What I used to think I knew isn't helping: adventures in higher ed open source

Zombie LMS

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Mark Notess has a rejoinder to those who talk about the LMS being “dead.” I think it’s a fair argument as far as it goes, but it seems to respond more to the use of the word than to a position anyone is really advocating.

… my caution is against predicting the demise of the monolithic institutional LMS so early that we lose interest in improving something likely to be with us for many years to come.

Maybe this is a problem, I don’t know. If it’s a risk it doesn’t feel like an especially threatening one, since all the practical pressure is going the other way.  Edupunk, for example, isn’t a threat to the LMS, quite the contrary: it’s a division of the research and development wing of the industry, taking the risks and bearing the costs for what will soon be commodified. But that’s a blog post for a different time.

I think what I find most interesting about the argument is that the reasons offered up for favoring an LMS have really very little to do with an LMS as such.  Mark refers to Michael Feldstein’s reflections on “control,” but wants to break down the case along different lines: privacy, simplicity, and focused attention.  These belong, in my mind, to a class of implementation detail: I can imagine most any given LMS product configured and deployed in such a way that it can support or undermine these desires (or, perhaps better put, “user choices”). What does it mean when the reasons for survival are so independent of the thing itself?  Could that not offer a fair indication of impending demise?

But that’s a cheap jab, and not my real question.  My real question is why an LMS can’t support those varieties of user choice. Why not provide a default private, simple, focused space while also allowing you to (easily) open yourself up to as much clamor, clutter and rewiring as you’re comfortable with?  Not so much “control” as “controlled exposure.”

Someone should do something about that.


Written by khomotso

August 4, 2009 at 8:54 pm

Posted in elearning

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