Learning should change. Its an worldwide ongoing discussion that we need a new mindset for learning (processes). The discussion is not limited to one area of learning. Schools, schools for vocational training, universities and corporates are in discussion. Even if the discussion is splitted in different fields of learning there are similarities.
- The world is changing fast and faster. Predictions are (mostly) impossible. We can't forecast the requirements for qualifications for the next years.
- Accumulation of knowledge can't be the main focus of education in future. Creating a basic knowledge and an attitude (some people including me use the term mindset) will be more important. We need a mindset that supports each learner to be a self organized learner. Accumulated knowledge is nice, but what we need more and more is the ability use additional knowledge when it is needed. Micro content that everyone can find and has access when its required may be one aspect.
- Workplace structures are changing quickly. Networks are replacing hierarchies. Huge corporates are getting more agile or are trying to change in this direction. In the moment this are experiments. We will see over the next two or three years what works and what fails. But the new mindset is that if something fails, we learn and change our structures and processes immidiately.
- The consequence is that the organization will not be structured by a central department. The HR department will not be able to define the global or central learning programs. They don't know what a decentral tribe/department really needs next week, next month, next year... Trying to define long time learning plans may make sense only in a few basic areas of learning. Most of them will be outdated during first run.
- In German schools we see a similar discussion. There is a move from unique syllabus for everyone to individual support for each student. From syllabus to competency based learning. In vocational training schools that are mandatory in Germany for most young people who are not at university level knowbody knows how to be up to date with the training programs if the structure and requirements for job profiles are changing so quickly.
The general direction of this discussion is that each learner has more and more individual responsibility for his/her learnings. The mind set is getting more and more relevant.
There is an old term in German 'ausgelernt'. Its from the last century and means that you have learnt each and everything what you need for your life after school, university and may be the first years on the job. You don't have to learn anymore. This is an old mindset that will never come back.
Reflecting this situation and the future requirements we should look what the role of a LMS will be in future and what the effective use is in most of the institutions that are using an LMS. My experience is based mostly on German institutions and corporates. In other regions it may be different. What can we see?
- Courses are set up by a central administration/management.
- A teacher/trainer defines the structure and the learning process.
- Student activities are graded.
- There is no deep wish for discussion and communication is mostly not forced.
- The paradigma of a teacher centered learning scenario is 1:1 adapted to the LMS courses
- SCORM packages are the favoured content type in corporates. SCORMs are by definition teacher centered scenarios. Communication and real reflection between humans are not integrated in SCORM standard definition.
Over the last decade we had a lot of discussions about LMS and the future of LMS. 'The LMS is dead.' 'eLearning is dead'. I've heard a lot of this. LMS will be replaced by blogs, wikis, social media, tools like Trello or activity streams. Looking into the real world we see that institutions are using LMS systems like Moodle and daily new sites are set up. It will be interesting to see how LMS systems can work with the new mindset and requirements.
I'm now working with Moodle since more than 15 years. I was working as a corporate trainer, OD process consultant, moderator and coach. I see daily how LMS systems are used. As moderator of the German Moodle community I see all the time requests for very interesting learning scenarios. Its interesting to see that we can realize them mostly with Moodle and that there is not only one way to do it. Often there are several options to realize it. There is no other platform that can support the scenarios in such a flexible way like Moodle. Something is very easy to do. Somethimes we need a workaround or an additional plugin. And sometime, but not very often, we have to say, its not possible but we can create a new plugin.
How is this possible? When Martin Dougiamas started the development for Moodle he also had a mindset: learning is a social process and a theory of social constructivism. At his own private website that is not very well known you can find the basics https://dougiamas.com/archives/. Specially: https://dougiamas.com/archives/a-journey-into-constructivism/.
This means Moodle integrates tools and options for scenarios that activates the learner. This begins with the interest feature in the personal profile that can be used to identify other platform users with the same interests. There are sitewide personal blogs, wikis, workshop and a very flexible role model
Most of these featurs are used rarely. We see that institutions asks to deactivate or limit the internal messenger, who supports sitewide communication between users. Cynical I would say this are the last fights of an old mindset that tries to control each and everything.
A LMS is a tool. There are humans deciding how to use a tool. Nothing happens only because there is a tool. The mindset of the users, their paradigma of learning and the real use of the tools is key.
Online courses that are used for file storage are cemeteries. Courses that are used only for announcements are not a place for communication. Communication only happens if someone starts and supports the communication. Using courses for exam and exam preparation may make sense, but this is not the sole idea of learning.
By the way, the hype around xMOOCs and cMoocs is also part of the old paradigma of a teacher centered learning model. Looks mostly nice, but its an old fashioned model.
I'm thinking how we can design a LMS that supports the new paradigma of learning. What are the features we have in Moodle, what is missing and what should be developed. Here are some aspects:
- There are hidden categories for mandatory courses. They are hidden because users are enrolled from cohorts and not by individual search and personal enrollment.
- There are categories for internal communities. They are open, everyone can register, read, comment and post. Push notification to your mobile device and offline working are possible.
- Learning nuggets are curated content and organized by topics.
- Tags are used consequent. They can be used to find content.
- Global search is an additional feature for content search.
- Users are supported to use the profile, to write in blogs and to get in contact with other users. Tags are connecting the elements.
- At starting page users find featured courses and RSS feeds from central announcements about curated content and last topics from communities.
- Every user can create own courses. S/he can use templates for different types of courses with eLeDia Course Wizard.
- Badges are supporting motivation.
- The platform is used for communication. This happens often. Everyone can create own open or restricted communities.
- Each content element is connected with features for communication, comments, critic and improvement.
This is not an utopia. This is possible within Moodle today. We have to overcome the old paradigma and to start with a new mindset. Think new.
What are you ideas?
This post as originally published in German language in the German Moodle community yesterday.