Sunday, December 12, 2010

Integrating web 2.0 and LMSs (Bates)

Mott, J. (2010) Envisioning the post-LMS era: the Open Learning Network Educause Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 1

Table 1. Strengths and Weaknesses of the LMS and the PLE

LMS StrengthsLMS Weaknesses
Simple, consistent, and structuredAs widely implemented, time-bound (courses disappear at the end of the semester)
Integration with student information systems (SISs), with student rosters automatically populated in coursesTeacher, rather than student, centric
Private and secure (FERPA compliant)Courses walled off from each other and from the wider web, negating the potential of the network effect
Simple and inexpensive to train and support (compared to supporting multiple tools)Limited opportunities for students to "own" and manage their learning experiences within and across courses
Tight tool integration (such as quiz scores populated in gradebooks)Rigid, non-modular tools
Supports sophisticated content structuring (sequencing, branching, adaptive release)Interoperability challenges and difficulties26
PLE StrengthsPLE Weaknesses
Almost limitless variety and functionality of tools, customizable and adaptable in multiple configurations and variationsComplex and difficult to create for inexperienced students and faculty members
Inexpensive — often composed of free and open source toolsPotential security and data exposure problems (FERPA issues abound)
No artificial time boundaries: remains "on" before, during, and after matriculationLimited institutional control over data
Open to interaction, sharing, and connection without regard to official registration in programs or courses or particular institutionsAbsent or unenforceable service-level agreements; no ability to predict or resolve web application performance issues, outages, or even disappearance
Student-centric (each student selects and uses the tools that make sense for their particular needs and circumstances)Lacks centrally managed and aggregated group rosters (such as class rolls)
Learning content and conversations are compilable via simple technologies like RSSDifficult and potentially expensive to provide support for multiple tools and their integrations with each other and with institutional systems

Integrating web 2.0 and LMSs
By Tony Bates, on December 11th, 2010

"I’ve just caught up with this important article by Jonathan Mott of Brigham Young University, thanks to Richard Elliott’s excellent e-Learning Watch.

Mott’s article looks at the pros and cons of both learning management systems and web 2.0 tools for teaching and learning, and offers a ‘third way’, that ‘takes the best of each approach and mashes them up into something completely different, something better than just the sum of its parts.’

Just two points I would make about an otherwise useful article. I find the proposed title for the third way, ‘The Open Learning Network’, badly chosen. A simple Google search would have shown that there are already many well established Open Learning Networks around the world, which are mainly organizations that bring together institutions who offer flexible and open access to education. This terminology for a digital learning environment is confusing and inappropriate, given the widespread use of the term in other contexts.

Second, the solution proposed by Mott does not address the main problem with digital learning environments, and that is the way instructors choose to use them, which, as Mott himself convincingly argues, is mainly as an administrative tool and a content depository. No matter how fancy the new digital learning environments, if instructors don’t have an appropriate pedagogical model to guide their course design, the web 2.0 and learner-centered technology functions will just not be used. Too often technology designers believe that technology design will force instructors to use the tools the way the designers think they should be used. It just ain’t so, unfortunately, as the under-use of existing LMS functions, such as threaded discussion forums, illustrates.

Nevertheless, providing at least a technology environment that allows for more constructivist and learner-centered activities, while ensuring security and privacy and management of instruction, is a good start, and Mott’s article does provide some useful architecture for developing such an environment. The big task though is training instructors to teach in a way that encourages them to use such a digital learning environment to its fullest extent." View source.....

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