To LMS or not to LMS

This sabbatical report on Learning Management Systems is worth reading.  While not particularly enlightening it did highlight a few key issues for me.

Why use an LMS?  There seems to be an assumption that this is what every school needs.  Is it?  Does a school of 180 students need its own LMS?  What are the benefits of using an LMS?  The key aspect of LMS – “learning”.  Why is it then that I see so many LMS’s passed off as school websites or administrative centres.  Why use an LMS for this?  Is this what they were designed for?  I see so many LMS’s which are a so-called one stop shop.  They try to be and do everything and therefore do none of it well.  Perhaps we should be thinking more on how to develop effective learning online, using whatever tools are available.  Is it necessary that all staff use your LMS?  What if they or their students can develop far more effective online learning opportunities using other tools such as google apps (especially sites), wikis, blogs, facebook, google plus, Edmodo, or whatever.  Are you going to say no you must use our LMS?  We spent all that money and you’re blimin well going to use it.

It is interesting to note how schools very rarely seem to think outside the box when considering how to best implement online learning.  Many seem to be sucked into using proprietary Learning Management Systems which offer plenty of whizz, but very little bang when it comes to learning.  There also seems to be an assumption that all schools need an LMS.  Why?  And if you are going to use one why not invest in a far more collaborative open model of online learning.  Why not a shared LMS or online learning environment.  Why replicate schools as isolated silos online?  Yes I know some LMS’s allow you to connect across schools, but it really isn’t the same as a shared environment.

And finally that old interopability  nugget.  Interesting to note in the sabbatical report that the writer found very few schools where this was actually working, so it would seem that LMS’s that sell on the basis of this should be treated warily.  And is it really that important?

Anyway, a useful read.  I like the fact this principals advises to not rush into into getting your own LMS.  Ditto from me, but perhaps for slightly different reasons.



  1. Yes – I am still unsure of why the need for a institutional LMS

    I have seen a couple of schools really make good use of an LMS- in this case Ultranet & KnowledgeNet. But wonder if the same effect could have been made with free tools rather than paying for an LMS.

    • You can definitely do good things with an LMS, but I wonder how long they will be relevant to the type of education system we want. The rate of change in technology is such that no single LMS will ever be able to keep up. Thanks for the comment by the way. Not an easy decision I know, but I wish some schools would think a bit more laterally before investing thousands of dollars.

  2. Look forward to reading this report and very interesting comments asI thought they were the bees knees!!

    • sudsnz2 says:

      Aha. Thanks for commenting Neil. As I said a shared LMS has real merit, but for small schools – something like google apps will provide everything you need and more (well, in my humble opinion). And its free.

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