Making the case for elmsln

The case for ELMSLN

The ELMSLN team recently had interest from a developer working for a vendor/digital agency who was excited on a personal level by its potential, but felt that it would have been difficult to convince his boss to use ELMSLN over other established LMSs.

I could relate to how he was feeling. Although not completely in the same position as him (I work for a training provider rather than an agency itself), it still took a lot of time and hard campaigning to convince my board to take a chance on ELMSLN. The key for me was to hammer home the point that we needed to take a long term approach. Did we want to spend 'X' amount on a new system only for it seem irrelevant and out of date within a few years? Absolutely not. The distributed systems approach provides the flexibility to innovate, customise, and react quickly to emerging pedagogies. These qualities are much more pronounced if you're taking the longer term view and this made total sense to me.

The system being based on Drupal was a big draw for me too. I was specifically looking for something built on Drupal at the time. The only other FOSS (free open source system) option for us seemed to be Moodle. However, I feel Moodle makes too many assumptions on how an online course should be taught, it looks out of date (in my opinion) and if you pass a Moodle course to an author and say "there you go, add content" they are likely to upload all their existing PDFs to it and call it an online course. I wanted to lay a foundation for providing online courses that could really enhance learning rather than replicate old methods on a different platform. This post by opgobee on probably sums up how I was feeling at the time and what led me to ELMSLN.

Another important decision (which, to be honest, I only realise I made with hindsight!) was not to get so hung up on needing everything on my feature list. As this recent blog post by Michael Feldstein more eloquently argues, trying to accommodate every feature that you've been told must be included, just so you can tick things off a list is likely to cloud your judgement and lead you towards a less sustainable option. Believe me, there were quite a few requirements that ELMSLN didn't have at the time I was reviewing it! But it was a case of challenging and questioning some requirements (which can often lead to improved ways of doing things), jumping into the community and making a case for others, or building them ourselves (‘cause Drupal is great like that).

I was lucky that I was given the freedom to take the longer term view. But I suspect that many others who want to use ELMSLN for a commercial project with a client don't have that luxury when deadlines and launch dates come into play. One potential way is to sell the idea that you can be part of developing a system that will distinguish you from all the other vendors out there offering 'Moodle' or 'Totara' (tomayto, tomahto)'ll have a genuine alternative to pitch to other education providers. Another is to use ELMSLN's networked approach to your advantage, and pitch a gradual integration of services into a client's current learning system. This can help you to convince them that they can take advantage of some of the great features of ELMSLN, whilst still being able to retain specific features they may find difficult to move away from. For example, our setup included retaining our e-portfolio and assessment systems which we can link students through to via single-sign-on when necessary.

So be bold, don't be afraid to challenge convention, and make a case for ELMSLN.