To LMS...and beyond!
A couple of months ago I was pondering the BIG question - to LMS or not to LMS? For those of you who are not down with the edu lingo, LMS stands for learning management system, which is a term for an online environment or platform that is used as a means for managing learning online...funny that.
Well, ponder I did, and still do, asking myself if we are actually in a post-LMS world. Part of me was convinced we are, that the concept of a LMS was singular and restrictive and quite frankly a bit 'yesterday'. But then, mid-ponder it struck me. I was asking the wrong question. It was not a question of 'To LMS or not to LMS?' It should have actually been the question - 'How do you we evolve the LMS to best meet the changing needs of schools and learners? It was not a matter of 'throwing the baby out with the bath water', it was more about teaching that baby to swim!
So how is the LMS evolving (or does it need to evolve)? The evolution for me is that it is no longer about a single solution. It is no longer about Moodle, or Moodle and Google or even Moodle, Google and MyPortfolio. It is about using one LMS (such as Moodle) to provide an architecture or framework for bringing together any number of LMSs and platforms. It is about someone or a team of educators curating and gathering a number of platforms and bringing them together and creating a mashed up whole, integrated seamlessly into a single experience through single sign-on. Many may argue this isn't necessary, but I do. A school is a community, a learning hub. So a school needs an online community, an online learning hub that can support and enhance a blended learning environment, blurring lines and connecting school, home, local, global communities to create a learning community that is tangible and easy to identify and connect with.
This of course is nothing new, and many of you are already mashing up and using a whole raft of LMSs and learning platforms. I guess what I needed to do is just shift my focus - from 'Do we need a LMS?' to 'How are we going to manipulate and mash up all of the environments we want to use?'. More importantly, how are we going to make this online space dynamic and engaging?
In case you are wondering, we are going to use Moodle - but not just any old Moodle. For one, it will look good! Moodle will provide a front door and and will become the virtual home of our online learning hub - 'HobsOnline'. Moodle with be the place where students login to their single sign on environment that will give them easy access to Moodle, Google, MyPortfolio, the library LMS, eTV, Kamar student portal and hopefully N4L. Staff and students will be encouraged to use 'core platforms' as much as possible, but not limit themselves, as everyone (students and teachers) will be encouraged to constantly inquire and to use the best tool for the job or learning outcome. The challenge will be in establishing a range of common core platforms and practices that are used enough, that a genuine online community is established and common practices are shared and valued...but that everyone also feels free to explore and be creative in their online practice.
So I guess the answer to the original question is - 'to LMS'. No question.