The article was written by Christian Dalsgaard from Institute of Information and Media Studies, University of Aarhus, Helsingforsgade Danmark. Its purpose is to discuss the potential of social software to move e-learning beyond leaning management systems (LMS). It also raises the question of whether the tools should be used intergratedly or separately.
LMS can be understood as a single system that offers all necessary tools to run and manage an e-learning course. All learning activities and materials in a course are organized and managed by and within the system. LMS typically offer discussion forums, file sharing, management of assignments, lesson plans, syllabus, chat, etc. This system is claimed to cover only administrative issues and be unable to support a social constructivist approach which emphasizes self-governed learning activities of students. It is argued that LMS are well suited for managing student enrolment, exams, assignments, course descriptions, lesson plans, messages, syllabus, basic course materials, etc.
On the other hand, social networks are said to be able to stimulate students’ self-governed learning processes and advised to be provided as personal tools for students so that they can utilize them to obtain better learning results. Social networks here refer to weblogs, wikis, RSS feeds and social bookmarking etc.
The writer is right to say that using a management system, personal tools and social networks differs from the sole use of an integrated LMS. In my opinion, the use of the tools should be very flexible and appropriate to the purpose of the learning. LMS, for example, can be of good help for a course’s administration work. In addition to this, to boost the leaner’s self-governed learning process, they should be provided with social networks for their self-governed and problem-based activities.