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Locked In An LMS Mental Cage?
October 26, 2011 - 3:00am

Our community has been discussing EDUCAUSE 2011 (both on campus and virtually), and one theme that seems to be resonating is the erosion of centrality of the LMS (learning management system).   With LMS platforms increasingly built to integrate with Web 2 platforms, particularly Google Apps tools, the LMS no longer needs to be the "be all and end all" for learning, collaboration, and exchange. 

The unbundled LMS is lighter, more flexible and agile - able to seamlessly integrate with best-of-breed consumer tools and operate on multiple (and mobile) platforms. The direction of integration between the LMS and consumer platforms is also changing, as data can flow both in to and out of LMS, originating somewhere else (Google Apps, Facebook, LinkedIn, Office?, Twitter etc) from the LMS out to these platforms.

The unbundled LMS, or at least the small pieces loosely joined LMS, seems to be one of the underlying metaphors of Instructure's Canvas and Pearson's OpenClass.  Blackboard is making nods in this direction as well. The LMS as connector, aggregator, and middleware should make the LMS adoption decision less consequential. Beyond the requirement for integration with the SIS (student information system), the availability of free cloud based LMS's (CourseSites, OpenClass) could usher in an era instructor choice and experimentation.

So why am I still so focussed on the LMS.  I spent a great deal of mental energy and conversational bandwidth trying to figure out the best path for navigating our campus LMS choices.  The LMS is the lens through which I view learning technology.  The center of my edtech universe.

All of which makes me wonder, am I trapped in an outdated mental model of learning technology?  Have I been too close to the LMS for too many years to even see an alternative reality?  As Upton Sinclair said "It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!"  Am I that man?

How is your thinking about the role of the LMS evolving?


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