LMS – VLE and/or Productivity Tools

Over the last week I have posted a couple of LinkedIn posts that have generated quite a bit of interest, but because LinkedIn can be a bit of a closed shop, and thanks to a prompt from Stephen Downes I thought I should probably put these thoughts down a bit more formally.

Post 1 – on LinkedIn
Post 2 – on LinkedIn

Post 1 was looking at the concept that there is an overlap required between the ‘world of study’ and the ‘world of work’ and that if educational technology (read LMS) providers could make it possible to allow more seamless integration of their tools with the tools used in the workforce (read productivity tools such as Microsoft Team, Slack, Google, etc.), then this would provide institutions with the opportunity to maximise this nexus. The image (below) also suggests that, as higher education providers, we are preparing students for the world of work that will last way longer than there world of study.

Image associated with Post 1

Post 2 extended this thought further by suggesting that, we see that for students, most high schools have some simple use of an LMS (learning management system), of some description, and many will also be using tools such as Microsoft Office 365 or Google. As we enter Higher Education we generally see the heavy use of an LMS to mediate or scaffold student learning throughout their study, and this has been the widespred tradition for a good 10+ years now.

However, if we think about preparing our students for the workforce, we do not see a lot of workplaces using an LMS for anything other than some professional development. They use workplace productivity tools, such as Office365, Teams, Google, Slack, etc.

So if we are looking to effectively prepare our students for the workplace (which I presume we are), surly we should be transitioning them to the use of these tools while still studying with us, and getting them to work together in this collaborative way, along with the other tools they will use professionally (CAD, MYOB, ADOBE, etc, etc).

This model tries to depict this journey over the lifecycle from high school, through higher education and out into the workforce. It does not try to depict the overlap of these, as seen in Post 1, but assumes this is the case.

Image associated with Post 2

Although we could debate the rights and wrongs of this, in practice we are seeing, at least in the university I work for (Griffith University), over 100 courses (subjects/units) using Microsoft Teams in conjunction with the Blackboard LMS, over our current Summer Trimester (T3). This is a phenomenal uptake, as we have only had Teams in place for some 18 months at a corporate level. The feedback we are getting from students is also extremely positive and will be the subject of a number of formal papers in the near future.

However, the issue here is not what LMS or Productivity tool you might use. It’s about the vendors of these tools (who are notional partnering with us) recognising the potential of ineteroperability to ensure both products can be used to their best advantage.

Professor Michael Sankey
Learning Futures
Griffith University, Australia


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