Another dot in the blogosphere?

Gearing up

Posted on: February 15, 2020

Today I resume facilitating a Masters course that I designed. In the weeks I spent preparing for it, I was reminded why I prefer semi-open online platforms over closed LMS.

The institutional LMS is the default for most instructors, but not for me. Why? LMS are designed by programmers and sanctioned by administrators, neither of whom are likely to empathise with teaching and learning.

LMS also suffer from feature bloat. As parallel, consider just how many Microsoft Word features has versus the ones you actually use. LMS vendors are in an arms race to offer as many services as possible and to charge by subscription. Very few users, if any, take advantage of all the tools. As a result, LMS try to please many and end up satifying none.

The bewildering user interfaces of most LMS are developed mostly by programmers. They seem to not have learnt the three-click rule (perhaps shortened to two clicks now) of finding what you need. The main navigation also tends to run down the old-school side instead of at the top (like most applications) or be “accordioned” behind the newer “burger” or three dot menu.

But my major complaint is that I cannot access the previous semester’s resources. This is because of administrative policy to remove them by default. This means that neither I nor my students have long-term access to learning resources.

I make that last point clear to my students at the start of any course that I facilitate. A university might operate by semesters, but human learning does not. I might be ready to teach you something, but that does not mean you are prepared to learn it at that time or in that short space of time. They need access beyond a semester.

ADL551 Google Site

So I tend to use platforms that run on a wiki engine, e.g., Google Sites. These are free, managed by me, have only features I need, and are visually and cognitively sensible. They even auto-adjust to mobile screens so there is no need to double code.

As sites like these are still linked to university courses, they are semi-open. As I have granular control of who accesses the site, I opt to allow view access by email authorisation. This recreates the LMS walled garden. However, I leave the resources online and do not deny previous batches of students the right to return to the sites when they need a refresher.

3 Responses to "Gearing up"

Rachel H Tan: LMS vs wiki engine, e.g., Google Sites. I believe Schoology allows you to set the period to ‘limitless’. I’m hooked on Schoology for my pro bono work as I still have not honed my skill with Google Sites



Thankful for Google Site to recall what I did re: Blended Learning, and now to develop curriculum for AEs for corporate training


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