I must admit that the edX courseware page being unavailable disturbed me a little. I love the MOOC connectivity – the building up of knowledge from the students together with the teacher, but I also like to have predictable and regular access to the “class”. I find this reassuring and comfortable. Perhaps my involvement in BlackBoard for over 16 years has led me to value the constant nature of the LMS. I read the daily newsletter but needed the class page!
I am trying to catch-up on the last two weeks’ material. I justified this procrastination, in my own mind, by referring to the edX class page unavailability and then the tiring nature of three and a half days attending the Virtual Worlds Best Practice in Education Conference (VWBPE 2016) on top of a full-time teaching load. But I will catch up. I need to investigate the topics in this course. I need to be involved.
I was fascinated looking at the historical development of the LMS. The idea of the learning object was rather brilliant. Courses were not suitable candidates for sharing. Object-oriented design was a logical progression. XML and JSON allowed the separation of content from styling. Learning objects could be entered into a course through a simple drag-and-drop procedure. The versatility and usability of the LMS rapidly developed. WYSIWYG editing enabled the authoring of multimedia and complex learning objects in the LMS. The durability of the LMS led to its dominant position in the Learning Technology industry and in online education.
Downes (2001) described online LMS courses that were created from prefabricated objects that were not as interoperable as they should be. My own 16-year experience with BlackBoard supports this description. However, there is a huge variety in the use educators make of LMS courses. Over 16 years I have never simply rehashed the same learning objects over-and-over. No two iterations of a course are ever the same. I copy across material, but rework and revamp each learning object to adapt it to the unique mix of students in the class for a particular semester. The LMS is only as limited as you make it!
So far, I have not seen too many advantages of edX over BlackBoard. I clearly see the difference between the conceptualisation of the LMS and the MOOC, particularly the cMOOC. However, it is not as functional as I would like it to be. I am here to learn what the alternatives are. I am here to extend learning opportunities for my students.
Downes, S. (2001). Learning Objects: Resources for distance education worldwide. The International Review of Research in Open & Distributed Learning, 2(2). Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/32/378
Downes, S. (2016). Content knowledge vs practice. NRC01PL Courseware, from https://openedx.lpss.me/courses/course-v1:NRC+NRC01+2016/courseware/d6f5883a9fdd428baa646345966ab0f5/cca651ee6274486fbaa11b526595293e/