In the article, The Three P’s of Pedagogy for the Networked Society (McLoughlin, C. and Lee, M., 2008) the authors support the claim that current Learning Management Systems (LMS’s) are outdated due to their focus towards the teacher-centred delivery of information rather than the learner-centred approach. I completely agree with this observation so far as to say that even the newer systems are not catering to the future of learning. While there are many downfalls to these systems including the lack of personalised learning capabilities, in relation to networked global learning (NGL), it’s the self and collaborative authoring/publishing tools that appear to be the challenge.
While newer systems contain tools for commenting and discussing the content of the course, there are still very few systems that offer an environment in which students can actually build and share content themselves. Some systems have provided access to other tools through frameworks such as LTI (learning technology interoperability) but the connections are simple at best and are often difficult to access. Some teachers choose to let the students arrange their own digital learning spaces, but this can result in accessibility issues for some students all but excluding them from the learning. After completing a few weeks now in this course, I do believe that the teacher or institution needs to offer one or a small range of tools to the students that can be supported. This way, the students as a group can either choose to use what is already available OR decide on their own.
The benefit of the institution providing a pre-determined collaborative environment (likely made up of a range of tools for different purposes) is for a number of reasons:
- It means that the students don’t have to purchase anything on their own. There are a lot of free tools out there yes, but often the better ones require a small fee to unlock all the features.
- The institution’s support infrastructure can take on the support of the tool for staff and students so that everyone has someone to call if they have a problem or need a question answered.
- Resources can be put in place to train the teachers in how to support their students while they are using the tools and especially to get the teachers comfortable with working in the environment themselves.
- The institution can design an environment which integrates seamlessly from one tool to another so that issues of incompatibility can be avoided. In addition, it can be designed for the purpose of supporting 3Ps learning.
Of course, there are downsides to providing a pre-determined set of tools. Mcloughlin and Lee refer to an article by Siemens (2007b) which outlines a university’s two primary functions in regards to its students. The second of which is about preparing the students for their professional lives. In a world where learning is increasingly the responsibility of the learner, it’s important that they learn how to identify and utilise the technologies to support themselves. If an institution provides this for them, they may be less inclined to discover their own tools. The important thing then is to allow and promote the option for the students to utilise their own technologies if they so choose.
This video gives a very clear idea of where we want to head to learning and therefore, what an LMS would need to support. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xoSJ3_dZcm8
Getting back to the issue of the LMSs, I think that there is still a lot of work to be done in the area to support the way students are now wanting to learn. The tools such as discussions, journals and wikis are very limited and have fewer capabilities and functions that other tools available on the web. For this reason, it’s important for the new generation of LMSs to be able to easily incorporate specialist software trying to re-create it. In fact, when thinking about it, the term ‘Learning Management System’ itself seems out-of-date. Perhaps it’s better just to call it a Networked Learning Environment. At first, I thought we might call it a student learning environment but even the word ‘student’ seems inadequate in a world of lifelong learning. A ‘Networked Learning Environment’ works twofold. First, it indicated the ability and capability of incorporating technologies internal and external to the local infrastructure. Second, and most importantly, it refers to the act of learning now being about those three Ps… personalisation, participation, and productivity.