Another dot in the blogosphere?

To LMS or not to LMS?

Posted on: March 4, 2019

It is not often that I have ponder whether or not to use an organisation’s learning management system (LMS).

Whether or not the organisation “requires” it or “advises” its use, I normally do not. I reflected a while ago that LMS past and present are rarely ever about learning, management, or systems.

If I do use an LMS, it is for the parts I cannot avoid or the tools that make sense, e.g., a time-released quiz that is built on a question bank in the LMS or an assignment submission system that helps users avoid plagiarism.

But LMS, no matter how they might have progressed over the last decade, are still about what a vendor offers and what an organisation’s administrative arm want. In that order.

Pedagogy and meeting the needs of learning and learners are distant motives. Any critical user should see that. How, for example?

Course content and listings expire after a semester or so. LMS operate like broadcast TV of old — watch the programmes when they are aired over a season. They are not like streaming services (free or for a fee) that are on-demand.

Activities that are intertwined (like projects) are siloed into sections like announcements, instructions, resources, submission systems, etc. They are arranged like textbook chapters or an accountant’s spreadsheet instead of a pedagogical scaffold that accounts for learning design.

So my original question — to LMS or not to LMS — is a false dichotomy. It is not one or the other, but both. I rely on the bare minimum of LMS that makes sense, and depend largely on free and open tools and platforms for the rest. I am not here in service of vendors; I am here to facilitate learning whether is happens now or later.


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