Monday, March 14, 2005

The Perfect LMS

That's right, after all this talk about how pointless Learning management Systems are, I'm going to jot down an idea of what I reckon the perfect LMS would be like. I've been reading quite a few articles on LMS lately, and understandably the rise of Blogging, RSS and the range of free Internet publishing tools that make it all so easy have caused quite a few people to reconsider the relevance of LMS.

What inspired this idea was a basic workshop in the use of WebCT. In my new job I will be required to know a lot about WebCT. Anyway, the usual faults common to all LMS remained prevalent, such as its use being a dead end for students as their learning is deleted at the end of the course; or the pretty crappy replications of email and chat within WebCT; or the clunky use of the editor.. etc - but one thing did impress me. The ability to reduce the menu bars of WebCT down to such a minimal state that the WebCT is little more than a bar at the top of the browser window, much like the Blogger link at the top of this.

Its this reduction of the LMS that sparked the idea I have now. The thing I really like about the browser Mozilla FireFox is the ability to add functional pluggins to it. Being open source, I imagine that its even possible to create your own, but what I use now with my FireFox is pretty good already.

Take Bloglines for example. You can download a little pluggin to FireFox that adds a few Blogline buttons the right click function in FireFox. So now when I land on a site that I think is generating a news feed, all I have to do is right click and add to bloglines.

This suggests to me that it is possible to create quite an extensive array of applications that pluggin to a browser like FireFox, in particular my LMS idea.

I imagine this LMS to be little more than an icon up there with the Browser's array of icons. Lets say it is the University logo with the words "My Learning" next to it. When the user clicks this logo the application features are activated (perhaps with a login - though that would suck).

Functions include:
1. The user has the ability to capture the news feed from the site they are on, into their Bloglines-like news reader that is more customisable in look and function itself - such as a Print this weeks news option...

2. The user has the ability to publish a blog of course, but this blog is more customised as an educational blog, intergrated with the University admin, open to the www, integrated with the portfolio feature of the LMS

3. The LMS generates a sketch portfolio, including learning objectives, learning completed, skills acquired, papers published etc etc. At a basic level this portfolio tracks and updates according to the users activities. It then can be edited and refined later.

4. Add to favorites is similar to in that it will store and capture favorite links, make them available to the www if need be, and auto network the links with other similar links and account holders. Being open to the www means the favorites can be easily shared with others for group work etc.

5. Right click direct links into university services etc.

These are my initial ideas. The main thing is that the LMS is no longer a replication to the Internet with compromised functionality, but a pluggin to it with increased functionality. If a user chooses to use hotmail instead of student mail, no worries, it will work with it. Same goes for chat and voice over IP apps... etc etc.

More to follow.

Leigh Blackall


J Lane said...

Amen Leigh. My biggest complaint with WebCT is that it does a lot of things, but does nothing well. It's a bloated, overblown beast of a product that often needs to be hacked in order to make it work for most courses.

I'm considering looking at LMSs for my Master's thesis (Education) and essentially putting together a laundry list of everything that is wrong.

My mantra for a while now has been "transparency in technology" when it comes to technology in education. For the longest time, schools have been using technology for it's cool factor, not because it actually enhances the learning experience. It's time for a change.

Leigh Blackall said...

Great Jonathan,
You may find my screencast, Everything You Need To Teach and Learn Online of interest, and Darcy Norman's comic strip supporting the idea of use too.
And I hope you will bring what you find to the wiki development BlendedLearning

Thanks for commenting

Wytze Koopal said...

I just came across this post. Very, very interesting indeed!
It seems to me that around the whole globe, pressure is rising. And I mean pressure against those VLE's or LMS'ses or whatever you wanna call them. We need to think again about what these products should do for us. That's when you can come up with an idea like Leigh did. Brilliant!
I will come back to this blog, that's for sure.

Leigh Blackall said...

Thanks Wytze, by the look of your work you look like the right person who could develop this perfect LMS! I hope you'll let me know if you see anything looking remotely like it. I wanna be an early adopter. Did you see the other idea Broadbanding Information?

wilderdom said...

leigh, luvved this Perfect LMS blog of yours re building an LMS via FF - any more thoughts 1 year on? - can't we create a demo LMS for how this could work e.g. for TALO content? i would trial it next semester.

Sean said...

Hi Leigh. I didn't realise you were still pushing this "LMS as FF plugin" idea until I saw your comment on Derek Wenmoth's post.

The problem with this approach is that the beauty of web-based, Web 2.0. tools is that they are browser and OS agnostic - your suggestion is dependent of having FF.

I like the idea - I thought it was your idea - of the PLE being a collection of web-based tools, linked together with blogrolls, tag lists, RSS etc.

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