ISTE take-home message #3: What do you mean you don't have an LMS yet?

Remember way back in the day when I said 2011 would be all about the platform? That platform is your LMS, whatever flavor you might choose.

There were lots of take-homes from ISTE. It's a big conference with a lot of smart people trying to change the way we educate our students and leverage the vast technological resources at our disposal. It's also a big conference with a lot of people trying to sell you a lot of stuff.

One thing, though, with the potential to help unify all of these tools, techniques, new pedagogy, and digital learning resources is the LMS, aka, the Learning Management System. It seemed that everyone was trying to get into the LMS business at ISTE and, if they weren't trying to get into it, were already deeply in it and were trying to make sure that plenty of new customers were on board as well. Several businesses had built businesses just around Moodle, the most popular open source LMS.

Other companies were integrating LMS features into their own products, whatever those were. Often they were content companies who wanted to surface their learning resources somewhere useful. Others were providing turnkey, all-in-one LMS/CMS/SIS platforms. Hosting companies specializing in LMS products for schools were easy to find as well: Moodlerooms was a major sponsor of ISTE.

None of this is a bad thing. It simply means a lot more choices and harder decisions for educators looking to bring their learning resources under the umbrella of an LMS. While Moodle used to be the default K12 choice and Blackboard the default for universities, the breadth and depth of learning management systems and LMS-like tools has increased drastically. Moodle remains an awesome choice (whether in K12 or higher ed) and Blackboard still has considerable traction (OK, it has a whole lot of traction) in post-secondary. Blackboard was at ISTE as well and was making an obvious K12 play.

But the market is no longer about these 2 players (despite their important roles). The market is about finding that one platform to rule them all and ensure that students and teachers have access to learning resources (say it with me, you know what's coming) anytime, anywhere.

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