Thursday, February 11, 2010

Learning Management Systems (LMS) and K-12

Learning Management Systems, LMS as they are commonly referred, are no stranger to the education community. Companies such as Moodle, Blackboard, D2L have been around for years. But these companies use a very traditional approach, where the teachers drive the content, pace and instruction, giving students little to no control or flexibility in creating content.

A typical LMS is designed to provide a learning environment beyond the walls of the classroom. Teachers have the ability to post assignments, discussions, media and other useful information that allows students to learn, share and collaborate 24/7. While all of these are great, they still do not give students the ability to create their own content, pull content on their own that is relevant to instruction or facilitate how to learn in a style that best fits their needs.

My ideal LMS would have the features/functionality of the standard platforms today allowing for all the items listed above, but the difference would be as a teacher/facilitator (because the role changes in this environment) presents information on a particular topic, the student has the ability to choose various media/text content from multiple sources (both published and open) to enhance his/her learning experience. That student would also have the ability to create content and share with others in his/her learning group. In this world, the teacher becomes a facilitator of learning, a guide to help students navigate through the learning.

Learning Management Systems require that an educational institution already made a significant investment in other technology services such as dense wireless, access for all students (either via 1:1 or personal devices) and sufficient staff training on how to effectively implement the LMS.

As you either evaluate the current LMS in your district or look for a new solution, keep some of these thoughts in mind on how you want the LMS to play a role in your schools and how it will be used by teachers and students.

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Jeff Nelson said...

Nice post, John David. Your points about more student interaction and more social media features are very important in today's social media world. The development community of Moodle recognizes this and are adding much of what you are talking about to version 2.0 (first Beta release in March with a production release in July). Check the roadmap for a description of new and improved features at

JDS-CIO said...

I had a chance to read this last night Jeff. Thanks for sharing. Looks like Moodle has listened to the ed tech community and are including many of these features.

EJ said...

I think the future of the school system is headed for the cloud technology such as learning management system that can be accessed anywhere with an Internet connection.

Anonymous said...

Interesting discussion! I'm in the learning technology industry, mainly in corporate, and I am also a parent of two high school students. It is interesting to see so many similarities between what I implement in corporate and what I go through with my kids. It has intrigued me so much that I've been working on a couple of solutions that I'd like to introduce to the education sector. It is still work in progress (70% there). My research on its application in education is what led me to this site.

Great discussion! I look forward to reading more about the topic (Learning Management Systems and K-12).

Carmen Ferrara said...

I just came across your post and couldn't agree more. In fact, we recently released an alternative Social LMS called iPresent Online ( - where one of our design goals was to empower students with powerful collaboration and publishing tools.

We tried to build a system where the students were just as much producers as they are consumers of learning within their classes.

I'm glad I came across your blog. Thanks.

Tony said...

I am implementing a learning MAnagement system as part of the Race to the Top grant. I found your post while doing research on LMS. Thanks for posting this

Matthew Plummer said...

It’s refreshing to hear another voice stating publicly that students’ contributions matter!

A system that allows students to whiteboard solutions / supply explanations from within the application is a system that gives the ability for the student to create content and share it with others.

I mean, just imagine if you had to explain the phases of the moon without being able to share a drawing? Or factoring an algebraic expressions without writing something down?

The contributions that students can make to enhance everyone’s learning are very valuable. Think about it, when you are stuck on something – don’t you ask a peer for assistance? It is a fact that students can help other students – and students are very willing to learn from one another.

Thanks for letting me share my two cents.