Digital Directions - Spring/Summer 2012 - (Page 32)

COM PETITIVE edge D Companies old and new are jockeying for position in the unsettled market for learning-management systems, seeking to innovate and fulfill districts’ evolving needs By_Ian Quillen instructional methods, the battle for LMS providers appears no longer to be how many features they can provide school consumers, but finding the right ones for the right institutions. Further, what once appeared to be an unbridgeable chasm between the world of proprietary systems, where the software was copyrighted by the vendor, and open-source systems, where any user can alter software for specific needs, is now but a blurry line after proprietary giant Blackboard Inc.’s recent purchase of open-source software developers Moodlerooms and NetSpot. Some observers have even suggested the learningmanagement system will become an obsolete technology, while others say the LMS of the future will at least look considerably different as online and blended learning continues to shift toward providing students with personally tailored programs. “If you look at all those needs and increased customization that comes with it, that is more than what has been in the traditional LMS,” says Matthew Wicks, the chief operating officer for the Vienna, Va.-based International Association for K-12 Online Learning, or iNACOL, and a former online learning consultant. “I haven’t seen any one vendor 32 >> www.digitaldirections.org PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: iStockphoto_DrAfter123; Laura Baker_Digital Directions on McIntosh has been cataloging the learning-management-system industry for nearly two decades. And since creating “Vendors of Learning Management and E-Learning Products,” an evolving document that logs creations and changes in the K-12, postsecondary, and corporate LMS markets, it’s grown from the size of a book report to that of a decent-sized novel. “It’s getting to be such a huge list that it’s beginning to lose its usefulness,” laments McIntosh, the president of Trimeritus eLearning Solutions, an education consulting group based in Burnaby, British Columbia. “The idea was that it would provide a tool for people to select an LMS. But the list is so long now that it doesn’t help them. You can’t issue requests for proposal to everyone on the list.” Industry followers say the continuing entrance of new LMS creators may signal transition, and not stability, and it may mean the sector is becoming one in which new entrants have real opportunities to leap ahead of established players. As a ballooning number of school districts use or explore blended learning, and a growing cadre of full-time virtual schools embrace more sophisticated cus to m iza tion http://www.digitaldirections.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Digital Directions - Spring/Summer 2012

Digital Directions - Spring/Summer 2012
Contents
Editor's Note
DD Site Visit
Bits & Bytes
Game On
Applicable Knowledge
Digital Badges
Lessons From Higher Education
Competitive Edge
Recognizing Online PD
Ready or Not
Q&A
Opinion
Data Delivery

Digital Directions - Spring/Summer 2012

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