The LMS, as we currently know it, is a relic from a long-gone era. An era where the internet was in its infancy, where static, text-heavy content was the norm, and where the web was accessed from the desktop. Where services like AOL, Yahoo and MSN tried to be everything to everybody.
The modern economy has no real respect for degrees—other than demanding at least a Bachelors for every position and from every applicant.
Higher education in America has become confused with trade school: everything from four-year computer science degrees to Masters-level management schools are concerned with occupational education. They are advertised as the necessary link between academic life and employment: high schoolers take jobs; college graduates enter careers.
Back in my pre-startup life running corporate development for a large educational publisher I saw dozens, if not hundreds, of education technology companies passionately focused on solving a single problem for instructors, students or administrators. While the focus should have simplified everything they were doing very few of them emerged from the morass to become compelling, scalable businesses with sustainable economics. Why is that?
Online education radically transformed the long held notions of time and space as it related to educational delivery. We saw commercials highlighting a working parent attending an MBA class in their pajamas. Schools promised compressed timeframes that allowed for a faster time to completion, and extreme flexibility was promised allowing us to fit classes into an already hectic life. That wave is cresting and rolling back out to sea, but its legacy is that it forced everyone to re-think when and where learning could happen, and how fast a degree could be earned. The next wave will challenge those same notions, and force us to rethink that paradigm again, but how exactly that happens could surprise you.
If you’re a teacher, you’ve been making extensive deposits into “data banks” for years. You’ve frugally saved student information system data like demographics, attendance, formative and summative assessments, college and career readiness and other crucial indicators. Maybe you’ve meticulously collected and deposited data on your practice. Schools and districts diligently save school-level data such as climate. We’ve even occasionally borrowed some assets such as census data and crime maps.