Joining the Traveller’s Journey
(Thanks, Simon Welsh!)
In recently considering digital scholarship, and also reflecting on Colloquium 1 (Welsh, 2015), the potential of Learning Management Systems in comparison to their usage has presented itself as an issue worthy of academic investigation. Until hearing Simon speak passionately about the things many LMSs already measure, and those that could potentially be calculated and then applied to improving learning outcomes for students, I had not considered the possibilities, and these became clear (Welsh, 2015).
For many educators, the LMS is something that has been introduced into their working lives without explanation as to why it is needed, or what it can do for learning. For secondary teaching colleagues, it has presented a platform for storing work for students, somewhere to host school-wide timetables, and more recently enable roll marking and report writing. Comparing the university LMS to that used at my recent schools has demonstrated some gaps, but the access to analytics, as referred to by Simon (Welsh, 2015), is not obvious to a learner in the former or a teacher in the latter.
Given that students have no say in the specific LMS required by their institution, to what extent do educators have choice in either system or what that system enables them to present (Islam, 2014, p. 253)? Do educators have freedom to create meaningful learning for their students or do the templates offered by the LMS constrain them; or is it incumbent on educators to build on what their LMS enables and augment the weaknesses (Leaman, 2015)?
Rekhari takes these concepts further by declaring that there is a chasm between learning design, technology and the LMS due to a combination of ineffective use by educators and flaws in the design of the systems (Rekhari, 2015, p. 12). She further questions whether the reasons that benefits that LMS intend to deliver to educational design are not entering praxis are the fault of the developers making the software hard to use, or the educators not proactively applying constructivist philosophies to their learning design (Rekhari, 2015, p. 13). She goes on to question whether LMSs are the barriers to educational change (Rekhari, 2015, p. 13).
This publication has led to much questioning of my own practices as an educator using an LMS – and has led to the realisation that beyond managing storage and retrieval of coursework, the other possibilities have not been considered. In order to further my understanding of what our school LMS can do I have requested time with one of the developers. To develop my understanding of practical analyses that already exist I have turned to Twitter, where I have engaged in meaningful dialogue with several professors in the Computer Science and Information Technology Department at RMIT, and who have sent me a document in which they compare Blackboard to Facebook in terms of supporting a specific online course in programming (Maleko, Nandi, Hamilton, D’Souza, & Harland, 2013). Additional reading has also been ongoing.
I “attended” the first Colloquium with a degree of disinterest predetermined on the basis of its description, and, due to Simon’s future predictions, it has intrigued me and started me on a learning journey I would never have predicted. This has proved not only interesting but potentially very useful, and will form the basis of my Case Study for Assignment 3. From passive user to captivated challenger, I am now wondering if a different approach on my behalf could enable my development of a learning ecology for enhancing digital scholarship (Greenhow, Robelia, & Hughes, 2009, p. 248).
Greenhow, C., Robelia, B., & Hughes, J. E. (2009). Learning, teaching and scholarship in a digital age. Educational Researcher, 38(4), 246-259.
Islam, A. N. (2014). Sources of satisfaction and dissatisfaction with a learning management system in post-adoption stage: a critical incident technique approach. Computers in Human Behavior, pp. 249-261.
Leaman, C. (2015, August 20). What If Your Learning Management System Isn’t Enough? Retrieved from eLearning Industry: http://elearningindustry.com/learning-management-system-isnt-enough
Maleko, M., Nandi, D., Hamilton, M., D’Souza, D., & Harland, J. (2013). Facebook versus Blackboard for supporting the learning of programming in a fully online course: the changing face of computer education. Learning and Teaching in Computing and Engineering, pp. 83-89.
Rekhari, S. (2015, August). The Chasm – learning design, technology, and the LMS. Training and Development, pp. 12-13. Retrieved from Australian Institute of Training and Development: www.aitd.com.au
Simkin, Margaret (2015, August 3): #2 http://thinkspace.csu.edu.au/msimkin/2015/08/03/2/
Welsh, S. [Host] (2015, July 28). Learning Analytics: A Traveller’s Guide; Colloquium 2. Albury, Victoria, Australia.