LAMS: Student Centric Learning Design

If you consider the “Continuum of Shift” applied to learning management systems, at one end you have a content-centric tool like Blackboard, then you find Moodle in the middle, and at the other, activity-centric, end you have LAMS (Learning Activity Management System), which is being used for interactive learning sequences and constructivist design in teaching. “LAMS is not really a LMS as such, it integrates with both Moodle and Blackboard and provides teachers with a highly intuitive visual authoring environment for creating sequences of learning activities. These activities can include a range of individual tasks, small group work and whole class activities based on both content and collaboration” (LAMS website). I believe this is the most useful tool for developing strong pedagogy in learning design, Higher Education has available. And when I tell people in workshops “it is Learning Design, not for dummies, but time strapped academics”, I usually have their attention.

I discovered this wonderful new software platform in 2005 and have been tracking its development ever since.  In June 2011, I developed a workshop entitled “It’s All About the Students”. Forty academics attended and agreed with me about the importance of the students, and many committed to pilot the pedagogies and technologies. Actually we only had room for ten courses

The results in the pilot were all positive and I’m thrilled our leaders have captured the vision and the University of Adelaide has now adopted LAMS campus wide. We now have “LAMS@Adelaide“.  I am leading the rollout project and am excited that the academics, who want to improve the student experience through strong learning design, have a practical tool they can use.  They don’t have to understand all the theory behind good social constructivist  pedagogy, they can easily access learning activity sequences built with best practice, customise and populate the content and run a monitored learning event face-to-face or remotely. It can be either synchronous, asynchronous or blended.

LAMS is an ideal environment for developing curriculum. It helps the design to move towards the Activity end of the Continuum of Shift. Academics can use this as a simple exercise (e.g. a survey) within a more formal lesson like a lecture and publish results in real time. Some of our academics are developing entire practicum experiences using LAMS and students can start a one hour lesson together in a computer lab guided by the teacher, and finish it in a coffee shop with their friends from the course.  After one use of LAMS one course co-ordinator is planning an entire Program next year with 500+ students.

The software is open source and the best way to understand why I am excited about LAMS for Learning Design is to visit sign up (it’s free) and “play” with it …. you will see the potential.


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