Courses

Learning Management System? Not.

In the early 1990's, I became overly excited with this new thing called the Internet—the idea that everything could link to everything, and anyone could publish without gatekeeper approval.

Don't read this; scroll down to the images. Of course our experience with everything being linked to everything has fundamentally changed how we read content. Online, we are now scanners, trolling for the nugget of information we want, shielding ourselves from the onslaught of everything else. We don't want to read unless we must. If I were designing course materials today, I would strip my content down to bare bones, turn my UX 180 degrees, design to entice, and not expect anyone to read much.

Back then, though, I was aiming for what we now call a learning management system: webpages where students could find out what was going on in class for any particular day and delve deeper by reading the assignment or looking at examples of student work. Or they could helicopter up and see how much weight the assignment had in the final grade, what course objectives it met, or when it was due. I linked my course materials from the syllabus and made it easy to update. The Daily Assignments link served as a project management tool for me and my students.

Who is shaping whom? When learning management systems became all the rage (we more accurately called them course management systems in the early days), I argued against campus-wide adoption, wanting instead to provide faculty with support for building their own online courses. IMHO, an LMS dictates pedagogy in the cookie cutter way it shapes the instructional design of the course. In my world, faculty—not technology—should shape the course.

 

... the function of art is to do more than tell it like it is
—it's to imagine what is possible.

—bell hooks