The most ultimate LMS Designers in the ASCILITE Battle of the LMS

logo of the Battle of the LMS - fire and smoke

We (organisers from the TELedvisors Network – Colin Simpson, Penny Wheeler, Dan Laurence, Gordon Cunningham and Jo Elliott) set out to create an entertaining and sometimes informative event for the 2022 ASCILITE conference and by that measure, I think we can say that we succeeded.

This first (and probably only) Battle of the LMS panel session was held to resolve the question, for once and for all, of whether one LMS is any better than the rest. As with most questions in the ed tech space, we quickly realised that there are a great many angles to consider this question from:

  • Quality of the learning experience that it can facilitate
  • Functionality and ease of use
  • Accessibility and equity
  • Sustainability and supportability
  • Cost
  • Ethical stance of the company

To cover such an array of criteria, we decided to create a number of different challenges. Were they overly complex and did they place unreasonable demands on the participants? Of course they did – it’s the TELedvisors way. Did we refine them as we realised this? Of course we did – it’s the TELedvisors way.

In the lead up to the conference, we designed an open preliminary design challenge for conference attendees to be held before the event and a main, final battle design challenge to be held during the event. These were to test the functionality and usability of the platforms, as well as the pedagogical/technological knowledge and creativity of the challengers.

In a nutshell, the initial design challenge involved creating a learning section in an LMS of the challenger’s choosing, that used any functionality in that LMS (built in or plugin) that would lead to an engaging collaborative learning experience and assessment for learners. They were to showcase this in a 2 min screencast video. Voting on these was via a combination of online poll and expert judging of these 5 questions:

  1. How well does the learning design create opportunities for student learning?   
  2. How well does the learning design encourage student collaboration?  
  3. To what extent are the materials, design and instructions accessible, diverse and inclusive?  
  4. How creative, innovative or interesting is the use of the available technologies?  
  5. How easy would it be to repeat, sustain and/or share the design? 

From the six entries received we found two grand finalists for the title of most Ultimate LMS Designer, to be determined by a live LMS design challenge undertaken in real-time during the session. After being given a brief at the start of the session, our valiant finalists had 40 mins to design and build a welcome and introduction section to a nominated course in a blank course shell. They then had 4 mins to describe their design and the winner was voted on by attendees online and in person.

In the middle there was also a passable attempt at serious discussion about the relative strengths and value of different LMSs that quickly degenerated in mud slinging and questionable commentary about the other panelists. The aim of this was to come to some meaningful verdict on which is the most ultimate LMS but honestly, hometown favoritism ruled the day and we don’t even need to talk about which was the most popular platform. (Fine, it was Canvas, because you are all a bunch of sheep dazzled by shiny things)

The winners:

In the more serious matter of who embodies excellence in LMS design and development, the prize winners of the initial design challenge were:

Zoom screen showing screenshot of an LMS course below heading The Most Ultimate Collaborative LMS Design Sydney University Aaron Baird & Kria Coleman

Watch the video

Zoom screen showing screenshot of an LMS course below heading The Most Ultimate Accessible LMS Design Curtin University Jessica Seage

Watch the video

Zoom screen showing screenshot of an LMS course below heading The Most Ultimate Creative/Innovative LMS Design La Trobe University Helen Enright, Fran Lee and Dan Laurence

Watch the video

Zoom screen showing screenshot of an LMS course below heading The Most Ultimate Learning Experience Design University of Newcastle Paul Sijpkes

Watch the video

Zoom screen showing screenshot of an LMS course below heading The Most Ultimate Sustainable LMS Design University of Technology Sydney Mais Fatayer

Watch the video

Zoom screenshot of a poll with the heading Which LMS Designers are the most ultimate? A blue bar with 30 and the name Mais Fatayer (UTS) below it and a yellow bar with 31 on top and the names Aaron Baird and Kria Coleman (SU) below

As you can see, the results of the final live challenge were incredibly close and congratulations go to the winners Aaron Baird and Kria Coleman of Sydney Uni.

Many thanks also to everyone who was involved in this spectacular, notably Prof Michael Sankey, Stoo Sepp, Luke Horsley the trumpeter, our conference chairs, the Zoom wranglers, the incredibly helpful conference organisers who accommodated every wild idea, the ASCILITE executive for funding the prizes and the sometimes bewildered but largely entertained attendees.

So what’s next? There was definitely some excitement about the idea of future design challenges, so stay tuned for further announcements. Subscribe to the blog, follow us on Twitter @TELedvisors or if you work (or want to work) in this space, join the community

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