The Post-Content LMS (Caution: 20-Page Whitepaper)

This is an 20-page whitepaper I wrote this this Spring for our Academic Affairs leadership team, who had asked for a brief summary of current and projected trends in LMS use and an assessment of how Keene State might benefit from them. Presented it in May, but just realized I had never posted it publicly, and I’m rectifying that now.

While the term “content” does get thrown around far too much, the basic point of the report, as indicated by the title, is that the LMS is receding in importance as a publishing platform. As this function becomes less important, its importance as a center for the analysis, management, and use of learning process data and artifacts becomes more central to its value.

Here is the abstract:

Historically, Learning Management Systems (LMS) were developed to help professors and institutions to “publish courses on the web”. As the advances of Web 2.0 have made some of these features less critical, LMS’s are being re-envisioned as centers for the analysis, management, and use of learning process data and artifacts. This paper will explore five concerns such a data-centric LMS will need to address, and relate them to current concerns of Keene State. These concerns are:

  • Assessing Outside of the Walled Garden
  • Using Learning Analytics to Improve Student Success
  • Supporting Just-in-Time Teaching & Mobile Use
  • Improving Outcomes Alignment and Tracking
  • Maintaining a Record of Student Work (ePortfolios)

Parts of the report are Keene State-specific, and the report as a whole should not be taken to represent my own priorities as a teacher or designer, but is rather how an LMS can serve the larger initiatives and strategic goals that Keene State has identified in its planning documents.  One thing in particular that I skip over in the report is how the LMS will also have to become cross-institutional, allowing collaboration and reuse across institutions of all sorts. That’s been a core concern of mine for six or so years now, but it fit less neatly into current Academic Affairs projects, so it didn’t make the cut. (This issue is also historically complex, as I think any discussion of it must deal with the failure of the predicted “learning objects” market to emerge in the early aughts — I think there are some very good answers to why course production hasn’t been “unbundled” to date and how we might fix that, but that would take 20 pages in itself to talk about).

Final note: I tried to take care in the parts about Blackboard to be as accurate and fair as possible. I will welcome feedback if people feel I’ve got the facts wrong (interpretation is a bit stickier, and YMMV).

Post-Content LMS (Final)

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