I Would like to say Goodbye to the LMS

I would like to see closed, proprietary systems disappear, and by this I mean the LMS.

The LMS’s deficiencies include:

  • Not student centred, but centralized system used for administrative purposes
  • Closed, proprietary systems that lock in student content and data
  • Lack tools or tools are not robust enough, and pale in comparison to social media and cloud based tools
  • Large systems that are slow to adopt change; always behind the curve in adopting new technologies
  • Huge investments in terms of time, costs and resources
  • Provide poor spaces for peer to peer collaborations, no personal learning spaces, and no learner content creation tools

But despite my wish, the LMS is not going anywhere. Universities have invested heavily in them and they are viewed as central to the business of the university.

They satisfy the needs of IT departments by providing a centralized administration of student accounts and data to better provide support and service. They satisfy the needs of registrars by providing linkages between student information systems (SIS), Aurora in UofM’s case, that provide registration, transactions and official record of grades and transcripts. They provide a centralized system for learning centres to make support and training easier for faculty. They make governance of privacy, records retention and copyright enforcement easier. They can also fulfill legal obligations, such as ensuring user data is warehoused in Canada and safe.

The LMS has a number of deficiencies including:

  • LMS is a closed system. The “walled garden” problem: Whatever was made in the course, stays in the course. institution’s control start and end dates restricting student access to course c ontent and their own learner contributed content. The LMS is unidirectional. Learners can put content in, but they cannot share out. Both of these force learners to copy their content out to store and share.
  • LMS technology and structure is based on and reinforces the transmission model of teaching.
  • Limited and clunky collaborative and sharing tools that lag behind social media, cloud, and app counter parts. UM Learn’s tools haven’t changed significantly since I evaluated it back in fall 2011. ePortfolio module was added in 2014.
  • Text and HTML aside, there are no learner content creation tools.

A 2014 survey of LMS satisfaction found that IT and Administrative leaders view faculty and student LMS satisfaction very high (92% and 93% respectively) but faculty and student satisfaction is far lower (60% and 70% respectively). Ease of use scores the lowest with 56% satisfaction.

The Current Ecosystem of Learning Management Systems in Higher Education: Student, Faculty, and IT Perspectives 


Academics have long railed against the LMS. George Siemens was associate director of the Learning Technologies Centre here at UofM, which then owned WebCT LMS, when he wrote about Connectivism (and earlier at Red River College) and later co-authored a landmark MOOC with Stephen Downes.

Or they have advanced replacements or supplements to the LMS, including Personal Learning Environments (PLEs). Next Generation Digital Learning Environment (NGDLE) is an Adaptive Learning open framework advanced by EDUCAUSE. The Tsugi Project is an attempt at moving towards the realization of NGDLE.

Downes has been involved with Learning and Performance Support Systems (LPSS) a National Research Council of Canada’s integration of an adaptive learning and performance platform that supports personal training and learning for Canadians.


About jhounslow

Soccer enthusiast, cyclist, web developer, e-learning professional, educator, husband to a graduate student, and father of four daughters.
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