Friday, April 29, 2011

don't depend on LMS providers to understand pedagogy

There's an interesting post on Edutopia by Heather Wolpert-Gawron talking about the need for some synchronous F2F communications in order to have effective online learning. Of course, I don't agree.

One of the things I found interesting in her post was this line:
So, I asked a basic question to all the [LMS] vendors who were pitching their wares to my district: where are the teachers? I was told that we could always record our classes and post them for students to watch at their leisure.
I found it interesting that Heather would not only ask a vendor that question, then accept the response as knowledgeable. My comment about that was to compare her question to asking a school building architect where the teachers were, or if group instruction would be possible.

The LMS is the structure that holds the content -- the instructions, resources, and discussions, etc. There are some features of an LMS that restrict they types of content but what happens inside the LMS is under the control of the teacher/facilitator and course designer, and my experience in dealing with the sales folks is they know how to sell, not how to use the product they're selling.. Asking the LMS sales person about pedagogy is like asking the school building contractor about teaching.

I think I need to put Heather in the same category with most educators, of being bias toward the approach they're most familiar with, and the one they have the most experience with, that of face-to-face instruction. We need to find ways to expose more educators to high quality online learning experiences.

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