Another dot in the blogosphere?

Do LMS have a future?

Posted on: September 2, 2014

I watched the video of Michael Berman sharing his thoughts on the evolution, revolution, and extinction of LMS. He shared his video at his blog.

The video is 25 minutes long and done in the style of a talking head, so it took some ploughing through to watch it in one sitting.

Berman made a few salient points about LMS before getting to the main topic:

  • LMS might only offer new ways to do the things we have already done before
  • The people who decide which LMS to adopt tend to favour the least disruptive solution
  • Those who create LMS grew up at a different time and have different expectations compared to the learner-users of LMS
  • Complaints about LMS: complex and clunky (unnecessarily complicated ways to do simple things), good for content repository but not for interactive pedagogy, closed environment (info does not flow in or out of the course)

You need to need to get to 13-minute mark of the video before getting to the heart of the topic.

LMS are likely to evolve to be more user-friendly and more mobile-friendly. At least, that is the promise that providers like Blackboard make time and time again. Slower moving LMS providers could also play catch up by relying on cloud architecture for more responsive updates and including “big data” analytics.

However, for a revolution to take place in LMS, there must be a truly learner-centric focus and design. For this to happen, the central element is not the course but the learner who can seek out learning resources. The revolutionary LMS functions to help make those connections. It becomes less hierarchical (instructor to student) and flatter instead.

This led Berman to suggest the possible extinction of LMS. Such a connective tool already exists; it is called the Internet! So why do we need LMS? Instead, he posited that we could rely on the “power of pull”. I see this as just-in-time, just-for-me creation of ad hoc groups and resources for learning.

Berman cited an exciting example from University of Mary Washington’s Domain of One’s Own where all users get their own space and connect with each other if they wish to. It was the closest thing he observed to a revolutionary LMS.

I have never been a proponent of LMS because they place too many limits (logical, pedagogical, infrastructural, financial, etc.) on an institution. They are slow ocean liners trying to navigate multiple shallow tributaries when what most people need are nimble boats.

Here is data to back my claim.

Phil Hill created this graphic on the state of LMS in “the Anglosphere – the US, UK, Canada and Australia”.

The players that are growing include Canvas, Moodle, and Desire2Learn. These are open source and/or have adopted more social and mobile strategies.

Blackboard is still a dominant player. But even without expanding the graphic above (dark grey), it is evident that its market share is shrinking.

Berman and Hill present just two perspectives on the state of LMS. They do so with research and data-informed conclusions. These are processes that any of us would use before we invest in something like a house or car, so why not an LMS?

So if you are from an institution that already has an LMS, give some serious thought about the likely evolution of the LMS and see if you can live improved usability but the same lock-in and pedagogical stagnation over the long term.

If you are from an institution that has yet to adopt an LMS, I advise you not get one. Contact me and we can have a chat on how you can skip several legacy problems and deal with the problems worth having. These are the problems of learner-centric design and being part of a new solution instead of contributing to an old problem.

3 Responses to "Do LMS have a future?"

Interesting post and perspective. With the prevalent use of LMS in organizations, I’ve not thought about the possible extinction of LMS. Would you be able to provide more details on the limits LMS place on insititutions? I’ll need to delve deeper into this. Thank you for the fresh perspective!


Probably the first notable academic to write about the demise of LMS was Martin Weller,

I have also reflected on the pitfalls of LMS over the last few years. I offer as a sample. I hope you do not mind trawling for the points I’ve brought up.

elearn magazine also interviewed me about LMS:

The short version is that LMS are not good long term investments in terms of financial cost, vendor lock-in, content and interaction wall-in, pedagogical stagnation, favouring policy and security over change and pedagogy, promoting teaching/training over meaningful learning, not being mobile-friendly, etc.

Hope this helps!


Thank you for the resources! I’ll have to trawl through them over the weekend!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Click to see all the nominees!

QR code

Get a mobile QR code app to figure out what this means!

My tweets


Usage policy

%d bloggers like this: