Another dot in the blogosphere?

Why not LMS (revisited)?

Posted on: March 6, 2020

Every now and then I revisit my growing list of thoughts on LMS.

At best, LMS are necessary evils. They house announcements that can automatically be disseminated to students in a variety of ways. This is convenient and effective from an administrative point of view. Whether students actually act on the announcements is separate matter.

Modern LMS often have add-ons that compare student-submitted assignments to a large database (created by generations of students). While touted as anti-plagiarism tools, they are mislabelled. They are comparison and matching tools. Whether someone has plagiarised or not is often a human decision, not a computer-generated number.

So why am I mostly anti-LMS?

Instructors and students will most likely point out the poor usability of most LMS. Navigation is confusing, organisational logic is administrative instead of pedagogical, and it is generally not mobile-friendly.

But I have deeper concerns.

The first is bad experiences. LMS are a function of policies and the people who police them. I have had an account and several years worth of content deleted without notice. Export-import processes between semesters or versions of LMS are inconsistent and unreliable.

My second is research. In my previous work capacity, I conducted studies of how educators used educational technology to enhance or enable learning. One of my findings was how the pedagogically most innovative were not constrained by LMS.

My third concern is how the implementation of LMS might counter institutional missions. One partner I work with has a mission of promoting lifelong learning. However, this is not possible if learners do not have lifelong access to resources and ideas which are either trapped in or removed from LMS.

These are admittedly rushed and brief thoughts on LMS. I only revisit my archived reflections after writing my current thoughts. I try to give LMS providers the benefit of changing for the better. However, I find myself being remarkably consistent over the years. Perhaps I am getting more narrow-minded as I get older. Perhaps LMS are not getting better.


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