Faculty Panel: Exploring the State of the LMS in the CSU


Thursday, December 10th, 2015
3pm PT/ 6pm ET
Panelists:
Carolyn Gibbs (CSU Sacramento)
Jackson Wilson (CSU San Francisco)
Paul Boyd-Batstone (CSU Long Beach)
Jaime Hannans (CSU Channel Islands)
Ben Seipel (CSU Chico)

This Thursday, December 10th, 2015 at 3pm PT/ 6pm ET, I will be moderating a 90-minute online panel that will include five faculty representing five of the 23 California State University (CSU) campuses. The panel is one link in a rich, semester-long series of events, blog posts, and sharing of resources organized by the CSU Learning Platforms and Services (LPS) Taskforce (click here to view all of these goodies, included archives of past live events).

The diverse CSU system has a system-wide contract with Blackboard, which has provided CSU campuses the option to adopt Blackboard via a more seamless process and at a lower cost. This contract is coming to an end and, as a result, the LPS Taskforce is organizing opportunities to review the state of LMSs inside and outside the CSU (click here to view the complete purpose of the LPS Taskforce). This review process is the precursor to a statewide RFP for a CSU LMS contract, in which campuses will, again, have the option to participate or adopt a different LMS (or suite of tools) that fits their unique needs.  Currently, 11 CSU campuses have a campus-wide license for Blackboard, 20 use Moodle, and the others use Canvas or D2L/BrightSpace (of course, this does not account for the pockets of faculty who use a different LMS or suite of tools than the majority of their campus peers). Click here to see a complete breakdown of LMS use across the CSU.

When I was invited to moderate an “LMS” panel for CSU faculty, I took time to think through my own experiences teaching with LMSs; which led to reflections about using web-based tools to cultivate visual, active-learning spaces; as well as my recent experiences providing professional development and support for online and blended faculty. These reflections helped me to realize how important it was going to be to design the panel as a conversation about teaching and learning with technology, as opposed to a conversation about using an LMS
The LMS as “walled garden.”

As we know, the “state of the LMS” in higher education has changed dramatically in the past several years. Edtech discourse around the LMS has recently included more conversations questioning the value of having students learn inside a “walled garden,” when they are expected to thrive personally and professional in the open web. This trend is also influenced by the increase of easy-to-use, free to low-cost technologies in recent years. This gradual shift from the LMS as “the” place for organizing content, communicating with students, and facilitating learning (particularly for blended and online classes) to the LMS as one of many important nodes in a “learning ecosystem” of educational technologies used by faculty to design learning environments brings opportunities and challenges for higher education organizations. The tools in this ecosystem is referred to in the CSU as Learning Platforms and Services (LPS) (Click here for more discussion about LMS and LPS.)

The LMS as part of a learning ecosystem.
As more faculty have begun experimenting with and adopting additional tools to supplement (or replace) their use of the LMS, the traditional institutional goal of identifying a single, enterprise-wide technology solution for an entire campus is being rethought in some contexts. As such, institutions need new, sustainable strategies for supporting a technology ecosystem and preparing a mostly part-time higher education faculty to effectively navigate this landscape and design meaningful, accessible learning experiences.  These are some of the themes that have been conveyed through the experts (and follow-up conversations within the webinars) who have presented in the LPS series (Phil Hill and Michael Feldstein, Chris Vento, Sasha Thackaberry, Patrick Masson, and CSU students).

I hope you’ll join us for the panel on Thursday! I’m hoping to generate rich, thick data through open-ended questions that do not fixate on the LMS, but instead probe for themes in the experiences of faculty. We’ll be using the webinar version of ZOOM for the panel.  Please register in advance and bring your own questions for the participants. Register here (it’s free).

LMS graphics by Mindwires, CC-BY.

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