Monday, February 13, 2012

LMS of the future?

An LMS is a "Learning Management System."  Think "Blackboard."  It's basically about setting up a classroom environment online for distance education.

Blackboard is the current hegemony in this area.  It's doing its best to retrofit itself to the incredibly fast changing Google/Facebook world. The problem is that it is really hard to turn the Titanic. If they were starting from scratch today it would no doubt look a lot different. And most of us suspect that someone will come up with something relatively free and better soon, and down Blackboard will come like the music businesses when Napster came on the scene.

I heard Friday that one of the leading online educators is in the final stages of designing its own LMS.  More power to them.  That sort of innovation always excites me. It's not hard to cobble one together from the things available in Google and Facebook, but not professional enough for an online institution to do.

One interesting discussion I had this weekend had to do with bringing online education to Africa. What's interesting is that Africa is basically leap frogging the desktop, because they often don't have reliable power or internet connection. What they do have is cell phones!

So the question was first, could you create an even more sequential pedagogy that could be administered via smart phones.  Someone else then brought up the iPad.  You can even do Blackboard on an iPad.  The question is which server they use in Africa, since the iPad only works with ATT or Verizon.

A cell phone LMS would basically need to be able to:

  • show text (in this case in very small screen snippets)
  • take text input (probably by converting voice to text)
  • It would need to link and sequence the course in a very linear thread, with minimal link following

Fun thoughts!  Ideally, someone would design a special tablet and bare bones LMS that did not require Verizon or ATT for hook up.

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