Technology As Pedagogy: The Rhetoric of Learning Management Systems


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Technology As Pedagogy: The Rhetoric of Learning Management Systems

  1. 1. The Rhetorics of Course and Learning Management SystemsTECHNOLOGY AS PEDAGOGY Andrea L. Beaudin | Texas Tech University
  2. 2. RationaleInterest:• Influence of technology, especially mandated technology, onpedagogy and student-instructor interaction• Larger issue of academic freedomResearch:• Part of more extensive study rhetorically analyzing assumptionsinherent to specific CMSs / LMSs• Analysis of the CMS/LMS and its implications for education (on themicro and macro levels)
  3. 3. Overview•Defining Concepts•Theories of Technology and Human Interaction•CMS/LMS as Rhetoric•Applications•Reverberations
  4. 4. Defining Concepts
  5. 5. Defining ConceptsWhat are CMSs/LMSs used for?a) transmitting course contentb) evaluating studentsc) evaluating courses and instructorsd) creating class discussionse) creating computer-based instruction (Malikowski, Thompson, & Theis, 2007, p.167).
  6. 6. Defining ConceptsCMS vs. LMSboth “manage courses, deliver content to learners,conduct learning activities, and evaluate learningoutcomes,” but LMSs “are designed with the learnerin mind and promote a focus on the learner inaddition to the content” (Roqueta, 2008, p.59).
  7. 7. Technology and Human Interaction
  8. 8. Technology and Human InteractionDominant views:• determinism (technology drives culture) (Ellul; Kurzweil)• constructivism (society drives technology) (Pinch and Bijker) Most of these theories hold at their foundations concerns about POWER.
  9. 9. Technology and Human InteractionAndrew Feenberg: “technological hegemony”:• “hegemony”: "form of domination so deeply rooted in sociallife that it seems natural" (657) “The narrow focus of modern technology meets the needs of a particular hegemony; it is not a metaphysical condition.” (663)
  10. 10. CMS/LMS as Rhetoric Are CMS/LMSs tools of technological hegemony?
  11. 11. CMS/LMS as Rhetoric LMS are not pedagogically neutral technologies, but rather, through their very design, they influence and design teaching. As the systems become more incorporated into everyday academic practices, they will work to shape and even define teachers imaginations, expectations and behaviours. Coates and Baldwin, 2005, 27
  12. 12. CMS/LMS as Rhetoric Any serious advocate of e-learning as a vehicle for pedagogical transformation will need to confront and resolve the inherent conflict between order and creativity, between the checklist-based quality of observable outputs (“content”) and the qualitative evaluation of teaching and learning quality, and between autonomy and independence on the one hand and regulation and control on the other. Wise and Quealy, 2006, pp. 904-905
  13. 13. Applications
  14. 14. Applications“The Blackboard Learn Content Management module isthe only academic solution that provides true document managementcapabilities … Users can access files from anywhere, anytime. And they’ll beable to collaborate better—without involving the technology staff. Thismodule will improve:Efficiency: Save educators time with centralized management of coursematerials used across multiple courses, sections or departments...Quality and Consistency: Improve curriculum on every level throughcentralized management and distribution of curriculum resources.Collaboration: Promote user-driven collaboration and sharing within andoutside the institution, school or district.Return on Investment: Rely on one easy-to-use, flexible solution that meetsacademic, general content management, and collaboration needs acrossyour organization.” Blackboard, Inc., 2011
  15. 15. Applications “Social Constructionist View”• “All of us are potential teachers as well as learners - in a true collaborative environment …• We learn particularly well from the act of creating or expressing something for others to see…• We learn a lot by just observing the activity of our peers…• By understanding the contexts of others, we can teach in a more transformational way (constructivism)…• A learning environment needs to be flexible and adaptable, so that it can quickly respond to the needs of the participants within it.Combining all the above, if you as a learning facilitator want to take advantage ofyour growing knowledge about your participants, giving them tailored opportunitiesto share ideas, ask questions and express their knowledge, then you need anenvironment which is flexible, both in time and space.” Moodle, 2011
  16. 16. Applications Integration and Community “The Writing Studio provides an interactive, online space that supports writers, writing classes, and writing groups. “ •“ To help you as you write...” •“To support writing classes, the Studio offers a course management system that includes most of the tools found in commercial systems -- as well as wikis, ePortfolios, blogs, and other tools that support the learning and teaching of writing.” •“To support writing groups...” •“To help you share your work with others, the Studio offers blogs, wikis, and ePortfolios -- as well as a robust course management system. The blogs, wikis, and ePortfolio tools can be used within courses or on their own, and you can decide whether to share them with others. Depending on your preferences, all of your work can be completely private (or at least as private as anything can be on the Web), shared with only a handful of others, or open to the world. •“To help you learn to write...” Writing Studio, 2012
  17. 17. ReverberationsConsiderations for further study:• Close analysis of specific LMSs and how they construct relationships, interaction, and theories of learning• Case studies of instructors evaluating how pedagogy affected by method of course delivery• Research into implications for academic freedom• Analysis of how CMSs affect conceptualization of education
  18. 18. Presentation PDF available at
  19. 19. ReferencesBlackboard, Inc. (2011). Blackboard Learn: Products. Blackboard. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from Learn/Teaching-and-Learning/New-to-Learn/Content-Management.aspxFeenberg, A. (2003). Democratic Rationalization: Technology, Power, and Freedom. In R. Scharff & V. Dusek (Eds.), Philosophy of technology (pp. 652- 665). Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.Malikowski, S. R., Thompson, M. E., & Theis, J. G. (2007). A Model for Research into Course Management Systems: Bridging Technology and Learning Theory. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 36(2), 149-173.Moodle. (2011, October 21). Pedagogy - MoodleDocs. Moodle. Retrieved December 1, 2011, from, M. (2008). Learning management systems. Distance learning, 5(4), 59- 66.Writing@CSU. (2012). About the Writing Studio Project. Writing@CSU. Retrieved March 23, 2012, from