This post draws on this article about Google’s Talk Guru to argue the need for systems that support people at the point of them carrying out some task.

I think this is one of the more interesting possibilities as the next step/enhancement for an LMS. In fact, it’s one of the few benefits I can see for keeping some sort of centralised/institutional LMS.

Rather than expect people to attend formal training sessions, or worse expect them to access recorded formal training sessions, have an LMS that scaffolds the student/teachers interactions with the LMS. For example, as they start adding a discussion forum to a course, the LMS provides a mechanism through which good practice can be harnessed.

The exact form of that “good practice” is fairly open. But I would suggest that the easier it makes it for that good practice to be implemented, the better.

It would be even better if this approach was not informed by what is deemed theoretically correct by the educational intelligentsia but instead connects with what people are actually doing and looks for ways it can be made better. An informed mix of paving the cowpath and improving it.

And it doesn’t have to be complex.

e.g. a simple addition to the discussion forum tool in an LMS that showed an academic the average number of posts/replies made by the other staff in the course cohort and perhaps more broadly. Put it in a graph and show where that staff member’s posts in the current course fit in the range. Underneath it have some links to literature/blog posts that talk about the benefits of teacher engagement, and some links to information about how other staff are using the forums.


In terms of “paving the cowpath”, I think this is where one of the gaps (potentially a broadening gap) is occurring. The distance between the people who are supporting academics (who know what the cowpaths are), the people who can change the LMS (those who can pave the cowpath), and the people who decide whether or not the paving can happen is growing.

This could be argued as the situated cognition future of the LMS.

Amplify’d from
that just means getting info that people need to them, when and where they need it