Article Image

I'm done with talk about the Next Generation Digital Learning Environment; it's time for action. I have had a plan for laying out the future of technology in higher education that I've formulated since my early work on ELMS: Learning Network, a platform now 4 years old that has roots planted as an initial idea 10 years ago. It's not just a technology solution, it's had years of planning and fostering the ideals that it's been imbued with.

As a result, I'll discuss some efforts into NGDLE, what they propose to look like and why I have personally reframed my thinking from Digital to Distributed; as in Next Generation Distributed Learning Ecosystem. This will be directed at non-technical audiences and why these efforts will transform how we all do our work if we all start moving the same direction philosophically.

You see, NGDLE is not just a solution, it's a philosophy of technology design intentionally implemented. This is a vision that I am implementing with every line of code we contribute to ELMS:LN. ELMS:LN is far more then a technology platform, it's a mindset. That we are all unique.

Faculty, staff, administration, students, especially in the online realm, are all distributed. Either distributed in skill set or organizationally or in how we deliver our courses and instruction to students. One thing is central to each of us though; us. We are individuals.

So, as individuals that live on distributed laptops, smartphones, and IoT construction; why is it that our technology deployments in education still mirror the Cathedral as opposed to the Bazaar? The individuals of the organization produce things for the institution in a distributed manner yet are forced to consolidate efforts among a few applications at a few locations in the name of consistency.

This is the Distributed Ecosystem piece of what I call NGDLE where I need CIOs and management to understand the network affects of this worldview. I am calling for the intentional, decentralization of application access and consumption on the part of our user base (Faculty, staff, students). This decentralization better mirrors individuals and will be met with less resistance then remotely affixed addresses and applications everyone must go to in order to engage with.

The LMS is 1 obvious target for decentralization, but what does that look like? How is that even possibly manageable at scale? Without rewriting a blog post outright (, I equate our NGDLE efforts to Roku while LMS solutions are stuck in the Cable TV days (of which most people are cord cutting to escape as much as possible).

If we took this concept and expanded upon it; let's say we were trying to build "Roku", a distributed, small stitching platform where individuals plugged an item into their TV (app on laptop / phone / desktop), had minimal setup (Roku does 1x two-factor authorizations binding the app to the user); what would it look like? How would it function? What would it transform in our process and development as institutions? Our sharing? Our ability to discover and produce OER.

Imagine having an App for your institution that stitched together all of the services available to the user in order for them to leverage the institution to it's fullest. Instead of training every faculty on what's possible, where things are in the organization, and then constantly blasting emails to update and HOPE people realize the system we jus paid $200,000 for is actually known about to be used, what if they had an App that gave them a small notice that now they had access to this item in their ecosystem.

Imagine if ANYONE could use an interface on their local machine of choice to author highly accessible, interactive, engaging and OER tagged material without the need for any technical knowledge. Just pick up the app, start clicking and you are authoring engaging educational experiences. What if that material was then in a format that could be imported anywhere? What if it saved to Box and other solutions we already have and leveraged development technologies in order to keep that information discoverable and sharable. What if instead of having to go out and look for OER and other media to remix into teaching and learning, that material came to us on our App and we could easily ingest it.

So yes. It's not conjecture, that's what we're building this and it is open source. It's also being engineered in such a way that it has no requirement of using ELMS:LN and it's already usable enough to illustrate the concept across multiple platforms locally as well as on the web in CMSs.

This talk will be more about philosophy of technology development and how it will impact the institution and make it a more open place then actual technology. The ELMS:LN platform and our "Roku remote" we're building called HAX will be mentioned but I will not be going into developer deep dives (that's actually a different talk specific to developers).

Blog Comments powered by Disqus.


Crazy, abrasive, caring, dreaming the world into existance we need, not the one we have.

Back to main page