Learning Technology Customers
In my response to Michael Chasen’s response to my post about Blackboard and the innovator’s dilemma, I made the observation that Blackboard’s (and every other CMS vendor’s) problem is that their customers are institutions, not learners.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this notion the past few days. If CMSs are developed and sold (or at least promoted) to institutions, it follows that their functionality and features will be skewed in the direction of meeting institutional needs, including faculty / instructor needs (e.g. easy course content publication, efficient quiz administration, secure grade posting).
Many of the efficiencies that yield benefits to institutions and instructors also provide value to students. But these benefits are mostly serendipitous. Setting aside economic considerations, I’ve been wondering what a CMS (or some other kind of learning software) would look like if it were developed as if the learner was the customer instead of the institution.
Here are some features I think software would include:
- Learners would “own” their own learning space. They would not be dependent on their institution or some other entity to grant (and continue granting) them access to their learning content. Learner content collections would be managed and maintained by learners according to their changing learning needs.Â
- Access to content and relationships with other learners would persist over time. Access would not be tied to artificial institutional teaching calendars.
- There would be much more robust tools around note taking, organizing content for study, research and collaboration.
- Â Non-course, non-credit learning tools that support informal learning (e.g. acquiring new technical skills, foreign language acquisition / retention, hobby related learning, etc.).
What do you think? What other features might more learner-centered software applications have? Is it possible to provide these same features via a traditional CMS? Why or why not?