LMS and natural selection.

In a previous post I wrote about limitations of Learning Management Systems in general. It’s quite easy to find criticisms of such systems, but far more difficult to find solutions to the previously noted issues that they bring to a university but that’s what I believe is required. Concepts like personal learning environments (PLEs), while potentially a vision for the future are probably someway off for the average organization when you consider they tend to be focused on centralizing services and technologies for reasons such as risk mitigation and other commercial pressures. Business and organizational issues, rightly or wrongly, dictate that a LMS be used and it could be said that this comes at the cost of innovation and experimentation into to other avenues of teaching and learning. The organization mandates and LMS be used and associated policy ensures this is adhered to. Unfortunately this has the side effect of creating organizational resistance to any changes that may be seen to “compete” with single chosen system such as emerging teaching and learning innovations like PLEs. I believe the issue is one of balance between commercial realities and the need to research and innovate. It appears to me to be currently weighted disproportionately away from research and innovations around teaching and learning.

That said, a pragmatic approach needs to be taken by folk such as myself who are embedded in a context over which they have little influence which, for me, means to have a closer look at the problems of the LMS and seek solutions and alternatives to these issues within the confines of the situation I’m presented with. When time permits (if ever) I’d like to generate a list of well known criticisms of learning management systems and fit these into particular categories in order to define spheres of responsibility so that limitations can be assessed and addressed within our context. Should PLEs or another emerging concept start to become mainstream I doubt that it will be via a revolution but will be more of a Darwinian process of evolution.


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