Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Learning platforms

I sense some disquiet among techies when we refer to learning platforms: it may be the terminology is not strictly accurate. But I increasingly prefer it to the array of acronyms, none of which is much clearer when spelled out, and which only serve the cause of mystifying e-learning when presented in abbreviated form.

VLE – Virtual Learning Environment – is my favourite, but remains open to misinterpretation, as is its near relation MLE (Managed Learning Environment). The popular LMS, short for Learning Management System is, I think, especially misleading, as it conflates Learner Management System with Learning Content Management System, two different things.

A learning platform, whatever we call it, essentially comprises some or all of three components (and perhaps some additional features). These are illustrated in the diagram.

The Learner Management component manipulates information about learners. This is what enables learners to manage their personal information, and it is what yields records and reports for organisations. Crucially, this is not just about e-learning, as it may be used to manage learner information relating to all learning activities, including those that remain exclusively offline.

The second component is about courses, learning objects and learning resources – the content of learning programmes.

And the third, sometimes neglected, component is about managing the learning processes. Hopefully this is about more than simply building pages of illustrated reading with quizzes bolted on at the end. It can include a virtual classroom, or collaborative tools like discussion forums, blogs and mini-blogs, or wikis.

Many platforms have been around for a decade or more now, and amazingly, we still seek clarity on what they actually do. I hope this post helps.

1 comment:

Tony Karrer said...

Hi Kenneth,

Somehow I've missed your blog until now. Great stuff.

Are you interested in participating in eLearning Learning?

Drop me a note to:


Blog Archive