Comparisons and advocacy

Centralized vs distributed models for LMS adoption

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Tim at Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary
Re: Centralized vs distributed models for LMS adoption
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I think there are paralleles with the question of whether it is safer to drive yourself in your car, or take a scheduled plane or tran (

Most people feel safer in a car, since they are in control. In a plane, some unseen pilot is in charge. However, the plane is better maintained than your care, and the pilot has had more training in flying then you have in driving, and the statistics back this up. Flying is safer. Then, on those rare occasions when a plane crashes, it makes the news worldwide.

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Picture of Peter Seaman
Re: Centralized vs distributed models for LMS adoption

That's an interesting analogy, Tim. I do enjoy pulling analogies apart, so let me just see how this one does or doesn't hold up.

I think one thing that makes air travel really safe the world over is the worldwide scrutiny that exists over every aspect of air travel. The moment a rivet on some airframe fails in Tokyo or Sydney or Miami, everyone in the world knows about it and is inspecting the rivets on their own planes, authorities are issuing advisories and possibly grounding planes, etc. Because of the paramount need for safety in the aviation industry, all (or most) aspects of the industry are fully open to inspection at any time.

Seems to me that Moodle is more like this than a commercial LMS ever could be. When the code is available to everyone in the world and you have thousands of pairs of eyes looking at it, doesn't that make it more likely that experts of all stripes will spot problems and help to fix them?

Let's look at the pilot: when I select an LMS, I really know nothing about the folks who are flying that particular plane.  I know when I step onto a commercial airliner, the pilot is fully qualified, has thousands of hours of training, is sober (usually), etc.  But when we select a commercial LMS, we really know nothing about the folks building and operating it (nothing beyond reputation). In this sense we are "flying blind" when we pick a provider, since there are no standards in the LMS industry. The open-source LMS movement openly acknowledges the lack of standards and we all basically agree to do as well as we can together (a squishiness that drives accountability-minded people away, in my experience).

So I think the analogy is good but incomplete. It echoes the mentality many resource managers have in higher ed - namely that "If I leave the flying to someone else who says he knows what he's doing, I'll get there safely."  Last week's D2L outage clearly shows that is a false assumption. I just wish I knew how to make an argument for equivalent reliability of an LMS like Moodle.



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