I realized yesterday that in my long and storied career in academia, I’ve taught with a pretty fair cross-section of learning management systems. And then, because I’m just that compulsive, I started to try to count them. So for your edification… or maybe for my own amusement… here’s that list.
- WebCT: I cut my teeth on this LMS, way back as a doctoral student at Syracuse University. I used it to support my classroom courses, thus making my courses “hybrid” or “blended” courses, even before I knew that was a thing. And I taught my first entirely online course in WebCT, in 2000, maybe 2001? I still remember that I had a student in that course at the Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan. And I thought it was just so incredibly cool that a student halfway around the world could participate just as meaningfully in the course as someone who lived on campus. And the rest, as they say, is history, as far as my interest in EdTech is concerned.
- Blackboard: This is what UNC was using when I started there in 2003, and what we used until 2012, when we threw it over in favor of…
- Sakai: I was on the taskforce that investigated the pros & cons of switching from Bb to Sakai, and after the longest pilot program in human history, made a recommendation to the campus IT Executive Steering Committee. (I think you can guess what that recommendation was.) Even though Blackboard was still the official LMS on campus through 2012, thanks to the interminable pilot, I had been teaching in Sakai as far back as 2007.
- Canvas: Used it when I taught for the University of Washington this past year.
- Desire2Learn: Will be using it when I teach for the University of Wisconsin — Madison in the Fall.
- Moodle: Ok, I admit it… I haven’t actually taught a course in Moodle. But I have used it as the shared work- and filespace a project. Which I think should count, don’t you?
- Coursera: Does this even count as an LMS? I actually think it does, since it allows you to create and manage a course, including content, assessments, and discussion forums, which really are the important bits. On the other hand, it’s not as fully-featured as many other LMSs. On the other other hand, maybe that’s a good thing. Either way, I used it for my MOOC.
- Ning: Paul Jones and I used this for our Library 2.0 course in 2009, back when it was still a free platform.
- Social Media Classroom: I used this one semester for my Digital Libraries course. Social Media Classroom is of course Howard Rheingold’s project, an effort to leverage social media to foster active learning. I found it to be a good effort, but I preferred the DIY approach. Specifically…
- WordPress: UNC has a campus WordPress instance, and after some of the shine had gone off Sakai for me, I used WordPress as an LMS for all of my courses, for several semesters. The only thing I didn’t do in WordPress was give grades: for that I provided a link to the gradebook in the course Sakai site. (I really wanted to get a gradebook working in WP, and the admin of the campus WP instance and I spent probably too much time trying to get a gradebook plugin working, but we never were able to.) Anyway, WP was pretty good as an LMS, actually. It accomplished what I really wanted in an LMS, which was to have the discussion be front-and-center. And it made it easy to plug in tools on an as-needed basis: a Google Calendar here, a wiki there, RSS feeds over here. And it was a heck of a lot more customizable than any other LMS I’ve ever used.
Goodness knows, there are plenty of other LMSs out there. But I think I’ve covered of the ones that are currently the big players. C’mon edX, want me to teach a course for you, so I can put another notch in my belt?