Gamification with LMS-systems that never will make it

Have you noticed: micro-ovens look the same, all over globe? Ovens do not. Old products are deeply embedded in our culture. Education, also e-learning, definitely is culture. Use it to find out how to use an LMS-system in a smarter way than it is supposed to. It also tell something about the future of LMS-providers.

If you do education on different parts of the globe you very likely will come up with the conclusion that it is…different. But it is not, only, about the obvious differences we can see at the surface: like how different a “class-room” might look, or how different countries evaluate education differently.

(In for instance my own country, Sweden, lot of education is for “free”, but in most other countries it is not. In some countries people are willing to spend huge amounts of money on it, while they in other countries are not willing to spend anything at al for the same thing).

An industrial outsider looking at this industry, but actually not knowing what education “is” would most likely then say something like this: “lets stream-line this business when we go for e-learning.” And honestly speaking: when looking on the LMS-systems that several big global actors have developed, and several of us educators do use (of course, I use several of them myself)…it really seems like there has been a lot of industrial outsiders involved when they were developed. Them, and a huge bunch of ICT-savy-people of course, that neither tend to understand learning.

If you compare the LMS-systems of actors like Coursera, Moodle, EdX, Blackboard, Xuetang, Google Classroom and FutureLearn you clearly can see traces of this. Some of them seem to assume that a “video” (implicitly a digital “lecture”) is synonymous with e-learning. In some countries it also actually is; a “lecture” being synonymous with “education”. But in other systems it seems like “the discussion” is what they concider as the most important part (like in FutureLearn). In some countries it also actually is; the discussion between the “lecturer” and the student being at the core of “education”.

This fact is something that tell us a lot about the future: It will never become one single de facto-standard on the globe on how an LMS-system “should look like”…at least not the next hundred years.

This also means: Expect the industry for LMS-systems to continue struggle with this for a very long time. There will be attempts for consolidation amoung the big companies yes. We also already have seen it. But there never, no matter what they might tell you, be a “monopoly” evolving here, as long as education is embedded in culture the way it is now. The big LMS-actors therefore will have to continue to fight amoung each other. New ones will continue to pop up, while others will vanish. A continous game ongoing so to speak.

(By the way; Have you notice that most of them still have not learned anything about UX and everything else that the app-industry in general already have understood…most systems are still looking as if they were developed during the 1980s? Some even look like a digital archive…usefull for sending documents back and forth, but that is it. Are we surprised that Google Docs, Dropbox etc in many ways, still, are perfect “as an LMS-system-substitute”?).

So, even when we at this moment are heading heavily into digital learning…there will not be one single way to do it, and not one single standard for the systems that are “supposed” to help us do it.

(Standard could finally evolve in areas that is not heavily culture-connected…like maybe Algebra for instance, that looks more or less the same all over the globe and is learned more or less the same way).

Yes, you are correct that I heavily claim that the existing big global LMS-developers could do far better here…they have to learn what “learning” actually is about. Existing LMS-systems are not terrible, that is not my point. But they can become far better if they start learning the core of what learning is about.

There is a reason why a classical oven do still not look exactly the same all over the globe, even though the really big actors in this industry have tried to “streamline” their operations and making a global de facto standard on ovens to evolve. There is also a reason why, when it comes to mikro-ovens, this standard on the other hand already seem to have evolved. Mikro ovens is a rather new product on the globe. However, how we cook, and what we cook, is still heavily different. Cooking is like education, embedded in culture.

This also means that as a learner using these existing LMS-systems you have to be a bit “smarter” than the system you use, and here is a simple example of what you can do:

– In USA education seem to be a bit more “one-way-directed” than in countries where discussions is at the core (China is fairly similar to USA in that sense, but Europe is not…depending on country you chose actually).

– It therefore is most likely no coincidence that the “main component” used if putting a course out on a platform like Coursera or Edx, is…the video. But, it is difficult to discuss with a video.

(Well; in Coursera you can actually put a question in the middle of a video and that is nice, but in EdX you cannot even do that, since they do not provide that feature).

– Well, you might claim that you can create a lively “discussion” also in Coursera and Edx. Just use their “discussion forum” (how come that feature is more difficult to find within their systems compared to the “video-feature”?). But, it is not a coincidence that most discussion-forums you find on these platforms are not as lively as they are on FutureLearn.

(From a pedagogical standpoint FutureLearn is totally different than Coursera and EdX…observe that they are from Europe, UK, and not from USA. To FutureLearn the discussion is where “education starts”…they come from the Open University-tradition and that probably means something to them).

– However, Coursera, and Edx, provide a feature called “Quizz”. That can be used in order to create at least a bit of “interaction”. You can ask customers/students something, they answer, and then you can give them something back (instead of saying “Correct” or “Wrong”).

– But then you yourself have to think about a “Quizz” not as a way to check if someone has understood something, but as a way to creat interaction. Leading to: maybe ask something where all answers are possible, and you just give them different kind of feedback, depending on their answers.

– When thinkning in this way; you also then can create something that at least is heading for a “gamification-direction” (something that no LMS-systems of today are even close to providing…unless you look on the really new actors using AI). It definitely is not gamification “for real”, but a way to twist what is possible to do with an existing system so you at least get something heading in that direction.

Who did actually say that a question only have to be asked in order to understand if the person responding have understood the topic or not? Could it even be that most questions in life actually are asked because we are interested in hearing what the other person do think? And could it be that people actually like to get feedback to an answer they give us?

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