IN MARCH 1986, I often sat in the right seat of a large cargo jet and taught pilots in the left seat how to fly directly behind another large four engine jet. You had to practise the highly-engaging manual skills to do this workplace job right.
Some of those very sophisticated workplace skills had their foundation in flight simulation. All of them required documentation of what the pilots had learned and how their learning had progressed. The learning management system consisted of a series of forms held in manila folders. The written documentation rarely offered colour commentary of the white knuckle aerial refueling sessions. But you wanted to learn to do everything right and the air refueling sessions brought everything into sharp relief.
Today, I teach third level students in Ireland and we use an enterprise learning management system. Its evolution and its best usage reflects some of the thoughts Chris Rosso shared about enterprise learning.  Rosso led training for over 50,000 Nike employees on one of the world’s best proprietary learning management systems (LMS). I was curious about what Rosso sees as the future generation of Learning Management Systems because he plans to swap his existing LMS—which he had been integral in building—for a more powerful kind of technology. Something that would be able to curate content and serve as a system of record “without constraining us to a learning management system.”
What I have discovered is that there is a strong need for the traditional LMS (Moodle in my case).  Students like the way it's set up and they use it to progress in their coursework. However, new learning solutions demand that we empower students in their personal learning process.
I put mobile at the front and centre of engaged student learning by encouraging students to use their own mobile phones to view structured course notes inside the Classroom edition of OneNote and I keep Powerpoint decks inside OneDrive where Office Delve advises me when they're read by students. I also create very focused multiple choice exams using Socrative. And I republish important course notes on a website with responsive design. All these processes make learning more personal and help to engage students at a higher level.
At major teaching and learning events, I hear other lecturers discussing methods of enhancing engagement. Most of their shared techniques happen outside of the LMS.
Moodle was conceptualised five years before the iPhone was invented. Student smartphones are now faster than the first server we used in Tipperary to power Moodle in 2003. Student learning expectations have ramped up since then too.
I wish I had the ability to see the clickstreams students use on Moodle. I reckon most of my students merely look for lecture notes and outlines for practical sessions. They want to read the slide decks and often print the material for annotation. When I distribute learning material through Mailchimp, I can see how many times students opened the material and who shared the material with others. I need these data to enrich the learning experience and to teach smarter.
Moodle exists on our campus because it meets important expectations but those expectations increase with every new cohort of connected student. Moodle excels as a solution to store and deploy material but on our Office365 campus, more flexible solutions have appeared on handsets and on desktops.
I have fewer than 1400 days before I leave my job as a third level lecturer. I hope that before that retirement day arrives, I will be able to tell students, "Here is what you need to learn to pass this academic module. Now go and learn it". As Danny Crichton wrote in TechCrunch , people are more aware of just how much information they don’t know.  Millennials consume data like information junkies. My twentysomething students feel affected by FOMO (fear of missing out) and can be motivated to learn so they don't miss out.
The big challenge for me is to channel FOMO down a learning pathway and that's not easily done within a standard LMS. Badges awarded in Moodle are a step in the right direction because students who stay on task and complete the hard work can see real transformation manifested in a badge or a certificate. If a student enjoys the learning experience and sees results, a truly engaging learning experience has occurred.
People have to like completing learning objectives and they have to feel that they learned to do something worthwhile.  This is slippery terrain for me because I reckon 20% of my students would rather not be in different modules I teach. They put up with the academic requirements but often cannot see the relevance of specific academic materials. To offset those recalcitrant attitudes, I'm motivated to create bite-sized portions of learning that students can use to stay on track. Those bite-sized portions should be the foundation element of learning engagement.
It will take me several weeks of careful planning to develop a learning metaphor that works inside Moodle. I want to specify a series of tasks students can accomplish by engaging with an intertwined ecosystem of digital applications. I would like to see student work presented in co-authored PowerPoint decks and in OneNote collaborative spaces. I want screenshots uploaded to public Flickr groups. I need to determine whether these sorts of tasks make students feel as though they have accomplished high quality work and I'm surveying a set of students to get their feedback this semester.
As I move into my final six semesters of teaching at third level, I expect many of my colleagues will confine themselves to a small sliver of the learning experience. That's because current LMSs cannot do much more than store content and data. But we need more than a system that records. We need to provide a learning management system that engages students in pathways of their own development.
*** Bernie Goldbach is a third level lecturer at the Limerick Institute of Technology, teaching business, creative multimedia and digital animation students.