A comment left by Andy Duckworth on my last post got me thinking about how a more open, persistent LMS might be as beneficial to institutions as it is to students. Andy’s favorite feature of the Instructure’s Canvas LMS is “the ability for students to create groups that can persist outside of a specific class.” Canvas does a lot of clever things (integrating collaborative goodies such as Google Docs and DimDim), but persistent groups is my favorite feature too.
As an instructor at Utah State University I hated getting the emails from the Blackboard administrator telling me that all courses before X date were being deleted to create room on the server for new courses. Not that those courses were open anyway, but it reminded me of the ephemeral nature of those courses. Here today, gone tomorrow.
I think most folks would agree that there is value to making a course available to students beyond the semester/quarter in which they enrolled. It could be a good reference for them in higher level courses, etc. But could there actually be value for institution?
I get calls each year from the alumni associations of the various schools I attended. They usually want me to donate to something. I find it ironic that those same institutions have effectively LOCKED THE DOORS to the online learning I once enjoyed. If they want me to stay involved as an alumni, why not do something to keep me interested. I’m not talking about a tailgate party. If I could come back to the lectures, notes, groups I once participated in I would come back to (some of) them year after year. YOU ARE A SCHOOL. Your best marketing tool is (hopefully) the LEARNING you provide. STOP THROWING IT ALL AWAY.
The next time I get hit up for a donation by an alumni association, I will refer them here. Bottom line: Open your learning and I’ll open my wallet.