Changes in the Australian Higher Ed LMS landscape – a wave, or just a ripple?

DSC_7098 This week, the University of Sydney announced that it was migrating from Blackboard Learn to Canvas, joining RMIT, UC and the University of Adelaide who have also announced similar moves in the last twelve months. No doubt this is sending one or two quivers through the camps of the ‘Big Three’ LMS platforms which until recently made up the entirety of the incumbent LMS landscape in Australian Higher Ed – Blackboard Learn (21 Universities), Moodle (15) and Brightspace by D2L (3)*.

But are we about to see a wave of change in the LMS landscape across Australia, or will it be more like a ripple?

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Learning Analytics – bridging the interpretation gap

First up, I’d like to thank Simon Buckingham-Shum for his recent post on learning analytics. Rarely do I read a blog post which not only considers an ‘entry level’ question, but also then follows through multiple steps in the analysis of the topic in the way this post did. When I read the post I had the unnerving sense that the author had already thought through every question I might have considered, and answered it before I could pause to take a breath and even form the question properly in my head. I’ve been mulling the post over for the last week, and I decided that I really needed to put his post in context alongside some of my own thoughts (even if this is, in academic terms, like parking a Bugatti Veyron ‘in context alongside’ a Toyota Corolla, but never mind).

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Open source ecosystems – a mathematical model

Beware - mathematics ahead!
Beware - mathematics ahead! (courtesy

It is a little known fact that my original career choice was mathematics, making it half way through a PhD at the University of Adelaide before realising how much my thesis (provisionally titled “Applications of the Hastings-Metropolis algorithm for calculating normalization constants in sparse multidimensional queueing networks“) did NOT do it for me. After a few years of wandering in the wilderness I discovered online learning as a valid career option, but I still hark back to my roots every now and then with a misty eye – mainly when I remember the bamboo-under-the-fingernails joy of hand-coding LaTeX using Vi.

My single favourite subject at Uni was an Honours subject I took called Mathematical Biology, which aimed to model a stack of different biological systems, mainly around how a species breeds, gets sick, dies, migrates and ultimately either perishes or reaches equilibrium in its numbers depending on a range of external and internal factors.

After having been involved with Moodle and other open source projects for a few years now it continues to strike me how much of an ecosystem each of these projects are – just like the biological systems I used to model back at Uni. They have a genesis, some are subsumed by other projects, some die off, and some thrive – like Moodle. Based on this I thought I’d try and use my time on QF756 to do something more productive than eating snacky cakes and playing Worms on my iPod, and hence please find below my first, definitely incomplete, probably flawed, mathematical model of an open source project.

Be warned – this is not like most of my other blog posts, and those with an aversion to mathematics should probably stop reading now.

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