What is a LMS?

From WikiEducator
Jump to: navigation, search

A range of definitions can be found for the term Learning Management System. Outten (2009) defines a Learning Management System as:

"A course-based system that enables participants to communicate and collaborate, access activities and resources, meanwhile being tracked, assessed and reported on via the Web." (Slide 21.)

Examples of LMS are: Moodle and Blackboard.

Moodle at Otago Polytechnic

Learning Management Systems (LMS) such as Moodle have developed the capability to 'deliver' content in a range of media, as well as providing for various types of learning activities and communication channels. The image of a Moodle course shows how content resources, learning activities and tools for communication (e.g. discussion forums) can be assembled by the designer or teacher into a coherent learning package. Typically, a LMS such as Moodle is focused on asynchronous access, so that learners can participate at a time that suits them. Moodle provides few tools for synchronous communication - that is, where participants take part in 'real time'.

Garrison and Anderson (2003) believe that asynchronous discussion has inherent advantages over face-to-face discussion. They conclude that:

...questions and responses were at a higher cognitive level than in a face-to-face verbal context ... because students have more time to reflect, to be more explicit and to order content and issues, teachers were able to ask higher-level written cognitive questions (p.26).

Moodle at Otago Polytechnic

Moodle is an acronym for Modular Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment. What exactly does this mean? To answer this question, please visit the e-Learning and Moodle Essentials website.

  • A really useful resource for you to learn about using Moodle in your teaching is Lynda.com's Moodle 2.5 Essential Training for Teachers. The site has almost three hours of video clips to help you learn to use our current version of Moodle.
  • Moodle is supported by OPOnline, who have put together plenty of technology-related resources, including OP Moodle Guidebooks and good practice guidelines for teaching online, on their Staff Educational Technology Support page. On this page, you will also find a list of Moodle champions of which there should be at least one in your School. These champions are very knowledgeable and will be happy to help you with any Moodle-related questions.
  • The OP Staff Educational Technology Support page also has a list of frequently-asked questions (FAQ) which you should access when you first have a question related to Moodle. If you get stuck, please follow the procedure outlined at the top of the Staff Educational Technology Support page.

Alternative and open learning systems

As well as dedicated systems such as Moodle, other web-based systems can be used as an 'alternative' or to supplement a closed LMS - for example, a blog or wiki such as Wikieducator can be used to provide access to resources and tools for discussion. These platforms typically do not provide the full set of LMS features. However, they have the advantage of being more suited to open learning where resources can be accessed without formal enrolment, and when the course has ended.

One of the criticisms of the dedicated Learning Management Systems (such as Moodle) is that they provide a walled garden which shuts off the learning process from the wider world. Models of learning such as connectivism tend to stress the importance of the wider network and global online communities. On the other hand, other educators (especially in the primary and secondary sectors and where confidentiality is an issue to be considered) value the safety of learners provided by the secure environment of the walled garden.

OP icon activity.gif

Reflective activity

Think about this even if you already have a Moodle course.
  • What do you currently do to communicate with all your students and facilitate their collaborative activities?
This includes students on-campus.
  • How accessible are your course resources and activities?
  • How do you currently assess student learning, keep track of their progress and report on their activity?
  • Consider how a LMS could make all of these tasks easier.
  • What else could you do to make your teaching more efficient and accessible?
  • Post to your learning journal and share your thoughts on the discussion forum if you wish.