Reply to D’Arcy

D’Arcy Norman’s blog has a great policy which I may go back to soon — you can’t comment on his blog, only trackback to it. So here’s me commenting on his blog.

In a recent post, D’Arcy expands on this idea, among others:

Any eLearning tool, no matter how openly designed, will eventually become indistinguishable from a Learning Management System once a threshold of supported use-cases has been reached.

This is true, and it is something we need to come to terms with. At a certain point, it’s not UMW Blogs vs. the LMS anymore. It’s the UMW Blogs LMS vs. other LMS’s. And as you try to support more use cases — if, for example, you suddenly needed to run all your courses on nothing but the syndication hub architecture — you will find that the complexity and bloat creeps right back in.

I’ll add that I’ve been looking at these two pictures a bit:


And someone will tell me it’s the wrong analogy I suppose, but it reminds me that we talk a lot about the problem on the left (call it Facebook, the LMS, whatever) and not enough about the problem on the right. A world where each class defines its own architecture without regard to any other class starts to look like the world on the right. Things like WordPress work best when they are approached (at least partially) from an enterprise-level view, as unfortunate as that may be.

Broadly, I think what is happening with both WordPress learning systems and LMS’s is both are moving into federated designs. WordPress is working there from the bottom up, via syndication hubs and the like. The LMS, on the other hand,  is decentralizing — slowly becoming an authentication, communication, and assessement hub for outside technologies. I personally think the homegrown systems are far more consistent at this point with how I like to organize classes, but it would be hard to deny the sea-change in LMS focus over the past couple years.

UPDATE: Phil Hill also comments.

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