Some updates on ELMSLN

I’ll do a full post on Drupalcon Austin thoughts but I wanted to quickly get down some exciting bullet points that haven’t all made their way into other elms related blogs (especially not this one!). I didn’t stop blogging because things stopped happening, I stopped blogging here because I’ve been blogging in many other places and very, very busy.

Bulleted lists are fun:

  • we got a new home for the project to reference This is intended to be the hub for ELMSLN as it branches out and is gaining adoptions outside of PSU.
  • One of my best friends, Michael Collins (@_mike_collins) is now a regular contributor to the project as IST explores migrating to ELMSLN. His focus is primarily on design and usability improvements including a new theme that (not going to lie) is gorgeous looking already!
  • The ELMSLN Collaboration with University Madison Law School kicks off tomorrow (June 30, 2014)!
  • Group currently using ELMSLN on campus (at UW) has started migration to the latest architecture
  • Active investigation at two other colleges who I won’t name at the moment but one has a potentially active contributor
  • We met with a member of a new global online university who is interested ELMSLN Open Studio for use in a distributed, global cohort based learning style that crosses language and country boundaries.
  • We are deep into active semester 4 of ELMSLN adoption in-house and currently have 15 courses on the platform utilizing the MOOC and CIS components heavily

In 2014, I’ve given (or will give) ELMSLN presentations at the following events…

  1. Drupal Camp Ohio (Feb)
  2. Drupalcon Austin (June)
  3. Web Conference @ Penn State (June)
  4. DrupalCamp Wisconsin (July)
  5. Campus Technology (July)
  6. DrupalCampPA (Aug) Pittsburgh
  7. OpenEd14 (Nov)

There will be code sprints with dedicated time for on-boarding people at DrupalCamp Wisconsin (Madison) and DrupalCamp PA (Pittsburgh). This happened at Drupalcon Austin and I got ELMSLN’s vagrant / developer setup running on two other peoples machines and did in depth hands on Q/A. Collins and I also got to work on the project for about a 6 hour chunk too which was enough time to get him committing code directly to the github project repository!

Little by little, one person at a time, one favor at a time, one email or tweet at a time, we will change the world. I haven’t lost the optimism yet that we can set the world on fire if we just change our selves and be good stewards to our neighbors. Information altruism is a real thing, I believe it with everything in me that when you donate time and resources to another person you change the world.

With all that I’ve done, I can’t do as much as I can in numbers. Imagine what we will build together. Imagine the knowledge it production we can unleash and the potential minds, especially in “emerging markets”. Those aren’t Emerging markets, they are thousands of years of oppressive regimes about to be unshackled (in part) due to technology. Let’s not have them fall into the same mistakes our country has had to endure in the education arena.

There are blank canvas’ everywhere, paint a better tomorrow.

Reblog: LMS Futures: Evolution, Revolution, or Extinction?

I wanted to draw attention to this post on another edtech blog about the future of the LMS:


Instead of writing a blog post about it (like a logical person) I wrote in the comments. This is a repost of my answer to the question LMS Futures: Evolution, Revolution, or Extinction? Obviously my vote is in the extinction category (shocking I know).

The LMS is dying, LTI started to process by which it will slowly die. As more platforms integrate with quality toolsets living outside the LMS, and usability of said tools improves and data usage polices fade from an issue; the iron clad grip that the LMS holds over most institutions will slowly fade. They will still be there and have a good run ahead of them, but unless they choose to disrupt themselves and their industry now, they will be a sinking ship within the next many years.

How to fix? Break the monopolistic model apart. No more heavy handed knowledge silos that only pay lip service to concepts like open sharing of materials (so long as they all live in this bucket, follow usage policies and are ok with the export formats). No more marketing driven from the boardroom and not from the classroom. No more one-size fits all solutions.

The fundamental shift over the last 10 years has been that LMSs largely have been the same type of system, working in vacuums while the internet has improved leaps and bounds, passing it further and further by with each release cycle of largely the same product.

This isn’t their problem really, I mean, they’ve pegs to massive institutions that largely only understand tradition and routine. Unfortunately for LMS vendors, the educational industrial complex is teetering on collapse. Any additional weakening of the overall economy, mixed with (still) out of control costs of education and a populous increasingly questioning the merits of that piece of paper.. well, it won’t be pretty.

How to fix it? “You have no chance to survive make your time.” Personally I’m betting on open source and putting my “money” in non-educationally focused technologies. Hitch your wagon to a large open source community, bring the knowledge of your discipline and reshape the toolsets to the instructional challenges. This is the biggest threat to LMS and edtech vendors in general: architectures are getting easier to use.

We don’t need you to go build a blog platform, there are great ones already available, many that can be stood up locally and managed with ease (or one-click setup on cloud based service). We don’t need you to go build a _____ it already exists as a SaaS over in _____ and there’s an open source alternative called ____ if we really want to host. You can fill those blanks in with almost any FOSS framework, any non-education vendor, and any piece of functionality in the LMS. Stitch together the user experience with LTI, and in the near future the LMS of today is just the place you go to click the “start course” button.

Disclaimer: I’m the project lead on a Drupal based network of tools that has a lot of the rationale above driving me. You are weak and painfully outdated LMS, and there are many more then just me coming after you.

btopro — June 29th, 2014 in the comments, like a weirdo

I’m proud of myself, I didn’t even mention ELMS Learning Network in the post though I obviously went a little overboard. I’ve been meaning to blog here for a long time about everything that’s been going on but i’ve been tired from presenting about it, working on it, and having a happy but sleep deprived family :).