What do we need an LMS to do today...and tomorrow?
The best way to understand what a Learning Management System or LMS is (and should be) is to step back to think about learning itself, especially about how learning happens today and will happen tomorrow.
It's the truth (and a bit of an understatement!) that a teacher or administrator's job is complex, yet his or her single overarching mission is to make learning happen: every day, for every student, in every classroom, in every subject.
What's important to remember, but often gets lost in everyday stress or the buzz of technology, is that there are two primary functions in this mission: administrative and pedagogical. These should never be confused, and neither should ever be sacrificed.
Learning Management Systems started as an administrative tool, and that remains the primary baseline for defining an LMS today: a web-based, centralized system to deliver, manage, track, assess and report on learning activity in mostly traditional environments.
It makes sense that the pedagogical function of the LMS first grew in higher education, where teachers and students are more independent and the scale is larger. Over time, learning management systems started to incorporate, and still include, things like online assignments, group discussions and assessments, among others.
"The history of LMS began in the 1960s when the PLATO learning system was created at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and the TICCIT System (MITRE Corporation) provided early examples of computer-based instruction." As these lessons grew in number, the need to manage them was born"
The growth of computing technology and Internet access in K–12 classrooms in the last 15 years, however, combined with the global tidal wave of mobile and social technology is transforming how we learn at all ages—and, thus, what we need our learning systems to do.
LMS & Learning 2.0
As the world becomes connected, education becomes more about the ability to think, to be creative, to problem-solve, to make decisions and also to master the social and emotional skills we need to live and work together.
While we still value the attainment of knowledge, we can no longer treat it like a static entity. Information is expanding constantly and is available, often for free, at our fingertips, wherever we are. Put simply:
"...the world no longer rewards people just for what they know—Google knows everything—but for what they can do with what they know."
Center for Educational Research & Development, OECD
The LMS, then, must keep pace with this reality. While the lists of features keep getting longer, it's very easy to lose sight of this big picture. That is: a learning management system must serve both administrative and pedagogical functions, but be adapted to how and where learning is happening today, what we need educational outcomes to be and ways to make this work for teachers, students, administrators and parents.
What IS an LMS?
Going forward, an LMS will be a flexible, open, social, mobile, personal, unified, web-based system that equips teachers, schools and students with the tools to build and share, deliver and receive, manage and track, assess and report, and observe and improve on learning with real-time data and personalized feedback. Technology companies and teachers will have to work together, in the same way the LMS needs to operate, to evolve the LMS into a collaborative platform that empowers students to learn and teachers to teach—every level, subject or style, every day, everywhere.
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About Mohamed Saeed
Mohamed’s passion for improving students' lives is what motivates him to grow a community that’s equally passionate about making it better. Growing up in a country with a 63% literacy rate, he knows what the lack of basic tools means - even more so in a fast-paced, digital world.
He’s proudest of having built a center for capacity development for 1000+ orphans and re-structuring its management so that the orphanage is well positioned to make its mission come to life. With Mentorina, Mohamed plans and implements marketing strategies, digging deep to understand what matters most to key stakeholders and refining the brand’s message to continually elevate Mentorina's purpose.