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Theoretical links to LMSs

Page history last edited by Xuan Nguyen 10 years, 7 months ago


Different LMSs embrace different pedagogical approaches, if any (Lane, 2009) and these vary across different uses of the tools. In this section, the most common educational theories embedded in typical LMSs and connected with common LMS practices are analyzed.


Most LMS pedagogies are traditional in nature. In other words, the LMSs are mainly aligned with Instructivist or Behaviorist theories, which emphasizes presentation and assessment as the focal points (Olufemi, 2008; Lane, 2009; Godwin-Jones, 2012). These can be seen in most frequent uses of such LMS functions as uploading and downloading content, questions and responses, tests and automated-grading and/or feedback. Passively receive a dose of information (stimuli) and process it in the way they are asked to do by their instructors (response). Assessment is mostly, in some cases entirely, based on delivered content and in summative forms, for example tests and exams. Even in discussion forums, most of the time, it is the teacher to start the conversation with questions (stimuli) around the subject matter topics or assignments and asking for responses from students. Learning, in this way, is more teacher-centered than student-focused and inherent and linear focusing on knowledge consumption rather than generation (Gautam, 2010; Mott, 2010).


Vygotsky’s Socio-cultural theory, especially the concept of ZPD (Zone of Proximal Development), is believed to be evident in some LMS practice (Olufemi, 2008; Lane, 2009). This is supported by some built-in discussion tools enabling ideas exchanging and peer-teaching. In this sense, learning can also be considered as technology-enhanced. Despite being limited to a small group of learners enrolled in particular courses, learners can still benefit from diverse educational and cultural backgrounds of different classmates and social forms of learning such as dialogues. Interestingly, not only the teacher who provides instructions and feedback that scaffolds student learning but their peers, especially more knowledgeable ones, can assist each other learning through LMS communication tools. Some LMS platforms even experience a robust peer-teaching when learners are highly committed to and motivated in their learning.


Constructivism and Socio-constructivism, which share most of the main principles of Vygotskian theory, is also highlighted in some LMS platforms such as Moodle (Olufemi, 2008; Moodle, 2012; Darling, 2012). LMSs as such allow learners to create knowledge by interaction with each other and with the tasks given by teachers. In this kind of LMSs, teachers and students are given more freedom (Dougiamas, 2012) in organizing more interactive and collaborative activities through the use of such tools as discussion forums, emails, and chat rooms enabling real-time collaborative capacities. Also, these systems make room for student’s contribution by allowing them to suggest and add useful ideas or information sources such as web links (Darling, 2012). Common tasks involving group work such as group presentation and peer-assessment are exploited to enhance construction and co-construction of knowledge making use of prior knowledge and experience. Hence, it reinforces continuous learning and encourages life-long learning.


Notably, the new approach of more recent LMS development is embracing Connectivism, which is the key theory of hybrid education (Siemens, 2004b; Mott, 20110; Downes, 2012). Some innovative educators have employed more social e-learning tools in combination or in parallel with their use of LMS to enrich the learning experience by connecting with wider networks wherein knowledge is co-constructed by collective intelligence (Siemens, 2004b). A typical example of connectivist use of LMS is that students work on a group project to explore and experience the subject matter together with their fellow-learners and their products are evaluated as a form of assessment. This practice of LMSs clearly goes beyond the delivery and repository of knowledge and encourages informal education and empowers more cooperative learning (Mott, 2010; Morrison, 2012).



In light of Bloom’s taxonomy, conventional LMSs appear to fit in the lower levels of thinking skills (Remembering, Understanding, and Applying) while other more innovative exploitation of the systems tends to reach the higher levels (Analyzing, Evaluating, and Creating) (Churches, 2007).  This can be illustrated in the following graph:


Bloom’s Taxonomy and Web 2.0 Applications by Samantha Penney in Morrison (2012).


Other learning theories connected with LMSs include Cognitivism, Laurillard Conversation Model, Emotional Learning (Darling, 2012). 

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