LMS (like my status) for LMS (learning management systems)

“Virtual” classroom or “Virtually used LMS” classroom

Virtually every college and university in the United States uses a learning management system, or LMS. Whether they choose to use Blackboard, Moodle, Desire2Learn, or one of the many other options available, there isn’t one school that doesn’t use a LMS. And this isn’t a bad thing- Learning management system supply and pull together resources so that students know about their homework, can read up on future assignments, and can even complete some assignments online. All that is possible, under the assumption that the teacher is even using the LMS.

Notice I said that every school seems to have an LMS; I can say from experience that many teachers just don’t bother with them. I took 4 classes this last semester and only two of them used my university’s LMS of choice: Blackboard. In one class, I was forced to use Blackboard, because it was an online class. The other class where Blackboard was being used was Geometry. However, I never once used it other than to download the syllabus for the class. My school doesn’t really force the use of Blackboard; many of my friends go to schools that do. Unfortunately for schools, students, maybe even more than teachers, just aren’t using the LMS that is available.

 

But who can blame the Professors?          
   
In a setting where some teachers don’t even use the e-learning opportunities available to them, are students really expected to hop on the bandwagon as well? As a matter of fact, as I’m typing this, I got an e-mail from one of my professors next semester. He sent us an e-mail saying that we would be using a site called CourseKit for our upcoming semester as a complete replacement for Blackboard. The last line of his e-mail says: “Wander around a bit–it looks far better than anything Blackboard has to offer!”
Our university is paying for something that not even the teachers want to use! That sounds to me like it’s time to change.
When students use the Internet, they’re spending most of their time on social media, so why aren’t LMS companies using this to their advantage? Over the course of 2006-2008, Blackboard lost almost 20% of its total users. As of this year, they have lost closer to 25% from 2006. This is partly because of competition, but I would argue that, in many ways, the lonely LMS, no matter who makes it, is becoming unnecessary to higher education. I’ve made it through a whole semester and a half of college without using Blackboard in any meaningful way. I don’t mean to discredit learning management systems or e-learning in any way. It’s just that it feels like there should be a better way for students and teachers to work together online. I think that way is through Facebook.

Could Facebook be a better way!!

One might say, “Blackboard doesn’t need to be on Facebook, they already have an iPhone app!” Students use their phones for texting, looking up YouTube videos, posting on Facebook, and the occasional phone call home. But how many students are going to want to use LMS on their phones? For most of us, our phones are for social and entertainment purposes exclusively. Not learning. For me, I’ll log on to Blackboard maybe once a week. However, I’ll log onto Facebook every day and keep the tab open for the rest of the day. Maybe other average college students log on to their LMS more often than I do, but I would bet anything that they log onto Facebook more than that.

 

Think about this: an LMS app on Facebook. When students log on to Facebook, they click on the app, use their LMS for an hour and then get back onto posting on people’s timelines. The problem with technology today is that there seems to be a divide between entertainment and education. When a piece of technology is used for entertainment, it can’t come anywhere near anything that has to do with higher learning. This is ridiculous, because if the two were matched together, they’d be a perfect pair. Sure, students could still potentially get distracted by Facebook when they’re on this hypothetical app, but at least they would be learning at the same time. If my school’s LMS were actually part of Facebook, I might actually use it.
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