The Next-Gen Learning Eco-System: Is It Here Already? – O'Donnell Learn

The Next-Gen Learning Eco-System: Is It Here Already?

Published by Carrie O'Donnell
on Jul 05, 2016

There are few people who can address the evolution of the LMS and the edtech ecosystem with as much insight and expertise as Ray Henderson, Blackboard’s former President and Chief Technical Officer of the Academic Division. Earlier this year, Henderson gave an in-depth interview with Acrobatiq, From Course to Curriculum: An Interview With Ray Henderson on the Coming LMS Paradigm Shift. The interview goes deep, and truth be told, I read it a couple of times as it supports some of the topics I’ve begun to write about regarding the innovations and changes in Higher Ed that O’Donnell Learn, with our clients and partners, is helping to develop.

…evolving technology enables educators to focus less on building courses and more on communicating ideas. This paradigm shift…is creating a more collaborative environment for educators and an adaptive learning experience for students.

The above quote encapsulates much of what is so vital and exciting about what is happening in edtech today.

Platforms and tools allow for content and assessment to be scaled at a greater rate.  Scaling is not just about raising capacity—the ability to reach more students in a cost-effective way.  What’s key are the other benefits:  increasing student engagement through active learning, authentic assessment, online communities, and data-gathering.  Studying students’ digital learning footprints helps to create more personalized experiences and to iteratively improve the learning experience overall.

Platforms free up the time faculty need to spend preparing for teaching, and enable them to more easily create active learning environments, in the classroom and online. They can focus more on the “why” and the “relevance” of key concepts, rather than the nuts and bolts, or lower-level Bloom’s of learning.

Crowdsourcing materials and best practices will become as commonplace and accessible as Uber and AirBnB and will result in a better and more successful learner experience. A focus on the whole curriculum and its connection to the workplace also makes the learning experience more vibrant.

Now, I’m not a pollyanna about this evolution; we’re just at the beginning, and I know there are institutional logistics that will cause laggard adoption. Also, full-scale adoption will only happen if and when more innovation and technology development focuses on efficacy, on demonstrated improvements in outcomes. The emphasis can not be just on the data and analytics, but also on conducting market research with the stakeholders, to better understand their teaching and learning experience and how it can be improved.

Still, the development and evolution that Henderson speaks to in his interview are very encouraging on many levels:

Instructors will have more (and real-time) access to effective materials and content.

The more cohorts that use the LMS’s over time, the more data there will be available to analyze, and instructors and institutions will be able to compare class and individual performance on very granular levels and adapt as necessary.  

Improved analytics will lend themselves to better content and learning outcomes which in turn will drive more student success

Besides the sharing and adaptability functionality of the near-future LMS, platforms will allow for a more flexible curriculum development approach, one that is less course-centric, and more program-focused.

Ultimately, the evolution of the LMS/edtech ecosystem, or whatever you want to call it, is a win-win for all. It will enable a faster and much-needed movement to career-centric and 21st-century skill development, which will create positive ROI for all students, families, and institutions.

Building the Next-Gen Learning Ecosystem is the title of next month’s Education Industry Symposium in Denver, which I will be attending. Ray Henderson will be speaking there. I will be moderating two panels: Scaling Content with Platforms and Competency-Based Education: Is It Reshaping the Learning Ecosystem: Drop me a note if you’re planning to attend.


The WOW Factor: Creating Faculty Development That Sparks Interest and Envy

Published By Carrie O'Donnell
on Jan 19, 2021

Imagine our surprise last summer when we reached out to 475 faculty and learned the online courses for nearly half were simply mirrors of their face-to-face instruction. In fact, only 22% were designing their courses differently for online. With all of the faculty development around online learning being offered, why weren’t more faculty designing courses specifically for this type of instruction? As it turns out, faculty weren’t engaging with development options at a level you might expect given COVID-19 and the rapid shift to online learning. Something we’d also learned in surveys and interviews with170 provosts and academic leaders a year earlier. The solution? The WOW Factor.

Purposeful Learning DesignTM – Why People are at the Center of Everything We Do

Published By Carrie O'Donnell
on Jan 15, 2021

I’m often asked why our company is so good at collaborating with  faculty. The first time I heard this question, I didn’t realize clients found this unique to O’Donnell Learn. We’ve always been great partners  because people are at the heart of everything we do. In fact, our entire design philosophy - Purposeful Learning DesignTM - is anchored around people.  It starts with this truth: learning is for people. As such, learning design should be grounded in empathy and it should promote success for both learners and faculty. Purposeful Learning Design is the philosophy we embrace to ensure we never lose sight of this truth. It is comprised of six key considerations.

2020 Reflective: Breathe Deep and Stay Agile

Published By Joana Jebsen
on Dec 22, 2020

While end-of-year survey results are still to come for how enrolled students are evaluating their 2020 college experience, I queried two of our staff, both students, about their overall experience and considered how these compared to what I was seeing with O’Donnell Learn clients. Kellie, our graphic design intern, just completed her Associates Degree in Graphic design. Prior to 2020, all of her courses met on campus. Cathryn, a Learning Design Associate is currently enrolled in an online Master of Education program in eLearning and Instructional Design. As this program was conceived as online delivery, it serves as a benchmark to compare against courses that were forced by COVID to switch delivery modes.