Major Trends, Issues, and Challenges with Learning Management Systems

Major Trends, Issues, and Challenges with Learning Management Systems

Betul Özkan Czerkawski, Dawn Panagiota Gonzales
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5162-3.ch022
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A Learning Management System (LMS) offers a set of tools for e-learning delivery and management. For institutions offering online or blended courses, an LMS has a profound impact on teaching and learning because it is the main technology used in higher education e-learning courses. This chapter discusses major trends, issues, and challenges with the LMS in the context of online instruction for higher education. The chapter ends with a discussion of new trends with LMSs.
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A Learning Management System (LMS) is used to deliver and manage e-learning as well as support and enhance face-to-face instruction. As more and more higher education institutions embrace e-learning, it is critical to identify how an LMS can be used to meet today’s learners’ needs and how it can facilitate learning and teaching. In theory, an LMS can enable highly interactive and personalized learner-centric online learning experiences, but as with any other technology, the positive or negative impact of the LMS depends on many factors grounded in online instruction.

Historically LMS was derived from the term Integrated Learning System (ILS), which is a technology solution for delivering content with highly interactive learning experiences. ILS offered “functionality beyond instructional content such as management and tracking, personalized instruction and integration across the system” (Watson & Watson, 2007, p.28). An LMS, on the other hand, derived from the PLATO system in the 1970s and over time became a set of solutions for online instruction. Szabo & Flesher (2002) state that “an LMS is the infrastructure that delivers and manages instructional content, identifies and assesses individual and organizational learning or training goals, tracks the progress towards meeting those goals, and collects and presents data for supervising the learning process of an organization as a whole (as cited in Watson & Watson, 2007, p. 28).

An LMS provides many advantages for e-learning. As an integrated tool which stores course materials, interactions and assessment in an organized manner, an LMS enables learners to focus on their own understanding process. Instructors disseminate content easily while managing and tracking learner progress and guiding them for further engagement with the course materials. “It is also believed that e-learning environments can have potential added learning benefits and can improve students’ and educators’ self-regulation skills, in particular their metacognitive skills” (Vovides, Mitropoupou & Nickmans, 2007, p. 64). Despite these advantages, White and Larusson (2010) point out that “in the development of LMS technologies, it remains less clear, however, just what the comprehensive benefits of an LMS might be, how these benefits can be measured, and what a completely successful implementation of an LMS would look like” (p. 2).

This chapter analyzes both the pros and cons of LMSs. It then discusses current trends, issues and challenges to better understand new possibilities using emerging technologies in lieu of an LMS.

Key Terms in this Chapter

E-Learning: Access to, and use of, electronic sources of information and communication through a web-accessible device.

Personal Learning Environments (PLEs): A personal learning environment can be designed by the user in any of a number of ways. The prominent point is that it is the user, and not the instructor, who has control of the choices of tools used typically based on instructional goals, learning style preference, and future objectives.

Course Management System (CMS): A course management system is a contained access mechanism that organizes course information (e.g. syllabus, schedule, and university policies), course materials, and assessment tools. A course management system lacks student records (e.g. no transcript access, or the ability to register for classes).

Learning Management System (LMS): A learning management system is a collection of tools for online course delivery and management.

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