Richard Kordel | Guest Blogger

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Learning Management Systems-Let’s Begin

Learning Management Systems-Let’s Begin

Recently I was asked to conduct a webinar on selecting a learning management system (LMS). The preparation for that webinar forced me to organize my thinking around what an LMS could do and should do. I have taught courses on the topic, and in those instances have enjoyed the luxury of a semester long exploration of all the various facets of an LMS - from origins to latest developments and with multiple stops in between. For the webinar, I tried to extract a worthwhile hour that discussed what people would need to consider when implementing an LMS. I fear that the webinar attempted to do too much in too short a time.

After the webinar, the platform vendor discovered that the recording that was made for TrainingPros had been corrupted and could not be made available for future viewing. This led to a request to encapsulate the content of the webinar into a blog post so that people interested in the topic could review what was said. On the surface, this seemed like a good idea, and I immediately agreed to it. After working on this request, I am now not so certain...

The reason is simple. The webinar was a short format compressed from a semester’s worth of meaty material. If the blog entry is an even shorter summary of the webinar, are we given the important subject of LMS selection its due? I could boil it down further into a few bullet points and be done, i.e.

  • Know what you need to do
  • Test your requirements

But this would not do justice to the topic. In addition, there were many comments that came in after the webinar that expressed the expectations of viewers hoping they would find out what LMS they should purchase (more on this in a moment).

When teaching my LMS class, I have longed for a good textbook that could present the various topics in a logical and orderly fashion. To date, I have not found a book that does this. There are a couple of books written by Katrina Baker that are nicely done and which guide the user in selection and management, but these do not address the needs of advanced graduate students in learning technologies. There are several good blogs, notably Talented Learning by John Leh, but again, these have fallen short of what my professional students need for a class resource.

So, my plan is this: I have created and will continue to add to a series of blog posts that will actually help me with the organization, research, and writing of a text on learning management systems. I will publish the entries on the TrainingPros Learning Highlights blog. I invite you to participate in the development of my book by subscribing, providing feedback or asking questions. At the end, we should have a fairly robust document that covers the span of topics that constitute a complete discussion of learning management systems.

So, before I address the final item of this post, a small anecdote from teaching: When I assign a paper, there is always the great page number debate.

  • Question: How long should it be?
  • Answer: As long as it needs to be.
  • Question: How many pages is that?

We then go back and forth about content, depth, and writing style, until I finally give up and declare “ten pages” or “twenty five pages,” depending on context.

Which learning management system you need in many ways follows this same argument. Which LMS should you buy? The one that addresses your needs. The ugly truth is that the LMS market is very crowded, and there is no clear market leader or an LMS Swiss army knife that does it all. The goals of this blog and the text it is helping me to write are to provide a guide so that you can systematically define your own needs in a learning management system.

Next up: Topic organization for LMS evaluation

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