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Virtual Learning Environments
Opening up Education or Locking in Learning?
Education as a Public Good
Enda Donlon | Mark B...
Defining the Term
A single piece of software that incorporates:
• Content management and delivery
• Communications
• Asses...
“…their presence is ubiquitous in higher education, with 99% of
colleges and universities currently reporting they have an...
The Landscape in Ireland
“In general, respondents report using VLEs at least
once a week and view them as a useful tool to...
Reflecting on the VLE/LMS
“Evaluation activity in reviewing
VLE provision is now well
established across the sector, with
...
“The VLE/LMS is Dead” (Weller, 2007)
“Scott Leslie has coined the term “Loosely coupled teaching”, for the
assembly of a n...
“The VLE/LMS is Dead” is not dead
31 March 2016
The VLE is Dead (Weller, 2007)
1. Better quality tools - each of these loosely coupled elements is
what each company does,...
Locking in Learning? Cost
“Fear of ‘Vendor lock in’ is a factor closely related to cost. The
process of moving from one VL...
• Chronicle article about cost, c/f with Weller
sedimentary argument
http://chronicle.com/article/What-s-Really-to-Blame-f...
“Technology doesn’t simply enable new practices; it shapes, limits,
steers our practices, and then — and this is key -- ev...
“The VLE isn’t the problem, the
sediment is” (Weller, 2015)
‘…we develop administrative structures
and processes which are...
Reusability Paradox
Wiley, 2004 (used under CC licence)
D’arcy Norman (2013)
Law of E-learning Tool Convergence
“Any eLearning tool, no matter how
openly designed, will eventuall...
What has the VLE
ever done for us?
10 Pros (Donald Clark, 2016)
• Migration from
Classroom
• Scalable
• Controls Chaos
• Consistency
• Integration
• Manages ...
“… the majority of faculty do not take advantage of advanced LMS
capabilities that have the potential to improve student o...
“…most LMS implementations still lack
elementary capacities to publish to and interact
with the wider web and the public. ...
“…also cuts students off from each other and
the institution. Courses are severely limited in
the ability to access other ...
The ‘new’ VLE – opening up?
“…the NGVLE [Next Generation Virtual Learning
Environment] might include a traditional LMS as ...
Some Final Thoughts
“the LMS is the minivan of
education. Everyone has
them and needs them, but
there’s a certain shame in...
Some Final Thoughts
“Higher education is moving away from its traditional
emphasis on the instructor, however, replacing i...
“Ed-tech must not be about building digital walls around
students and content and courses. We have, thanks to the
Web, an ...
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Virtual Learning Environments - Opening up Education or Locking in Learning?

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Presented at Educational Studies Association of Ireland (ESAI) Conference 2016 - 'Education as a Public Good'.

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Virtual Learning Environments - Opening up Education or Locking in Learning?

  1. 1. Virtual Learning Environments Opening up Education or Locking in Learning? Education as a Public Good Enda Donlon | Mark Brown | Eamon Costello #esai16 #esaidl Image: https://pixabay.com/en/binding-contract-contract-secure-948442/
  2. 2. Defining the Term A single piece of software that incorporates: • Content management and delivery • Communications • Assessment • Tracking • Administrative tools (which may include links to other systems) (Minshull / BECTA, 2004)
  3. 3. “…their presence is ubiquitous in higher education, with 99% of colleges and universities currently reporting they have an LMS” “Global learning management system (LMS) revenue was estimated at $1.9–2.6 billion in 2013, with projected growth to $7.8 billion by 2018” (Dahlstrom, Brooks & Bichsel, 2014, p.5) Source: http://elearningindustry.com/top-lms-statistics-and-facts-for-2015
  4. 4. The Landscape in Ireland “In general, respondents report using VLEs at least once a week and view them as a useful tool to enhance teaching and learning. VLEs are considered to be ‘critical’ to 70% of respondents…” [Summary Results arising from the National Forum 20Qs TEL Survey May 2014] National Forum Consultation 27/27 HEIs using a ‘Main VLE’ (several using more than one)
  5. 5. Reflecting on the VLE/LMS “Evaluation activity in reviewing VLE provision is now well established across the sector, with half of the institutions which responded to the Survey having conducted reviews over the last two years” (UCISA, 2014, p.3) Ireland - Cross-Institutional Survey: 2008, 2011, 2013, 2015 - Internal institutional reviews ongoing
  6. 6. “The VLE/LMS is Dead” (Weller, 2007) “Scott Leslie has coined the term “Loosely coupled teaching”, for the assembly of a number of different, third party apps to do your teaching with. This differs from a PLE in that it is still the educator who provides the tools, they just bypass the institutional systems”
  7. 7. “The VLE/LMS is Dead” is not dead 31 March 2016
  8. 8. The VLE is Dead (Weller, 2007) 1. Better quality tools - each of these loosely coupled elements is what each company does, therefore they stay up to date, have better features, and look better than most things produced in higher education. 2. Modern look and feel 3. Appropriate tools - because they are loosely coupled the educator can choose whatever ones they want, rather than being restricted to the limited set in the VLE. 4. Cost. 5. Avoids software sedimentation - when you have institutional systems they tend to embody institutional practice which becomes increasingly difficult to break. Having loosely coupled system makes this easier, and also encourages people to think in different ways.
  9. 9. Locking in Learning? Cost “Fear of ‘Vendor lock in’ is a factor closely related to cost. The process of moving from one VLE to another is more costly and difficult the more one has invested in it: teachers and students must be retrained, the VLE must be connected to other information technology systems, and existing content may have to be migrated to the new system. Economists have noted that this is a feature of software markets where a small number of winners may emerge who may, because of high switching costs, be tempted to extract rents from customers and also try to lock them in further to their products” (Costello, 2013, p. 192) “Zombie LMS” : Long term licences, inertia and the cost of change, see the organisation locked into a barely functional world of half-dead software and courses (Clark, 2016) Image: https://pixabay.com/en/lock-locked-padlock-closed-fence-1079329/00
  10. 10. • Chronicle article about cost, c/f with Weller sedimentary argument http://chronicle.com/article/What-s-Really-to-Blame-for/235620
  11. 11. “Technology doesn’t simply enable new practices; it shapes, limits, steers our practices, and then — and this is key -- even when the technology changes, those practices often endure. Now, with computers, these practices become “hard coded.” They become part of the infrastructure. I think the VLE is a wonderfully terrible example of that. The learning management system has shaped a generation’s view of education technology, and I’d contend, shaped it for the worst. It has shaped what many people think ed-tech looks like, how it works, whose needs it suits, what it can do, and why it would do so.” http://hackeducation.com/2014/09/05/beyond-the-lms-newcastle-university Image: @audreywatters Audrey Watters (2014)
  12. 12. “The VLE isn’t the problem, the sediment is” (Weller, 2015) ‘…we develop administrative structures and processes which are couched in terms of the specific technology. We have roadmaps, guidelines, training programmes, reporting structures which all help to embed the chosen tool. This creates a sort of tool focused solutionism – if an academic wants to achieve something in their course, and they ask their IT, or educational support team for help, the answer will be couched in terms of “what is the Blackboard (or tool of your choice) way of implementing this?” Or, worse, “that isn’t in our Moodle roadplan”’. http://blog.edtechie.net/vle/the-vle-isnt-the-problem-the-sediment-is/ http://blog.edtechie.net/vle/the-vle-isnt-the-problem-the-sediment-is/ Image: @mweller
  13. 13. Reusability Paradox Wiley, 2004 (used under CC licence)
  14. 14. D’arcy Norman (2013) Law of E-learning Tool Convergence “Any eLearning tool, no matter how openly designed, will eventually become indistinguishable from a Learning Management System once a threshold of supported use-cases has been reached” https://darcynorman.net/2013/02/15/normans-law-of-elearning-tool- convergence/Image: https://darcynorman.net/images/dnorman-eeel-bw.jpg
  15. 15. What has the VLE ever done for us?
  16. 16. 10 Pros (Donald Clark, 2016) • Migration from Classroom • Scalable • Controls Chaos • Consistency • Integration • Manages People • Manages Stuff • Costs • Security • Manages Data http://donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.ie/2016/03/the-lms-is-dead-long-live-lms-10-pros.html
  17. 17. “… the majority of faculty do not take advantage of advanced LMS capabilities that have the potential to improve student outcomes.” (Dahlstrom, Brooks & Bichsel, 2014) Irish Context: • National Forum (2015) • Risquez, Raftery & Costello (2015) • O’Rourke, Rooney & Boylan (2016)
  18. 18. “…most LMS implementations still lack elementary capacities to publish to and interact with the wider web and the public. By restricting online teaching and learning activity to these closed systems, colleges and universities make a mockery of oft-stated values such as social engagement, public knowledge, and the mission of promoting enlightenment and critical inquiry in society...”
  19. 19. “…also cuts students off from each other and the institution. Courses are severely limited in the ability to access other courses even within the institution (so much for "connecting silos"), and when courses end, students are typically cast out, unable to refer to past activity in their ongoing studies or in their lives (so much for "promoting lifelong learning").” (Groom and Lamb, 2014)
  20. 20. The ‘new’ VLE – opening up? “…the NGVLE [Next Generation Virtual Learning Environment] might include a traditional LMS as a component, it will not itself be a single application like the current LMS or other enterprise applications. Rather, the NGDLE will be an ecosystem of sorts…” (Brown, Dehoney & Millichap, 2015) “LMS is quickly losing ground to eLMS [enhanced Learning Management System] […] a hybrid of social media, communication platforms, and engagement features that foster higher collaboration and informal learning. This particularly stems to the lack of flexibility and technological capabilities traditional LMSs have” (Salas, ‘e-learning industry’, 2016)
  21. 21. Some Final Thoughts “the LMS is the minivan of education. Everyone has them and needs them, but there’s a certain shame in having one in the driveway” (Hill, 2015) “the LMS is more like a bus than a minivan - someone else is driving, it only travels on a pre- arranged route, the bus is often late but you still have to be on time because it won't wait if you miss it” (Downes, 2015) Image: https://pixabay.com/en/road-asphalt-sky-horizon-direction-1031702/
  22. 22. Some Final Thoughts “Higher education is moving away from its traditional emphasis on the instructor, however, replacing it with a focus on learning and the learner. Higher education is also moving away from a standard form factor for the course, experimenting with a variety of course models. These developments pose a dilemma for any LMS whose design is still informed by instructor-centric, one-size-fits-all assumptions about teaching and learning. They also account for the love/hate relationship many in higher education have with the LMS. The LMS is both “it” and “not it”—useful in some ways but falling short in others.” (Brown, Dehoney & Millichap, 2015, p.2).
  23. 23. “Ed-tech must not be about building digital walls around students and content and courses. We have, thanks to the Web, an opportunity to build connections, build networks, not walls. Let’s move beyond the LMS, back to and forward to an independent Web and let’s help our students take full advantage of it.” (Watters, 2014) Some Final Thoughts Image: https://pixabay.com/en/brick-wall-red-brick-wall-break-1235940/

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