Friday, 24 October 2014

That Flipping LMS

I spend a fair bit of time (read too much) working with learning management systems (or LMS) and it's amazing how often people moan about their LMS.  Often there's good cause to moan with some of them being fairly awful (no naming and shaming here though) but sometimes it's because of the way people approach and use the LMS.  I work predominantly with open source LMS like Moodle and Totara and they're very flexible tools, but there's definitely a right and wrong way to do things with them.  Problem is most people see red and moan about the flipping LMS.

Not that I'm averse to original thought, but during a #lrnchat session I heard some great words of wisdom from Adam Weisblatt (a learning technologist a bit like me but more intelligement and all that) and checked his blog.  Well worth a read and he introduced a concept called the Flipped LMS... and that's where were at here; instead of moaning about the flipping LMS let's consider Flipping the LMS.

Hopefully some of you are aware of the Flipped Classroom approach which has really revitalised a lot of (desperately in need of a revamp) boring old lectures.  In a nutshell, the approach is that instead of trying to cram a lecture full of knowledge based learning and then give out assignments, the students get all the knowledge based stuff as pre-reading or research, then during the 'lecture' time they spend the time working on 'assignments' or problems.  If you think about it we reflect a lot of that in our good elearning these days with 'pull' elearning where you aren't force fed the knowledge part and you have to go and get what you need to know.

Well the flipped LMS is much the same principle.  The first idea is to recognise that there is knowledge beyond yours out there so we don't have to try and cram our LMS full of every piece of knowledge there is.  Let the learners go elsewhere to find the information and then come back.  Then your LMS is the focus of the assessments (the bits that are easy to track) and communication so that you can track what needs to be tracked.  It's a far less restrictive way of doing things and allows the learners much more freedom in their 'learning' and they can then use the LMS to prove what they have learned rather than trying to learn everything in the LMS.  It also fits much better into a pervasive learning model.  If you subscribe to 70/20/10 or a variant of such, it means that your assessment sits in that small piece of the pie - great for your LMS and great for your learners.

Thing is, calling it a flipped LMS is a bit of a misnomer.  The LMS is a tool that can be used in a variety of ways; some creative like this and others as a potential store of all the information.  It's not actually turning the LMS completely on its head, it's just about approaching it slightly differently.  Thing is, most learning is going to lie outside of your LMS whether you like it or not, so finding ways to embrace and maximise the opportunities should be your aim.

In short, flipping an LMS is like flipping a classroom; it's about maximising the effect of limited time or space with learners and recognising that the 'knowledge' piece is only part of the puzzle.

Thanks again to Adam and apologies if I've trashed your perfectly good ideas on the subject :)