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March 20, 2010



David Parry raised a similar point about using WordPress (http://www.profhacker.com/2010/03/18/wordpress-a-better-lms/)

I think, fundamentally, the issue is not only about privacy, identity management, and security matters, but also about the organization's needs for certain kinds of tracking and reporting.

There are literally dozens of systems in which engagement and learning transfer may be more efficient.


Totally agree that the privacy thing is a huge issue; but I kind of like ignoring things like that when brainstorming, figuring it won't be a problem via some way, shape or form sooner or later.

It's getting a bit Schell'esque to say it, but I really don't see why I shouldn't be able to earn FarmVille dollars like every time I go in for a checkup or get my teeth cleaned.

I suppose what you need is a trusted broker that can read the medical data, and propagate the reward out into Social Space.

I do not see LMS out of favor for a while. Innovators in education are probably all ready going out of the confines of the LMS. We are boxed into the pedagogy determined by the LMS and limited to what it can do.

Some schools will not even let you modify the course structure done by instructional designers and SMEs.. At least some schools "allow" faculty to develop what they want and leave the LMS if they want.

But, finances, security are so tied into the LMS, there has to be a way to manage students, follow FERPA and copyright and still facilitate learning using Web 2.0 tools that are not inside the LMS.

Now...the other side of the issue is the administration and luddites. Are they one and the same. Does the administration care about students learning? or is it all about money?

How do we find a way to facilitate something like Facebook and education with copyright, finances, accreditation, FERPA?

Academic Freedom is not allowed at some schools, whereas, it is at others. If it is, there has to be a way to engage students and still consider the other legalities.

I feel that a LMS enables the beginner- but once past that, some can fly!


Love it. I was talking architecture at the data-handling level but I love how you pull it back to 'experience-handling' level and think about all the dynamics in general about how people interact w/ FB.

Now, when I read this post (http://tinyurl.com/ybh3aub) by Ben Werdmuller, I start to see the outlines about how to crate these networks and link them together - one, big, social+learning Web.

And Jane - SPOT ON. A database with a front end.

With you 100%, and have been asking this for nigh onto 2 years. I think the problem is not so much credibility as incredulity: The greatest scam ever pulled off by "vendors" was convincing management that an LMS isn't just a database. The second biggest? That they really needed one. The third? That is is a "Learning" "Management" System.

Love the idea.... unfortunately in a government run organization where child protection is paramount the idea of facebook being open within it's jurisdiction seems to be something the bean counter cannot come to terms with.

So imagine this...

Integrate your LMS with Facebook such that when a student meets a learning objective, they gain game-credits. There are already setups where people get a credit card, sign up for an offer, or do other things to get extra points in Facebook games, so why not let them take a test? Higher the score, the more points they get?

Kinda crazy, but it lets you merge in things like peer competition (your friends see a post about how good you did in the test). And it lets parents and other family be involved. Parents get to reply with a "Good job!" as do grand parents, etc. Surely someone could come up with a business model that would let this kind of thing work.

Myself, I've always wanted to have a game where players had to advance through a skill tree that was modeled after real knowledge. The game's goal isn't to teach, the game's goal is to be fun - and happen to work with real knowledge. To advance in the skill tree, you can...

  1. Let some time past (Algebra 1 takes 1 day real time, Algebra 2 takes 4 days real time). Much like EVE Online does.
  2. Pay real money to advance ($1 gets you the "learners guide" that lets you pass the Algebra 1 test). This is what a lot of Facebook games do - let the player pay money to skip the "boring" parts.
  3. Lastly, take a real test and show you actually know the subject. Pass the test, instantly "level up".

And actually give players extra points and recognition for actually testing up. Perhaps you only get to take the tests once a day, so it's in your interest to study a bit, or find a smart friend to help you out. Either way, you are going to really be learning something.


Thx for the comments.

Actually I am assuming that we want an LMS to be like Facebook. Handling billions of transactions and user interactions. I'm not wedded to or advocating for FB as an LMS but suggesting that we should look to architectures like this for the future of some of our enterprise-grade systems, like LMSs.

So, yeah I'm not pushing for us to all use FB as our LMS but I'm looking at systems that can more than handle the kind of loads that we need LMSs to handle and asking - why aren't we modeling those systems in new products?


You make the assumption that you want FB to be like an LMS. Whilst I am sure that FB can be (and is) used for effective onine learning does it actually need to do what an LMS does? For that matter do we need an institution-based LMS?

Anyway back to your question. There is probably no reason "the architecture underlying Facebook" would be "insufficient for our organizations' 'learning management' system needs". [I do think FB has a particularly un-intuitive UI but I seem to be in a minority]

The reason it isn't used as an alternative LMS is:

1. Do we need an LMS at alone let alone in the cloud? This might be an edtech students' argument.

2. I want control of the data. This would be an administrators argument.

3. I'm worried about libel, copyright and privacy. These would be the lawyers arguments.

4. I'm worried about security and integration would by the IT argument.

5. I've no idea what your are talking about. This would be a senior university admins argument.

For what it's worth I do think that we will eventually de-institutionalise many university learning tools. It will just take a long time (maybe too long).


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Quoth she/he...

  • "The hallmark of revolution is that the goals of the revolutionaries cannot be contained by the institutional structure of the society they live in. As a result, either the revolutionaries are put down, or some of those institutions are transmogrified, replaced, or simply destroyed. We are plainly witnessing a restructuring of the music and newspaper businesses, but their suffering isn’t unique, it’s prophetic." --Clay Shirky

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