Online: Trending Now

Unique biweekly insights and news review
from Ray Schroeder, Director of the National Council for Online Education

Can an LMS Be Designed for Humans First, Tech Second?

Despite the evolution of learning management systems over the past two decades, LMSs seem to remain tech-oriented rather than learner oriented – is this likely to change? 

Online: Trending Now #138

Learning management systems have been around since the last century.  The World Wide Web, of course, provided great impetus to the LMS through the point-and-click interactivity. Arguably, the first broadly deployed LMS was WebCT, developed at the University of British Columbia by Professor Murray Goldberg in 1995. When I first opened WebCT in 1996, it was a breakthrough in organizing and delivering course materials to students.  But, it was also clear that the design was designed first and foremost to accommodate the technology demands of the task. 

And, so it has continued through the development of the LMS over the intervening two and a half decades. The vast majority of the dozens of following systems have followed a left-hand navigation panel with material appearing in a box on the right. That’s not a bad approach if you are creating an inventory system or a filling in fields of a database. But, if the focus is on the learner, perhaps we are better served with something that is more intimate and personally-responsive to the learner. This becomes especially important as we move to scale online courses, creating the threat that learners will feel more isolated and less engaged.

Amy Ahearn addressed the concerns in a recent EdSurge article:

The majority of online learning environments are no more than video-hosting platforms with quizzes and a discussion forum. These default features force online instructors to use a style of teaching that feels more like shouting to the masses than engaging in meaningful conversations. This presents a challenge and an opportunity: How can we design online learning environments that achieve scale and intimacy? How do we make digital platforms feel as inviting as well-designed physical classrooms? 

The potential of artificial intelligence offers us the promise that we may be able to provide personalized learning opportunities to our students. By giving AI a lead role in engaging the student, the learning management system can become much more flexible and responsive as we have seen in Professor Ashok Goel’s early work with “Jill Watson” at Georgia Tech

A relatively new AI chatbox, Hubert, gives a glimpse of the future. It is designed to solicit student feedback on classes. But, rather than offering a multiple choice or short answer format such as other student evaluations, it opens a chatbox window engaging conversation with the student. Hubert analyzes answers on the fly and follows-up with more probing questions. Finally, the data is compiled and put into an actionable report to the instructor of areas students feel could be improved.

The folks at Hubert.ai write “Personalized learning is probably the most common AI application in edtech today and is a sizzling hot topic in the overall educational sector. And for a good reason. For long it’s been known that different individuals learn in a different way and at a different pace, but most schools are still stuck in the same habit of the active, lecturing teacher and the passive, listening students.”  https://medium.com/hubert-ai/ai-in-education-personalized-learning-94e2d01fee94

Projecting the advances in AI and machine-learning, the days of the LMS as a tech-first product may be numbered. We will likely see more and more products that assess learner preferences and build an environment that most comfortably meets their needs.  Stay tuned!

Of course, I will continue to track the developments in emerging trends, technologies, pedagogies and practices, Continuing and Online Education Update blog by UPCEA. You can have the updates sent directly to your email each morning – no advertising, no spam!

Best,
 
Ray Schroeder Founding Director
National Council for Online Education

 

Ray Schroeder 2016 Summit for Online Leadership

Ray Schroeder is Professor Emeritus, Associate Vice Chancellor for Online Learning at the University of Illinois Springfield (UIS) and Senior Fellow at UPCEA. Each year, Ray publishes and presents nationally on emerging topics in online and technology-enhanced learning. Ray’s social media publications daily reach more than 12,000 professionals. He is the inaugural recipient of the A. Frank Mayadas Online Leadership Award, recipient of the University of Illinois Distinguished Service Award, the United States Distance Learning Association Hall of Fame Award, and the American Journal of Distance Education/University of Wisconsin Wedemeyer Excellence in Distance Education Award 2016.

Other UPCEA Updates + Blogs

Marketing and Enrollment Management in a Time of Uncertainty

Institutions of higher education are faced with major challenges and have leaned toward many of their professional, continuing and online (PCO) education units to not only assist with bringing traditional teaching faculty into a more aggressive world of online learning, but to also supplement lost revenue and enrollments due to students not returning to campus…

Read More

Racial Justice and the Mission of Professional, Continuing, and Online Education

UPCEA and its members are deeply troubled by the recent senseless killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in Minneapolis, and the lives taken before him. Many others have been affected in the wake of these tragedies. This, combined with the health care disparities exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, underscore the systemic racism that…

Read More

UPCEA Signs Letter to Hill on Broadband Access and Infrastructure

Twenty-nine (29) higher education associations and organizations, including UPCEA, joined EDUCAUSE on June 5, 2020, in sending a letter to Congress on significant broadband issues for higher education. The groups asked Congress to consider the needs of economically distressed college students in relation to efforts to bridge the digital divide during COVID-19 pandemic, specifically citing the Supporting Connectivity…

Read More

UPCEA Partners with LX Pathways by iDesign

We’ve partnered to help you increase capacity around instructional design Do you need to increase your team’s capacity around instructional design? Would you like to add instructional design to your skillset? Great news! UPCEA has recently partnered with iDesign to offer even more online professional development through iDesign’s self-paced learning opportunities, LX Pathways. Our partnership…

Read More

Just Released: UPCEA Hallmarks of Excellence in Credential Innovation

Over the past five years UPCEA has published two Hallmarks of Excellence frameworks, first in Online Leadership and then Professional and Continuing Education. These quality frameworks have been endorsed and used by countless organizations and institutions as they evaluate, enhance, and sometimes even build professional, continuing, and online enterprises. Today, I am so pleased to…

Read More

Colleges Show Great Interest in Alternative Credentials But Weak Follow-Through (Campus Technology)

No matter what type of alternative credential students are earning, most institutions don’t retain official information about it. In a recent survey, just a third of institutions (38 percent) that offer alternative credentials said they allow those to be represented on students’ university records. Nearly half (48 percent) said they weren’t in student records; and…

Read More

Whether you need benchmarking studies, or market research for a new program, UPCEA Consulting is the right choice.

We know you. We know the challenges you face and we have the solutions you need. We speak your language and have been serving leaders like you for more than 100 years. UPCEA consultants are current or former continuing and online higher education professionals who are experts in the industry—put our expertise to work for you.


UPCEA is dedicated to advancing quality online learning at the institutional level. UPCEA is uniquely focused on excellence at the highest levels – leadership, administration, strategy – applying a macro lens to the online teaching and learning enterprise. Its engaged members include the stewards of online learning at most of the leading universities in the nation.

We offers a variety of custom research options through a variable pricing model.


Click here to learn more.

The Nation's Top Universities Choose UPCEA Consulting

Informed decisions. Ideas that work. The data you need. Trusted by the top universities in the nation.