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ANVILL and the Components of Ideal Online LMSs

ANVILL is a learning management system (LMS) designed for Language teachers. In this presentation ANVILL is evaluated against the components of ideal online LMSs as proposed by Davis (2008) Chapter 4.

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ANVILL and the Components of Ideal Online LMSs

  1. 1. The LMS AVNVILL and the Components of Online Learning Management Systems Zahra Shafiee Spring 2014
  2. 2. In chapter four of Theory & Practice of Online Learning, Davis has specified the essential components of real and ideal online learning systems (LMSs) as follows. • The Development of Courseware • The Learning Management System • Library and Digital Resources • Learner Services • Interface with the Student Information System • The Users’ Portal • Quality Assessment • Related Issues • Interface with the Student Information System • The Users’ Portal • Quality Assessment • Related Issues • Change Management ** Leadership ** Scouting Reports ** Governance ** Communication ** Pilot Projects and Evaluation ** Resources for Change
  3. 3. The Question 1 of Mailing List round Table Topic 9 (to be discussed in session 10) ANVILL (A National Virtual Language Lab, available at is a free LMS learning management system. Review ANVILL and see whether the required components highlighted by Davis are met in this system.
  4. 4. First of all, I registered, verified the account through email, and entered this page.
  5. 5. I checked my registration details in the link to user profile. The Page “My Courses” indicates I haven’t chosen any course yet. But for visiting a group and choosing a course, it requires a registration key that I don’t know how to get.
  6. 6. The “help” link let’s you to first check your connectivity, technical matters like allowing or denying microphone and camera. This link also leads you to a wiki including screencasts and tutorials.
  7. 7. The “ANVILL Help Wiki” leads you to tags, related activities, and instructions in the section “documents” which are downloadable. Below is a sample of documents which is meant to teach students how to use chat application in this LMS.
  8. 8. Again I got back to the home page and visited a few of the courses introduced in the links below the page.
  9. 9. Arriving at this course, I learned details about the course, I was provided with a sample lesson, and I was linked to the application “Blackboard Collaborate” and the download was free and convenient.
  10. 10. “Blackboard Collaborate” caters for video, audio, and text-based conferencing.
  11. 11. Another lesson led me to a webinar through “Blackboard Collaborate”
  12. 12. As I got to the recordings of the course, I found myself in what we had in WizIQ; some people didn’t have voice and chatted, some left or joint the session, the teacher, as you see gave a lecture using the slides on the board. It seemed quite conventional lecture on language pedagogy. There were no collaboration or cooperation and people chatted as if students who murmur in the classrooms.. Maybe I find it in their other recordings.
  13. 13. I wonder if we have the possibility of having such complete recording of the session with WizIQ.
  14. 14. A third link introduced a course syllabus, a tutorial video, and registration links.
  15. 15. Components of an Online Learning System 1. Development of Courseware This component, according to Davis requires a “complex team, however, involves a project manager as well as content experts, educators, instructional designers, editors, visual designers, multimedia designers, programmers, systems staff, etc., who undertake the design of a course that needs new online learning functions, connects uniquely to the other systems, and involves the creation of new multimedia digital learning objects” (p. 104). The free and convenient access to many parts of ANVILL, checking connections and audio and video devices, the well designed lesson plans, and limited access to members still not registered into a course, indicate an effective effort on the part of the team noted above. However, I couldn’t find records explicitly elaborating on such undertaking.
  16. 16. Components of an Online Learning System 2. The Learning Management System Davis elaborated on an ideal LMS as follows (page 105): In the ideal case, the choice of LMS is based on the needs of the course, without consideration of costs, the availability of qualified staff, or any requirement to use existing systems. The real case, however, is often more complicated: either one is constrained to a single solution based on previous institutional or company decisions (which some would think of as ideal), or the choice is limited (as it should be) by practicalities such as the costs of adopting yet another proprietary LMS, or the human resource and other implications of building or adapting an open-source LMS. The system ran based on the platform “Blackboard Collaborate”. This venue needs to be subscribed and purchased but offers a 30-day free trial. The platform of this LMS is not easily available in my country, thus, the long-term use of this ANVILL is not supported here, which indicate a real, rather than an ideal system.
  17. 17. Components of an Online Learning System 3. Library and Digital Resources As Davis contends about the developing an online educational infrastructure (pp. 105 - 106): Linking the course or program LMS to the necessary online resources is a key element of any online system. Institutional and public libraries have been leaders in the development of systems and protocols to acquire and share resources. Many now have electronic gateways to their own holdings, to those housed elsewhere, to digital databases of journals, magazines, and government publications (including much in the way of full-text materials), and to specially developed supplementary databases of materials selected for a particular course. In addition, learning objects will be increasingly accessible through in-house and external digital repositories. …the key point in developing the infrastructure for online learning is that the availability of such online resources should be ensured, or at least anticipated, so that the courseware is developed accordingly, the LMS is appropriately configured, and any access that the student may require is enabled. Although some documents, materials, and tutorials are accessible in the ANVILL Help Wiki, like the links document, The course materials are provided in their own parts and I didn’t encounter a portal or link to a library open to all members. Perhaps I should search more carefully.
  18. 18. Components of an Online Learning System 4. Learner Services About the importance of support to the non-academic learner to ensure student success and satisfaction, Davis states “Depending on the enterprise involved, such supports would include technical help, educational advising, various forms of counseling, services for learners with special needs, and so on” (p. 106). The wiki links to connections and tutorials for the ease of the potential learners’ use. Moreover, the courses introduced in the home page include the schedule, registration services, courses provide sample lessons, records of sessions, etc.
  19. 19. Components of an Online Learning System 5. Interface with the Student Information System Davis holds that: Ideally, the LMS is linked to the SIS in such a manner that the right student is automatically in the right course at the right time, and that all the right student information is easily available to the right instructor and any other authorized person. This strategy avoids the need to input student names into the LMS, with the associated errors and waste of time. The instructor should be able to manipulate the student data as needed for the course (e.g., submitting and editing final marks), and to contact the students as a group, in sub-groups and individually (p. 106). Based on what I got from Davis, I couldn’t find evidence on how a student is chosen for a class and with what teacher after registration in a course, and how instructors manipulate students’ data needed for the course.
  20. 20. Components of an Online Learning System 6. The Users’ Portal In this case Davis mentions: Ideally, the portal should allow the learner, with one secure login, to access everything that is of interest to them: the LMS (and from there, other essential links), their grades and other applicable documentation on their student file, and related learner services and accounts. It will also allow them to customize their portal Web page to be a unique interface, showing their own preferences, and allowing them to link easily with other learners and staff, related services, and the student association (p. 107). In my tour around ANVILL, I found the first condition noted by Davis ideally met. But the web page couldn’t be personalized, and I couldn’t find an easy way to connect with other members. It needed to register into a course first.
  21. 21. Components of an Online Learning System 7. Quality Assessment The ideal condition for an LMS from Davis’s point of view is Ideally, the development of an e-learning system should include a plan for the independent evaluation of all aspects of the system, and especially of the degree to which it enables or enhances the achievement of the stated learning outcomes (primarily in the opinion of its users). Furthermore, such an evaluation would also provide information on the return on investment of the system, especially the unanticipated or unseen costs of implementation on back-end systems, staff attitudes, and infrastructure. In the real situation, where a variety of systems could be in place, the tendency will be for each group to undertake its own research, which can often be biased (intentionally or not) and difficult to compare with that of other groups unless a strict, common framework is in place. Even if only one system exists, larger corporate pressures might be applied to ensure that a project is “doomed to succeed” (pp. 107 - 108). Regarding ANVILL, I didn’t come across a comprehensible account reporting assessment of the quality of this LMS. There were only advertising remarks here and there while introducing courses. The home page, too, while elaborated on the objectives of the course, didn’t highlight any point in this respect.
  22. 22. Components of an Online Learning System 8. Related Issues As seen in the users’ profile, and noted by Davis: Back-end hardware (servers, switches, etc.) and connectivity will need to be estimated in the beginning, and then adjusted routinely as the number of users grows, the system evolves, and standards and expectations for “up-time” increase … Technical help and helpdesk support must be in place, possibly linked to a training, orientation, and documentation function that provides support to students and staff (p. 108). These issues were ideally addressed as the first encounter of the users and were mentioned meanwhile, for example when the webinars run via Blackboard.
  23. 23. Components of an Online Learning System • Change Management Davis demonstrates that: Any credible educational endeavor is dynamic in nature, responding to new knowledge, understandings, and approaches to the disciplines, to new employment market needs, to changing student (p. 109). For me to detect such policy, I need to be a member for a longer time. Reviewing the courses didn’t indicate how changes have been managed in ANVILL.
  24. 24. Conclusion In order to evaluate ANVILL as an ideal or real LMS, I would need to be more familiar with LMSs in general and ANVILL in particular. However, regarding this short encounter with ANVILL, I can conclude that this system is ideal in some aspects like “Learners’ Services” and the “Users’ Portal”. For judging other components, either I need a longer membership or the components are realized based on real constraints which might be context-sensitive. For instance, the limited access to “Blackboard collaborate” due to the 30-day free trial is a constrain in my context not for many other users worldwide. Consequently, I see ANVILL a reality-based LMS attempting to be increasingly idealized.