The Post-LMS World: Social, Simple, Modern, Mobile and Student-centric
Despite its name, the Learning Management System (LMS) is not about learning.
The LMS was originally the CMS—Course Management System. While it’s great for instructor workflows, it has always been a course management tool, not a learning tool. Today, the LMS is a technological staple for all courses across higher ed, whether online or traditional brick-and-mortar institutions.
The LMS succeeds as a core productivity tool for educators because it allows institutions to extend their academic capacity and transcend the constraints of time and space. However, the Learning Management Systemwas never able to deliver on the promise of its new name because it was created for a completely different purpose: course management. Learning doesn’t happen within the digital space of the LMS; it happens beyond its borders.
Learning is the product of inputs from students and instructors. Learning happens as a result of interaction with course content—reflection, writing, dialogue, creation and collaboration. Learning can happen when students are alone, but often it occurs as a result of interactions between them.
Today’s generation of students is deeply social and collaborative. They rely on real-time online interaction, collaboration and sharing to feel supported, confident and successful. Having grown up on iPhone, Snapchat and Instagram, this generation expects seamless experiences that are deeply social and collaborative.
Five years ago, as a member of this generation, I was sitting in my undergraduate classes, frustrated and bored. Coming from another country, I had expected the U.S. higher education system to be a mirror image of the Silicon Valley and social media-enabled world that American innovation has built. Instead, my classmates and I faced an endless loop of lectures, notes and tests. We were forced to fit into a traditional mold of top-down knowledge delivery.
What we craved was engagement—conversation and real-world collaboration. We wanted to learn in the same ways that we lived. We wanted to share what excited us and “like” what inspired us or made us laugh.
As I investigated further, I found students on many college campuses struggling with the same frustrations. What I realized then was that the LMS was conceived in a time when social interaction was still conducted largely by telephone and email. But today, society expects interactions to be immediate, exponential and multi-dimensional.
We are in what I call the post-LMS world.
In the post-LMS world, learning technology is student-centric in its design because today’s students are vocal, creative and eager to share their blue sky ideals and ideas. Students want learning technology that straddles their social lives and school lives. They need ways to manage classwork and collaborate on projects with all the same business collaboration tools but for an educational setting.
Students in the post-LMS world need everything in one place. If we want to keep their attention, we have to layer systems and connect them. It is no longer acceptable to have multiple logins and tools that don’t talk to each other. We have the knowledge and ability to design these systems and pull everything students need into one place. So, let’s commit ourselves to that effort.
The post-LMS world is also social by nature. Students want to chat, share and ask questions safely and spontaneously among their peers, and on their own terms. They need a learning technology that goes beyond Facebook and Instagram to link their learning world with their social world—essentially the content in their LMS combined with chat, video and all those other social tools they love.
And of course, in the post-LMS world, learning technology is simple, modern and mobile. Students are on their mobile devices all the time, and the platforms they use most often are there, too. Their learning technology should be as easy to use as scrolling through a Facebook newsfeed and as collaborative and integrated as a Slack channel.
Where will we find the learning technology that is student-centric, social, simple, modern and mobile in what is now the post-LMS world? It will be built by a student, of course.