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Should we be aiming for our Learning Management Systems to be 'next gen'?

A while back I read a blog post by Tom Vander Ark entitled "Why Aren't There Any Next Gen Learning Platforms?". Something that Joyce also indicated in her blog post (source):

Well, I'm starting to think that most LMSs are simply not very good social learning environments. They're not even middling. They're great at administrative tasks. Most are ok to good on content management. But despite course pages, discussion forums, wikis and glossaries, they are just not great social environments, requiring too many hoops to jump through to create a convenient, natural, social learning experience that fits in with our information consuming, active, diverse and increasingly mobile lives.

Joyce suggests that LMSs are great for administrative tasks, and, to a certain extent, management of content. However, "LMSs should not try to emulate all of those social media, but instead become better at integrating with them" - and this requires educators to be aware of the importance of design, as well as up to speed with the many options that will make it simple for learners to collaborate and communicate.

Returning to Tom's post, he suggests that learning platforms of the future will include 6 core elements, underpinned by 4 central services (student services, teacher services, back-office services, and school services):

  1. Standards-aligned libraries of open and proprietary content with search and content management tools
  2. Social, collaborative, and productivity tools
  3. Assessment tools and achievement analytics
  4. Learner profiles and portfolios
  5. Recommendation engines smart enough to build custom playlists
  6. Assignment, matriculation, management, and motivational tools (e.g. achievement recognition systems, badges or other data visualization strategies) (source)

My question is why? With younger learners the obvious benefit is the provision of a 'walled garden', although that often has the effect of also shutting out parents and whanau (families), who could and should play an important part in the learning experience. With students over the age of 13, what are the benefits of having an LMS with everything built in? It might indicate an attachment to a model of teacher-centred, institution 'owned', model of learning, which will only be addressed by initiatives such as Open Education Resources, along with a real understanding of learning as a social undertaking. Also, the notion that students are likely to create resources and records of their learning that they will want to take with them and access once they have left an institution (and I'm not going to jump into the conversation of who 'owns' these artefacts), often seems to be neglected by administrators.
So - do we really need a learning platform that has all the elements that Tom identifies, and, if developed, whose needs will it reallybe serving the best?



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