Category Archives: LMS

TLT at S&T March 12-13, 2015

Fresh back from the ELI Conference I wanted to compare the agenda for our upcoming Teaching and Learning Technology Conference, TLT, scheduled for March 12-13 here at the Missouri University of Science and Technology campus in Rolla, MO. This conference has matured over the years to be a leading regional conference for Education Technology. Under the direction of Meg Brady, Director, and Angie Hammons, Manager, of Education Technology at Missouri S&T, this conference has an all star lineup with extremely relevant sessions. 

Plus: TLT will be hosting a CanvasCon by Instructure on the 12th.

The Keynote Speakers:

Robbie K. Melton, Ph.D. — Associate Vice Chancellor of Mobilization Emerging Technology; Tennessee Board of Regents,  “The Emergence of Mobile and Smart Devices: Is Your Device Smarter than You?”

Jeff Schramm, Ph.D. — Associate Professor of History & Political Science; Missouri S&T, “MOOC’s, LMS, ELI, PRR, CB&Q and EMD: What the history of technology can teach us about the future of higher education.”

I love the fact that this conference brings together many innovative professors in higher education along with their Instructional Designers, Developers and Technologists, plus many from K-12 who want to make sure their students are properly prepared for college. TLT does carry some Missouri S&T STEM influence but I believe that it only strengthens how EdTech is applied to the liberal arts community. An exciting area of development in the last year has been with the preparation of virtual labs for chemistry and biology.

OH yes, did I mention that our TLT is FREE….

Comments from Disney Educause Week

The best place to hold an Educause conference is in the happiest place on the earth, Disneyland, especially during a week of sun and 70’s. This is the time of year when all collegiate techies compare notes, renew friendships and chart the future of higher education. Educause keynote speakers try to shock us, console us and then inspire us. But there rarely are any roadmaps provided for us to follow. We know we must continue to increase our WiFi density, move stuff to the cloud and relax our outdated control policies. But mostly we network with our peers.

Trends discussed at Educause that I have interest and insight had to do with the future of ERPs and LMSs. Lot’s of my colleagues are looking for answers to their ERP dilemmas. And it seems like many Blackboard customers are planning their exit strategy to a Canvas or Moodle. And in the background are all of the solutions that will insure that teaching and learning takes place more effectively. This all threatens our old school technology empires but can generate great excitement for the new school.

Yes we do need to get our act together with respect to running the business of higher education. We drank the kool-aid served us by corporate ERP solutions that we were told could be adapted to higher education. And they have been adapted at a ridiculous price. However, did we ever receive serious advice to simplify our business processes? I was recognized at the Oracle booth as the poster child champion for the most successful PeopleSoft implementation they have seen. But not for the most profitable. When I implemented PeopleSoft 3-4 years ago I forced business process change to adapt to the base system because of budget and talent constraints. But that was just a consolidation of best practices for higher education. We did not have an opportunity to redesign our business. So my advice to all of us looking for solutions to our ERP predicaments; maybe we should investigate a more effective way to administer the business of higher education first. We might be shocked at how easy it could be to adapt an ERP to a business process that made sense.

And what about Learning Management Systems? My only comment is to again step back and realize how simple LMSs are. I guess we took the opposite approach with them. We have a fairly good business process that we have over complicated by computerization. Maybe it was because we created them but were taught by our corporate ERP vendors how to commercialize them. Bottom line is that an LMS is nice to have but is not critical for teaching and learning. There are plenty of tools that can help a professor to be more efficient but no university should be held hostage to a single tool. Hmmm, that is sort of the academic way, we do all the work and another business entity charges us for it.

3-D Printed Smartphone Cover

3-D Printed Smartphone Cover

So enough of the trials and tribulations of the season. What about some bright spots like my being ranked the 38th most Social CIO or how cool our rollout of 3-D Printing for all of the students at S&T has been.

TV segment by KY3 in Springfield, MO, on the rollout of 3-D printers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology’s Library.

Did an Angel influence Blackboard?

In Blackboard’s press release on December 15th, 2009: Blackboard, Desire2Learn Announce Patent Cross License Agreement and Settlement of Litigation.

“We are pleased to have resolved our differences with Desire2Learn,” said Michael Chasen, President and CEO of Blackboard. “Bringing this matter to resolution is in the best interests of both of our organizations, our respective clients and the broader education community.”

Congratulations, it appears that level heads have prevailed and maybe we can assume Blackboard’s Chief B & L, Matthew H. Small, is no longer calling all the shots. I do hope that all players are able to return to a focus on serving their customers. An Angel must have intervened.

Why would you pay for a Course Management System?

I had a good conversation with Jeff Young who was writing an article for the Chronicle about the use of Web Conferencing tools in Higher Ed. Specific to that topic it was interesting to find out from our students that they are actually using web conferencing tools such as Skype, iChat, and various Google tools for academics, however, not on their own accord. They use these tools when prompted to do so by a professor, but they are not using them on their own for assistance with academic assignments. However, they are using the tools on their own for personal interaction.

The conversation with Jeff quickly shifted to feedback I was able to give him on Google’s Wave. As soon as I started talking about how Wave could redefine course management along with redefining email as we know it, he steered his article toward one based on Google Wave. His article Could Google Wave Replace Course-Management Systems?” touched on some of my comments, but I’m not sure replacing Course-Management is the question. I think course management is already watered down by the availability of “free” flexible web conferencing and collaboration applications. Many options are available that can replace a Course Management System; Google Sites, Apps and now Wave definitely could. So is the question “Replace Course Management” even valid any longer, it has replacements. Now we move back to letting pedagogy define how we want to manage a course. The real question is: Why would you pay for a Course Management System?

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Time for my post on the current state of Learning Management Systems, LMS, or my take on Blackboard buying Angel Learning. I do not believe that the purchase of Angel by BB is in any way good, especially for the poor Angel customers. I love the argument that the greater resources of BB will be beneficial to Angel, LOL. The bottom line is that the economic model of the commercial LMS vendors can only work if the customers continue to be willing slaves to the commercial dictator. And they are because of the greater pain that would be required to ask faculty to learn a new system. I believe that BB customers still do not own the software and if they do not renew the contract they must show proof that they are no longer using it. That is ridiculous and always has been. Academic institutions should be ashamed to have allowed this type of lease agreement to persist over the years. The lease arrangement is the core of the problem. LMS software is not sophisticated, I know, I watched my own student worker create 2 significant LMS products. Why can’t you buy the software and pay a typical 18% maintenance fee? Because it is not even worth the 18%. If you have an open mind there is no question that Sakai or Moodle is essentially equivalent to BB and they probably get better support because the huge user community is allowed access to the code.

BlackBoard has a large revenue appetite that it will find to be more and more difficult to quench as more customers break free of the chains. So how do you think BB will manage that appetite? Who do you think will get fed?

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