Look Who’s Talking About Online Education Technology & Learning Management Systems
While distance learning did exist before the internet, the advent of an easy and widespread way to connect with students across the globe naturally revolutionized it. Online learning has made high school basics, undergraduate and graduate courses, and professional development courses all accessible via computers and mobile devices.
The internet helped make possible the development of learning management systems that allow instructors to create and distribute courses while also letting students interact with course materials and with one another. The learning management system (LMS) that a school uses can have a significant impact on how students perform.
Following are just a few of the important voices in online learning that have studied and analyzed the impact of educational technology and LMS’s specifically on the online learning environment. Each person included in this list is a scholar with experience in curriculum development or education, or is a highly regarded expert in the field.
Meet the Experts
Founder & CEO, Moodle
Director, Transformative Education Research Group, Murdoch University
One way to examine the impact of learning management systems on student outcomes is by the analysis of specific systems. In this publication, Drs. Martin Dougiamas and Peter Taylor study the use of popular LMS Moodle, which itself was born out of PhD research. The analysis goes into the process used to develop Moodle as well as to continue to improve the platform. The results from the initial study analyzed here show that the platform manages to keep students highly engaged with course material as well as with one another.
The paper was presented at the ED-Media World Conference on Educational Media and Technology.
Moodle: Using Learning Communities to Create an Open Source Course Management System
Dr. Heather Kanuka contributed an important chapter to the book The Theory and Practice of Online Learning, edited by Dr. Terry Anderson. Dr. Kanuka advocates looking at online learning outcomes and online learning technology through the lens of teaching philosophy. Educators should ensure that they are building their online courses and choosing their teaching technologies with the help of their own personally held teaching philosophies, rather than leaving those as an afterthought. According to Dr. Kanuka, “A philosophy of e-learning technology is necessary because too often educators are concerned with what to do with e-learning technologies without examining sufficiently whey they should do it.”
Understanding e-Learning Technologies-in-Practice through Philosophies-in-Practice
Associate Professor, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Purdue University
Assistant Professor, Learning Design & Technology, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Purdue University
While there is a growing mountain of evidence that explores what an LMS does and how to best use one as a student as well as an instructor, not as much of the academic data gets into the semantic details of what an LMS actually is. In this 2012 paper from TechTrends, Drs. William R. Watson and Sunnie Lee Watson explore LMS terminology and how the use and misuse of this label can lead to confusion. The paper “presents a definition of LMS as a systemic infrastructure that manages the learning process of an entire organization and contrasts LMS with related but conceptually different terms often confused with LMS: Course Management Systems (CMS) and Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS).” By emphasizing clarity among these related terms, the paper’s authors postulate, researchers will be better able to compare like to like rather than end up with skewed results from a lack of agreement on language.
An Argument for Clarity: What are Learning Management Systems, What are They Not, and What Should They Become?
Professor, Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education, University of Melbourne
Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and Undergraduate) and Deputy Provost, University of Melbourne; Co-Director Melbourne Centre for the Study of Higher Education
National Education Advisor – School Support, Headspace; Previously Graduate Student at University of Melbourne
Online learning technology does more than influence how students hand in papers and engage in class discussion. This paper, published in Tertiary Education and Management, explores how learning management systems specifically impact teaching practices, academic work, and even influence who has control over academic knowledge. The paper goes on to suggest that “Unlike other financial or human resources management systems recently introduced into universities, online LMS have the potential to affect the core business of teaching and learning” and then points to the fact that the rapid development of LMS technology has meant rapid growth with little research into these effects. Ultimately, this particular analysis suggests that institutional leaders step up to shape both how LMS’s continue to develop as well as how they are deployed to ensure the most effective and fair deployment.
A critical examination of the effects of learning management systems on university teaching and learning
Not all analysis of LMS use comes from academic publications. In fact, because those publications can take years to research and review, some of the most recent data and analysis will come from other sources, like this piece from TalentedLearning.com. Talented Learning CEO and lead analyst John Leh, who holds a Master’s of Science degree in Instructional Technology, goes into some timely predictions for the future of LMS. While each prediction is worth evaluating, one of the most interesting overarching themes is specialization within the LMS world. Not only are LMS innovators tailoring their solutions to a particular niche (be it universities, employee training, or other audiences), they are developing specialized pieces of LMS technology to integrate with the bigger players. Going forward, it may be necessary for organizations to choose not just the right LMS for their scenario, but also the right integrated applications for their particular niche.
In her article, originally published in the Journal of Educational Computing Research, Dr. Nadire Cavus specifically addresses the ways in which online learning technology can be used to teach technology itself, specifically computer programming. As one of the fields facing perhaps the most pressure to put its courses online, it is relevant to address its success rates. Students in Dr. Cavus’ study were assigned to groups either using a collaborative learning tool in addition to an LMS, or learning in a traditional classroom environment. The results of this small study found that in teaching programming, “students using the advanced collaborative tool had higher success rates than those learned using the traditional methods of learning.”
Assessing The Success Rate Of Students Using A Learning Management System Together With A Collaborative Tool In Web-based Teaching Of Programming Languages
Associate Professor, University of Sydney
ARC Future Fellow, Professor and Director of the Positive Computing Lab at the University of Sydney
One of the concerns often raised about online learning is the idea of quality. In this paper, originally published in the journal Educational Technology & Society, Drs. Robert A. Ellis and Rafael A. Calvo address this idea with a qualitative questionnaire given to seven different universities. The results of this particular study found that in most cases, educators were more aware of how to assure quality in terms of the actual LMS and learning technology than in terms of the education itself.
Minimum Indicators to Assure Quality of LMS-supported Blended Learning