Many LMS, Learning Management Systems, used in today’s higher education has been created at a time when the main idea i higher education essentially was course- as well as teacher-centered. Several studies, and the latest report from EDUCAUSE (1), has in recent years shown that our thinking about teaching and learning has undergone major changes since the beginning of the 1990’s. The structuring idea in HE has become more and more learning- and student-centered. This development should have some implications for the future design of an LMS.
”If current LMS designs are tied to a model of Teaching and Learning that is being replaced with new approaches, then what should come next?”, asks EDUCAUSE. There are many indications that higher education in the coming years will be looking for more effective and strategic Learning Management Systems, increasingly prepared to meet an organization’s expectations and demands for more flexible, mobile, and personalized learning environments, and, not least, with more intuitive tools within the system (for instance LTI (2)), which, as simply as possible, ties together tools of various kinds for a greater learning pathes and experiences for each student – and for all teachers.
Many LMS’s of today are run by commercial operators and interests – even if there also are platforms based on open sources with knowledge on future higher education – with limited knowledge of where today’s teaching and learning in higher education is going. Therefore, it is necessary that every university recognizes the ongoing changes of the learning environments and ensures to obtain as good knowledge as possible about the future of digital learning environments in general – including the future of LMS’s.
Well then, how will the next generation of an LMS look like? Development has made it more meaningful to think of a future Learning Management System as part of a digital ecosystem, rather than as a special destination for learning as it has been for long time now. The LMS of the future will be integrated with many different types of applications for learning, and students and teachers can move in and out of the platforms when needed to meet their course requirements.
A future LMS needs to be adjusted for the following, and according to EDUCAUSE this is the minimum requirements for every LMS:
- Interoperability and Integration – A standard LTI allows for quick and seamless integration of most, if not all, of the tools used for learning. The standard is available today, but needs to be developed further so every teacher, or student, herself should be able to connect the tools, inside or outside of the LMS, to be used in a specific learning situation.
- Personalization – Teachers and students should be able to create personal environments of tools and resources, and individual students or groups of students will also be able to find their most suitable routes through a course, with tools that are adapted to solve the tasks.
- Analytics, Advising, and Learning Assessment – Already today there often are good opportunities to accumulate great formative and summative data in an LMS. Despite this, the next generation LMS must focus even more on possibilities to create reports that both facilitates reporting to other systems for exams (and badges), and also for the teacher points out appropriate steps to enhance the quality of learning. These systems need not necessarily be part of the course management system. Instead, it is sufficient that a ”dashboard”, through an LTI link, is available on the platform. There are currently three types of data that ought to be better linked to each other than now: biographical and demographic data, data on the course and engagement in the course, as well as data on student activities (for instance published materials).
- Collaboration – Most LMS’s today has poorly developed collaborative tools. Next generation must invest far more than we have done so far to integrate such opportunities for networking and collaboration. Litterature on future learning predicts that this type of learning will increase significantly in the near future. (3)
- Accessibility and Universal Design – Many LMS’s already have developed some kind of accessibility tools and tools supporting universal design requirements. But there are much more to be done concerning applicability for all kinds of people.
(1) Malcolm Brown, Joanne Dehoney, Nancy Millichap, The Next Generation Digital Learning Environment. A Report on Research, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative
(2) Learning Tools Interoperability. Se more on this here https://www.imsglobal.org/activity/learning-tools-interoperability
(3) On collaborative learning, see blogpost ONL and collaborative learning
Se also these references used for the text:
Tom Vander Ark, Beyond the LMS: What Next-Gen Learning Platforms Should Do
Eden Dahlstrom, Christopher Brooks, Jacqueline Bichsel, The Current Ecosystem of Learning Management Systems in Higher Education: Student, Faculty, and IT Perspectives. EDUCAUSE Center for Analysis and Research
ICDEs report (April 2015) http://www.icde.org/research-innovation.
The questionaire are here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/3YGXKQM?sm=NRQLRsoXmPkD1GSvE2orhQ%3d%3d