Archive for the ‘LMS’ Category

McGraw-Hill via their new product McGraw-Hill Campus provides faculty unlimited access to the company’s entire library, regardless of whether they’re using Mcgraw-Hill textbooks. Resources include eBooks, test banks, PowerPoint slides, animations and learning objects. Students will also be able to access McGraw-Hill resources directly through their LMS  but only those that already provided free by MH.

MH Campus (mhcampus.com) is ingrated (at no additional fee) with most LMS products including Blackboard, D2L, eCollege, Moodle, Sakai, Shibboleth and others. This means there is no additional web site to log into for faculty or students who can access the materials directly from their LMS.

To read full article: http://campustechnology.com/articles/2011/07/18/mcgrawhill-campus-to-make-resources-free-through-any-lms.aspx#


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If you’re super connected to social networking, use different instant messaging products, have several email accounts, or want to toggle between texting to/from your cell and your computer, the first tool may be for you. It gives you instant access to, and a running stream of your Facebook updates/feeds, blends all of your IM buddies regardless of source, and provides access to your different email accounts, in one neat cockpit.

If you subscribe to several RSS/news feeds, want to read the top sports stories, see the weather, or if you use Mapquest, Wikipedia or visit YouTube frequently, consider personalizing your own Web portal by using the second tool.

Thanks to my colleague and revered tech guru (not his real job), Todd Digby (only coincidental name connection), I configured the following tools just yesterday to streamline many of my Web surfing activities.

  • Digsby: is a proprietary multiprotocol instant messaging application (from Wikipedia). So what does that mean? In about five minutes, you can set up a downloadable piece of software to connect all your instant messaging tools (AIM, Yahoo, MSN, etc) along with your email accounts, and social networks (Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter only). My complaint is that I’d like to see other social networks such as Plaxo and LinkedIn offered as well. Here’s what the cockpit looks like:
























When you scroll over the “F” icon -at the left – for Facebook, it brings up your feed, from which you can access your profile, messages, friends, photos. And it all sits down in your icon tray.





  • iGoogle: It’s a personalized Google page, where you can add web feeds and Google gadgets. Much like NetVibes, PageFlakes, MyYahoo. use it as a portal to most of your most valued sites and feeds, saving gobs of time. For us educators, I think it has critical importance for the future of eLearning systems, in that it teaches us how to set up a carousel-like page, with multiple offerings to the myriad tools students can use to construct knowledge. That is how experimenting faculty (such as M. Wesch) are beginning to set up their classes — where the LMS becomes just one tool, not necessarily the centerpiece, functioning more quietly as an operating system (to collect dropbox items, as an electronic gradebook and to issue quizzes).


These feed-driven portals go far beyond the present LMS capabilities, so if faculty want to use them, they’re on their own presently, to set them up and help their students use them. I predict that iGoogle, NetVibes, and the like will become the templates for the next design iteration of LMSs everywhere. That may not be a bad thing, as LMS companies start redesigning for extensibility. I surely hope the next LMS (if there is to be a single entry point), goes  beyond adding only internal/proprietary tools but instead is redesigned to more closely resemble a customized learning space where each faculty member can add external widgets deemed the best for engaging learners and improving outcomes. 

This is just a prediction – but all instincts say I’m on target. Anyway, here’s what my iGoogle page looks like (click on pic to get a larger view):



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Upward trend line

Here’s another good Campus Technology article (Linda Briggs, 6/4/08 ) this time on higher ed trends in the field of learning management systems (LMS), utilizing data from the recent Gartner survey. I noted three primary trends from the article, which shouldn’t be particularly new or surprising, to any of you keeping a watchful eye on where LMSs are headed. Still, they’re interesting and telling:

Trend #1: 

Increased usage of Open Source products; mainly Sakai and Moodle. The surprising leader in growth of the two: Moodle. Gartner predicts that Open Source platforms will secure 35% of market share by the end of 2008.

Trend #2:

Increased development of home-grown products. Unlike the completely “coded-from-scratch” versions we saw in the late 1990s and early millenium, home-grown iterations today may call from “a variety of other content management portal applications with relatively good, usable toolsets.” Campuses now can create their own e-learning systems with these tools. Or they can customize their own LMS using Lotus or SharePoint. 

 Trend #3:

Additions of social technology-type tools in all LMSs (we saw that coming!)

So let me offer one rant on Trend #3. If one of the main complaints of the LMSs over the past half-dozen years is that they turned into monolithic learning environments which don’t play well with others, why silo-ize even more? Ok, sure there are security issues, but let’s get busy figuring out this collaboration bit. Wouldn’t the resources be better spent coding for integration and interoperability so we don’t see the emergence of each platform coming up with its own [duplicative] e-portfolio, blog, and version of MySpace?

Is it me? Am I just being cranky today?

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Court gavel






What was supposed to have been announced on May 11th came through as late-breaking news yesterday, regarding the Blackboard-D2L patent lawsuit.

During a telephone hearing late today [May 6], Judge Clark granted an extension of the stay of the injunction he entered in March. The Court granted an extension through June 11. More information will follow once we receive the Order from the Court. (From the Desire2Learn Patent-Info’s Blog).

This is good news for the faculty and students of Minnesota State Colleges and Universities who will be able to continue using our current version of our enterprise-wide instructional management system (D2L) until our scheduled upgrade to version 8.3 in early June. The stay will allow D2L to support its American clients with the upgrade to 8.3, which most are expecting to have completed by early June. Had the stay had not been granted, D2L would not have been able to support its clients on any versions other than 8.3, but more importantly, they would have been precluded from assisting clients with the upgrade (which — do you see the Catch-22 here –only D2L can do), Why? Because upgrading to 8.3 meant they would “touch” versions 8.1 and 8.2, which are part of the upgrade path.

While the system was preparing for many scenarios, including “worst case,” this ruling takes an immense pressure off of everyone concerned while getting clients (including our massively huge enterprise application) to the new version. At least until any future rounds of legal actions are undertaken by Blackboard assessing whether 8.3 indeed stands up to officially being free of patent infringements. But let’s not go there…yet. Instead, I’ll try to focus on D2L’s assurances posted in their blog:

We will be working closely with our clients to help them upgrade to Learning Environment version 8.3, our official design-around version.

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Minnesota State Colleges and Universities logo 

I went to our annual RSP/ITeach Conference this past Friday. The conference sponsored by the Center for Teaching and Learning (of the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system), was held last week at Minneapolis Community and Technical College. The conference brought together more than 1100 Minnesota State Colleges and Universities faculty to:

  • Discuss teaching in their disciplines
  • Demonstrate best practices in teaching
  • Present the results of innovative experiments in instructional development and instructional technologies

True to form, the conference was inspiring and provided a great opportunity to network with colleagues.  

I conducted one of the 100+ sessions and am uploading my presentation slides below.

Don’t Get Too Comfortable – the Landscape of eLearning is Changing

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