In trying to learn about educational technology (including its forgotten history), I stumbled upon this talk by Audrey Watters in 2014 in which she talks about the LMS and MOOCs. Not much has changed:
The learning management system is a silo, a technological silo, by design. This isn’t because the technology isn’t available to do otherwise. Rather, it’s a reflection of the institution of education. The LMS silo works because we tend to view each classroom as a closed entity, because we view each subject or discipline as atomistic and distinct. Closed. Centralized. Control in the hands of administrators, teachers, and IT but rarely in the hands of learners.
If you look at the much-hyped online courses of today — those offered on the Coursera or the edX platforms, for example — you can see the influence of the LMS. Each course you enroll in is separate, siloed. At the end of the term, your access to your course disappears. There’s a tab on the LMS so you can navigate to the syllabus and a tab for assignments and one for assessments, and there is, of course — thanks early Internet technology! — a discussion forum. A message board. It isn’t an accident — and it certainly isn’t an innovation — that our online classes look this way.