No, someone did not fall asleep on my keyboard. Yes, all of those stand for something. These are the current terms we are looking at in my Learning Technologies graduate class. I was struggling to mentally divide the management systems and keep them separate. Writing it down is my attempt at figuring it out.
I am starting with VLE because it was actually not a term that came up in the reading. However, while I was doing my own exploratory research trying to make sense of the reading, I found it. Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) are the European solution to the confusion of the multiple other names and the blurry differences between them. Everything that is not strictly a management tool fits in that category. In one of the many articles I read said a better name was “virtual environment for learning” because the learning is real, it just takes place in a virtual environment. This could be a LCMS or a CMS.
I am most familiar with course management systems (CMS). I log in to Moodle more times during a day than Facebook, even on the weekend. I have enjoyed the benefits from both the student perspective (at Harrisburg University) and as a teacher. Even as I am writing this, there is a tab open with work Moodle and another tab with grad school Moodle.
University Moodle is organized by weeks, which works out perfectly for a graduate class that only meets once a week. My Moodle course is set up by category for my students. Each unit has a section. I love that I can find any resource I could need to complete assignments or find extra practice. My students almost automatically check Moodle when they have been absent to see what they have missed. Under most topics there are games for review or videos relevant to the topic. I have noticed that students will sign in during study halls or free periods just for fun. This means they are taking the education out of the classroom.
I know not all students are as comfortable with using Moodle. Over winter break I heard a group of 4 college freshmen complaining about using Moodle. They did not like how teachers expected them to find the correct resources or assignments on their own. They wanted everything just handed to them on paper. I had to bite my tongue to not have a quick retort. Part of the problem could be that the professors have not had enough training to create an efficient course, but most of the problem sounded like laziness on the part of the students.
LMS, Learning Management System, is the system I struggled to understand the most. For some organizations a expansive LMS is unnecessary; a simple Excel can track for smaller groups. The LMS is a way to register people for e-Learning courses or trainings, as well as track what people have done. Some SCORMs can be connected to the LMS so the e-Learning can happen in the LMS, but that is not a pure example. LMS are beneficial for organizations that need to keep detailed, updated reports of ongoing education for industry compliance. MyHU is an example of an LMS used at the university level. I know that most colleges have one – it is the homepage for current students. Examples include MyEtown for Elizabethtown College and my’Ville for Millersville University.
LCMS, Learning Content Management System, bring all the content or material together in a centralized location so multiple people can author, administer, and utilize the system. United Streaming is an example of an LCMS. All the content is in one place. For an LCMS, the learner can proceed through the training in somewhat individualized ways. If they are confident with one topic, they could skip ahead to the next section or topic.
By the same definition, Lynda.com would be another example of an LCMS. There are multiple course authors who had content to the centralized location. There are different courses on the same topic for different levels, and within a level you can skip around or repeat something you did not understand the first time. I was impressed when I went through the Podcasting training using Audacity. I already knew most of what was being said, but I still felt it was worthwhile. If I had been so inclined, there was a practice track for people to edit while watching the tutorial video; hands on practice is the best way for the lesson to stick. I did come away from the training wanting a Mac so I could use GarageBand. I think a major benefit to Lynda.com is the pricing options. When you come across a new technology that you want to learn about, you probably only need a month of access to the tutorials, and Lynda.com offers a single month price. I’ve seen other sites that lock you in for a year … which would be wasteful for learning a single new technology unless you are totally inept.
This might have seemed like a long tanget to other people – but I think I finally have it figured out for myself. There are many similarities for the management systems, but they have unique aspects and are appropriate for different situations. When in doubt, they all can be defined with the European term Virtual Learning Environment.