Beyond the LMS

From Parkin’s Lot: E-Learning Adventures Beyond the LMS

Initially, we failed to appreciate that the internet is a vehicle for connecting people with each other, and instead pursued a “learning supply chain” concept that had more in common with the 1970’s music industry than it did with 21st century e-business. We pursued systems that imposed bureaucratic control instead of learner empowerment. In a world hurtling toward distributed internetworking, e-learning was still based on a library-like central-repository concept.

Is it time to start thinking about different approaches to our courses?

Learning Management Systems: The wrong place to start elearning

From: elearnspace. Learning Management Systems: The wrong place to start elearning
In developing e-learning there is a temptation to start with the technology and let what it provides drive the design of courses and programs. Educationally it would be better to begin by considering the learners and what is to be learned and then select or design technological systems to support learning. George Siemens makes some strong comments along those lines:

The issue is not that an LMS is not needed for learning (though that point in itself could be argued). The real issue is that LMS vendors are attempting to position their tools as the center-point for elearning – removing control from the system’s end-users: instructors and learners.


Large, centralized, mono-culture tools limit options. Diversity in tools and choices are vital to learners and learning ecology. Over the last several years, I’ve encountered many instances where an instructor was not able to achieve what she/he wanted with course design due to the limitations of WebCT. In essence, the LMS determines what an instructor could do. It should be the other way around – instructor needs first, tool selection second.

Why do teachers get to learn the most?

From Athabasca via e-JIST

A common report from anecdotal writing over many generations of educators is that it is the teacher who usually learns the most during the process of gathering content materials, designing, teaching and evaluating student performance. In this project we address this issue by developing an innovative instructional design in which collaborative groups of students working at distance create, share and assess learning content (in the form of learning objects) with their peers through online learning portals. The results of this process are assessed via surveys, discussions, reflective essays and peer evaluations. We conclude that instructional models based upon student construction of content and orchestration of learning activities can reduce instructor workload, provide opportunity for students to acquire new skills while increasing their subject content knowledge, and create a lasting legacy of re-usable learning objects.


From Kairosnews

Well, the Wiki manages to profit from the Enlightenment project while not making the mistake of presenting itself as an unquestioned authority or its content as “fixed.” Indeed, each entry in the Wikipedia is always already a site of ideological struggle. Now, if we could backup and see all of those tiny struggles taking place all over the Wikipedia, we would have a model of the dialectic. If we model the term on Hegel’s, we have Thesis, Antithesis, and Synthesis taking place. Again, we could play with terms and concepts here, but such discussions are cumbersome, and the important thing is to see that what is special about Wikipedia–it is not a few editors or experts debating with each other over terms. Rather, it is all those millions of tiny refinements, refutations, and explications offered by anyone who cares to participate in the site.

Categories of eLearning

eLearning Categories
I picked this up from Albert Ip’s blog at Random Walk in e-Learning

One of the biggest challenges in discussing elearning arises from different understandings of the field. Most often, we attach our experiences and career to our conversations, presenting an image of elearning that reflects what we have encountered. For an instructional designer, elearning often means courses or learning materials directed at meeting an objective within the larger scope of program development. A corporate trainer may view elearning as a combination of courses and knowledge management. No one perspective is symbolic of the whole industry.

ePortfolio challenge

From Auricle

Ok, let’s say we’re keen to see our students value and use e-portfolios. Or, let’s say we’ve developed an educational programme that ‘requires’ them to use e-portfolios.
Are you prepared to practice what you preach? Will you keep your own e-portfolio and allow, say, your mentor, manager, supervisor, or peers, to view and make judgements on the quality of your entries? Better still, let’s build it into your annual appraisal!
Still comfortable?

An interesting piece that concludes with a provocative challenge

Media literacy

Via Mathemagenic
Media literacy: from reading to writing and beyond
Richard MacManus:

I’m currently reading Lawrence Lessig’s new book, Free Culture, which is available as a free download under a Creative Commons license. I’m only up to pg 64, but already I’ve discovered some great new ideas. One of them is “media literacy”. This is the best definition I’ve found so far of media literacy:
“The ability to read, analyze, evaluate and produce communication in a variety of media forms (television, print, radio, computers, etc.).”

Big week in the media

I don’t often figure in the media, local or otherwise, so last week was unusual in that respect. I managed to participate in a brief interview on the local ABC breakfast show and to be quoted in the weekend edition of the Sydney Morning Herald.

About 2 weeks ago Gus Snow-McLean, USQ PR manager, emailed to say that an SMH reporter was seeking comment for a “back-to-school” piece about computers and wondering if I might be interested. I spoke with the reporter briefly and thought little more of it until Gus emailed again this morning to say that I had apparently been quoted in the article published last Saturday. Fortunately my comments came out sounding sensible. My major points appear to have been that “computers can tidy up written work and take the worry out of such things as spelling and grammar” and that what matters is not how many computers are available at school or home but what you do with them. Simple enough but valid messages.

I’m not sure how people in NSW would have felt about the major sources for the piece being two Queenslanders, me and Glenn Finger from Griffith University.

On Monday of last week I had another contact from our PR section to say that our local radio station was looking for a participant in a “back-to-school” interview about kids, the Internet and education. I took the call at 7:15 on Wednesday and managed to sound sensible. What’s more I avoided the common trap in such interviews of being left to say just “yes” or “no” when the interviewer finishes a long question reciting most of the possible answers. I made sure that I found something new to say or at least elaborated on one the answers provided. Again my major point was simple – good parenting is good parenting whether in relation to the real world or the Internet.

Ah well. I probably won’t have to do that again for a year or two.

Why DrAlb?

For as long as I can recall I have walked quickly. It probably has to do with a certain impatience and a preference for being in one location or another rather than somewhere between.
Sometime in my first few years of teaching high school, students observed my speed walking and nicknamed me “Stralb” – a contraction of Mister Albion.
I still walk quickly but, so far as I know, nobody has called me “Stralb” for many years. In any case, now that I have a completed PhD I think it’s time for a promotion to DrAlb.