In a field full of hot-topics, one has been catching my attention lately: getting rid of the Learning Management System (or Course Management System, or Virtual Learning Environment). I understand the sentiment driving this discussion: most people are tired of how long it takes for new advances in technology to actually be integrated in to most programs. They want to ditch the LMS application and go to something else. I say, why throw out the baby with the bath water? Why not re-think the learning management system?
Harriet and I recently attend a session about a new e-Learning software solution: StudentLink. They are really re-thinking a lot of what we do in online education. You can see their list of features on their page. We were impressed by the podcast feature, and the fact that they have all class content on one page (like Moodle) and not buried under layers and layers of links (like… [a-hem]… others). Most of the other features were also really nice. Here are four things that I really feel help them stand apart from others:
- The class page feels more like a FaceBook profile than a course. FaceBook, to me, really hit that sweet spot of putting everything you need on one page, but organized in a way that doesn’t make your head hurt. This is, of course, before you go adding 20 million applications….
- Groups and organizations are integrated and easy to create. This is pretty rare in LMS programs – getting students communicating across courses.
- Need a new feature? Just ask them and they will make it for you. Yep – you read that right. They create new features by request. If fact, at the conference we were at we started talking about how instructors really wanted blogs inside of classes, and the guys doing the presentation wrote that down as a good idea. We asked them about another feature that our professors love, and they said that they could add it no problem.
- They have a website where you use their software for free. Yes, you also read that correct. Straight from their literature: “Studeous is a free web-service with many of the same features as Campus Suite™, although there are some structural differences (no administrator access, no branding, no parent accounts).”
So, off to a nice start. The Campus Suite is not a free program, but it is priced much better than… [ahem…] others. Keep an eye on this one to see where it goes.
Matt is currently the Learning Innovation Coordinator with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His research focuses on Learning Theory, Innovation, and learner empowerment. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.