No thanks to “Class dismissed = Learning Space Deleted”

Wesley Fryer says he hears at educational conferences people comment the following: “If Facebook was like learning management systems we’d have to delete all our ‘friends’ every fifteen weeks!” 

I agree! I´ve previously as a student administrator at university met students frustrated after having lost their access to a course room after the semester is over.

And why shouldn´t they be?

Although I rarely see teachers actually fully take advantage of the opportunities that lie in a LMS, but if they actually did, there would be no logic in kicking the learners out afterward. I mean, as a teacher I´ve always encouraged students to buy their textbooks, and also to keep them after. The stuff you are supposed to learn you are going to want to have access to look up in for a long time after. Just think of all the times you´ve done so yourself! I wouldn´t get rid of my books for anything!

So how can we encourage digital learning and at the same time kick them out after the class? Doesn´t make sense.

Wesley Fryer´s solution is to use open online spaces like creating blogs in stead of paper entries in a LMS. It does sound appealing, but shouldn´t the learning environment be a safe space to try out things before you enter the real world, so to speak? Should there be no room for trying and failing first? The digital footprint could be fatal if you fall off a ledge…

Could someone please improve the LMS´s instead, so that a student could maybe save the essentials (and I don´t just mean storage of single files of this and that, but valuable interaction) on to their computers or their personal cloud storage space? I don´t know in which form, but preferably I see it as a downloaded snapshot of the whole interior grid and content. That is, they can now make snapshots of movies with FastStoneCapture, as Leif Harboe points out, so why not?



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4 responses to “No thanks to “Class dismissed = Learning Space Deleted”

  1. A lot of people definitely ARE continuing to work on improving LMS options, but an LMS is fundamentally created with a different value set than open technologies like blogs and wikis. LMS systems are organized primarily to facilitate course delivery and assessment, not the open sharing and collaborative dissemination of information. So I don’t think we should hold out hope that LMS systems will offer equivalent benefits to the value students as well as educators can realize in building their digital footprints with open tools. Have you ever Googled yourself and found an article which you turned in using BlackBoard, WebCT, Moodle, or in the case of Kansas State, the proprietary/unique/homegrown LMS still used by the university? I’ve never heard of that, because LMS platforms are password protected and therefore can’t be indexed by search engines like Google.

    I’d like to hear more about what you’re fearful of when it comes to posting content online on a blog. I’d argue that everyone needs to be saavy to the dangers and potential implications of posting embarrassing or incriminating materials to websites… This happens most frequently on social media websites like FaceBook. Rather than hiding in an LMS and pretending “it’s safe,” we all need (especially as adults over 18, but even younger) to learn how to make safe and appropriate choices with the online content we choose to share. Posting content in online spaces provides numerous opportunities to have discussions about topics we wouldn’t be able to discuss otherwise.

    Take this comment I am writing to you right now. If you hadn’t linked to my blog, I wouldn’t have seen the trackback and been able to read and respond to your ideas. If you’d written this on a “safe” and password protected website, your classmates and teacher would have been the only ones with the ability to read and respond to your ideas.

    I appreciate the fact that you’ve taken issue with some of the ideas I’ve shared and challenged them. Critical thinking and discussion should be a hallmark of education. Open online platforms like WordPress are great spaces to have those conversations.


    • Thanks for your challenging comment, Wesley! You´re right, it is very valuable to have open online sharing, and I just now experienced how important and positive it is when you now commented on my blog from finding post via the trackback. (Blogging is new to me!)

      A LMS will definitely not be able to provide this wow-experience of reaching out to and exchanging ideas with somebody totally unexpected. I am not familiar with the LMS´s that you mention. My experience has been with Fronter and It´s Learning, but regardless I don´t have any hope that they will be able to provide the same experience as an open online blog.

      My concern is exactly the Googling. Should employers be able to find papers from school assignments when they Google a person who is applying for a job with them? Maybe for a strong student, but what about the not so brilliant student, whose weaknesses will be wide open for any employer to see? Who cares if that student worked really hard on the job application and has become older and wiser since school – the past mistakes would be out there and competing with those who haven´t any negative online footprints.

      If there is a class discussion taking place online in a blog instead of in the safe locked-up-place of a LMS. Say a student was a bit extreme someway, you know, a frustrated young person in opposition to something or everything, and say that as this person has gotten older he or she is now quite “normal” and more “employable”. Shouldn´t these past mistakes then be allowed to rest there, in the past? They would be able to in a LMS.

      You´re so right that students of all ages now are at a constant risk of leaving negative footprints online for any employer to see, but I think that school should be the (one?) safe arena for testing out ideas and who you are, and that there should be room for error without having to face that error when you later apply for a job.

      I do think, though, that it is important for students of all ages to learn how to be smart about your footprints, to learn good digital judgment. I would want to look at the discussion area and posting possibilities within the LMS as a miniature world where the students within the class could learn about consequences. It wouldn´t be AS fun as open online, I realize that.

      I would encourage testing out online sharing in a class as an example, but not as a principle. Also, if the open online sharing was done more supervised, with the teacher monitoring and moderating texts before publishing, I wouldn´t think it being so risky, but as a teacher I might meet a dilemma with the students whose material maybe wouldn´t be in the student´s best interest to share.

      Sorry, this became a very long comment. 🙂

  2. I agree everything we create and share for class assignments as students shouldn’t necessarily become part of our digital footprint. In US colleges and K-12 schools right now, however, the pendulum has swung very far toward the LMS / lock everything up of this continuum. I think we should encourage more open sharing/posting, so students can build a digital footprint.

    There are lots of choices here. Teachers can use class blogs, especially with younger students, and those posts aren’t nearly as “Googleable” when only firstnames are used than posts on a personal blog. Also, students can use aliases and if they want later, “claim” projects and posts they create from their main/official digital portfolio. If products are posted within an LMS, however, it’s generally impossible to directly link to them from a public blog or wiki serving as a digital portfolio.

    My last thought is what students are sharing NOW on spaces like Facebook. While we certainly want to encourage open discussion and thinking in face-to-face classes as well as online, I’d argue a lot of students are posting content now on their Facebook pages which poses a MUCH higher and dangerous risk to their “professional digital footprint” than coursework they are completing and might post online. The best way to become aware of the importance of “posting wisely” and paying attention to the quality as well as content of things we share online is to BE open and online. I don’t think students and teachers are nearly as likely to have discussions like this if they just work and share inside an LMS.

    No apologies needed for a long comment – the discussion is good. 🙂

    • You certainly state some very good points :-), and I see that we also agree on the part that not everything students create should become part of their digital footprint. I don´t think, though, that one of the purposes of education should be to build a digital footprint. It is a very interesting idea, though. Initially I´ve been thinking digital judgment and digital skills, yes, but not the footprint in itself as a goal, (if I understand the term “digital footprint” correctly). What are your thoughts on that?

      Although students´s Facebook- and other social media´s footprints present a higher risk, I think that a content Googleable and apparently “authorized” because it is a school assignment, will make a different and more serious impression. Couldn´t you to some degree excuse the Facebook-post as a mistake that wasn´t well thought through, whereas that would be more difficult and different with something serious-looking for a school project?

      About the problem of the digital portfolio being locked up for the future, I would think, that if you had postings in the LMS that you wanted to go “live” with; couldn´t you just re-publish it in your own private blog afterwards if you wanted to? You can even date postings backwards.

      It sounds like the solution to have class blogs with firstnames or aliases is a good way to do the blog experience, though, and the one I would choose for my class. And I agree that it would give the posting a different and better experience of sharing. My only concern is that, say some students wanted to claim their post under full name afterwards, what is stopping them also from “outing” the ones who doesn´t want to acknowledge their post? This could happen both intentionally and accidentally. But I do see that this is maybe a theoretical problem in most cases. 🙂

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