I have been talking a bit about the EDUCAUSE Next Generation Digital Learning Environment (NGDLE) paper from 2015 in my talks recently as one possible vision of how loosely coupled publishing platform connecting various toll could be one way to imagine the power of what Kin Lane defines as the Personal API, which frames the importance of getting individuals more control over who and what has access to their online data. The learning management system (LMS or VLE in the UK) remains central to the future of the NGDLE despite our best efforts and judgement, and there is a lot of promising thinking around decoupling the pieces, looking at more cohesive integrations through LTIs and APIs, and generally acknowledging there may be life after the LMS, which for many of us who have been waiting for any such sign for 15+ years—that alone is almost enough. The bar is very low in edtech.
I’m pretty tired of LMS bashing; it has pretty much run its course. I still enjoy it from time to time, but I don’t get nearly the thrill I once did back in 2008 or so. Now it’s just kinda depressing. In fact, Leigh Blackall’s recent post on the process of adopting the LMS Canvas at his University captures this pretty well. How long have we been saying this? These discussions make me feel long in the tooth, as do most things in edtech these days. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by Keegan Long-Wheeler’s presentation at Domains17 wherein he adeptly demonstrated how you can do use LTI integrations from within Canvas. It is premised on two simple tools SSL (via Let’s Encrypt) and Canvas’s redirect tool. The idea being a faculty member can effectively integrate all sorts of small pieces loosely joined cohesively through the LMS.
As Jim Groom notes in his paper, there is really no fun in bashing the Learning Management System (LMS) anymore.
That particular buzz was definitively killed two years ago, when the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) published its white paper on Next Generation Digital Learning Environments (NGDLE). The ELI is not widely regarded as a hotbed of radical, anti-ed tech sentiment, yet when it consulted “with more than 70 community thought leaders” it came to a sobering assessment of what is by far the most commonly used platform for online learning:
What is clear is that the LMS has been highly successful in enabling the administration of learning but less so in enabling learning itself. Tools such as the grade book and mechanisms for distributing materials such as the syllabus are invaluable for the management of a course, but these resources contribute, at best, only indirectly to learning success. Initial LMS designs have been both course- and instructor-centric, which is consonant with the way higher education viewed teaching and learning through the 1990s. Continue reading “Interventions”
Today, we as higher education institutions and teachers find ourselves in a rapidly changing landscape. We are told that if we do not change with it we will perish. Looking around entire new forms of universities are mushrooming (Staley, 2015), a plethora of online courses, virtual classrooms and distance education formats questions the need for classrooms or campuses, and MOOCs, personal learning environments, micro-credentials along with digital assessment and learning analytics and threatens to render the teacher superfluous (Trend Report, 2016).
If students can take our certificate from home and on their own outside institutions – what are universities really good for? And if this can happen through systems that guide the students through the process from beginning to end and where the students can take courses when they want, in the pace they want and hand in assignments that the systems automatically assess and grade the student hands-in – what are teachers really good for? Taking your own customized education in bite-sizes from your sofa just like Netflix, and without having to put up with demanding teachers, boring courses or challenging group work can easily seem like a preferable future when compared to the current state of most higher education institutions.
By Terry Anderson, Professor Emeritus, Athabasca University, Canada
Human survival and evolution makes extensive use of boundaries. Boundaries allow us to structure and to feel control and mastery of a safe subset of our environment – that which we call home. The protective walls of the walls of the housing compound, the moat and oaken doors of the castle and the campus gate not only provide safety but also serve to demarcate and define our spaces. Boundaries are instruments to filter what or who is allowed to enter but as an unfortunate side-effect impair easy exit. In higher education boundaries serve to create a refuge for scholarship, a place where ideas and ideals –even those not shared by political leadership or majority opinion can exist and be developed. But boundaries also serve to exclude – to shut out the dangerous and heretical ideas and those people from whom we wish to exclude our privilege. While protecting us they also restrain the free flow of ideas and knowledge, thus creating a comfortable and known space, while containing our experience of the unknown.
Recent communications technologies however take little heed of campus walls. This capacity to use technology (print and post) was exploited over 150 years ago by distance educators. The boundary of physical space was breached by these educators as importantly temporal bounds were relaxed. From the students’ perspective, time could be shifted as well as place to account for work pressures or family responsibilities, however neither campus nor distance provision could quite wean itself from rigid, often semester length terms of the calendar cycles of campus life. Thus, the distance education/online environment increased access, while still retaining many of the familiar social structures of campus education, as it evolved.
By Lisa Marie Blaschke
Center for Lifelong Learning, Carl von Ossietzky Universität Oldenburg, Germany
A significant challenge being faced by institutions of higher education is employer dissatisfaction with higher education graduates who lack the necessary skills and competencies for the workforce, and an increasing industry demand for autonomous and self-motivated employees who can manage the complexities of the workforce in creative and innovative ways (Jaschik, 2015; CBI/Pearson Education, 2015; Gallup Organization, 2010). Rapidly rising educational costs, combined with a whirlwind of advancements in technology, further feed into these external pressures leveraged on institutions. Added to these outside forces are internal ones, such as the digital divide that continues to broaden between an aging teaching force comfortable with traditional styles of instruction, such as chalk-and-talk lectures, and a younger, more tech-savvy generation of students eager for more technologically-supported ways of learning. How can institutions adapt their teaching and learning models to address this convergence of challenges? Continue reading “On Heutagogy”
By Tony Bates, Distinguished Visiting Professor, The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University, Toronto, Canada
Faculty and instructors (professors) in higher education institutions are facing unprecedented challenges, including:
● the need to shift focus from delivery of content to the development of higher-order skills, such as knowledge management, creative and critical thinking, independent learning, and problem-solving, if the changing needs of a digital society are to be adequately met;
● the need for instructors to have expertise in pedagogy as well as subject matter if they are to develop successfully skills such as those listed above;
● technology provides opportunities to deal with the increasing diversity of the student body, to improve the cost-effectiveness of teaching, and to ensure that students are digitally literate, but this requires instructors to understand better the strengths and limitations of different media and technologies within specific teaching or learning contexts.
By Allison Littlejohn, Chair of Learning Technology and Academic Director of Digital innovation, The Open University, UK & Nina Hood, CEO of the Education Hub and Lecturer in Education, University of Auckland, New Zealand
Massive open online courses have been signaled as a disruptive and democratizing force in online, distance education. This position paper critiques these claims, examining the tensions between viewing MOOCs as products and students as customers, and the perspective of students as learners who may, or might not, be able to determine their own learning pathway. The capacity, or non-ability, to self-regulate learning leads to inequalities in the ways learners experience MOOCs. While some MOOCs have contributed to change, many replicate and reinforce education that privilege the elite. This paper argues a need to support the development of digital skills and core competencies, including the ability to self-regulate learning, to ensure learners can participate in a new democracy of open, online learning.