Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Virtual Learning Environments (VLE), like anything else, have various advantages and disadvantages. Nonetheless, there are some key significant needs that LMS/VLE do fulfill. Two central necessities they can help meet, include the following; keeping up with the demands of a progressively technology savvy generation, as well as successfully maintaining a consistent and accessible teaching environment.
With the dawn of the twenty-first century, not only did it usher in a new era on our calendars, but also in the manner in which technology permeates our day-to-day life. The field of education has most definitely not been exempt from this development. While the use of LMS/VLE finds its origins in the twentieth century, it has really been in the last decade or so, with increased accessibility and usage of computers and the Internet that it has become increasingly the norm. Students now a day frequently learn via unconventional means, i.e. outside of traditional textbooks, and LMS/VLEs provide the platform for teachers to incorporate more alternative materials, in addition to traditional worksheets/handouts, for their reference. The fact that they also offer opportunities for teachers to create online quizzes or open forum discussions, is another way in which LMS/VLEs cater towards today’s generation, which is used to interacting more and more via online channels (i.e. Social Media), rather than using pen and paper.
Additionally, LMS/VLEs allow for the shared information to be easily and consistently available, by providing a convenient organization system that students can access from various locations and at different times of the day. Instead of students having to rely on physically receiving coursework information and then keeping track of it, LMS/VLEs take on this responsibility, leaving students with the opportunity to focus on the content, rather than the manner in which it is delivered. It also omits some of the complications of information being consistently delivered and received, due to missed classes, human error or inattention. Instead, all relevant information can be uploaded and centrally stored for students to refer to whenever desired.
Although LMS/VLEs meet various needs of K-12 students, as with anything else, they are of course not fool proof either. There still remains a degree of human responsibility and involvement, particularly to aid students that are not as technologically capable, as well as competition from alternative platforms that offer comparable solutions. Nonetheless, LMS/VLEs still remain valid and vital solutions to meet needs of a growing, technologically savvy student body, as well as the need for consistent and accessible class material. While the following infographic examines undergraduate students’ attitudes towards LMS/VLE and their instructors’ ability to effectively use them, I found it useful and important to consider, when reflecting on their role in K-12 classrooms: http://interactyx.com/social-learning-blog/infographic-students-and-technology/ . The snapshot/summary it provides, might help K-12 instructors get a sense of their students’ current and/or future expectations and perhaps even weaknesses that LMS/VLEs could help strengthen.
Advantages of Using a Learning Management System | Learning Management System. (n.d.). Retrieved November 8, 2012, from http://www.simplydigi.com/blog/2011/05/24/advantages-of-using-a-learning-management-system/
History of the LMS (Learning Management System) | Mindflash. (n.d.). Retrieved November 8, 2012, from http://www.mindflash.com/learning-management-systems/history-of-lms
Infographic: Students and Technology. (n.d.). Retrieved November 8, 2012, from http://interactyx.com/social-learning-blog/infographic-students-and-technology/
The Advantages and Disadvantages of Online Learning | Elearning Companion. (n.d.). Retrieved November 8, 2012, from http://www.elearning-companion.com/advantages-and-disadvantages-online-learning.html
What is LMS? (n.d.). Retrieved November 8, 2012, from http://www.nmatec.com/lms/what.html
I think the focus you put on learning technology and the convenience it provides is something very important to consider with LMSs/VLEs. As you have mentioned, these systems are integral to use with a more “technologically savvy student body.” In that sense, I believe LMSs are one tool that teachers may use to help their students become digitally literate, by becoming accustomed to accessing a site with important content and communicating through it. So although you mention it as a weakness, that LMSs may not support students who are less technologically capable, I see it more of as a safe platform to practice becoming digitally literate for any student.
Thanks for your response. I think, however, that perhaps my point was slightly misunderstood (sorry if the above was unclear). In saying that “there still remains a degree of human responsibility and involvement, particularly to aid students that are not as technologically capable…” I was not suggesting it to be a “weakness”, rather I was endeavouring to propose that while LMS/VLEs are great tools for students to utilize, teachers may still need to provide some face-to-face instruction or a set of easily accessible guidelines etc. to initially assist certain students that might not be as technologically savvy as others. I guess, I was just gleaning on past experiences, when I have tutored students and have noticed how some still need basic online tools explained and demonstrated to them, before they are comfortable utilizing them independently. I suppose,therefore, that I would just find it unfair if instructors were to immediately assume that students of this generation will easily pick-up the ‘ins and outs’ of the chosen LMS/VLE. Instead, I think, as you suggested above, it is a great platform for them to practice becoming digitally literate, while receiving the required assistance as and if needed. Anyway, I hope that helps clarify things a bit better…
It seems that we are the generation of teachers who are just “catching up” to the Internet. With its abundance of evolving tools we have to be aware that our students are children who were raised in a technological progressive generation. Like you said the field of education is not exempt from the evoltion of technology and LMS/VLEs are a great tool to utilize the teaching of this generation.
I really enjoyed how to said that there still remains human responsibility and involvement of teachers when it comes to instruction with LMS/VLEs. Teachers still need to instructor on the proper use of these tools for students and adapt to low income families that perhaps cant afford the technology.