The Learning Management System has been a mainstay of online learning for over a decade now. It allows students to get their school assignments and to submit their work. Some also have discussions boards and social tools. While they have evolved over time, they are still what are known as silo applications. This means they tend not to work with outside tools and are self contained. While some parts of the net are moving towards a silo mentality (Apple), others are splitting apart into components. I read these two articles which seem to indicated to me that the concept of a LMS might be split apart into pieces which can then be assembled into different forms. Perhaps this would assist in customizing the learning experience?
The first article comes from Gigaom.com and is about a startup called NovoEd. In a nutshell they are creating a service for MOOCs. At the start of the MOOC, the thousands of students would put their social information into the NovoEd system. It then will match people together based on location and interests, thus allowing small workgroups to be created. This would have been something built into the LMS in the past but now it’s a separate service. Sounds like a great idea.
The second article comes from Campus Technology. It talks about a modification to Canvas LMS where they are adding the capability for 3rd party apps. This means that companies like Evernote, Dropbox and WordPress will be able to put their products directly into Canvas. This gives their LMS a bunch of capabilities simply by allowing access to other tools. Very cool idea and I see other LMSs following.
What you are seeing is the rapid evolution of online learning into other forms. Generation 1 closely modeled the physical classroom but Gen 2 will abandon the physical organization to be restructured along purely information lines. This is the nature of disaggregation and it will happen very very quickly. This is evolution at Internet speeds.