There has been a large amount of attrition from legacy systems such as Blackboard. Higher education in the US, because of budget cuts, have made the decision to move to open source solutions – in part because of teacher and student pressure for a more learner-centred LMS. Globally, the online learning markets are growing rapidly (approximately 20% per year). The number of content repositories is also increasing, in part because of financial savings whereby large institutions with satellite campuses can share the same information. Some institutions are bringing in a maximum number of pages that can be printed out by lecturers – if they exceed this maximum they have to pay for the printing costs out of their own pockets. Using a managed cloud proposition as a solution lowers the cost per student, which can be handed on to the ‘client’.
It is a worry for me that the focus, certainly at the beginning of this presentation, was pretty much focussed on money. Money is a reality, but education as a business model is always a worry. It is an uneasy model as it sees students as consumers rather than learners; qualifications become commodities to be purchased; and teachers are measured on the quantitative performance of their students. The LMS becomes a “distribution channel”, and as an “upside opportunity” – i.e. a US$2 billion market for Moodlerooms. Yes, developers need paying and education is not an altruistic pursuit, but…when did it become so focussed on income, monopolies, acquisition, profit and market forces? Was it Blackboard (who has bought up a large number of competitors including WebCT and Angel…sound familiar?)? Or is it politics? Has education become devalued by this focus, or am I living in a la-la land of academic cynicism?