Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Framework for Adopting LMS to Introduce E-Learning in a Traditional Course

Academic journal article Educational Technology & Society

A Framework for Adopting LMS to Introduce E-Learning in a Traditional Course

Article excerpt

Introduction

As teachers in tertiary educational institutions across the world experiment with technology, trying to take advantage of it in their courses, it is important to recognize that their role, as teachers, has remained essentially the same over the years: to educate and inspire students, and to offer them the means to build stable foundations for a successful future. While teachers can continue to be highly effective with the traditional lecture-style instructional method, a new technological resource, that of web-based learning management systems (LMS), is spreading out. Research results demonstrate that, although innovation may build upon the technical prospects, concrete difficulties arise, caused by problems of incongruity at the level of the educational model (Griffiths, 2005; Laurillard, 2002; Jonassen et al., 1998).

Learners perceive a shift in the educational culture, which causes stress and creates reluctance to participate. Moreover, traditionally-minded educators often disapprove or feel uncomfortable with this implied change in educational policy. After a long period of using LMSs in tertiary education, it became obvious that these tools cannot reach their full potential if teachers are unwilling to adapt to a different teaching style, based on technology. In order to adapt successfully, teachers must be trained to develop their pedagogical autonomy and to become proficient in the use of technical tools, in order to be able to make experimentations, to discover the need for a sound new pedagogy and to foster it in university teaching.

LMSs are the most representative e-learning applications. Some are open source software, others are commercially provided. They can be used for distance-learning and as a supplement to in-class lectures, on which course announcements, homework assignments, lecture notes and slides can be posted, for Internet access (OECD, 2005). These days, we observe a movement in higher education leading from proprietary software to open source, for e-learning applications (Coppola and Neelley, 2004). In fact, open source software development can provide the necessary flexibility to combine languages, scripts, learning objects and lesson plans, effectively, without the cost and rigidity of proprietary packages (Williams, 2003).

An LMS is not limited to a strictly determined educational role: it may also function as a new means for communication. Therefore, we have to examine closely the use of these platforms at all educational levels (Pirani, 2004). Our belief is that this important shift in education, involving the integration of new technologies and the application of new educational models needs to be associated with a systematic redesign process with emphasis on the actors, both at the institutional level and at the educator level.

When transforming a course that has been delivered for years in a traditional in-class way into an e-learning enhanced one, some decisions have to be taken and some actions must be performed. These decisions and actions should be grounded on a careful analysis of the current situation in educational practice, in order to serve as the starting point towards the development of a successful redesign process, by means of more innovative approaches. For example, a first step would be to study thoroughly the tools provided by the chosen LMS and to see how those tools could be used to support educational methodology and the learning objectives that are used currently. After that, new e-learning activities can be designed, for enhancing learning. Finally, the two tasks would merge, leading to the creation of a new well designed learning scenario, from then on followed consistently.

Abiding by these principles, after first adopting for an LMS, in our informatics departments, we spend a couple of years becoming familiar with the functionality of the software and becoming capable of using its services effectively and confidently. …

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