LTI and the future of learning management systems

Jeff Place at the Questionmark booth at The Blackboard Developer Conference

Posted by Steve Lay

Following along with the twitter feed at #devcon12 (The Blackboard Developer Conference) this week, I noticed an interesting theme developing. Here’s one example, from @certtechpro

More LMS’s in the future, but using the same tools? Will LMS of the future be specialized? #devcon12 #bbw12

And another, from @rossmackenzie

Interest theme developing about specialised ( e.g. Subject specific) Learning management systems. #devcon12 #bbw12

These tweets happened during a keynote panel session that grappled with the role of the LMS and the effect that adoption of the IMS LTI standard will have.

I had a follow-up conversation with two members of the panel afterwards to help get some clarification on their vision. In particular, I wanted to reconcile this multiplicity of LMSs with another theme discussed during the session: the importance of ensuring that the LMS does not just aggregate new features but “hardens” around core functions, with additional features being incorporated by linking to other tools using IMS LTI.

Using the LTI standard, the LMS can aggregate best-of-breed tools rather than having to develop them specifically as features of the LMS itself.

There seem to be two possible outcomes here:

(1) By being smaller, the LMS could be customised to target specific education or training sectors; it could even be optimised for subject-specific learning methods. The number of LMSs in the market would increase.

(2) Alternatively, by being smaller the LMS could fade into the background, with student interaction being concentrated in the tools that the LMS aggregates. The community is likely to organise itself around a smaller number of more robust systems.

In either case, integration using the LTI standard will make it easier for instructors and programme managers to adopt best-of-breed tools like our own Assessment Management System without having to deploy an LMS-specific connector!

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