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Are Learning Management Systems getting the job done...what are your thoughts?

Kia ora,

Just sharing a post from Hazel Owen in the VLN Moodle group blog. I am sharing this post in this forum as it is applicable to many more technologies than managed learning environments (learning management systems).

Hazel draws our attention to a post from Joyce Seitzinger. Hazel writes:

"Joyce Seitzinger wrote this thought-provoking post that lays down a challenge around the use of LMSs. It is well worth reading 

Joyce opens the post:

"I have a hard truth to share with you. Our learning management systems are letting us down. They are not getting the job done.

The slow rise of social learning

Over the last decade, the internet has gone from a primarily static content distribution system, to a social publishing, communication and sharing environment. As we've seen this "social web" develop, several social learning theoretical frameworks have been developed and tested, including connectivismsocial constructivism and the conversational framework. These pedagogical models of learning remain at the periphery and have yet to achieve mainstream adoption."

Read more..>>"

What would you think?


  • Hazel Owen (View all users posts) 05 Mar 2012 11:53am ()

    Thanks, Nick Cool I won't jump in with comments yet, but have lots of thoughts around the subject especially around the focus that an LMS is a cure-all for learning experiences...and often ends up as a dusty repository. Cheers. Hazel

  • Marielle Lange (View all users posts) 05 Mar 2012 1:41pm ()

    About "they are not getting the job done"? What job? Boosting learning or constructing knowledge?

    Sites like Facebook and Twitter are designed to be adopted by the users. LMS are built to be adopted by the school's administration. 

    There is no doubt that social validation is great for engagement, for motivation, for support. All of them can help boost learning.

    A  difficulty with social tools is that they are a bit of a black box when it comes to evaluating the learning. Some knowledge is being built, but you don't have any easy way to know what mental representations are being used, what processes are being followed. Does it matter?  It does, if you have to assign grades to each student. Could you give your students a mark that is function of the number of friends they have, of the number of Like they made, of the number of comments they posted? Does it correlate in any way with their level of skill or ability at curriculum tasks?

    Another issue to consider is whether social tools do more than boost the building of knowledge and build knowledge themselves?  Yes, it can, in some contexts. As a programmer, I often use the stackoverflow website. You ask questions, the community answers. It's built in such a way that the more reliable replies (the ones contributed by trustworthy members of the community; the ones voted on by other members) become more visible. It's great to become more advanced on any topic. It's not too useful if you don't know anything yet about the subject. Schools tend to have more of the latter and less of the former. 

    It is also important to be careful about how you go about it. Adopting set ups where you encourage immediate gratification for small actions can get your kids focus too much on the reward instead of the goal. With disturbing consequences how students can get obsessed about khan badges more than actual learning which can later evolve into the rise of the brogrammer. Compare with this: Don't eat the marshmallow yet, a landmark experiment on delayed gratification -- and how it can predict future success. 

  • Marielle Lange (View all users posts) 05 Mar 2012 2:17pm ()

    I know that was in the blog article. But I have seen other Core staff refer to Connectivism as a theory of learning.

    What prevents connectivism from gaining mainstream adoption is not his focus on social it is the fact that:

    1. It is not original. The ideas are very loosely based on connectionism, which is an accepted theory of distributed learning introduced in the field of cognitive psychology in the 80s (Downes got rejected for a PhD on connectionism, having read his proposal, not for the reasons given in his blog, more to do with very liberal interpretations of the underlying ideas). 
    2. It is not a theory (it is a movement; the fact that the authors called it a theory in a blog post doesn't make it one).
    3. It has nothing to say about learning
    4. It cannot be tested because it is defined in far too loose terms (it makes no predictions and cannot be proven wrong, which is the reason it cannot claim to be a theory; a scientific theory is one which can in principle be falsified). Can anybody read this "What connectivism is" and decide how you could establish that it does or not lead to any positive or negative outcome (whatever they may be)?  

    I followed a MOOC. Much of it is one way. You listen to a video / presentation. That 100+ persons listen to it at the same time doens't make it any social. If lucky, you may have a few conversations. But, for the most part, it's exactly like a comment on one of your photos. Immediate gratification but not really augmenting your knowledge. Instant gratification without real substance only keeps you around so long.Check the stats. Participation in their "Open Courses" dips dramatically over the weeks. I gave up after week 3. I personally found that the knowledge build-up was negative (a lot of false information, personal views presented as proven facts, no mention of reliable sources). Propagating vague information through random connections simply isn't conductive to any learning. Connectionist (in the cognitive field) models have established that in the 80s.

    Not that it is not possible to capture social / cultural influence on learning in a more scientific way. In the field of Cognitive Psychology, this has been done in 1990s. Distributed Cognition and Cognition in the wild by Edwin Hutchins.

  • Mike Wilson (View all users posts) 07 Mar 2012 9:56am ()

    Marielle made some excellent points and agree with what she has said. Often we are hit with the need to show proof that the new technology is increasing the student’s achievement. An LMS is not a social network. Add-ons such as Mahara in Moodle provide that. I disagree with the general statement that they are "not getting the job done". It's far more complex than firing some web 2/3 technologies into the mix and saying this should be how it’s done. Once again it’s how the technology is being used. The current batch of LMS can really help students if utilized in the correct way by teachers. It only becomes a dusty repository if they let it.

  • Tessa Gray (View all users posts) 07 Mar 2012 10:15am ()

    Great statement, “Once again it’s how the technology is being used.” I have enjoyed reading the Coalface Learning Community reflective summary,  where Orini Combined primary has been working on establishing their learning management system in their school.


    I particularly got value from reading how they clearly articulated, what was important to them – the goals that they wanted their learning management system to achieve. The development that followed was to empower the staff to enable those goals to come to fruition. Having a shared vision and understanding for how their LMS would be used, was an essential part of this process. For more go to http://bit.ly/zmk1Nn.

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