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Posts Tagged ‘revolution

We already have a schooling revolution. But not as in a major change or a real paradigm shift. The revolution we have is more like the way we go around in large circles.


Video source

The video above highlights how every major change in technology has heralded changes in schooling that did not materialize. One reason we do not realize that we are covering the same ground or walking in circles is because we do not learn from history.

We have constant suggestions of “change” or “disruptions” because people focus only on the affordances of technology and on how to teach.

If we change the medium but not the message, little will change.

If measures for success or effectiveness are limited to tests, little will change.

If we keep teaching subjects in separate silos, little will change.

If we insist that kids that only consume in artificial bubbles or create for audiences of one, little will change.

If we keep making excuses about adult problems that are embedded in the past instead of focusing on what kids need today and tomorrow, little will change.

We already have a schooling revolution and it is time to stop retracing our steps. To do this, we must focus on how people learn and change how we evaluate that learning.

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.


Video source

I watched Sir Ken Robinson’s recent TED talk, Bring on the Learning Revolution, and this was what resonated with me:

  • reform in education merely tries to improve a broken model
  • what we need is not an evolution but a revolution: we need to transform education into something else
  • we must change what we take for granted, e.g., the concept of linearity (going on a fixed path at fixed times)
  • we could return to the agricultural model of education by creating conditions for learners to flourish
  • tread softly

Sir Ken mentioned the last one after reading a poem by Yeats. He did this to point out that our students lay their dreams at our feet and that we should tread lightly.

I saw this a bit differently. Changing people is not easy and I must tread softly too. Sometimes to sneak up on them, sometimes to not bruise their egos, sometimes to guide them gently where they need to go.

I just watched this video on YouTube which was done in the style of the Did You Know videos.


Video source

It says a lot, but I hope that they provide links to the sources of the statistics in the video to back themselves up.

After all, that is what the Did You Know creators did. And while Gen Y and Gen F increasingly get their news and information from sources like YouTube, they must learn to consume critically.


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