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Friday, March 03, 2006

Blended Learning Composition

One of the more interesting recent developments in Blended Learning are new approaches that are emerging to address the classic problem of how to compose your blend together into a seamless, trackable learning experience. LMS products have been generally done a very poor job of this, mostly allowing you to list all the different elements of the blend.

As background, take a look at LAMS and particularly the demonstrations. The description of LAMS in their FAQ is interesting:

LAMS is focussed on a very specific aspect of e-learning – sequences of learning activities, particularly collaborative activities. LAMS provides rich functionality for designing a “flow” of learning activities, especially where these activities rely on collaboration between students to drive the learning process. LAMS is a comprehensive system for the design and implementation of learning activity sequences – it includes an authoring environment, a “run-time” environment for implementation of sequences with groups of learners, and a monitoring environment so teachers can see student progress in real-time (and view past activities). It also includes a user administration system for system administrators. LAMS can include content delivery (and quizzes) as single-learner activities within a sequence, and you can point to content held elsewhere from within a LAMS sequence via a URL.

However, LAMS does not attempt to replicate the course administration functionality of a typical LMS/VLE/CMS.

You can see a sample flow above. Essentially, LAMS allows the specification of a blended learning sequence via a workflow diagram. Very interesting concept.

It's also worth looking at what Michael Feldstein and Patrick Masson are doing around an LMOS.

In the corporate space, probably the closest thing comes from Bill Bruck at q2Learning.

All of these aim at the need of being able to compose together a variety of intervention types into a Blended Learning solution. The LAMS approach is good to look at, because it looks like the workflow problem that this really is.

I think its pretty safe to assume that the big corporate LMS vendors will jump on this bandwagon soon enough by adding a workflow tool into their systems to finally be able to support richer specifications of blended learning programs.

I definitely have some concerns here with the direction that folks are taking, but more on that later...


Lee Kraus said...

Do you think these workflow tools will require the corporation to describe the workflow within the LMS tool or will they integrate through a web API with existing workflow management tools? It would seem like a good strategy to "tag" learning resources and allow them to be dynamically avaialble around a workflow event? You would then let the learner consume the learning resources they need to get through that workflow process. This would seem to be a more open approach. I'm not familiar with LAMS, does it allow the learner to create the sequence or just the instructor?

Tony Karrer said...

Hi Lee,

Thanks for the comments and insightful questions.

Interesting thought to have the workflow be external. That might work, but it seems like most are trying to have a tightly integrated workflow tool.

And, yes, what I've seen of defining the workflow, its aimed at administrators and instructors, not the learners.