Discussion of Learning Management Systems

Continuing the Discussion After the Seminar on WebCT/Blackboard

Continuing the Discussion After the Seminar on WebCT/Blackboard

by Elizabeth Wallace -
Number of replies: 1

Beginning in November, 2005, I facilitated a two-week, online seminar in SCoPE. Many contributors posted their views on Learning Management Systems. We began by explaining our reaction to the news from WebCT and Blackboard that they were going to join forces, and then we branched into discussion of Open Source platforms, and Moodle in particular.

Although that seminar has finished, it will be stored in the SCoPE archives, and accessible for anyone who is interested in the views expressed.  However, since the faculty, staff and administrators at SFU are intensely concerned about issues related to the choice of LMS, and engage in ongoing dialogue about educational technologies, it is appropriate to continue the conversation here.

We hope that this forum will not be used only by SFU affiliates. The input of our colleagues across BC and Canada is welcomed, and we invite contributions from the international community of educators.

At SFU, currently, a number of committees are considering whether WebCT is an appropriate platform for faculty and students, and also weighing the benefits of Moodle, Sakai and other platforms.  Although many of us who are engaging in this discussion may not be decision-makers, we can present ideas and information here that will inform the decisions. It's hoped that committee members will take part in the exchanges and find them useful.

Another topic in the list invites comment on the practical use of WebCT @ SFU, and is particularly intended for users who have questions, concerns, problems and ideas related to that platform. But here, lets begin with considering what it is we are looking for in any Learning Management System we might choose. What questions do we need to ask?

In reply to Elizabeth Wallace

Re: Continuing the Discussion - LMS or VLE ?

by Susanne Nyrop -
Hello Liz - I'm one of those people who find it is really relevant to consider carefully which aspects of learning can be enhanced by specific online technologies.

I have been reflecting on whether we think the same or something different when talking about working within acontext such as a Virtual learning Environment than when we're just systematically managing learning content

The developers of the tools should really  know the realistic needs and concerns that teachers and learners may have when moving part of our everyday work online.  I find there may be a difference in the approach when we're talking about LMS  (apparently current in the North American context) - as we in Europe more often seem to talk about VLEs.

Learning Management system - systematic management of learning, sonds to me like a structured container of ready made information to fill into the heads of learners (I know - I'm not being fair!)

VLE - the Virtual Learning environment, this brings more images to me about the learner as an individual who need a space for thinking, for experimenting and for collaboration -  as in a kitchen or wood workshop. When the hands on, face to face experience  is absent, then how can we somehow simulate what happens between people  as social beings?

When I consider the constructivist approach that Moodle developers and end users are trying to promote and practise creatively from experiments and knowledge sharing about how to use the tools that exist, or ask for more details in development, I find it pretty much different from just "putting" your (perhaps already existing) course material and a given structured procedure online. I feel strongly that Moodle provides a potential environment for those who are able to change their ideas according to what is possible; not that this is always what is actually happening. But there exists the opportunity to allow "students" to create and edit material, for example, as part of the interactivtiy.

After all, it does take quite a while before your fumbling laboratory experiments are ready to become published and reproduced by others.

What do others think about this?