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/ log / 31st May, 2011

Pimp up your dinosaur

  1. Tue, 31st May 2011
  2. 0 Comment
  3. e-Learning
  4. Rostock
  5. eLBa
  6. Conference
  7. LMS
  8. learning management system
  9. Future
<p>Street in Rostock that could be translated with “Street of Paedagonia” (or “Paedagogica”?)</p>

Street in Rostock that could be translated with “Street of Paedagonia” (or “Paedagogica”?)

... was one of the last tracks during the E-Learning Baltics in Rostock. It contained two presentations concerning the development of learning management systems (LMS). I found the title a very apt description because I had exactly this impression when I got to know to learning management systems nearly six years ago. Before I had worked with several content management systems, but using an LMS was like going back 10 years in web technology; And I think this has not changed till now. So I was quite curious about the impressions and ideas of other people, concerning the further development of LMS.

Jochen Robes gave a presentation, that you could translate with “Pimp up your dinosaur - Strategies for the application of LMS”. And though I could not follow the whole discussion afterwards, I was a little bit disappointed about the one-sided view on LMS: The presentation, as well as the later discussion, revolved mainly around one subject: If LMS are going to move away from stand-alone platforms to more open, community-based infrastructures and personal learning environments (PLE). Though I liked the interjection and idea from someone in the audience, that everybody will have his PLE and the learning management systems will just deliver the content and administrative information. In this system LMS would not appear in form of a user interface any more, but only provide the infrastructure. Everybody could choose his personal interface and this could combine the data from different platforms. In my imagination something like a ‘pimped up’ netvibes, igoogle, etc.

As always in these discussions I was missing the other side of learning management systems (Or maybe it was discussed after I had to leave?). All efforts always seem to concentrate on the learner’s side: How to improve the learning process of the learners. I am not sure what the reason for this one-sided view is. Is the immanent goal of e-learning to get rid of most of the human tutoring? From my point of view (based on the experiences with our master course) one of the most important thing, concerning distance learning with an LMS, is the individual and intense support of the students.

But this task is still very time-consuming while a lot of time is lost with administrative and technical issues of the LMS: Downloading and sorting of student contributions/papers, correcting them with external software, uploading corrections, writing feedbacks, etc. And always: Mess around with the user rights. Although a lot of repetitive actions are involved the LMS does not support this work flow with any intelligent functions. Functions like

  • an automated plagiarism check before the documents as delivered to the tutor.
  • a work-flow and adapted user interface for different correction settings: For example the juxtaposition of student results and a sample solution, marking differences; Integrating external software like Adobe Acrobat, etc.
  • automatic suggestions of phrases that that are based on remarks in the corrected documents or previous feedbacks on the same task.
  • a database, built upon repetitive phrases and paragraphs, to click together a basic feedback text that can be extended with the individual remarks.
  • etc.

Most of these functions are already available in software like Uservoice where during the input of a question or remark matching subjects are displayed. Or wikis that give an overview of differences between similar documents.

So, why is there this lack of development for that tutor’s side of the LMS? All time that is saved can be put into the more important part of supporting the students. And in my opinion this has a far bigger impact on the learning results in distance learning than any new feature on the learner’s side.


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