Are You Maximizing eLearning Technology's Potential? A Q&A With Open LMS Project Manager, Jorge Vela

New technological advancements are always exciting, as they reveal previously unconsidered possibilities for enhancing our educational missions. However, after integrating new eLearning technologies, we may sometimes find that our initial expectations are still yet to be met. This can leave us thinking: were the tools not as promising as they initially appeared, or are we not harnessing them correctly?

We reached out to Jorge Vela, Project Manager at Open LMS, to discuss how organizations can get to the bottom of this critical new technology dilemma. With over a decade of experience as a specialist in information and educational technologies, he can provide valuable and proven insights on effectively leveraging these opportunities.

Q: How can we determine if we’re approaching technology with the right vision?

Jorge Vela: To begin, it's essential to recognize that technology offers two primary advantages at its core:

  • The ability to accomplish objectives automatically.
  • The ability to measure progress toward goals.

Following this line of thought, the advantages can't be realized if we're not absolutely clear about our intended goals. Therefore, the more precisely we define our goals, the more effectively technology can serve us.

However, even with well-defined goals, there are instances where we may fail to harness technology appropriately, potentially impacting the outcomes of our programs. This happens when we place the acquisition of technology for its own sake above our objectives—which occurs quite often. Hence, to know if we're approaching technology correctly, we must first ensure our goals take precedence.

Q: Can you provide an example of an incorrect approach?

JV: Certainly. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, educational institutions had to quickly find tools to continue their classes remotely. The urgency left little time for developing a virtual teaching methodology, and many institutions lacked clear criteria for selecting their tools. Thus, they had no option but to choose the most readily available tools with some reputation.

As a result: numerous educational institutions turned to corporate video conferencing tools like Zoom or Google Meet, which aren't specifically designed for teaching, leading to a disruption in their students' engagement. Technology ended up taking precedence over their educational goals, affecting their attainment.

Are You Maximizing eLearning Technology's Potential?

Q: Why do these adverse outcomes occur?

JV: These adverse effects stem from a crucial concept in software: the features of a system, on their own, don't necessarily encompass everything the system is capable of.

When you place the system at the forefront, you allow it to dictate the scope of your program. You lose the broader perspective. Even the program designer may not fully grasp the extent of everything the system can accomplish.

Consider chess as an analogy: the creators defined a system with two opposing sets of 16 pieces, 64 squares, and specific rules. However, this didn't mean they comprehended all possible move combinations. Actually, it's an impossible task. There's a mathematical concept called the Shannon number, estimating around 10¹²⁰ potential positions in chess. This number surpasses the quantity of atoms in the observable universe.

There are always possibilities that remain undiscovered until new situations arise. Conversely, when you prioritize your vision, mission, and objectives, your organization can adapt technology to align with its goals.

Q: How can a company identify if it's adapting technology to its advantage?

JV: Through analytics. Technology provides you with analytics tools that gather and assess data related to your program. This helps you understand how well your plan is progressing and how closely you’re approaching your goals.

Of course, technology can capture and analyze a wide range of data. You need to specify which data points are pertinent to your plan, and for that, you must have defined very clearly what you want to achieve. This brings us back to the initial question: if you haven't adequately addressed your goals, you aren't approaching technology correctly. Moreover, you lack a reference point to gauge whether it's serving you effectively post-implementation.

There's a distinction between being stubborn and being persistent. With the former you continue without understanding the usefulness of your efforts, while with the latter you know something is effective because you’re measuring its impact.

LEARN MORE ABOUT ANALYTICS | ‘What Is Learning Analytics? Key Trends & Use Cases

Q: Is it only the client who adapts to the technology, or do the providers also play a role?

JV: Both parties can be a factor. Returning to the example of the pandemic, those who had the time to develop a virtual methodology could prioritize their objectives over technology and select the appropriate tools, such as a learning management system (LMS).

However, platforms like Zoom and Google Meet were already part of this new market and didn't want to lag behind. They began to develop new features to compete, including breakout rooms for collaborative work, emoticons for reacting to what the teacher was saying, whiteboards, questionnaires, and more. The providers adapted technology to meet the needs of educational institutions, which from their perspective is the right way to operate.

In the realm of software development, it's quite interesting that when a solution is designed for one problem, it often ends up addressing others unintentionally. This phenomenon becomes even more pronounced with open-source software.

Q: It's often said that open-source technology is easier to adapt. Is this true?

JV: Absolutely. In the realm of software development, it's quite interesting that when a solution is designed for one problem, it often ends up addressing others unintentionally. This phenomenon becomes even more pronounced with open-source software.

Open-source software is inherently modular, which means it's easy to introduce new modules with additional features without compromising the source code. This remarkable characteristic allows open-source software to be scalable, permitting it to expand indefinitely.

Moreover, the "open" nature means that any developer can create new features for the software and then freely share them with all users. After integrating these new features, people can explore novel ways to leverage them or even modify them to create their new functionalities of their own.

A prime example of this remarkable collaboration in the open-source world is Moodle™, the technology that underlies our Open LMS’s platform. Since its initial release in 2002, Moodle™ has continued to evolve and improve consistently, thanks to its large and enthusiastic community.

Q: What about artificial intelligence (AI)? Can it assist in this task?

JV: Indeed, AI is pushing the boundaries of software's adaptability. It has the capacity to overcome the limitation of only being able to deliver courses according to a teacher's methods, schedules, and other factors beyond the students' control.

Through its learning algorithms, AI can discern a student's behavior, allowing courses to adjust to their learning style and pace. Essentially, it can leverage its intelligence to create personalized learning paths for each student.

However, it's crucial to recognize that AI is encountering a situation similar to what I mentioned earlier. Educational institutions are increasingly relying on AI without clearly defining their objectives. While technology offers significant benefits, we must first structure our goals to turn our aspirations into reality.

HANDPICKED FOR YOU | ‘3 Ways to Leverage an LMS to Promote the Proper Use of AI Tools Among Students

At Open LMS, we offer learning technology fully tailored to your goals, supported by a dedicated team of experts always eager to assist you in its proper implementation. Contact us today to start enhancing your learning experience!
Daniel Flores
About the author

Daniel Flores

Content Writer, LTG

Daniel Flores is a content writer for Learning Technologies Group plc. He graduated with a degree in Communications from the University of Lima in Peru and has diverse experience in content production across various fields. Additionally, he is an independent music author, audiovisual producer, and technology enthusiast.

Discover our solutions