To LMS or not to LMS...that is the question
Interestingly, when I started out at HPSS I was completely convinced that we would not need a formal LMS (Learning Management System). I believed the time of Moodle, KnowledgeNet and UltraNet was behind us. I believed that students should manage themselves and teachers and students should have free choice. I believed that providing one LMS as our main online space was simply no longer needed. Then, as time passed, I reconsidered, I started to look back on Moodle with increasingly rose tinted glasses. I remembered the structure, the untapped potential of all those activities, all those plugins. Before I knew it I was making a steady u-turn. I began thinking, yes, we do need a LMS, we need that Moodle - even if only as a front door, a front door that allowed us to mash up Google Apps, Gmail, KAMAR student portal, MyPortfolio and links to eTV and our Library Management System. Moodle, Google and MyPortfolio supported by SSO (single sign-on) became the vision once more.
With this thinking fresh in my mind, I started to craft our ICT and eLearning strategic plan, lovingly aligning decisions with our values and visions (see my last post), got in touch with Catalyst and Norrcom discussed hosting and SSO - I thought I had cracked it!
Then came a couple of great comments on my blog, politely challenging my thinking around having an LMS....haven't we moved beyond that? Then boom, it hit me. Maybe I was doing exactly what I was afraid I would do - I tweaked my thinking and then I retreated to what I knew from the past, potentially missing an opportunity for doing something new, something fresh and innovative.
So where does this leave me, back where I began, pondering the future and the necessity of having a formal LMS.
In the time before my "tweak and retreat" thinking, I had been considering simply providing a Google Site as a front door and a means for providing a simple architecture. This would still work as a SSO page and could include links to Gmail, Google Drive, MyPortfolio, eTV and the library. I know Ormiston do this, and I would be keen to hear from others doing similar. It does however raise the question around KAMAR student portal, could still you embed it somehow? Could you embed individual Gmail account views? I understand how we could embed a school Google Calendar and any number of hyperlinks...but I want more than that. And I still can't get away from the things I like about Moodle...I like the courses that students can self-enrol into, I like the way that it is individualised and dynamically so, in a way a simple website isn't....or am I wrong about this? Or am I missing the point altogether. Do students not even need this anymore?
Darn it. It would seem that I have got myself stuck at a philosophical ICT planning crossroads. If we go with a formal LMS am I retreating back into a comfort zone? If we go the Google Site way are we doing so at the expense of student online experience?
LMS or not to LMS?
What you think?