Towards Mobile Learning Applications Integration with Learning Management Systems

Towards Mobile Learning Applications Integration with Learning Management Systems

Marc Alier Forment (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain), María José Casany Guerrero (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain) and Jordi Piguillem Poch (Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-703-4.ch011
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ICT in education innovators are creating new kinds of learning applications using all sorts of new technologies available: Web 2.0, Mobile, Gaming platforms and even Virtual Worlds. Mobile learning applications (m-learning) take advantage of the ubiquitousness of the mobile devices to explore new kinds of ways of learning. Learning Management Systems (LMS) are a consolidated kind of Web based learning software that over the last 15 years have evolved to meet the needs of the learning institution to basic, common online educational platforms. The LMS creates a Web based space for every course (Virtual classroom) that can be used to complement the presence learning activities (Blended Learning) or to fully deliver the course contents (Online Learning). Nowadays most learning organizations have integrated a LMS with their information systems (back-office, academic management, etc.) to a point where all learning activities (virtual and non virtual) have a counterpart (syllabus, assessments, scheduling, etc.) in the LMS virtual classrooms. M-learning is not destined to replace the current Web based learning applications, but to extend it, that is why Mobile Applications will need to be able to integrate with the LMS. It also makes sense to be able to access some of the services of the LMS Virtual Classroom from the mobile device. But, to accomplish this goal might not be a simple task. This chapter analyzes the complexities involved to achieve that goal, and describes some standard interoperability architectures and related research and development projects that will allow this kind of interaction between the LMS and the m-learning applications.
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The Need For Integration Of Learning Applications With Lms

Current Web based Learning Management Systems are focused on meeting the needs of the institution in providing a basic, common educational platform. Most of universities worldwide have successfully integrated the use of a LMS where all the academic information services, online contents and learning application are centralized and managed. LMS are a consolidated online learning environment already adopted by learners, teachers and institutions.

Right now we can find lots of learning applications, like the ones described in the previous section, living outside the LMS ecosystems (Mobile applications in particular). Teachers willing to innovate are using applications and technologies not supported by their institution LMS, and by doing so they are taking their students outside the virtual campus. Thus the students need to go to several different sites (using different usernames and passwords) in a scrambled learning environment. This may cause confusion and frustration to students.

We need to allow the use of these new kinds of learning technologies inside the LMS. To keep a coherent learning environment for the learners without limiting the kind of applications to use. In addition to this, the good practices of the innovators could be relayed to the rest of the docents. We need to find a way to easily get the upcoming new generations of learning applications inside the LMS.

That is why the LMS need to incorporate the ability to integrate new applications from all these variety of new technologies, and the developers of Mobile learning applications need to know how to connect their systems with the LMS easily. To achieve this goal the interconnection middleware has to be defined, it needs to be based on sound standards and we need reference implementations with Open Source.

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