Example of an Evaluation Table For VLE’s

March 27, 2007 on 2:44 pm | In Uncategorized, Comparison | 2 Comments
Educational Principles Evaluation Criteria Examples User Perspective
Student Instructor
1. Decentralisation
Does the learning environment allow for a decentralised structure of learning styles in terms of access to learning resources and knowledge, social interaction, and assessment and activities?
1.1 accessibility
Are the learning resources/knowledge/ content openly available, allowed to integrate external resources?
accessibility, open or closed, various media formats (images, text, video, documents)

1.2 administration
Are the administration and security settings in the learning environment inhibitive or productive for learning?
restrictive or open, mandatory or optional, extensive or limited

1.3 appraisal
Does the learning environment provide opportunities for different styles of assessment and feedback?
Self-appraisal, group assessment, formal examination, comments, page ratings

2. Modularisation
Does the learning environment have the opportunity to evolve? Is there the possibility of integrating other tools and expanding the capacities of the learning environment?
2.1 modularity
Can the learning environment be modified or customized? Can students manipulate the learning environment in any way to meet their own requirements?
Design (i.e colour, thematics, fonts, layout), Interface (i.e. tabs, side menus, structure, titles, content), and functionality (i.e editing tools, drafting and publishing and archiving, preferences)

2.2 interoperability
Does the learning environment allow work depending on systems and networks available? does it allow for seamless integration of tools?
Operational issues (i.e. cross web browsers/platforms/ screen sizes, internet capacity, processing speed), integration of external apps, versioning

2.3 expansion
Can the learning environment be redeveloped or expanded to meet learning requirements?
Available extensions and add-ons, versioning, developer community behind the learning environment

3. Socialisation
Does the learning environment provide the opportunities for communication, dialogue self-expression, collaborative knowledge sharing?
3.1 connectivity
Are there opportunities to interact and communicate with peers?
Discussion forums, skype, VoIP synchronous chat, videoconferencing, RSS/Atom Feeds

3.2 self-expression
Does the learning environment provide for opportunities to construct individual knowledge?
Website, blogs/live journals

3.3 collaboration
Does the learning environment provide for opportunities for collaborative group work or knowledge sharing capabilities?
Wikis, shared blogs

4. Adaptability
Does the learning environment provide opportunities for informal or alternative learning styles or just reflect traditional learning models?
4.1 discretionary
Does the learning environment allow for a choice in learning styles?
pre-determined to a learning style, open to different learning styles, preset preferences

4.2 specialised
Can the learning environment adapt to provide for specific learning requirements?
languages (including fonts, characters), access, prior understanding, semiotics, epistemology

We are also making a short comparison of CMS, LMS and LCMS at Comparison



Comments on LMS evaluation

March 26, 2007 on 9:39 pm | In Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Hi there!

referring to our last Skype conversation, I promised to give you some input on the LCMS evaluation grid.
As for comparison studies between Open Source based LCMS and proprietary software solutions like Blackboard and WebCT, I suggest to look into the demo portals:



and WebCT,


Concerning the evaluation grid, I propose to look at different web sources that might be helpful for your evaluation design.

LMS Evaluation Report – Part II – March 2004, v.1.0. 6. 3.2 A Framework for the Pedagogical Evaluation of eLearning. Environments

A Framework for the Pedagogical Evaluation of eLearning Environments

Key principles in “Learning Ecology”

March 22, 2007 on 9:26 pm | In Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The following is my first thoughts on what are the key principles for learning environments to promote "learning ecology".  I have also included some basic ideas for what may evolve into parameters under each of the principles for our evaluation.  These will require further discussion and editing.


Does the learning environment allow for a decentralised structure of learning styles in terms of access to learning resources and knowledge, social interaction, and assessment and activities? 

  • accessibility - are the learning resources/knowledge/content openly available, allowed to integrate external resources?
  • security and administration - does administration and security present a barrier to smooth learning? are they mandatory, and can they be redesigned?
  • simplicity - is the module structure simple and easy to use?


Does the learning environment have the opportunity to evolve?  Is there the possibility of integrating other tools for knowledge management, communication, self-expression and expanding the capacities of the learning environment?  Can tools or features be added/administered to enhance the experience in the learning environment?

  • modularity - can components of the learning environment, interface, design, functionality be modified?
  • expansion - can add-ons or plugins, synchronous tools integrate into the learning environment?
  • evolution - can the learning environment be redeveloped further to meet learning requirements?


Does the learning environment provide the opportunities for communication, dialogue self-expression, collaborative knowledge sharing?

  • connectivity - are there opportunities to interact and communicate with peer (i.e. discussion forums, skype, chat)?
  • self-expression - does the learning environment provide for opportunities to construct individual knowledge (i.e. blogs/live journals)?
  • collaborative - is there functionality for collaborative group work or knowledge sharing capabilities (i.e. RSS/Atom feeds, wikis)?


Does the learning environment provide opportunities for informal or alternative learning styles outside the realm of instruction and assessment?  Does the learning environment structure just reflect traditional learning models?

  • interoperability - can the learning be able to meet differing educational models?
  • specialised - can the learning environment adapt to provide for specific learning requirements (i.e. cultural/skill specific learning)?


Article Summary: Siemens (2004) Learning Management Systems: The Wrong Place to Start Learning

March 21, 2007 on 11:50 pm | In Uncategorized, ePedagogy, Learning, Learning Management Systems, learning ecology, tools | No Comments

The following article by George Siemens provides an interesting critique of LMS from the perspective of learning ecologies. He suggests the key learning principles and design requirements are needed for learning environments that encourage learning ecology.

Article Summary

Siemens describes that the common perspective of Learning management systems as the key tool for e-learning is "valid from a management and control standpoint, but antithetical to the way in which most people learn today."  He suggests that traditional LMS tools offer a way to present content and for administration, however their common use often assumes that exposure to content precedes learning. He argues that LMS should be implemented as "part of a holistic learning environment" to give the users control and flexibility to choose their own learning path.

Seimens suggests that learning is "not a process to be managed" but it is "by nature multi-faceted and chaotic." He suggests that inflexible dependent tools don’t support informal learning, performance support nor knowledge management and that feature-rich tools (such as an LMS) "can’t do it all without losing functionality" and lose practicality.

The key problems include:

  • Structured tools dictate interactions;
  • Interface design;
  • Limitations to communication tools;
  • Limitations to learning tools;

Siemens suggests that LMS are suitable when content and information provision is key to the learning strategy, however when interactions and connections are key then he suggests that social tools are required.  He suggests that educational programmes for knowledge and comprehension based subjects need a structured content approach, however this is limited for programmes with subjects that require higher cognitive  skills.

Siemens lists a number of effective alternatives to LMS including:

  • modular tools so that functionality can be expanded;
  • social tools to encourage individual expression and connect learners and content;
  • integration of synchronous tools; and
  • learner focused tools that encourages learning ecology.

The types of tools suggested include blogs, wikis, CMS, social tools, networking tools, collaborative spaces, and connection making protocols (RSS and Atom).  Siemens suggests that these alternatives provide learner control of the type of content explored and how they explore to effectively respond to their learning goals.  He suggests that learning networks are better in an "information overload society" than traditional linear learning models.

Siemens lists a number of key design requirements for learning environments:  

  • facility for learner expression (blog)
  • facility for content interaction
  • facility to connect with other learners (discussion forum)
  • facility toconnect thoughts of other learners (RSS feed)
  • facility for instructor dialogue (email, VoIP)
  • facility for mentors/gurus dialogue (forums, commentary)
  • facility for management of learning artefacts, resources (personal knowledge management tools, i.e. del.icio.us)
  • modularised interface so additional functionality and tools can be added on where required.

Siemens suggests that reality of learning runs counter to LMS design and implementation.  he suggests that "strongly structured tools, with limited extensibility, face short life cycles in rapidly changing environments."  Modularisation and specialisaiton of tools allow development of specific learning paths and tasks and the development of "rich learning ecologies".


Siemens, George (2004): Learning Management Systems: The Wrong Place to Start Learning.

Article Summary: Richardson (2002) An Ecology of Learning and the Role of eLearning in the Learning Environment

March 21, 2007 on 1:43 am | In Uncategorized, ePedagogy, Learning, Evaluaton, learning ecology | No Comments

This is an article on Learning Ecology and it’s role in eLearning provided by Arthur Richardson of Cisco Systems.  This is a key article in our research which provides a good defintion and principles for learning ecology and these will also be adapted to from a basis of pedagogical inquiry in our analysis of LMS, LCMS and CMS in eLearning.

Article Summary

Richardson identifies that classroom model of instruction having numerous weaknesses including that it is separated from work-based tasks and the emphasis on information.  He also identifies that technology-based learning has focused to much on instruction and failed to provide effective social transactions.  Richardson also introduces Blended learning attempts to introduce technology-based learning and traditional classroom learning with simulated classroom delivery as an "insufficient response to learner needs".  He hen suggests that the ineffectiveness of these models is a result of a failure to consider that people learn in many different ways and that learning is a part of everyday life and that "people learn in response to need".

Richardson introduces the concept of "Ecology of Learning" and that a "successful learning ecology offers a ubiquitous learning environment" and illustrates some key principles for a learning ecology as:

"Students have open, immediate access to the ecology where they can search for, locate, and quickly access elements of learning that address their immediate needs. Students use the ecology to construct and organize personalized, unique interactions with the content.

A learning ecology must also support social learning in the workplace. The environment needs to offer technologies for
students to form learning teams for collaborative activities, or to self-organize into discussion groups where students can explore learning topics. The ecology should also enable people to discuss and share insights within their specialized communities of practice.

The instructional design and content elements that form a learning ecology must be dynamic and interdependent. The learning environment should enable instructional elements designed as small, highly relevant content objects to be dynamically reorganized into a variety of pedagogical models. This dynamic reorganization of content into different pedagogical models creates a learning system that adapts to varying student needs."

Richardson then approaches how to develop an environment for a learning ecology. He presents learning holistic learning model whereby learning is bounded in a matrix of instructional delivery and navigational control and inputs 4 quadrants of learning; studying, projects, teaching and exercises.  Richardson then inputs categories of instructional strategies (such as presentations, discussions, activities, etc) onto the matrix, each instructional strategy can be further developed into templates.

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Richardson then presents that elearning as "an enabling technology to support student interactions with the resources contained within a learning ecology."  This learning ecology presents students with the opportunities to "locate, select and access instructional strategies and models" to address their own learning requirements, including access to information resources, teaching environments, projects and exercises, in individual or collaborative learning styles.

Richardson goes further to suggest that learning ecology is essential for building capacities in the workplace and also in coordination with a elearning technology such as LMS, learners can manage their learning activities and complete formal assessment.


Richardson (2002) An Ecology of Learning and the Role of eLearning in the Learning Environment: A Discussion Paper.  In Connecting the Future: Global Summit of Online Knowledge Networks, education.au limited, Dulwich.



Article Summary: Stiles “Effective Learning and the Virtual Learning Environment”

March 20, 2007 on 6:18 pm | In Uncategorized, Learning, Evaluaton, Learning Management Systems | No Comments

The following article provides a good critical analysis of LMS and provides a good pedagogical principles for "Effective Learning". It is anticipated that we will adapt some of the key principles for Effective Learning listed in this article.

Article Summary

Stiles introduces that the web has effectively made learning more distributed and a significant number of virtual learning environments have been developed to provide for this.

Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is described by Stiles as an LMS and states that VLE’s are "designed to act as a focus for students learning activities and their management and facilitation, along with the provision of content and resources required to help make the activities successful." Stiles also introduces Managed Learning Environment as including "all of the wider features of enrolment, course options management, student record and profile keeping, the wider management, interchange and publication of content, and the features needed to allow learners to move or progress between courses and institutions." He proposes that MLE’s technically don’t exist despite efforts of standardisation to allow interoperability between VLE’s.

Stiles asserts the educational problem that there is a repeated failure to address educational design which is learner focused, engages the learner and non-didactical. He also describes that there are key problems including viewing learning as just information delivery and procedural, ignoring the fact that learning is social by nature, providing discourse at the expense of collaborative learning, and a desire to create costly "rich" multimedia.

Stiles then introduces some key points for effective Learning. He describes learning as an

"active process with consideration:

  • Learning is a social process and development is linked to the specific culture in which learning activities are shared
  • Learning activities need to be "authentic" - normal to the culture in question and involve its tools and artifacts
  • Learning is situated in the dual contexts of culture and learning environment and that learning involves the interaction of learners and experts within them
  • Enculturation involves the development by the learner of the use of culture-specific meaning-making, or semiotic, tools
  • Individual and social learning have a complex and necessary interdependence
  • Expertise involves perceiving the relationship between specific and general knowledge and skills
  • The need for both learning activity and assessment to be clearly related to syllabus and to reward understanding
  • The need to match assessment, content and resources to the learner’s current level"

Stiles then suggests a framework for course design that is output driven and focus on the process and effects on learners and includes the following:

  • Identify learning outcomes;
  • Design Learning Opportunities;
  • Apply Deconstruction;
  • Consider Group or Individual learning;
  • Identify or create Resources.


Stiles (2000) Effective Learning and the Virtual Learning Environment. In Proceedings: EUNIS 2000 - Towards Virtual Universities, Instytut Informatyki Politechniki Poznanskiej, Poznan April 2000, ISBN 83 913639 1 0

ePedagogy Project work

October 14, 2006 on 1:05 pm | In ePedagogy | No Comments


The project will seek to define content management systems (CMS) in relation to learning content management systems (LCMS) and how they can be applied to learning environments. The project will seek to develop a methodology to applying and customizing Learning Content Management Systems to a socio-constructivist learning environment focusing on the collaborative development, management and manipulation of content. The project will also seek to explore how the principles of socio-constructivism can be applied to the development methodology for LCMS.


Content Management Systems (CMS) have been predominantly used as database driven tools for comparmentalisation and modularisation of information for the management and publishing of information on the web, in particular there have been a recent growth in open source developed CMS (e.g. Joomla). Similary Learning Management Systems, database driven tools for the management and delivery of online content, in a control and administered learning environment, have also been developed in open source (e.g. Moodle). Recently there has been some significant developments in Learning Content Management Systems (LCMS) and their application within online educational programmes. LCMS have been regarded as key tools in online education for the collaborative building and sharing of knowledge in virtual learning environments, however there has been little analysis of it’s impact on existing or emergent pedagogical models. Research and development of LCMS appears to have followed a development path from Learning Management Systems, however it is difficult to distinguish LCSM from existing CMS.

The recent development in open source software for LMS and CMS also appears to exhibit principles of Social Contructivist learning particularly in the collaborative learning exhibited in developer forums and wikis, although to some extent these abridged learning environments lack integration of learners with the same level of knowledge.


editors Antti Katajainen & Gerard Brady