LMS vs. Social Learning Systems - Moodle vs. Edmodo
While doing analysis for Full Sail University graduate course it made me reflect on the 20 year in the learning business and in particular all the flaws of LMS strategies we often talked about in the back rooms. It is amazing that 15 years later how we are still living with authoritarian pedagogy of the LMS and yet there is some light in the dark tunnel with Social Learning Systems.
LMSs are very basic to understand when we know were they came from and why pedagogy is something educator applies to them but they were not designed to do. Only with new LMSs like Edmodo (that in many way I would not classify as LMS.) A Ning, Mightlybell, Twitter and Tumblr are systems that manage how we learn. Facebook is a Learning System. So lets call the new bread Social Learning Systems, a place were distributive intelligence and out of the box global collaborative lives.
Our first hint is that is that Social Learning Systems the learner is in control through their Personal Learning Network. They choose what to learn and what to explore. The Learning Management System is controlled central knowledge distribution and tracking and the centralized systems in tight control. In the Social Learning System the users have the rights to collaborative modify, republish and share knowledge, in other words is has a pedagogy of "trust" in a Learning Management System you can discuss about distributed knowledge but you can not modify it. THE LMS if authoritarian Frieri “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” and Social Learning Systems are democratic Dewey “Experience and Education in their nature. If Dewey and Frieri were alive today they would have field day with this stuff. Edmodo and Schoology are blends of these two worlds, however please note that these two SLS do not focus on the tracking of Knowledge Objects or there copyrights. They simply provide a folder of you to put stuff in.
In FSU we think you have freedom of knowledge and expression in the blog (to an agree we do) but we have little in real architecture of the system. In an LMS all knowledge is hyper controlled deployed through non-modifiable learning events that control what is expected to be known in each event. Although we may market this as collaborative learning it is the total opposite of a Facebook or Tumblr. If the FSU LMS was we could see what last year's students did for projects and modify them, something we requested. This is a key difference….Freedom of thought. An academic knowledge system can not be modified or commented on. In a sense we must accept what an academic journal/Rubric says as authoritarian fact. Why on Facebook or YouTube we can morph that document/song into anything we want without our fear of repercussions, if it is in socially acceptable boundaries. Society and communities judge and not an information system or institution.
LMSs in this course that we are looking at were, and still are, registration systems. Their parental roots come from when the NYC banks demanded of people like CBT Systems and Skillsoft that they track how many desktop users were actually using the million dollar contracts of MS desktop CBTs licenses sitting on their desks. All this stuff was concurrent with the deployment of Novell LANs. It is important to understand the IT and financial issues that drove the early eLearning markets technology. IT history parallel tracks the eLearning industry. Early LANs did not have the bandwidth to handle multimedia the way they do today. This greatly restricted the use of video and other heavy band with Instructional Design methods.
LANs gave personnel the power to track what the company’s workforce knew, the birth of workforce competence/management. Using Registrar and CBT Systems the bank soon found out that only about 12% of employees were using the training material and even then only small chunks. “So why are we paying for unused knowledge transference? ” thought the banks. Staff did not want whole courses they only wanted small chucks when an issue came up. While consulting IBM Catapult we redesigned the CBTs and Microsoft Step by Step books to map to this Search Learning pedagogy. I do not think many designers were thinking about stuff like Bloom's taxonomy at the time.
The LMS as we traditionally know it is basically only a tracking and delivery system. It is an unintelligent front-end to delivering copyrighted knowledge and to tracked users. At FSU it gives the university a front end to their registration and billing system. The Pedagogy part the instructor attempts to offer on top of the system with rubrics etc. But the system itself could care less. It only tracks if you are on time. Did the assignment and the grade. It is graceless and cold piece of learning technology that could careless about what you say in a blog, only that you responded. The dirty little secret we as analysts knew all along is that the LMS does not track learning at all, it only track events and objects. Pedagogy is about learning; LMS is about corporate assets, a hard pill to swallow.
My advice is to divide LMSs into two worlds, Social Learning Systems (Edmodo,Schoology) and Tracking Learning Management Systems (Moodle, Saba).
When you look at it this way you will see tracking systems for corporate/military settings and the Social Learning Systems for public Internet settings. It is interesting to note the incredible size of Edmodo's 33,000,000 users was the dream of every VP of Sales of any eLearning.com. While no eLearning company achieved these numbers of users Edmodo did it.
Note: University of Phoenix knew from day one that learning was a social experience of like-minded people and in only four years dwarfed the largest private university in the country, NYU. Columbia University following the traditional LMS route of authoritarian branding and failed.
In making a choice we must figure out if our lesson is a shared social experience that requires pre-existing knowledge inside the heads/hearts our community of learners (Social Learning) or is it authoritarian corporate tracking that trickles down product and process. Both have their place and for different purposes.
FREIRE, P. (1993) Pedagogy of the Oppressed (New York, Continuum). Retrieved form http://www.users.humboldt.edu/jwpowell/edreformFriere_pedagogy.pdf
Dewey, J (1938) Experience and Education New York, The Macmillan company, 1938 xii, p., 2 l., 116 p. 19 cm., 07/21/2014 Retrieved from http://www.schoolofeducators.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/EXPERIENCE-EDUCATION-JOHN-DEWEY.pdf