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Learning Management Systems and Online Learning Environments

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Chris Crudo


Learning Management Systems and Online Learning Environments


What are they?











      As education moves into and progresses through the digital age, tools such as Learning Management Systems and Online Learning Environments will help educators and trainers reach new heights and distances. Learning Management Systems (LMS') include applications such as Blackboard and Moodle. These systems and other online environments are widely used in conjunction with face-to-face meetings or trainings to reach their maximum potential. Most LMS' are highly flexible, providing a vast and feature-rich set of tools to design, build, and deliver online or virtual learning environments across a variety of subjects. (Griet, Juarez Collazo, Elen, & Geraldine, 2012)

     Online learning environments, or online collaborative learning environments, “offer the opportunity to create a highly social learning environment, characterized by participation and interactivity for both students and instructors.” (Brindley, Blaschke, & Walti, 2009) Online environments promote social interaction to increase learning rather than an individualized training that

may not be as well received.



     One of the major benefits that online environments and learning management systems provide is the flexibility to adapt with different styles, tools, and content quickly. This allows the instructor or trainer to modify the course, if necessary, in quick order to meet the needs of the learners. One such environment is the Netlab+ learning environment created by the Network Development Group. This LMS provides access to simulated (and potentially real) network and computer environments, allowing for both individual student access or a team environment. The enterprise-level equipment used for training within the Netlab+ system can be expensive (greater than $5,000 for each device), and is not available to the general public. Using systems such as the Netlab+ allows access to virtual and physical equipment in a distance-learning environment, allowing an instructor to fully utilize available resources by assigning reservations for sets of equipment, even allowing the same equipment to be used in diametrically opposed scenarios for different purposes. These reservations do not require the instructor to be present or involved in the learning lab, as the system automatically resets equipment back to a known state, and allows students the ability to access all devices as if they were directly connected, and allowing students to work in a self-paced or instructor-led environment.


     Specific pedagogical benefits of collaborative learning environments include the following:


  • Development of critical thinking skills
  • Co-creation of knowledge and meaning
  • Reflection
  • Transformative learning (Palloff & Pratt, 2005)


Educational Applications


     Learning management systems and online learning environments are heavily used in education. This is especially true in Higher Education, including Cal Poly Pomona. Some Universities utilize online collaborative learning environments as their primary method of instruction. An example would be the University of Phoenix. Their ability to deliver an exclusively online learning environment allows the institution to reach learners in a location-independent manner. Other institutions use a mixture of online and traditional classes to best suit their learners’ needs. 



Workforce Applications


     More and more companies are moving to learning management systems and online learning environments to deliver training to their workforce. Companies are discovering that the ability to deliver online training reduces costs and liabilities for employee travel. The ability to edit or repackage content is a necessity in the ever changing world of business. By delivering the training online through a learning management system or online learning environment the potential for logistical problems is reduced.




The following is a video from Miami-Dade County Public Schools about the benefits of their virtual classroom:





Works Cited


Brindley, J., Blaschke, L. M., & Walti, C. (2009). Creating Effective Collaborative Learning Groups in an Online Environment. The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Article 10.3.11.


Griet, L., Juarez Collazo, N. A., Elen, J., & Geraldine, C. (2012, January 20). Content Management Systems: Enriched learning opportunities for all? Retrieved April 18, 2012, from SciVerse: http://0-www.sciencedirect.com.opac.library.csupomona.edu/science/article/pii/S0747563211002779


Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating online: Learning together in community. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.



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