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NITLE Conference: LMS at LAC : 1-3 (keynote; integrating CMS with other initiatives; LMS for off campus) October 30, 2006

Posted by ficial in conference, LMSLAC2006.

About a week and a half ago a co-worker and I headed out to far-off Portland, Oregon to attend the NITLE conference about Learning Management Systems at Liberal Arts Colleges, hosted by Reed College. Various other folks have already written a fair bit about the conference and the individual sessions, so this is more about my thoughts and impressions than any attempt at objective reporting (and that’s more fun anyway). While I have some issues with the logistics of the things, the people and things they said were great. Stuff in [] are my thoughts/reactions/ideas inspired by specific talks or the conference in general.

Keynote by Cyprien Lomas:

  • Are LMS still serving us well [still? are we sure they ever did? I think the answer is yes (on both)…]
  • reading rec: How People Learn
  • reading rec: Educating the Net Generation
  • “We need to be sensitive to what’s coming, but we can’t chase down every fad”
  • trends in LMS-
    1. orig: Course based, faculty centric
    2. now: Institution centric
    3. the future? student centric [would introducing this model be useful in a campus that hadn’t gone through 1 and 2? i.e. is this a leap-frog step, or do communities have to go through the preceding ones to make effective use of this one?]
  • [LMS ignore how much learning at college takes place outside classes]

[various random ideas/topics/questions/etc. inspired by reading over the presentations list:

  • JIT Knowledge / Knowledge on Demand
  • Tag clustering (using nearest neighbor algorithms on tag clouds to find related terms)
  • WWW as the World Writeable Web
  • What is the long tail with respect to education?
  • Games in learning and learning as a game
    • exploring learning modes as different races
  • Social networking is an important part of building a successful career and so an important part of the education we should provide]

“Integration of Course Management with Other Institutional Initiatives” – Albert Borroni and John Appley of Oberlin

  • web presentation is important; the loko and feel of a website reflect on the college (e.g. a disorganized site implies a disorganized college)
  • consider the audieces a site has and the needs of those audiences (internal: students, faculty, staff; external: prospectives, alumni; needs range from syllabi to benefits info to extra curricular info to basic vital stats to giving a good impression, and more)
  • they’re trying to use their LMS (blackboard) as a sort of content management system [it works OK, but a wiki might do a better job, and a real CMS even better]
  • most LMS don’t do a good job on the aesthetics side fo things, which is too bad since how it looks is important
  • a smooth transition from external site to internal site is good
  • [balancing consistency and customizeability is tricky, and it’s all to easy to end up with the worth of everythign rather than the best; Oberlin did a pretty good job, but probably not the approach we’d take because of our different needs and available skill sets]

“LMS for Off-Campus Courses: Solution or Sellout” – Barry Bandstra, Hope College [raised a number of interesting questions and answered them at least somewhat in the context of Hope College. I found the questions more interesting than the answers as far as general applicability goes, but still quite enjoyed the talk]

  • Do 100% online courses for off-campus compromise the liberal arts college?
    • Is distance education (DE) categorically excluded byt he term Liberal Arts College?
    • Does DE compromise LACs?
    • Just because we can do it, should we? [and why?]
  • What is missing from a typical online course that even makes this a question?
  • some hurdles: the DE label, not compromising “the experience” of a LAC, overcoming entrenchment, making sure faculty are equipped to effectively teach using DE
  • Hope ran a few which they considered successful (mostly)
  • some comments, observations, and suggestions:
    • students need to be self-motivated
    • everyone misses the classroom interaction
    • everyone like the flexibility/convenience
    • students can more study at their own pace
    • immediate feedback on student involvement is nice
    • use channels outside the LMS to keep in touch – e.g. give students a phone call to keep in touch
    • recruit faculty early and spend the time to get them ready
    • beware of mission creep! success is its own punishment…

-and I think that’s enough for this post – don’t want it to get too long. Only…. 13 more presentations to go.



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