactnorth.ca/resources/there-a-future-learning-management-systems

Siemens, G., & Tittenberger, P. (2009). Handbook of emerging technologies for learning, pp. 3-8. Learning Technologies Centre, University of Manitoba.

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