Home' Campus Technology : January 2014 Contents I.T. TRENDS
Learning Management Systems
Junco: I'm glad to see the LMS trend "cooling down."
LMSes are a perfect example of what can happen when as
an educational system we adopt a technology before eval-
uating all of the possibilities for reaching desired learning
outcomes (not that I believe any learning outcomes were
ever considered when colleges and universities were first
adopting LMSes). LMSes are static, unengaging platforms
that are typically not intuitive to use. For these reasons,
faculty and students dislike them. In fact, research shows
that students would much rather use social technologies
such as Facebook for the "learning" features of LMSes.
It's about time we move toward more engaging platforms
that help bolster student engagement and social and aca-
Wagner: There is a perception in some circles that
LMSes as we have known them --- primarily the content and
course syllabi, student participation and record manage-
ment tools --- are artifacts of the past. I would suggest that
as learning experiences of all kinds migrate to the Internet,
and as online learning, blended learning and on-the-ground
learning programs all look to leverage digital assets and ex-
perience more effectively, we are seeing a new generation
of LMS emerge. The need for learning and content man-
agement platforms that interoperate with academic plan-
ning and advisements systems, CRM systems, social me-
dia and student information systems is more pronounced
than ever. LMSes as we have known them earn two chilies.
The new emerging platforms that cover enterprise learning-
experience management are closer to three chili peppers.
Hill: I'm going to go against the grain and say that the
LMS is a hot topic, albeit a boring and frequently frustrat-
ing one. While many people recognize that first-generation
course management systems do not directly impact learning
in most cases (they give administrative benefits by managing
classroom chores), we are just now getting to the point where
a majority of faculty actually use an LMS in their classes. The
systems are finally accepted, and it is hard to argue with the
benefit to students of seeing grades and having access to
course materials in an organized fashion. The opportunity is
for LMS providers (old and new) to keep these benefits while
moving past the walled garden approaches that got us here.
Ease of use and intuitive design cannot be overestimated as
important aspects for future systems.
Sannier: Am I just stubborn? How can I maintain year
after year that the LMS is dead, when the LMS market is so
clearly flourishing and expected to grow more than 25 per-
cent annually each of the next five years? Investors are ex-
cited about LMSes too. Just over a year ago, Desire2Learn
raised $80 million in venture money and Canvas raised $30
million this past June. Even stodgy market leader Black-
board has a fresh new CEO bent on resurgence. If this is
dead, then what does hot look like?
The LMS is an established learning technology, a way for in-
dividual teachers, one class at a time, to digitally hand out pa-
pers, collect assignments, deliver quizzes or post announce-
ments. To the extent that this technology introduced modest
efficiencies in the classroom, those (very modest) gains have
been fully realized. I don't dispute that more LMSes will be
sold next year than were sold last year. I just don't expect
them to have any more impact on improving teaching and
learning next year than they had this year. Dead.
David Raths is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia.
How to Earn a
on a Smartphone
CAMPUS TECHNOLOGY | January 2014
WHAT ABOUT THE 'M' WORD?
When five higher ed IT experts have a conversation
about trends, you can usually expect at least one of
them to mention MOOCs. To find out what our panel
had to say about massive open online courses, e-text-
books and open educational resources, read "3 Learn-
ing Content Trends to Watch in 2014" at CampusTech-
nology.com. Also, don't miss this issue's "Breaking the
MOOC Model" on page 18.
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