Any B.C. or Alberta-based users of LAMS? Atutor?

If you are currently using or planning to use LAMS or Atutor and are located in B.C. or Alberta, please let me know. I am currently scouting out integration opportunities for our repository software, and these two are potential ones that have come up, but I need to know if its of any value to my current stakeholders (no, I’m not planning a takeover of Alberta; we have colleagues there who are also implementing the same repository software). – SWL

LAMS integrations

While it’s already been picked up in various places, it seems useful to note some recent developments with the LAMS system as I am so far not aware of it getting any traction in Canada.

In addition to the recent announcement of some initial integration work between Moodle and LAMS (this walkthrough is a good place to start to understand how the two systems can work together), Oxford University also announced as part of the Tools Integration Project that LAMS had been integrated with the open source Boddington VLE. While Boddington may not have the installed base of Moodle, both of these bode well for the continued uptake of LAMS and for continued practical demonstrations of what using a learning design tool in conjunction with a CMS/VLE as delivery environment might look like.

Anyone know of North American institutions experimenting with LAMS or something like it? Drop me a line, I would love to know (I promise I will sort commenting out on this blog in the not too distant future). – SWL

JISC Review of Learning Design Tools

I found the lead to the LAMS website mentioned below in this useful recent report by Sandy Britain for the JISC. The report gives some background on the history and concepts of learning design, and then after laying out a new framework for evaluating learning design tools, provides an in-depth analysis of Coppercore, EduBox, Eduplone, LAMS, Lobster and Reload.

Significantly, though, Britain writes “As of the time of writing this report there are no tools available for end-users that support both the creation and running of an IMS Learning Design at any level.” Still, very useful for accurately portraying the current state of affairs in learning design tools. – SWL

LAMS: Learning Activity Management System website

You may have heard mention in a number of different forums of the LAMS system, developed by James Dalziel and Macquarie University. I’ve been hearing about it for a year now, but so far the most I had been able to find on this alleged learning design authoring tool was a paper or two. No website, no software.

Well things are looking a bit better – while I still can’t find access to a demo or extensive details on the software, this new site does give some background and a brochure, and at least provides a space to watch for its eventual wide release. I know folks in Australia and the U.K. have had more exposure to this tool so far, and any further details appreciated. – SWL

June Lester on the ‘SME’s Viewpoint’

June Lester is a mathematician and an educator, and one of the people brave enough to help facilitate the ‘blogtalk’ we tried over the last few weeks. She’s posted a great piece on the frustration a ‘SME’ can feel in the so-called ‘course-development wars.’ She’s right of course – subject matter experts in education have also often taught the material before and understand quite well how to communicate it’s intricacies, and treating them solely as providers of content will almost certainly produce a lesser learning experience (as well as antagonize them.) …
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More thoughts on ‘Surviving Course Development Wars’

This piece by Susan Smith Nash on Xplana made me laugh. I wonder if anyone working in online instructional development in post-secondary *hasn’t* experienced this kind of situation…
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Educational Software and Learning: Subversive Use and Volatile Design

Discussions about the use of information and communications technology (ICT) based learning environments often assume that use is defined, or at least severely constrained, by the inherent intentions of the designer. However, typical uses of educational software involve a subversion of the designer’s intentions to match contextual needs.

Via a post in James Farmer’s weblog comes reference to this interesting paper, originally presented by David Squires in 1999 to the International Conference on System Sciences. Anyone who has ever actively supported a CMS in an educational setting (or any software for that matter) will agree – one can simply never predict all of the uses that both instructors and students will find for software.

(As an aside – a recent favourite hack I heard of with WebCT was an instructor who was using the file upload/download capabilities to send audio messages to his students that he recorded on his desktop with a simple mic setup – instant voicemail system! Maybe obvious to you, but I hadn’t thought of it and the software’s not specifically designed with this in mind.)

This paper goes deeper than that, though, arguing for a design process that accomodates such ‘subversive use’ of the technologies. One thing I think is missing here, and often missed in the debates on the effects of media types on instruction is the fact that a distinct characteristic of web-based applications/content is the ability to record (and aggregate and ‘playback’) *how* the software/content is being used. Putting aside for a second the big-brotherish aspect, this seems to me to point at a new source of design data – a way for designers to see, after the fact, how their design intentions are interpreted/mis-interpreted, used/mis-used and to make changes accordingly. – SWL