Learning Contents For LMS (Learning Management System)

I'm currently in my 2-week oversea training -  "Learning Contents for LMS" in SEAMEO VOCTECH Brunei. With 2 more days before the training officially ends, I must say this training trip is a fruitful one and an eye-opener for me.

It is the first time I've experienced educators from the various SEA countries - Malaysia, Thailand, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Lao, Vietnam and representing Singapore, we've all flown in to Brunei these 2 weeks with very precise common goals - to share and learn the top LMS platforms and the types of learning contents that we can put inside these LMSes for better blended-learning pedagogy and engagement of the students.

Looking at the list of top LMSes is kind like a reminisce for me. Think it was in 2010 that I had conducted an extensive research online for the best LMSes available at that time. After thorough analysis and evaluation, I settled down with MOODLE - Modular Object Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment - wow, quite a mouthful; especially for the first time I was messing around with it at that time.

It took me just a quick 2-week to get my first MOODLE site up from scratch then. ​And the primary reason, or rather, motivation for me to get it up is because of the online quizzes which I can let me students/participants attempt (and re-attempt). And for teachers, we could finally "sit back and relax" while the system will "auto-mark" and let the participants know how they fare for the quizzes. It's a teacher's dream come true!

But guess what - the very first day I tried to get a class to log in and access the LMS, it konk out when just half the class logged in and all monitor screens display was "MySQL database connection error ...". Ooops! It was after month of trying, re-installing and rebuilding, that I realised it's literally impossible to get an LMS to work on a shared hosting. Jeez, I should have known. Nevertheless, like I always said, if THING don't crash, we aren't learning anyTHING! Till these days, trying various type on LMSes on various types of hosting - VPS, cloud, dedicated etc. I believe I can build fantastic LMS for institutes and corporates that can withstand "unlimited" users.

Nevertheless, with the arrays of LMSes/hostings combinations, if you were to ask me which LMS is the best - I've got just the perfect anwers (note the plural form - answer"s")​ for you. It's either MOODLE or WordPress (enabled with LMS plugin).

If you're an educational institute with thousands of students, the choice is obvious - MOODLE. Why? This is because MOODLE's structure handle students administration better as compared to LMS-plugin enabled WordPress. On the downside, the themes available for MOODLE are downright ... 80s', if not too ugly. And the navigation, I must say, is ... you called that UI?! But hey, I'm only targeting MOODLE's UI - by itself, it is a well-build opensource LMS powered by a huge community with tons of plugins/addons that is the ideal platform for educational organisation. 

Now, if you're building a LMS for corporate or when you do not need so many user profiles like Administrator, Course Creator, Teacher, Student etc. (which MOODLE is more suitable), then a LMS-plugin enabled WordPress is the way to go. The advantages are clear :

  • It got a much better visually stunning user interface; hey, it's WordPress, there are truckload of premium themes available.
  • It can be deployed in a flash (typically in days; it had took me months just to mess around with MOODLE frondends)
  • It's easier to managed and most, if not all, are familiar with the good-old WordPress platform.

Typically, the types of learning contents are :

  • Texts - it could be in the form of plain or markup texts, RTFs or PDFs.
  • Images - as in JPEG, PNG or GIF (the top 3 graphic formats widely used for the web)
  • Videos - MP4 etc.
  • Audios - MP3, podcast etc.
  • Interactive Illustrations - HTML5, SWF etc.

​And learning contents can also be classified into 2 main categories :

  • Pedagogic delivery - for the purpose of knowledge transfer to the students
  • Assessment - ​for assessing if the students have acquired the necessary lesson objectives; in a LMS this could be an online assignment or quiz.

LMS is just but a tool. The inherent key issue is still in content population which come to the main gist of this post – what are the types of learning contents which should be in the LMS so as to allow a structured way to manage the (online) learning of the students.

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