During this course I have often come back to the claimed differences between an LMS and the OER. In this last post on the course I will answer the questions posed by our fascilitators by trying to formulate questions that would come up when you meet your colleagues at our different institutiones – and formulate my answers to this questions. The answers was written with the intention to be used at Lund University.
1. Will the future development of student portals, LMS and the use of OER require new knowledge and skills from students, teachers and administrators?
Answer: Yes, it will affect students, teachers and administrators. Therefore, they must be offered opportunities to attain training and support to cope with the challenges of future education and teaching.
2. This is a two part question:
A. Does the LMS have a future?
Answer: Yes, the LMS has a future. They are not static but dynamic and can respond to new needs that may exist in teaching and learning. They are open to everyone that takes a higher education.
B. Can an LMS be combined or modified to work with Web 2.0 tools?
Answer: Yes, there should not be any problems. In an LMS, other learning tools can very easily be integrated. It is, however, a technical question about how this integration should be implemented practically and how far-reaching it should be.
3. Can the use of an LMS restrict the value contained in more student-driven tools such as social media, search engines and others, e.g. mobile technology?
Answer: It depends on which LMS is being used, but above all on how the teachers choose to use it. But today, development sometimes is driven ahead by various cloud technologies, and by so called “free access” to many tools and the low cost of Web 2.0 technology. Changes therefore currently occur primarily outside an LMS, but a good LMS should be able to integrate new tools if needed/desired. But an LMS also is a perfect toolbox (a common course structure) for all kinds of tools. And good LMS always develops when necessary.
4. What is the demand on the new open educational resources (OER) and other more student-driven tools? Can these new tools be accommodated within an existing LMS?
Answer: Right now individual teachers try out different digital tools for higher education. The problem is that very few of these tools are quality assured by some responsible institution, in order to be used in higher education. The good part of this development is of course that many teachers have realized the importance of seeking new ways to communicate with their students and new ways for students to collaborate. The negative part is that much time is devoted to distinguish the good from the bad – it’s like tumbling around in darkness. One should both assure the quality of a wide range of smaller tools and also ensure that those tools will work together with the chosen LMS that the university supports. In the future, we need to secure the possibility to combine the chosen LMS with the new Web 2.0 Tools.
5. Have the technical development progressed so far that today there is stable and sustainable tools that enables institutions to plan and manage their education without constant interruptions for complicated updates and / or implementations of new tools and interfaces?
Answer: No, updates will always be needed. But it is now possible to manage change in such a way that they support the goals and strategies for institutions, teachers and students. These updates can then be done in a way that does not interfere with the educational work that is done every day. If these updates not are made, one will risk remaining in the technology of the old Century.
6. What should institutions and teachers do now to learn to apply the tools and platforms made possible with the more interactive Web 2.0 technologies?
Answer: You should ensure that there is a strategic plan with clear guidelines that can guide individual teachers who want to develop their teaching towards more online learning. E-learning needs to be discussed at each institution to make sure that each and every one, students and teachers, comfortable with this kind of learning. Further, you should check that there is an appropriate management structure in place, a really good scaffolding, to cope with the changes that need to be done when teaching changes. This means that you should have a plan for developing knowledge that teachers acquire to run this kind of courses and also have a plan for how this skills should be passed on to the next generation of teachers. We also need to discuss how the material created in digital tools and platforms may be used and to what extent they may be spread further. To cope with this, a continuous training of teachers regarding the pedagogical use of digital technology is needed. Teachers should also have the freedom to choose the technology that best suits their educational needs, but within clear and well communicated institutional frameworks with respect to the availability, integrity and technical support.
7. What should an institution do for planning for five – or ten – years ahead?
Answer: It is necessary to handle the constant and rapid change that seems to characterize the digital technology, to best support and transform teaching and learning towards a greater use of digital environments. You should plan for continued development in learning technics towards more student-generated content, learner centered teaching and learning, skills that many students already possess, but which they will need to learn more about in the future to master the new technology and to solve their tasks. You should also plan for developing a rich multimedia learning environment that supports different types of learning, and this will go hand in hand with other and new ways of teaching and learning.