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Breaking Up the LMS: K-12 District Selects Part of LoudCloud Systems’ LMS

The following was posted as a guest blog on Michael Feldstein’s eLiterate site

It’s been a busy week for LMS announcements, and I expect more announcements leading up to EDUCAUSE. First, the Hawaii Virtual Learning Network (for K-12) is moving from Moodle to Blackboard, which as Michael Feldstein points out, is a new development to watch. Then Brown University announced they are moving from Blackboard to Instructure’s Canvas as their LMS. This morning, Jefferson County school district, the largest district in Colorado, announced that they have chosen a module from  LoudCloud Systems’ LMS as the basis for their Instructional Improvement System.

That’s right – they purchased a module from the overall LMS. Normally I cover higher ed more than K-12, but this announcement is worth watching since it shows how the New Mentality in LMS Market is or will be changing our expectations on what an LMS can provide.

First, let’s define the term Instructional Improvement System (IIS) based on Race to the Top documents (see page 13).

Instructional improvement systems means technology-based tools and other strategies that provide teachers, principals, and administrators with meaningful support and actionable data to systemically manage continuous instructional improvement, including such activities as: instructional planning; gathering information (e.g., through formative assessments (as defined in this notice), interim assessments (as defined in this notice), summative assessments, and looking at student work and other student data); analyzing information with the support of rapid-time (as defined in this notice) reporting; using this information to inform decisions on appropriate next instructional steps; and evaluating the effectiveness of the actions taken. Such systems promote collaborative problem-solving and action planning; they may also integrate instructional data with student-level data such as attendance, discipline, grades, credit accumulation, and student survey results to provide early warning indicators of a student’s risk of educational failure.

Now, back to the announcement from the Jefferson County (Jeffco) district selection.

LoudCloud Systems, provider of LoudCloud University Suite, a Higher Education Learning Management System (LMS), has been awarded the Instructional Improvement System (IIS) bid from Jefferson County School District, Colorado. The process to reach a final decision involved a detailed review of six prominent software contenders over several months, during which contenders had to demonstrate their product offerings . . .

“LoudCloud’s product was chosen because their technology is ahead of any other tool that we have seen,” said Matt Cormier, executive director of education technology services. LoudCloud Systems’ IIS helps us achieve what will be a game-changer for education. It was obvious when we reviewed LoudCloud’s product and staff that their commitment was to improve student achievement and provide the correct support for teachers and administrators.”

It is not mentioned in the press release, but it appears that the district uses Blackboardas their district-wide LMS. Thus Jeffco is combining a module from one LMS to supplement another LMS. It’s interesting in this case that the K-12 world may be pushing the higher ed world forward, rather than vice virsa.

“LoudCloud’s IIS was architected around LoudAnalytics™, a core LoudCloud Systems’ LMS module that measures student engagement, identifies at-risk learners, and tracks student outcomes in Higher Education. LoudCloud Systems’ IIS will enable Jeffco to identify profiles and patterns of best practices – instructional strategies, content and teaching styles that match different student learning needs.”

There has been a lot of talk amongst higher ed CIOs and others about the end of the monolithic LMS.  While I’m not sold on this being inevitable, this Colorado decision certainly gives a concrete example of an LMS architected to allow modules to stand on their own.

We need to watch and see if LoudCloud Systems can deliver, as this design could be a big step forward in changing our expectations of an LMS.  It also gives LoudCloud Systems a win against other competitors outside of the for-profit space.