Poking around for a new LMS

Whilst doing something of a social media spring clean today for both myself and Willow, I came across a rather interesting article on the Learning Solutions Magazine.  Here, Terence Wing proposes the use of Facebook (by getting to grips with the Facebook Developers API) as a potential LMS (it is at this point that my entirely inadequate attempt at a pun in the title of this post becomes disappointingly clear!) It’s certainly not the first time the conversation has cropped up and Facebook communities have featured alongside a number of programmes we have created for customers in the past. It’s definitely worth a read and there are some very interesting ideas on how what I would term a learning community could be supported via Facebook and some basic tracking achieved.  However, where it’s likely to fall down is when you are seeking to create a learning scaffold around a complex subject.  By this I mean providing a number of selected learning resources (e-learning, e-books, core discussion topics, webinars etc) that form the formal learning path. It’s clear that the role of L&D must shift to facilitators of learning, but this requires a deft touch.  A combination of providing ways to access great materials that support the acquisition of knowledge and then sparking and provoking debate, sharing, action learning and knowledge creation through social means.  It’s here that Facebook will fall down and in many ways, rightly so.  It is great at creating a space where discussions, links, thoughts and experience can be explored in a very organic way. However, there are circumstances in which it is desirable and certainly much valued by learners for resources to be structured into a clear path to learning and understanding.  Complex or very professional specific skills acquisition, certification or programmes that encourage deep levels of personal insight and transformation are some examples of when it would simply not be productive or even possible to trawl the infinite resources out there to develop your own programme. So as a facilitator of sharing, exploration of ideas and even a way to identify new learning needs through the questions being ask, Facebook is a tool not to be ignored.  But the VLE of the future, probably not.