Next Generation LMS

Bildresultat för next generation learning management system

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

(3) On collaborative learning, see blogpost ONL and collaborative learning

Se also these references used for the text:

Malcolm Brown, The LMS of the Future: Exploring the Next Generation Digital Learning Environment

Tom Vander Ark, How Learning Will Work in the Near Future: 12 Features of Next-Gen Platforms

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

eLearning Implementation Toolkit Infographic

TONY BATES, EDUCAUSE looks beyond the (current) LMS environment: is it a future we want?

ICDEs report (April 2015)
The questionaire are here:

6 reaktioner på ”Next Generation LMS

  1. Very interesting to read about future challenges. I really enjoy the idea of flexibility and possibilites to tie various learning support together from a students perspective. At the same time I often ask myself as teacher, where am I in the equation. I am not technically very interested, really, so how do I make my voice heard in the technical development as it proceeds. Where, for example, do You see yourself in this Kenneth?


  2. Hi! My imagination isn´t wide enough to visualize how the future LMS is going to be designed and how it´s going to work in everyday Life for us teachers and for the students. It´s all so abstract to me! I would like to see some exemples of this ”new” constructions.


    • Well Annica, then we are two. I really feel lost, but not given up as yet. I think we are to provide examples, to make an effort to see where it may move us. At least in the form of adding ideas for what we believe we need to realise our ambitions as teachers. Still, though, I really don’t know where to start ….

      Gillad av 1 person

      • Hi Annica and Lars,
        Thanks for your feedback! Of course it is frustrating not to know what will come after our current LMS’s have left. From your comments I mainly read out two questions. The first is: what about the future for teachers who work in LMS’s? The second is: to know if the development is good or bad we need some examples. What examples are there to show? I also have many questions about these things; in fact more questions than answers. But let me try to discuss these two question little further.
        To start with, here’s my opinion about the second question. Today, it’s – when I look into the literature and around me – especially the really big players, like Canvas, Blackboard, and others, who drives the development of an LMS standard forward. This is probably because there are an awful lot of money in this sector. It has been estimated that this has become a ”$ 200 billion industry.” For a number of years ago, maybe it was the open source movement that drove this development forward. (Here’s by the way a link to a list of known platforms in the world, of which only 14 of 571 listed LMS is open source-based: And here’s a list of the ”Top LMS software” for today and the future: But today it is other questions than open-source software questions that must be solved. I spoke in the blog post above of accessibility, for example. In the future this must not only refer to people with disabilities and special needs. It must also include mobility (maybe it already does in most LMS), as well as covering all regions of the world, but also take people with limited access to technology into concideration. Maybe especially the last sentence is interesting. In the future it should be very easy to choose between tools in order to get the right one for solving a specific problem or issue. Technical issues should not be a problem for techers – or students – in the next generation LMS’s.
        And what about the first question? As I understand you, you are worried about what is happening in the ”$ 200 billion industry” – what’s in it for teachers. To me, it is obvious that the main difference between the old and the new LMS’s are the shifting focus, from a teaching centered to a more learning and student centered learning environment. Is it this change that worries you? To speak for myself – as Lars ask me to do – I am not worried. I would like to be part of this change and I will try to keep ”Interoperability and Integration,” as well as ”Personalization”, ”Analytics, and more”, ”Collaboration” and ”Accessibility and ”Universal Design” in mind when I am working with the LMS I use.
        How about you? What would you like to have in a future LMS? How should your LMS meet future needs?


      • Hi Kenneth,
        I don’t fully know what to worry about to be honest, but my concern is the increasing focus on technicalities and individuality, rather than a learning relationship. Among your listed examples for improvement, of which I don’t neglect any, only ”collaboration” and perhaps ”interoperability” focus such relationship first hand. Of course you may see the other examples as preconditions for a working learning relationship, but I don’t read your text that way.

        As I see it, gaining knowledge is an experience far from as instrumental as it is often unfolded in education. I learnt, for example, more about Swedish economic history from my discussions about the literature with a then retired professor Gunnar Fridlizius ( than the actual reading of it. Why? Well I learnt about what to find between the lines, how to interpret the not expressed (to look elsewhere), the critical eye on conclusions and methods used and so on, combined with a great interest in empirical detail. So, from that I can derive a wish for an LMS, namely to allow for shared experiences in real time where you feel close to the subject (person and issue), perhaps can smell things (an example for how an LMS should be able to provide communication not solely based on language conversions, but emotional sensations from smell, touch and so on). To some, that may be a diversion from an academic request to make distance to see, to make the concrete abstract, generalised, but I would argue that the concrete practical of everyday life is what makes it possible to make sense of the abstract. Or in other words, to make sure that the main concern of what we do is relevant to those it matters most. I went back to John Dewey in my own last blog post and I’m sure you see the inspiration for my argument. Thus, a focus on the learning relationship, perhaps as a companionship, to link to some discussion we’ve had in my working group (PBL7) in ONL171.

        A worry then in an expanding ambition of open access, is that such a relationship requires time and effort. It is good in perspective of a demand for good teachers, but an issue in relation to the structural challenges which most universities are facing. Making education open and universal, a great thought with many opportunities for facilitators, it is also an issue of how, in a new educational environment, you find space and resources for the building of a close relationship, a companionship, supporting learning in a democratic and accessible way to the many. It is hard to foresee that it all can be done ”pro bono”. So I’m worrying for my younger colleagues more than myself, as the geezer I am.

        Well that’s a view at least 🙂


      • Thank you for your very comprehensive comment. I like your example about how to gain knowledge from discussions and companionship and I’m shure most of us could recognize your story about the importance of face to face meetings with people far more experienced then we. I, too, had a professor from whom I learnt a lot and it would be impossible to replace talks and seminars together with her, with high tech solutions. I can even remember the smell of seminars, conferences and talks – as you also describe! High tech can not replace this, but I think we should be able to, with a more social or semantic web (sometimes called web 3.0), build more close networks then today, approaching what you describe as a ”learning relationship /build on, ‘my words’/ companionship”. But this relationship should not replace the more intimate friendship that sometimes (if not always) occurs in a tutoring situation. But it can – I think – add an additional way for more people to get to know the feeling you describe so well above.
        Right or wrong. Maybe I’m only one of all this high tech romantics.



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