Dreaming Of A No-Feature LMS

SIS integration, a gradebook, and robust LTI - that’s it!

February 29, 2016

My colleague Mike Goudzwaard has written about the only platform that could ever convince me to jump to an edtech startup - the “no-feature” LMS.

I watched this idea come to fruition as Mike and McGill’s Adam Finkelstein have been cooking this idea up at various edtech events.

Please go and read Mike’s entire post The LMS Of The Future Is Yours!, as he does a great job of setting the context as to why we need a no-frills LMS.

The following (in italics) copied from Mike’s post:

What would this LMS look like? In my view, it would have three things:

1) a course roster with stellar SIS integration

2) a gradebook

3) a rock-star LTI and API

That’s it! Oh, except it would also be open source, students would control their own data, including publishing any of their work or evaluations to the block chain, and you could host it locally, distributed, or in the cloud. Never mind the pesky privacy laws (or lack thereof) in the country hosting your server, because the LMS is back on campus. Not connected to the internet? That’s okay too, because there is a killer app that syncs like a boss (like Evernote. Has Evernote ever given you a sync error? No, I didn’t think so.)

Wrap your head around this idea for a minute.

This LMS would have no features beyond a gradebook and student roster. Everything else would be integrated through LTI and API connections.

If you want a discussion board, use YellowDig or Piaza.

If you want a blog, use WordPress.

Collaborative writing, use Google Docs.

For formative, summative, and high stakes assessments you can use QuestionMark, ExamBuilder, or ExamSoft.

Need a portfolio - how about Pathbrite?  

Thinking about experimenting with Peer Assessment?  Drop in Peerceptiv.   

If a synchronous video class is what you are after, then BlueJeans is a click away.  

The beauty of the no-frills - gradebook/roster/LTI LMS idea is that this platform gives us only what we can’t get from the consumer tools that we use every day.  We want our students to work with the same tools in college that they will work with in the workplace.  We want to force our learners to find productivity solutions that they can bring to many work environments.  At the same time, we need the gradebook, roster, and SIS integration.

How would a company make money on this no-feature LMS?  They wouldn’t.  This idea should be foundation or crowdfunded.  It should be an open source platform that we build for ourselves.

Has this idea really never been brought to life?

Has there really been no school, developer, or even company with the discipline to create a no-feature LMS?

Could you ever imagine Instructure, Blackboard, or D2L creating this sort of platform?  (They should).

What is the closest thing to the no-feature LMS that we have today?



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