How will learning management systems change in the coming years to adapt to new strategies for teaching and learning?
Curated Resources on Next Generation Digital Learning Environments
Over the last several decades, the way we think about learning and development in all contexts has been roiled by ever-expanding options for facilitating learning. In the academic context, our approaches to online learning have advanced considerably, and we have begun to value online techniques even in classes that meet face-to-face. The learning management systems that support online learning need to advance as well, and expand in their capacity to integrate a variety of tools and techniques.
In the academic world, the newest thinking related to online systems is captured in the phrase “next generation digital learning environments” (NGDLE). Thought leaders have come to believe that the next generation of systems cannot possibly hope to contain all needed functionality in one system (especially since technology is constantly evolving); instead they are recommending ways that learning systems can be built from an array of tools that align with common standards for interoperability.
It might seem that this discussion would be of most use to campus information technology leaders, but those who are interested in pedagogy need to tune in as well. Learning environments should be driven by how people learn and by the techniques that teachers and learning leaders want to employ, not just on what is available technologically. Technology can enrich pedagogy, but it can also restrict and stifle it, so strategies should be driven by the best pedagogical principles and not cool tools and vendors with vested interests.
In the corporate space, the NGDLE acronym has not caught on (yet?). But the idea of integrating a variety of tools to support learning has not escaped L&D leaders’ notice. Corporate learning leaders talk about learning ecosystems and integrated learning environments, and are having conversations similar to those in the academic world. In truth, it might be beneficial for thought leaders in both areas to pool their ideas.
The links below will give you a place to start in becoming more versed on next generation digital learning environments and their potential implications.
// Background >
These articles will give you a sense of the context for the development of NGDLEs.
“What is clear is the LMS has been highly successful in enabling the administration of learning but less so in enabling learning itself.” – From The Next Generation Digital Learning Environment: A report on research
- Envisioning the Post-LMS Era: The Open Learning Network. By Jonathan D. Mott, EDUCAUSE Review, March 2010
- Disrupting Ourselves: The problem of learning in higher education. By Randall Bass, ECUCAUSE Review, March 2012
// The EDUCAUSE Report >
In 2015, EDUCAUSE teamed up with the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and thought leaders in higher education to conceptualize what will be necessary to build systems that can be sustained into the future. The report and several abridged versions are linked below.
- Full Report: The Next Generation Digital Learning Environment: A report on research, (pdf) By Malcolm Brown, Joanne Dehoney, and Nancy Millichap, EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative, April 2015
- Article: What’s Next for the LMS? By Malcolm Brown, Joanne Dehoney, and Nancy Millichap, ECUCAUSE Review, June 2015
- Essentials: 7 Things You Should Know About NGDLE, December 2015
// Discussion >
As you might imagine, the report prompted a variety of cautionary reactions; some of these are linked here for you to get a flavor for the conversation.
- EDUCAUSE looks beyond the (current) LMS environment: is it a future we want? By Tony Bates, May 2015
- Additional commentary by Jon Dron, May 2015
- The EDUCAUSE NGDLE and an API of One’s Own. By Michael Feldstein, June 2015
- Expectations for the NGDLE: Response to bloggers’ comments. By Malcom Brown, June 2015
// Integrated Digital Learning Environments >
EDUCAUSE is not the only higher education think tank that is considering these issues. A parallel analysis was conducted by SURFnet, the higher education network in the Netherlands, and they reached similar conclusions. This work also contains a list of recommended components.
- Full Report: A Flexible and Personal Learning Environment: From Single Components to an Integrated Digital Learning Environment (pdf). By SURFnet, September 2015
- Article: A Flexible and Personal Learning Environment, By George Kroner, March 2016
// Additional Perspectives of Note >
- Enabling Next Generation Digital Learning Environments, Series by IMS Global Learning Consortium, 2016
- Opening Keynote – Into the Great Beyond Exploring the Next Generation Digital Learning Environments, By Malcolm Brown, video from Sakai Virtual Conference, November 2015
- Next Generation Learning: The intelligent use of technology to develop innovative learning models and personalized educational pathways (pdf). Report from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, 2010
// Impact on Teaching Practices >
Some education thought leaders openly worry that faculty are allowing the capabilities of the LMS (or NGDLE) to influence the strategies we use to teach and facilitate learning. Sean Michael Morris is a leading critic in this area, and this perspective is worth considering.
- Decoding Digital Pedagogy: Beyond the LMS and Decoding Digital Pedagogy (Un)Mapping the Terrain. By Sean Michael Morris. Hybrid Pedagogy, 2013
// Steps Toward a NGDLE >
As you might imagine, LMS providers are actively working on ensuring their products adopt the characteristics of an NGDLE. These links will give you a sense for these projects. (Other vendors may be making moves as well; these are the ones for which I found information.)
- Canvas: Edu App Center and Commons
- Drupal: Enterprise Learning Management System Learning Network
- IMS Global Learning Consortium – standards for interoperability
// The Corporate L&D Perspective >
A similar conversation is happening in corporate learning and development. Corporate learning management systems and enterprise social networks also need to continuously adjust to the strategies people use to support learning in a digital age. Thought leaders in the corporate world are discussing how to bring processes and technology in line to support learning and performance in a more coherent way. These materials will give you the flavor of that conversation.
- Learning and Performance Ecosystems. By Marc Rosenberg and Steve Foreman. eLearning Guild White Paper, November 2014
- Cultivating Valuable Learning Environments. By Catherine Lombardozzi, TD, January 2016 – This is my own take on how to align formal, informal, social, experiential, and developmental learning into a coherent strategy for a specific learning need. Where ecosystems are usually writ large, learning environments are more targeted. (Also see my page on Learning Environments)
- The Concept of Learning Ecologies, by Norman Jackson. From Lifewide Learning, Education and Personal Development (e-book), September 2013
Last updated: June 7, 2016 by Catherine Lombardozzi
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