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Learning Management Systems

Serensoft's approach to Learning Management Systems or LMS's -- also known as Collaboration and Learning Environments or CLE's -- rests on the simple premise that faculty should spend MORE time developing course content, and LESS time administering courses.

Technology Diffusion

This is why Serensoft's approach to implementation of learning management systems — specifically open source systems like Sakai — focuses on the Diffusion of the technology to the end users, as well as the technical aspects of implementation. Any solution can have the absolute best features in the world coupled with a flawless technical implementation, but if the technology is not properly or appropriately diffused to into the user community... the best that you can hope for is underutilization. Conversely, proper technology diffusion will help your faculty (end users) capitalize on their use of the system.

Change Management

Technology diffusion is essentially an exercise in the application of change management. The best implementation that only focuses on the technical pieces of the process fails to take into account barriers to adoption among end-users (faculty, in this case).

In order to get the most out of any Learning Management System like Sakai, it is imperative that those undertaking the implementation have an understanding of change management principles. Serensoft's Providence MethodologySM provides an approach to technology diffusion that recognizes and accounts for both intrinsic and extrinsic barriers to technology adoption in a higher education environment.

The three primary Extrinsic barriers* to adoption of new technology in higher education are:

  1. Lack of institutional support
  2. Lack of financial support
  3. Lack of time to learn new technologies

It is the Intrinsic barriers that are much more significant than the extrinsic barriers and require a much more nuanced approach to effectively deal with them. Some of the Intrinsic barriers to new technology adoption include:

  1. Beliefs / preconceptions about teaching, technology, classroom practice
  2. Willingness to change
  3. Fear (of change, of time commitment, of appearing incompetent, of technology lingo, etc.)

Whether you are adopting a learning management system at your institution for the first time, or phasing out your present LMS (like Blackboard or WebCT), it is imperative that you look far beyond mere technical details — and that you carefully consider the issues of technology diffusion and change management. Serensoft will help your institution and faculty get the most out of your Sakai implementation.

* Barriers to Adopting Technology for Teaching and Learning — Darrell L Butler and Martin Sellbom, Educause Quarterly #2, 2002