Beyond the LMS

Via Harold this is a gem:

“Given the marketing muscle behind the major LMS developers and their complete dominance of the e-learning space, it’s hardly surprising that many people see an LMS as “the solution” to their future learning needs. But an LMS, as available today, is not a universal solution for a corporation’s e-learning problems. In fact, an LMS is often the albatross around the neck of progress in technology-enhanced learning.

When your concept of learning is LMS-centric, you look for opportunities to implement “a solution” that conforms to that concept, and ignore or marginalize all else.” [Parkin’s Lot]

Corporate universities anyone?

Seriously though, this hits the nail on the head. As Rob Reynolds reminded me a couple of weeks ago, this is such new territory and we’re so far from genuinely knowing how to do online learning, naturally the decision makers are bound to fall prey to the large marketing budgets (I mean, one major LMS has several conferences a year, solely focussed on it, packed full of academics!) and pressure to ‘innovate’ (where technology=innovation).

Couple that with customer service like you’ve never known, lots of free travel opportunities for the exec (us Uni folk aren’t paid enough that we ‘aint susceptible… and we’re too ethical for direct bribery :O) and the fact that ‘everyone else’ (literally!) has one of these two products, and what outcome do you expect?

Now you could also argue that it’s because they meet preconceived ideas about pedagogy (content driven, assessment focussed) and that’s probably true, to an extent (especially with admin) . BUT, for the teachers out there that know this isn’t the way we want to go, who can feel the binds and who want to take hold of their online learning environments in the same way they take hold of their classrooms, who will come out on top?

Parkin continues:

“The e-learning industry evolved in a more or less linear fashion from the classroom concept, with some influence from CBT. No imagination went into our application of web technologies, and there was little in the way of challenges to established learning paradigms. That’s perfectly normal in the adoption of new technologies – it takes a while before true innovation can take hold. …

Learning software vendors still doggedly pursue their vision of reusable learning objects that integrate via a central standards-conformant LMS. Meanwhile, trainers who really want to encourage experience-sharing and dynamic learner-created content are scrambling to understand blogging, RSS, and peer-to-peer networks.”

And in the end I’d like to ask the same question as he does. Are these huge vendors going to keep the fight on ignoring communication and refusing to incorporate anything but the shallowest subversion into their products (different icons anyone?) or are they going to recognise the value of interoperability, decentralisation and these new technologies? I believe the net is made up of individuals and that if these vendors don’t recognise that then their environments are going to look like and become the new towns of 40 years ago.

6 replies on “Beyond the LMS”

  1. Similar thoughts from a fellow Australian? Here is what Scot Aldred has to say about LMS and other enterprise technologies stifling innovation:

    “Now we are finding out to our expense and horror that enterprise approaches to programming applications are fraught with risks and dangers. To give a couple of examples, if an enterprise LMS has just one part of its infrastructure or programming fail, the whole learning environment can cease to work.”

    Remember that software vendors are only interested in one thing – selling software licenses. They don’t give a @#$% about learning. Been there, done that.

  2. How have I not been subscribed to that? Who knows, am now though! It’s almost like thre’s a case for government development of online learning solutions – come to think of it no-one would ever buy or hav ethere classrooms regulated by a private company, would they?

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  4. Give the devil his due

    We posted the Parkin’s lot LMS screed on our corporate blog because I think the author makes some vaild points.

    At the same time folks in the academic world have to give the devil his due and make some room for the acknowledgement that a corporation’s staff training needs are not the same as a school’s.

    Putting legal and compliance training online via an LMS for example allows companies to deliver, track and, most importantly, REPORT on various types of regulator-required training, including:

    Health and safety practices
    Sexual harrassment guidelines
    Cultural and diversity sensitivity programs
    Data privacy policies and procedures
    Risk disclosure requirements
    Anti-money laundering, know-your-client and fraud prevention activities
    And many more . . .

    For a successful online compliance initiative a company needs a compliance management framework to deliver, track and report on everything. Heterogeneous collaboration toolsets and intranet-delivered content portals, by themselves, cannot handle the regulatory requirements in regard to reporting and audit trails.

    Compliance needs are a major driver for corporate LMS acquisition.

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