Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Improving the Modern Learning Management System

Users of any online system are constantly providing essentially data regarding their habits and needs, most Learning Management Systems are just now starting to take notice of this data to build a learning environment that follows its learner’s path through products, time spent on content, and performance on assessments to provide a system that organically adapts to the specific individual.

By moving away from a static system of delivery to a system that understands and adapts to its user’s behavior we can provide a presentation to facilitate better learning. Think about it from an in classroom environment, the Teacher knows their students and can adapt lesson plans and one on one communication directly based on the needs of the student. Alternatively, the students as a whole provide valuable feedback to the teacher regarding their understanding of the material.

Let’s evaluate a couple key specific functionalities a LMS should supply to meet this demand:

  1. Easily establish relationships from Questions to Content and report back to the learner suggestions for further reading based on their performance on course questions.
  2. Determine popular content through tracking of page hits, time spent, or user based ranking report back to the instructor this information to allow for improvement of the course.

We can expand on this through a variety of functionality, some of which has been available through SCORM but should be better incorporated into the LMS itself:

  • Time tracking - Allow the user to set the amount of time they want to spend on each lesson, provide feedback to them on how much time they have spent so far
  • Automatic Content Notifications – When new content is added to a course the LMS should automatically display this to any interested Students
  • Lesson Plan Recommendations – Using a data relationship between offered products the LMS should be able to recommend enrollment in other courses based on current enrollment and completion
  • Most recent interactions– Instead of simply content bookmarking, the LMS should be able to provide a reminder to learners of their most recent activity within the system

As a developer I can spend the time to create a SCO that stands on its own and offers most of this functionality using javascript, or even some server side code, but this functionality needs to be available globally within the LMS and should be applied either automatic or by non-technical developers of online learning with a reasonable investment of time.