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Preparing for the Post-LMS World by Jonathan Rees

I wanted to share an important opinion piece that appeared in Inside Higher Ed this week: Preparing for the Post-LMS World by Jonathan Rees.

screenshot of Inside Higher Ed article

I left a ton of comments there at the article because I think this is an incredibly important topic. The more-or-less lack of discussion there is indicative I think of how we got to the LMS mess that we are in: engineers and administrators have largely been the ones who drive the software development, and while faculty are disgruntled, they don't really want to invest the time and effort in order to get involved in the process, even though the LMS has become an incredibly important element in college teaching, and increasingly in K-12 also. Maybe the K-12 teachers can save us; that is actually one of the very best things about Canvas in my opinion: even if higher ed faculty do not always have a lot to say about ed-tech (especially at a research university like where I teach), we can count on K-12 teachers to be very aware of ed-tech and its consequences.

Anyway, I hope people will chime in at Inside Higher Ed or here with their thoughts. Taking a moment to step back and think in big terms about what we want from the LMS 5 or 10 years from now is really important I think, as opposed to just focusing on what new features will or won't be released at the various LMS conferences next summer.

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Community Contributor

laurakgibbs  I saw the article and I even responded to the author. As I said in my response to Jonathan, I felt that he really didn't get what it purports of teaching online is nor what the major differences vs. live classes. I also feel that he did not get either enough training or any training on how to use the LMS in its maximum ways. Like you, there are many "Power Users" who that the time to understand the system, look at how you can modify your teaching and allow the students to have an outstanding online experience. 

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 @jrboek  I replied to you there at the article; you are off the mark about Jonathan's experience who has taught in the classroom and online, and who has been a real pioneer in doing exciting things online with his students because of the very careful and methodical way he explored the options for doing things differently in an online environment. He is indeed a power user, and that is why his critique of the LMS is all the more persuasive. So, rather than making ad hominem assumptions, I think it would be more useful to discuss the specific critiques he makes of the limitations of the LMS and also the alarming ways in which it can be used to constrain faculty from doing that kind of independent, creative course design work.

Were you at the Domains conference that Adam Croom organized in Oklahoma in summer of 2017? Jonathan was there, as was Jon Poritz, his coauthor on Education is not an App. As I mentioned in my comment, that book is excellent, and Jonathan documented in great detail his online course transition in his blog. He is one of the best writers on classroom v. online; I've been following his blog for many years.

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Community Contributor

I will have to look at his blog. I didn't get that impression from his article. I have worked with too many faculty who are quick to complain about LMSs but when you ask them if they have had any training... most of their answers have been no. My Ph.D. dissertation was about barriers regarding the use of technology and my date proved that a lack of training by faculty (regardless of if training was available or not for the faculty), was the number one barrier regarding technology LMSs). 

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I hear you... and to be honest, I blame the LMS for much of the low incentive that faculty have to learn and try new things. The LMS is a kind of barebones system to ensure administrative accountability, but it's not really exciting when it comes to teaching and learning. So, I definitely understand people who complain about the LMS, but when they do so, my impulse is not to force them to use the LMS; my impulse is to find out what they WANT to do, and then figure out how they can do that. 🙂