In 2001, Computerworld’s Kym Gilhooly wrote that a learning management system (LMS) “goes beyond basic content delivery to offer course administration, registration, tracking, and reporting and skills gap analysis.” This description of LMS underlines the fact that not all that long ago, LMS functionality was modeled around the course entity.
Since then we have witnessed the social revolution, which placed an enormous amount of control into the hands of consumers and unveiled the “-as-a-client” perspective, which permeates many ecosystems: employee-as-a-client (human capital management), patient-as-a-client (health services), beneficiary-as-a-client (government and non-profit), learner-as-a-client (education), and more.
The ‘-as-a-client’ perspective is a point of view from which a person’s rights and privileges within business, work, educational, or other professional environments are treated like those of a client—with the understanding that ‘the client is the king’ and therefore the client’s needs should be placed at the core of product and service development. In the case of the LMS this translates into building functionality to accommodate the learner’s experience rather than just administering courses.
Founded in 1999, Desire2Learn is a privately-owned learning management system (LMS) provider. The company has three target audiences: higher education, corporate, and K-12. Benefiting from a recent $80-million funding, Desire2Learn focuses its research on reshaping its product to reflect learner-as-a-client market demands.
Desire2Learn technology attempts to support personalized learning experiences by focusing on competency-based learning, customized learning for the individual, and personalized learning paths. The Analytics component of their learning suite offers reports and predictive models meant to sustain these goals, as they measure students’ retention and outcomes. By employing these measurement tools professors may reach out to students in an individualized manner, acknowledging the uniqueness of each encounter between a person and his or her academic undertakings.
Furthermore, the solution integrates digital textbooks and content on all devices and platforms (laptops, desktops, and all types of tablets). In so doing it accommodates today’s learners’ needs to receive and transmit information on multiple devices. As mobile technology is becoming ubiquitous, mobility is a must-have capability for LMS users, as opposed to one that is simply nice to have. In addition, with the Learning Repository module, Desire2Learn invites learning institutions to collect and share useful learning content from professors and publishers as well as open educational resources (OER), further reflecting the knowledge that in order to develop and help shape students’ expertise and opinions, a wide range of learning resources are needed.
According to Mr. Rich Seidner, Strategy Director Education at Desire2Learn, Desire2Learn Learning Suite v10.1 offers the necessary support to adapt the learning process to the learner’s pace, language, geography, and accessibility conditions. To support these commitments, Desire2Learn Learning Suite v10.1 is offered in fourteen languages, and they also offer a lecture capture and webcast solution Capture which offers the capability to capture rich media presentations, available to stream live or watch on demand. Additionally, the solution incorporates social and sharing features.
Social learning is another trend that has appeared in the customer-centric ecosystem. Social communities are now a valuable resource for any learner. The ePortfolio module of Desire2Learn learning suite is a platform that supports the learner’s habits to ‘capture, reflect on and share learning experiences’, says Mr. Seidner.
Recognizing the central place of the learner-as-a-client within an LMS, Desire2Learn encourages further development of their solution by supporting open standards. Developers or implementers may customize or deploy solutions based on Desire2Learn’s set of APIs. Also, Desire2Learn collaborates with other technology providers, such as Google, Dell, Adobe, Cisco, RIM, Motorola, IBM, and Microsoft, to address challenges that fall outside of the scope of their research and development agenda.
As a final remark, I would like to mention that the level of benefit obtained from the functionality of Desire2Learn or any other LMS depends upon the institutions, professors, and students using it. Desire2Learn can echo and support transformations occurring within the educational realm, but it is necessary to be receptive to the evolution of learning habits, something that educational communities might want to consider when taking advantage of learning technologies.
Soon we will include data about Desire2Learn’s products in our research. In the meantime you can find out more about learning management software features and functions by evaluating key products using TEC Advisor.